The 90s have gone. Not simply in a literal sense, that's self-evident and happened long ago, but gone in that they have slipped through that hinterland of recent memory and into history. They're in another place now.
It became obvious the other night, when ITV screened a documentary about Brian Lara. It was nothing revelatory, but it was nice to have the great man talk through his recollections of those liminal weeks in 1994 when he urged batting into its new age, making seven hundreds in eight innings, a run that began with his 375 in Antigua and ended with 501 at Edgbaston. Both records inside two months? We were somewhere else.
Lara said some things that not many people get to say - "I suppose I scored about 150 runs or so before lunch" sticks in the mind - and as he spoke, highlights of the innings played. His genius was present and total, that endless backlift counterpointed by the low and level head, his certainty and speed through the hitting area contrasting with the languorous beauty of his follow through; it's timeless. Yet all around him was context. His bat, the classic Scoop, was slim and straight, lacking the great bows and edges of modern warfare. Shirts were baggy, pads buckled, scoreboards pre-electronic. No-one in the crowd had phones or cameras, the fashions and haircuts appeared odd and lost. For the first time, 1994 looked like a period piece, as all things eventually do.
It wasn't until the story rolled forwards to the mid noughties that the terrain surrounding Lara became familiar; the bats bigger, the gear lightweight, the clothing fitted, the crowds contemporary. When he made 400 to rightfully reclaim his record, only one other player from either side was still there, and that was Graham Thorpe (although Shiv Chanderpaul played in the 375 match, his fourth Test).
Viewing those games again, one belonged to an earlier time, a time that had slid into unfamiliarity. The 90s suddenly felt like the 80s, distant and filled with the heavy weight of the past. The years goes on before we notice.
From the desk of Darren Lehmann?
1 week ago