Wednesday 19 December 2012

Somewhere Else: Lara and the 90s

The 90s have gone. Not simply in a literal sense, that's self-evident and happened long ago, but gone in that they have slipped through that hinterland of recent memory and into history. They're in another place now.

It became obvious the other night, when ITV screened a documentary about Brian Lara. It was nothing revelatory, but it was nice to have the great man talk through his recollections of those liminal weeks in 1994 when he urged batting into its new age, making seven hundreds in eight innings, a run that began with his 375 in Antigua and ended with 501 at Edgbaston. Both records inside two months? We were somewhere else.

Lara said some things that not many people get to say - "I suppose I scored about 150 runs or so before lunch" sticks in the mind - and as he spoke, highlights of the innings played. His genius was present and total, that endless backlift counterpointed by the low and level head, his certainty and speed through the hitting area contrasting with the languorous beauty of his follow through; it's timeless. Yet all around him was context. His bat, the classic Scoop, was slim and straight, lacking the great bows and edges of modern warfare. Shirts were baggy, pads buckled, scoreboards pre-electronic. No-one in the crowd had phones or cameras, the fashions and haircuts appeared odd and lost. For the first time, 1994 looked like a period piece, as all things eventually do.

It wasn't until the story rolled forwards to the mid noughties that the terrain surrounding Lara became familiar; the bats bigger, the gear lightweight, the clothing fitted, the crowds contemporary. When he made 400 to rightfully reclaim his record, only one other player from either side was still there, and that was Graham Thorpe (although Shiv Chanderpaul played in the 375 match, his fourth Test).

Viewing those games again, one belonged to an earlier time, a time that had slid into unfamiliarity. The 90s suddenly felt like the 80s, distant and filled with the heavy weight of the past. The years goes on before we notice.


Anonymous said...

Nice post. Doesn't seem too long ago where debates over ODIs v/s Tests were raging and we're already half a decade into T20 world cups!

In line with the repeated calls to bring an end to the career of one of Lara's contemporaries, and a peer, I've posted about what it was to grow up with Sachin,called 'Reminiscing Sachin'

Anonymous said...

Feel the same way about music! Here are some players from the 90s that I remember were so recent but are now in obscurity:
Alan Mullaly
Mark Ealham
Debashish Mohanty
Stuart Law
Alistair Campbell
Eddo Brandes (threw a beamer at Sachin)
Rajesh Chauhan
Brian McMillan
Courtney Browne

Do add more...

Anonymous said...

Lara was perhaps the most stylish, most exciting player of his era. He routinely did things you thought were impossible. Often he didn't, but the excitement was in you feeling that he was going to. He didn't craft innings, he crafted drama.

Keith said...

Lara will be remembered for ages to come for the excitement he brought to the game. each time he walked out to bat. He was a tremedous batsman and an even greater entertainer, who lit up the cricket field