"I often have to explain to people he didn't score all of the 375 off me," Chris Lewis quips as he reflects with mixed emotions on Brian Lara's astonishing record knock in Antigua.
It is 25 years to the day since Lara whipped an expectant Antigua crowd into a frenzy by hooking Lewis to the boundary to eclipse fellow West Indies legend Garry Sobers' long-standing highest Test score of 365 not out.
A quarter of a century on, that historic moment is still fresh in the memory of former England all-rounder Lewis.
"Oh no," Lewis replies when asked if he would mind sharing his recollection of an incredible tour de force from one of the greatest batsmen of all time.
That must have been what the England bowlers were thinking when captain Michael Atherton asked them to warm up as Lara majestically piled on the runs.
The Windies had been reduced to 12-2 on day one of the final match of the series, but Lara spent 12 hours and 46 minutes at the crease to surpass a record set by Sobers back in 1958.
Lewis had tried everything to remove the elegant left hander, whose foot dislodged a bail - which fell back into the groove - as he swung around after hitting one of 45 fours to make history.
He told Omnisport: "People identify me with running in to bowl that ball to Brian, so I often have to explain to people he didn't score all of the 375 off me!
"But I remember running in to bowl the ball and really just thinking, 'I've tried everything else, so I'll have a go at getting [the ball] as high as I can', and there were two men back, so see what happens.
"I bowled the ball, he whacked it for four and it was chaotic, with the game stopped halfway through, people came onto the field - including Garry Sobers - and we're just spectators taking it in, not quite believing what's going on.
"While that was happening, Jack [Russell, England wicketkeeper] came up to me and said, 'Do you know he stepped on his stumps when he hooked it?' I had no idea.
"Here we are 25 years later and certainly I didn't want Brian to break the record, certainly not off my bowling and certainly not against our team. I wouldn't say I was happy to be a part of it but I'm happy for Brian. He was the best batter I ever played against, one of the most exciting cricketers I've ever seen and he deserves it."
Lewis added: "It was really surreal. I remember Brian getting his hundred and I remember thinking, he's got his hundred so sooner or later - hopefully sooner - he'll probably chip one to cover or point or something like that, because it often happens - batsmen give it away after getting to the century.
"But he kept going and after day one nobody was thinking of the world record, then during the second day there almost seemed to be a build-up and an inevitably about it."
While Lewis is now happy to doff his cap to Lara - who went on to make an unbeaten 400 on the same ground against the same opponents to reclaim the Test record 10 years later - for his herculean knock, it was too painful to appreciate at the time.
"I must admit it took me a while to be admiring it, because it's a bit like being in the midst of a boxing fight and someone has given you a great right hook and you stand back and admire," the 51-year-old said.
"It's very much later when there is not so much aggression going on or in some cases even after your career when you can look back. I didn't want to admire batters too much, it was a competition, but 25 years later Brian Lara coming into bat... if I wasn't bowling it would be a very enjoyable day!"
- Lewis is currently on tour for The Long Walk Back, a theatre production based on his fall from grace.
21 de mayo 2019
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