There is very little Brian Lara has not done with bat in hand. The owner of the highest individual score in Test (400*) and first-class cricket (501*), the West Indian genius scored his runs not with the single-mindedness and obsession of a run-machine, but with the elegance, authority and flourish of a virtuoso. He was the ultimate entertainer, the volume of runs a mere expression of his joy at playing the game and the pleasure he derived from mastering the best of bowlers in the most demanding of conditions.
And then there is Sachin Tendulkar, the master of batting, the maker of the maximum runs and hundreds in Test and One-Day International cricket, the ultimate in batting for a majority of his 23 and a half years in international cricket, the epitome of consistency with no concessions made for moodiness and self-indulgence.
Lara and Tendulkar. It's a match made in cricketing heaven by the cricketing Gods. One a slight, left-handed West Indian with all the eccentricities of a genius, the other a stocky, chubby right-hand batsman from India who has embodied the virtues of simplicity and earthiness and shown that all geniuses need not be eccentric. They only batted together once - for an International XI against Pakistan at The Oval in 2006, in a Twenty20 match eventually reduced to 10 overs a side. Lara and Tendulkar opened the batting, and put on 72; Lara was out for 32, Tendulkar remained 50 not out. It must have been some sight, some occasion.