Cricket: Lara hits roof laying into Middlesex: Record-breaker's sixth century in seven innings

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The Independent Online
Warwickshire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .211 and 306-5

Middlesex. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .249 and 245-9

Match drawn

IT IS not uncommon to see white-specked MCC blazers in the Long Room, evidence generally of dandruff or a toothless luncheon partner. Such blazers are customarily brushed clean by the memsahib upon arriving home, but last night they were being zealously guarded with the words 'Brian Lara did this'.

Lara, who yesterday resumed normal service with his sixth century in seven innings - and very nearly set up Warwickshire's third win in four matches - left several members dappled with dislodged flakes of white paint after he clattered John Emburey on to the guttering on the roof of the pavilion's south turret.

The next two balls went for four, whipped through mid- wicket and flat-batted past cover. If Emburey bore a resigned look of having seen it all before, he had - he was the bowler lifted into the north turret guttering by Glamorgan's Mike Llewellyn in the 1977 Gillette Cup final. He also gained revenge when, after a morning return of 85 runs from 84 balls, Lara was lured into a return catch.

Lara's average for the year thus dipped below three figures for the first time since his arrival in England, but any suspicion that he has been found out is unlikely to last the week - Durham at home are his next opponents. Having yesterday become the eighth man to make six hundreds in seven innings, there must be a fair chance of him becoming the first man to make seven in eight.

The speed with which Lara made his runs enabled Warwickshire to set Middlesex a target of 269 from 50 overs. They began well, with Mike Roseberry taking them to 129 for 1 before Tim Munton intervened. He dismissed Mike Gatting and Mark Ramprakash in successive deliveries then, in the following over, had Roseberry caught behind off a brutal lifter.

With Desmond Haynes suffering from a split left thumbnail, Middlesex now appeared to settle for a draw. Enter Lara again, this time with the ball. As a bowler, he produces runs even quicker than when batting, albeit without the same style. His last nine balls conceded 31 runs and, as he departed with 'a slight shoulder strain', the chase was resumed.

Keith Brown and Paul Weekes slogged 77 in 11 overs, then Haynes, at No 7, hit 24 in 19 balls. But Munton again took successive wickets, Haynes leg before and Richard Johnson caught off a mis- hook, Gladstone Small had Neil Williams lbw, and Warwickshire were left with eight balls to dismiss either Angus Fraser or John Emburey.

It was not enough but the satisfaction of avoiding defeat will be little consolation for the defending champions, still without a win this season and now 79 points behind their neighbours, Surrey.

----------------------------------------------------------------- SIX CENTURIES IN SEVEN INNINGS ----------------------------------------------------------------- C B Fry. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1901 G E Tyldesley. . . . . . . . . . . 1926 D G Bradman. . . . . . . . . . . . 1938-39 V M Merchant. . . . . . . . . . . .1940-41, 1941-42 W R Hammond. . . . . . . . . . . . 1945-46 P N Kirsten. . . . . . . . . . . . 1976-77 M J Procter. . . . . . . . . . . . 1970-71 B C Lara. . . . . . . . . . . . . .1994 -----------------------------------------------------------------

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