This year on May 2nd 1969 the immortal Brian Lara turned 50 .Sadly I missed his birthday and thus this tribute is paid around 3 moths late.Anyway better late than never.I plead that Cricistan viewers could share this great landmark with me and respond to my article on their views .I feel really sorry that I missed out earlier. Brian Lara was a true embodiment or ornament to the game or to sport who took cricketing genius to heights of divinity or regions or depths of the sublime.I personally rate him the equivalent of the great Wasim Akram as a batsmen overall, not only as a left handed batsmen.He could explode like a dynamite but still retain the subtlety of a pianist or grace of a ballad dancer.Blending artistry no batsmen was more mercurial even of many were technically better.At his best it almost looked as though he was defining another epoch in the history of the game-such was his supreme dominance and skill.He would create the impact of a hurricane or a sword piercing flesh but still reveal the effortlessness of the touches of a painters brush. POSITIVE POINTS In my personal view for sheer talent or genius he nosed even the great Viv Richards or Sachin Tendulkar by a whisker.Lara was the equivalent of a Beethoven or Michenangelo to batting .Left handers Gary Sobers or Graeme Pollock could not equal Lara's prowess and the closest to Lara in terms of pure flair was the Englishman David Gower.Overall to me the batsmen most similar or on par in terms of talent to Lara was the maestro Rohan Kanhai who also held a bat like a wand but was technically sounder.Although Sobers was more consistent Lara and Kanhai were more talented and could be more impactful at their best. For pure genius as a cricketer perhaps only Gary Sobers or arguably W.G.Grace was ahead and maybe Ian Botham at his best.In terms of being a magician Wasim was the equal or equivalent of Lara.At his best I find it difficult to visualize any batsmen surpassing Lara ,including Sir Viv Richards and would vote him with Victor Trumper and Rohan Kanhai at the top,at their best. Evaluating the bowling attack he faced and the condition of the wicket Lara's 153 n.o to me is still the best test innings ever in a run chase.Even if Kusala Perera 's recent knock was an epic it still to me did not Surpass Lara's effort. No batsmen had a greater penchant for registering mammoth scores ,that to with such flourish.Even if Sehwag had the same apetite he did not have Lara's finesse or golden touch.Lara had a phenomenal scoring rate ahead of any great batsmen of his day in test matches.No batsmen scored more double hundreds in his day that to against Australia and Shane Warne.Nonone tore part or was more prolific against Murlitharan as Brian. No batsmen equalled Brian's average percentage score of the team's total score after Headley and Bradman.In peak periods he overshadowed any great of his era considering his staggering average percentage score of the team's total score. Lara at his best turned or single-handedly won more games for his team than Tendulkar,being more impactful at his best.I find it hard to visualize a great batsmen from nay era who could so single-handedly turn or win games as Brian. In a losing cause he overshadowed any batting great with his aggregate or runs and centuries. Many opponents rate Lara the best batsmen of his era,ahead of Tendulkar like Jacques Kallis,Glen Mcgrath ,Inzamam Ul Haq,Sead Anwar or even Wasim Akram .Cricino analyst Anatha Narayana ranks Lara as the 2nd best tes batsmen to Bradman.David Gower ranked Lara as his 6th bets cricketer ever,ahead of geniuses like Hammond,Hobbs,Grace,Marshall ,Barnes Imran,Botham and Hutton which is remarkable. FLAWS However he had flaws which were inconsistency in patches and lack of technical perfection like Gavaskar,Greg Chapell , Tendulkar or even Sobers..This is why bowlers like Alan Donald prized Tendulkar's wicket more and Glen Mcgrath who felt that Lara would always give you more of a chance or a sniff of being dismissed.In many ways Lara was like a more elegant or artistic left -handed version of Sir Viv Richards.Lara, like Viv Richards posessed such natural talent that he hardly needed to compensate it with perfect technique but at times it led to dismisal of both these giants.Unlike Viv and Sachin in test matches. Lara did not score a single test hundred against a great genuine fast quickie like **** Donald,Wasim Akram or Waqar Younus and at times succumbed to genuine short pitched stuff.Wasim Akram still rates Viv a harder opponent while most cricketing experts overall rank Tendulkar and Viv ahead of Lara. Even if impactful Lara basically championed a losing cause apart from some of his epic knocks.Inzaman and Ponting were far greater match winners statistically and to a certain extent Tendulkar or even Rahul Dravid. Lara also did not have such a great statistical record overseas like other greats like Tendulkar,Dravid or even Viv Richards. Generally Tendulkar and Viv have been included in all-time test world xi's considerably more than Lara.Viv got 64 votes ,Tendulkar 42 and Lara 25 for selection in all-time test xi. BEST PERFORMANCE OF CAREER Although he surpassed the world record score twice when scoring 375 and an unbeaten 400 I feel his 688 run s facing Murlitharan in 2003 including a classic 221 ,546 run including an epic 213 and 153 versus Australia in 1999 and his classic 277 at Sydney in 1992-93 were more memorable and impactful and thus bettered those world record performances .I have rarely seen a batsmen so single -handedly turn a series like Lara did against Australia in 1999,dominate a great spinner carrying the entire burden of his team on his shoulders against Sri Lanka in 2003 and take domination to such a crescendo when scoring 277 versus Australia. WHERE HE RANKED OVERALL AS BATSMEN AND CRICKETER So in the end I wish to give my verdict on where Lara would rank as a batsmen and cricketer In pure test cricket there is a case for Lara being ranked the best of all test batsmen considering that Bradman played in an era when bowling standards were not the level they were in the modern times and the Don never faced genuine spin bowling.Of course statistically the Don is a creature from another planet and on another plane but still there were even batsmen in hi days who had better prowess on bad wickets like Trumper,Hobbs and Headley.Mnay experts rank Lara as the best test batsmen after Bradman.Thus below only Bradman as a batsmen in test cricket. Considering his impact in terms of opposition played,conditions played in and contribution to team Lara overshadows Tendulkar.No batsmen bore the brunt of team more on his shoulders than Lara after Sir George Headley.Lara overshadowed Tendulkar,Ponting,Greg Chappell and Sobers in term sof scoring rate.However considering ODI performances Lara and Viv would rate overall marginally ahead of Lara and respecting statistics and level of superiority over peers Bradman.To me Lara's greatest rivals amongst batsmen were Walter Hammond and George Headley .Considering Lara was more mercurial Lara may just rank ahead of Headley while he may edge Hammond because he conquered more diverse bowling and shouldered more responsiblity .Thus overall to me only behind Hobbs,Tendulkar,Bradman and Viv as a batsmen. Overall as a cricketer I would rank Lara ahead of stalwarts like Gilchrist,Kallis,Botham,Miller,Compton,Hutton,Lill e etc.His closest rivals as a cricketer overall are Walter Hammond,Wasim Akram and Malcolm Marshall.In pure test cricket Lara would overshadow Wasim but may be nosed out by Marshall,as the latter was greater match-winner and more consistent.Considering his impact in 1st class cricket and haul of wickets in tests Hammond may just edge Brian.Overall Lara makes it amongst the top dozen cricketers of all behind Grace,Sobers,Tendulkar,Bradman,Warne Viv Richards,Barnes,Imran and Hammond and in a virtual dead heat with Wasim and Marshall.