If there ever was a debate about who is the best batsman in the world -Brian Lara or Sachin Tendulkar -then it is no contest. Lara may hold two world records of the highest Test score and highest first class score but they are statistics. Tendulkar is the best by streets. Why? Simply that both are very wealthy through their skills on a cricket field but only one of them is still motivated by a desire to score runs.
After Tendulkar's outstanding century against Australia you would have thought that Lara would have been desperate to equal him against Pakistan. The Lara of 1994 vintage would have been `fired up' to perform. His pride would have been stung and his desire to succeed would have made him play with responsibility. But in 1998 he is a shadow of the great player we glimpsed for a year and a half. Fame came quickly after the world records, adulation and money followed. Perhaps he began to believe in his own publicity. Friends and family plus his Trinidadian fans would forgive him anything when he batted like an angel.
To maintain that high standard you have to keep working at your skill and above all keep your desire to succeed. Once you lose the desire and/or stop working at your batting you are gone. The money will not help you and once you start getting out cheaply, too often even your suporters desert you in the end.
Brian Lara played irresponsibly. Jumping down the pitch as soon as he had come in, to hit over the top against the spin was the shot of a novice or a man who didn't learn from it. When he tried it again and was caught out it was stupid.
Lara has so much talent, unbelievable eyesight and reflexes yet he thinks he can turn his skill on and off like a tap. He can't! Every great batsman, inwhatever era, has had to work hard at his game. Tactically it is vital to hone your skill in the nets but more importantly the mental attitude has to be right. Now as captain of West Indies it is important he sets the right example to the other players. If it appears as if he doesn't care then it will become impossible for him to ask teammates to knuckle down, graft and work at their game. The captain and best batsman must set an example.
I feel sad that a young man I like who has talent beyond belief, is not getting the best out of himself for West Indies. One day when he is retired he may regret it.
On the other hand, Tendulkar is or will be the richest cricketer and yet hs hunger for runs has not diminished. Every match and every innigs he bats like a man possessed. His appetite for runs and joy when batting, bowling or fielding is a pleasure to behold. Money, fame and a `god' like status has not changed his love of the game and desire for success. Till Sachin can stay motivated to bat, nobody can take his crown away. He is the king.