It is not an undisputed fact that Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar are the finest of all batsmen of their era. The decade has seen batsmen like Inzamam Ul Haq who could pull his team out from the jaws of defeat in the semi finals of the 1992 world cup which Pakistan eventually won. Then there is Shahid Afridi, who claims that his favourite shot is "anywhere for six" and holds the record for the fastest hundred in ODIs and then there is Jayasuriya who holds the record for the maximum number of sixes in one day cricket. Otherwise also we have gr8 batsmen like Ponting, Gilchrist, Symonds etc who have been exceptional with the willow.
However, the world of cricket, if the last 15 years or so are considered, the only batsmen who have been enjoying a huge fan following are only two- Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara. No one would dare to rate any other batsmen among these two greats and so would I. A Sachin fan can justify himself with most of the batting records in both formats of the game belonging to him. But, as far as Brian Lara is considered, if not for the unbeaten score of 400 against England, none of the records really belong to him in either formats of the game.
If Lara is given a little bit of concession, he held the world record for the highest number of runs in international test cricket until it was broke by none other than Sachin Tendulkar. Lara stands fifth when it comes to the number of 100s scored behind Sachin, Jayasuriya, Ponting & Ganguly. Lara's place when it comes to the highest run aggregate would be behind Dravid, Ganguly, Inzy, Jayasuriya and of course Sachin. But, there was one thing that struck my mind when Sachin scored an unbeaten 200 yesterday against South Africa.This was Sachin's 2nd score over 180 which is in par with two 350+ scores of Lara in tests.
It was somewhere in October 2003 that Australia's Mathew Hayden scored 380 runs against Zimbabwe to break the old record of 375 put up by Lara against England in 1994. Exactly six months later, Brian Lara notched up the first quadruple hundred in test cricket that broke Mathew Hayden's record and also was a new landmark in tests. Similarly, in ODIs, in August 2009, Charles Coventry scored an unbeaten 194 against Bangladesh which broke Saeed Anwar's record of the same score without the asterik symbol following it. And exactly after the same duration of 6 months, Sachin scores 200* which also put up a new landmark but in ODIs. Moreover, both Lara & Sachin use bats that are sponsored by MRF.