Cricket / First Test: Lara's genius left in shadows

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The Independent Online
BRIAN LARA is all the rage in the Caribbean these days, the darling of the crowds everywhere, a dapper little left- hander with the clear stamp of cricketing genius.

His Red Stripe Cup tournament record included scores of 180, 169 and 206. His 277 in the Sydney Test against Australia just over a year ago was a phenomenal innings that drew unstinting praise from all who saw it.

He has rather overshadowed

everyone else but yesterday had to made a respectful bow in the direction of his fellow left-hander, Keith Arthurton. He first came into the team in England in 1988 but, with the middle order occupied by Viv Richards, Richie Richardson and Carl Hooper, he had to wait before he could assure himself a permanent place.

Richards' retirement after the tour of England in 1991 presented him with an opening. He seized it with a critical unbeaten 157. Modest returns against

Pakistan last season, however, still left lingering doubts and with young challengers waiting in the wings this is an important Test for him.

He entered yesterday with the innings in some crisis after Devon Malcolm, with his additional pace, had just dispatched Desmond Haynes and Richardson.

While Lara found it difficult to adjust to the demands on his application and had a rough initiation from Malcolm, Arthurton demonstrated calm temperament and diligence.

Nothing passed his bat as he acclimatised himself to bowling he had seen only briefly in Wednesday's one-day international and, convinced neither it nor the brown, bare pitch held any terrors, certainly opened out with a volley of typical left-handed offside drives and deflections off his legs. It was an assault that shook England's tight hold on things and surely guaranteed Arthurton a continued run in the team.