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PostSubject: world's highest Test cricket score   Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:06 pm

West Indies captain Brian Lara swept off-spin bowler Gareth Batty to the deep fine leg boundary for his 42nd four to reclaim the world record for the highest individual Test innings on the third day of the fourth and final cricket Test against England.

Lara equalled Australian Matthew Hayden's 380 when he lofted Batty for a fourth six straight into the top deck of the Sir Vivian Richards Pavilion, and then moved on to 384 with a paddle between Graham Thorpe and Nasser Hussain at fine leg and backward square leg respectively to clinch the record for the second time.

West Indies went on to declare their first innings at 751-5 with Lara undefeated on 400 and fellow left-hander Ridley Jacobs unbeaten on 107.

The two have shared 265, unbroken, for the sixth wicket to help West Indies reach their highest Test score against England.

Lara ran the full length of the pitch, leapt and punched the air in triumph. New Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer was escorted out to the middle to embrace the batting genius and offer him congratulations.

Unlike 10 years ago, there were no pitch invasions this time, but a couple of spectators managed to elude the police dragnet on the circumference of the boundary to run out to the middle to embrace the batting hero.

"It's hard to believe - a great feeling," Lara said after being escorted off for lunch by a guard of honour. He added: "It's been really, really tiring but I feel great."

Lara previously set the mark of 375 against the same opponents at this same Antigua Recreation Ground in 1994 that stood until Hayden erased it against Zimbabwe at Perth last October.

"I'm amazed to be back here again," reflected Lara.

"It's only dampened by the series result, but we'll see if we can get a win here."

Lara has spanked 42 fours and three sixes from 548 deliveries in his marathon 12-1/2 hour innings and has been the rock upon which West Indies has built a formidable first innings total, after they continued from their bedtime position of 595 for five.

Great Sir Don Bradman as the only two batsmen to complete two Test triple hundreds. The former Australia captain and batting legend also found England's bowling to his liking and murdered 334 and 304 off them in 1930 and 1934 respectively, both at Leeds.

Lara, a struggler in the previous three Tests of the series, seized the opportunity of another ARG featherbed to fashion an innings of immense skill and determination that has dominated his 104th Test, after West Indies won the toss and chose to bat on what now seems a long, long time ago on Saturday's opening day.

Almost 10 years ago to this day, Lara reached the milestone with a wild pull off Chris Lewis that took him past Sir Garfield Sobers' 36-year-old world record of 365 not out against Pakistan at Kingston to change his mortal life forever.

A few months after that achievement, Lara was again in the news when he established a new world record for the highest score in first-class cricket of 501 for Warwickshire against Durham at Edgbaston.

Lara ended last year with the tag of being the highest ranked batsman in the world, according to the PricewaterhouseCoopers ratings, after just being edged out by new Australia captain Ricky Ponting for the most runs in Test cricket during the calendar year.

While he acknowledges that Hayden's achievement last October gave him renewed vigour to be more consistent with the bat, Lara, however, in his second term as West Indies captain has indicated the joy of this latest milestone has been dampened because his side trails England 0-3 in the four-Test series.

A transformation in the fortunes of West Indies remains his single-most passion since he was appointed last March.

Sachin Tendulkar, regarded by many as the world's best batsman, paid tribute to Lara. "A great achievement, a fantastic feat," Tendulkar told AFP ahead of the third and final Test against Pakistan starting in Rawalpindi on Tuesday.

"We always knew him to be a great accumulator of runs but to score over 350 twice is indeed remarkable. One can't plan an innings like this from the start. It just comes as you go along.

"It is certainly an inspiration for all modern batsmen."

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