Former Australian captain Ian Chappell rates Brian Lara as a superior batsman to the resurgent Ricky Ponting and little master Sachin Tendulkar.
Chappell says Lara's ability to amass big scores for the West Indies and his "innate knowledge" on targeting specific bowlers to score quickly makes him a better batsman than Australia's Ponting and India's Tendulkar.
"Tendulkar gains a lot of support because he is idolised in a country of more than a billion people, he was compared to Sir Donald Bradman by the man himself and is on the verge of scoring 100 international centuries, a remarkable feat," Chappell wrote in his column for the Daily Telegraph.
"Ponting gains votes for his versatility as a batsman and his determination to battle hard in adversity. Ponting may trail Tendulkar in discussions on the aesthetics of batting, but he bows to no one on perseverance.
"Meanwhile, in a classic case of out of sight out of mind, the now retired Lara hardly ever enters the conversation these days. To exclude Lara is a mistake; he is the world record-holder with a Test score of 400 and, next to Bradman, he is the scorer of the most "big" centuries in Test cricket.
"He has the only score of 400 in Test cricket, a triple century and seven double centuries. That's a remarkable feat, especially when you consider neither Tendulkar nor Ponting has a triple century.
"This probably highlights an area where Lara is superior to the other two players under discussion; his knowledge of how to amass big scores," said Chappell.
Lara played his last international match in 2007 after making 34 Test and 19 one-day hundreds. Ponting, who has 41 and 30 centuries in the two formats, has regained form at the fag end of his career, silencing his detractors by scoring a double century and a hundred in the recently concluded series against India. Tendulkar, sitting on 99 international hundreds, is far ahead of the two in numbers.
"While the world has watched and waited anxiously for Tendulkar's 100th international century, Ponting has quietly beavered away in the background restoring his reputation with persistent practice and hard-earned runs in the middle," said Chappell.
"The fact that those runs were increasingly more convincing in Adelaide, and he was able to push on to score a double century, have turned the conversation from 'when will he retire' to 'how long will he play on'."
"Ponting will never reach the statistical peak of Tendulkar, but while the "Little Master" continues to stumble with the defining century in sight, often because of a mental aberration, Ponting impresses with the strength of his mind.
"Nevertheless, if you told me I could pick just one of that trio, I would take Lara. "I loved the way he played spin bowling and I admired his determination to always do it his way," he added.
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