By Neto Baptiste
It was 16 years ago, on April 12, 2004, when West Indies batsman Brian Lara smashed 400 not out against England here at a packed Antigua Recreation Grounds to reclaim the record for the highest individual score in a Test innings from Australian Matthew Hayden.
Lara faced 582 deliveries and hit 43 fours and four sixes on his way to the mammoth total.
Often overlooked is the man who was at the other end, Antiguan wicketkeeper Ridley Jacobs, who played a supporting role by hitting 107 from 207 deliveries, staying at the crease to ensure that his captain achieved the milestone.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Jacobs relived the memorable innings, remembering what he said to Lara as he neared the achievement.
“’Just to keep batting; you’re close to the target, the world record, so you just need to keep batting and stay focused. I am here with you and I am not going anywhere’. Brian was a genius when it comes to batting and you’d have to give him that credit, and batting with him was a great experience because you learn so much. The way he played his shots with total ease and comfort, you may be at the other end struggling to play a decent shot and he makes it look so simple. It is always good to bat with great players and learn a lot from them,” he said.
Known as the “Prince of Trinidad”, Lara had previously held the record for the highest individual score, which was 375 against the same opponents in 1994 and at the same venue. He held the record for nine years before Hayden slammed 380 against Zimbabwe.
Jacobs, who had eight fours and three sixes in his patient knock, said being at the crease when Lara reached 400 was an overwhelming experience.
“It was a really good feeling, the feeling you only get when you’re out there in the middle and honestly, you feel as if you’re doing it even though it’s not you; you feel as though you’re getting all of the accolades, the awards and you feel happy within yourself. All I tried to do was support him because I know the importance of having these records and doing well for your country and for people that really support you,” he said.
Regarded as one of the best wicketkeepers to have played the game, Jacobs also had high praises for Lara as captain, stating that the Trinidadian was all-inclusive.
“You can’t do it on your own and Brian is always asking questions because he is always asking me questions and always asking other guys questions to get information and then he’d pile that information together and get the best from it, and I think that makes a good captain because you have a lot of guys there who probably might not be captain, but they have good knowledge about the game,” the former player said.
Lara also holds the record for highest individual score in first-class cricket when, in 1994, playing for Warwickshire against Durham at Edgbaston, he scored 501 not out.