Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar will do down as two of the finest Test cricketers of all time - but which one was better?
That was the question up for debate amongst Sky Sports pundits Mike Atherton, Paul Collingwood and Steve Harmison whilst rain curtailed day four of the second Test between New Zealand and England.
West Indian icon Lara, who retired from the five-day game in 2006, amassed 34 centuries in his 131 matches and a batting average of 52.88, while he still holds the record for the highest individual score in a Test innings with the 400 not out he accrued against England in 2004.
India's Tendulkar, meanwhile, is the only man to accumulate over 15,000 Test match runs, has a higher average than Lara (54.29) and 51 five-day tons, although he has figured in 65 more Tests than his Trinidadian rival.
Former England skipper Atherton lavished praise on both men but says he would choose Tendulkar's all-round excellence over Lara's panache if he could only pick one of them in a Test match team.
"I would still say Sir Viv Richards is the greatest of all time, though (Lara and Tendulkar) are undoubtedly two of the best players to ever play the game," said the Times writer.
"Test cricket is a game of aesthetics as well as numbers, though, and if I was a spectator I would prefer to watch Lara as I think he just pips Tendulkar in terms of style and grace.
"When he came out to bat he was slightly more vulnerable than Tendulkar, but once he got in he could take the micky out of you by hitting the ball in any gaps in the field.
"However, if I was a selector I would probably choose Tendulkar as he is someone who can bat for his life against pace and spin in all conditions, while his ability to cope with the deification and scrutiny from the Indian public for 20-odd years is a hallmark of his greatness.
"I've never seen such a great player less involved in the game, though; usually top players are right at the heart of things in the slips but Tendulkar is often having a graze at deep cover and nattering with the crowd.
"It's almost like he saves his energy for batting."
"If you tried to bounce and hit Brian he would come at you, go hard at the ball and give you a chance. Sachin can bat for six hours at the same pace but Brian liked to go through the gears and while he could get a big score and make you want to have an extra fielder, he might not last that long. Lara was one of those batsmen, like Kevin Pietersen, who could light up a crowd, but for his ability to stick around, I'd rather have Sachin in my team."
"Sachin is a fantastic player of spin as he was brought up on Mumbai wickets but it was incredible how Lara used his feet, hands and flair and hit over extra cover to the spinners; Mushtaq Ahmed used to say that he couldn't bowl at him! They could both play on flat, bouncy wickets, too, but I think Tendulkar, the more technically correct of the two, was probably the more consistent player."
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