In-Focus

How Brian Lara’s high backlift technique made him a Champion batter?

The comparison between Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar was the most debated topic among the cricket fans in the 1990s and 2000s – the ‘Virat Kohli vs. Steve Smith’ argument of that era.

Without any doubt, Lara is one of the best left-handed batsman in the cricketing history. The West Indian batsman has been behind many greatest moments of the game. 

In his comparison with Sachin, Brian Lara stands tall in style, approach, and attitude to take the lead in bowlers. 

Whenever people saw Brian Lara batting, they get stuck to their television, regardless of whether their home team played or not. He was the AB de Villiers of that generation – loved by fans of every cricketing nation. One reason for that would be: ‘No batsman can be as pleasing to the eyes than this left-hander with the pads on.’ 

So what was unique about Brian Lara? 

Well, the answer is everything he did! 

  • Lara’s technique (which is tough to crack)
  • The back lift (which we will discuss in this article, in detail)
  • His aggressive approach
  • The display of power every time his bat connected the ball
  • The way the ball pumped out from his bat. 

It had left many to wonder how it was possible in the first place, to be successful without taking any notes out of the cricketing text books. Every shot he played had tremendous power involved in it, and were of his own style.

In this article, we will explain Brian Lara’s technique of how to play against the fast bowlers and spinners accordingly, by decoding his astonishing backlift.

The Backlift

Brian Lara is still known for his higher and elegant backlift.

Every time he intended to play a shot, his backlift went higher, and the blade of the bat faced the point fielder and came down with enormous power and speed to contact the ball.

Brian Lara Backlift

The Reasons behind his higher backlift

1) To react to the pace of the fast bowlers

  • Brain Lara came in to international cricket when there were a plenty of lethal fast bowlers and more challenging bowling tracks. 
  • To react to the deadly speed from the bowlers, Lara has made himself ready with his high backlift and a crossed shuffle with his feet.

2) His steady legs

  • Brian Lara has got the stronger leg muscles that made him so quick within the crease. 
  • It required an excellent leg strength to balance the body when his hands were doing the magnificent swing of the willow, and he had got that.

3) The commanding attitude

  • The Trinidadian was naturally aggressive who hated losing, and had always tried to knock off the opponents. 
  • This attitude made him go harder on every shots he played. 

When asked about his famous backlift by Dean Jones, in a Select Dugout video, the West Indian answered this.

“I found that my back lift was pretty quick for the fastball as I felt that I got the rhythm of the fastballs, with a spin it never got that high. I think it is just the fact that somebody is bowling a ninety-five miles an hour, and the next person is only fifty-five miles an hour.”

What followed were?

1) The Bottom-hand domination

  • With the high backlift and energy-pounded shots, Lara turned out to be a natural bottom-handed player. 
  • Even his front foot shots like cover drives and straight drives were accompanied with enormous power. 
  • The Trinidadian has never followed the weight transformation method for the shots he played. 
  • The intellectual left-hander allowed his top hand to take over when he wanted to defend.

2) Incredible bat speed

  • Lara’s higher backlift produced immense bat speed that any batsman could only dream of.
  • Being one of the batsmen with the fastest bat swings in the game, he reached the balls unbelievably quicker, which made him the toughest to bowl.
  • Added to that, the West Indian was exceptionally good at maintaining his bat speed, which leads the bat to meet the ball at the perfect timing most of the time.
  • The boosted backlift automatically brought in the rush to his bat swing. 

3) Extreme power

  • The elevated back lift produced more power than it was required before the contact of the ball. 
  • The immense power, along with his natural hand-eye coordination, induced a higher velocity to the cricket ball in the aimed direction. 

4) Multiple range of shots

Brian Lara pull shot
  • Lara’s bat swing was able to cover a full arc, thanks to the extensions of his hand with the backlift he had.
  • This added to his ability to smash the ball in all angles around the park. 

5) The impact he created on the bowlers

  • The kind of shots he was able to play with his extended bat swing made the balls come out as a cracker from his bat. 
  • The out of the box thinking that came naturally to his shot-making dismantled even the best bowlers of his era, making them a mere spectator.
  • The Trinidadian had psychologically beaten many bowlers on the field with his incredibly unique backlift. 

When Glenn McGrath, the legendary Australian fast bowler, was asked who was the hardest to bowl to, between Sachin and Lara, his reply was:

That was Lara for me. He never changed his game. I may have got him out 15 times, but he also scored big hundreds and double hundreds against us when both me and Warnie were playing together for Australia. When it was his day, he could do absolutely anything. Sachin was equally as good, but there was something about Brian where he could just keep going and he was slightly harder to bowl to than Sachin. He was more fearless.

How Lara approached the Spinners?

As a batsman who was extremely good at pacers, Lara was not affected by the spin bowling too. In fact, against the spin, the natural left-hander had more time to react.

Contrary to the fast bowling, Lara was much more relaxed against the spinners. He used a different approach to tackle the spinners. The West Indian batsman shuffled his legs forward with a short backlift of the bat to contact the ball. 

Interestingly while facing the spinners, it was amazing to watch the time he took to react. Lara was able to respond to the ball even at the mere end. He was able to judge the length of the ball earlier and then waited for it to create the impact with his quick hands. 

Also, Lara’s wrist work replaced the high backlift while he played the spinners, exactly what Hardik Pandya does in modern-day cricket. But Hardik requires a massive bat swing to hit the balls long. 

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When it comes to Lara, his quick hands along with his light foot, were enough to impact the trouble.

I have never seen a batsman play spin and medium-pacer better than Brian Lara ~ Michael Holding, former West Indian cricketer.

Conclusion

To be frank, we must all have imitated his batting style at least once in our life, which shows the impact he has created as a cricketer with his unique batting style. His is one of the completely different approaches that cricket has ever seen in a batsmen. 

Lara believed in his strengths and bettered in every oppurtunity he got. He made many cricketers believe in their own style. 

Success from a player like Brian Lara is the reason for many unique talents to get staged at International levels. 

Of course, his way of back lifting the bat is not easy to be followed by everyone. But what Lara had done was: He proved us the importance of the backlift in the art of batting. 

Lara is a great inspiration. For those who are learning the different cricketing techniques, Brian Lara must be at the top of their subject list.

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