Brian Lara 501 Not Out – Climbs the Highest Peak of First-Class Cricket
On the day that thousands commemorated the 50th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, across the channel at Edgbaston the cricket world was applauding another battle, one led single-handedly by West Indies batsman Brian Lara. In a County Championship match, Warwickshire vs Durham played on 6 June 1994.
CRICKET’S two most prestigious records now belong to Brian Lara. Just seven weeks after making the highest score in Test cricket, the genius left-handed from Trinidad yesterday broke the most famous individual batting record – the biggest first-class score – with 501 not out for Warwickshire.
Playing for Warwickshire against Durham in the 1994 County Championship, Lara became the first batsman in first-class cricket to score 500. His innings of 501 not out were his seventh hundred in eight consecutive first-class innings; a world record sequence which began with 375 against England at St John’s—the highest individual score in Test cricket.
The first six months of 1994 were a breathtaking period for the young left-hander who smashed record after record with seemingly consummate ease. He began the year by amassing a record 715 runs for Trinidad and Tobago in the Red Stripe Cup, hitting three big centuries along the way-180, 169, and 206—the three highest individual scores of the season.
A five-match Test series against England followed, in which he scored two centuries (167 and 375) and a total of 798 runs at the Bradman-like average,e of 99.75. Now rated the world’s No. 1 batsman, Lara headed off to England for his first stint on the county circuit and celebrated his first-class debut for Warwickshire by scoring 147 against Glamorgan at Edgbaston.
He then hit hundreds in his next five Championship matches, culminating in his world-record undefeated 501 against Durham. Starting the day at 111, Lara passed ‘Tip’ Foster’s Warwickshire record of 305 not out which had stood since 1914; Archie MacLaren’s 99-year English record of 424; and finally Hanif Mohammad’s world record 499 against Bahawalpur at Karachi in 1958-59.
In five and a half hours’ play on the final day, he made 390 from his own bat, the most ever made in a single day. With the captains agreeing that because of a washout on the third day and a Durham score of 556 for eight declared, further declarations would be unrealistic, Lara was given a license to bat all day.
He was 111 not out when play started his seventh hundred in eight innings. He added another 174 before lunch and admitted he had his eyes on Hanif Mohammad’s record score of 499, made for Karachi in 1958-59. However, against a weak and tiring side, but not deliberately charitable Durham attack. Brian Lara broke record after record and at 325 he completed 1,000 runs in seven innings for Warwickshire, a feat hitherto managed only by Sir Donald Bradmanon Australia’s 1938 tour.
In the last session, Archie MacLaren’s English record of 425 for Lancashire in 1895 fell, and in the final over, with Warwickshire past 800 for the first time ever, Brian Lara drove a ball from John Morris with searing force to the wide mid-off boundary to reach 501. That is indeed incredible innings in the history of first-class cricket.