That was a fantastic innings by Brian Lara at the Adelaide Oval yesterday. Overnight, he is 202 not out in a West Indian total of 352 for 7. This morning, the papers are reporting that he needs twelve more runs to overhaul Allan Border's career aggregate of 11174. But thanks to the ICC, there will be some nagging doubt over the moment when he becomes the leading Test run-scorer of all time.
The ICC, as we will recall, decreed that their six-day game between Australia and an "ICC World XI" in Sydney last month was, for all purposes, a Test match. This is despite the fact that "ICC World" is not a member entity of the International Cricket Council, that the one-sided match was over inside four days, and that the event is unlikely to repeated, leaving the words "ICC World XI" standing out like a sore thumb on twenty-two players' stats records.
Brian Lara played in that game. It wasn't one of his finest efforts, scoring 5 and 36, but it does place 41 runs on his Test record as a representative of the mythical "ICC World".
The ICC-friendly stats show that, before the start of the current Adelaide Test, Lara had scored 10961 Test runs. It is my view that the correct focus is on Lara's runs in Test matches against other ICC members - in this instance, all the Tests he has played for the West Indies. And that total is 10920.
Which means, with another 202 runs to his credit overnight, that Lara has at this point of time scored 11122 runs in genuine Test cricket. That's another 53 before he passes Border.
There's an argument to say that the ICC's decision to allow "hyper-international" teams into the realm of official Test and ODI cricket should be a catalyst for retrospectively including other RoW matches, and indeed the WSC "supertests" of the late 1970s. But there's a catch here (and it's not a Classic). If we include the WSC games as Test matches (which DK Lillee afficianados have been clamouring after for decades), then wouldn't we need to exclude those official Test matches played at the same time?
In Allan Border's case, this would remove the first five Tests of his career (three against England and two against Pakistan in 1978-79) from his record. We would, therefore, have to deduct 422 runs from his aggregate, bringing his total back to 10752 (curiously, that would give him a century on debut, 162 at Chennai in 1979-80).
Lara passed 10752 during his innings of 153 against Pakistan at Sabina Park in June this year. Can of Worms.
All of which is reason why Test cricket should only be recognised as matches between ICC full member entities, and not redefined at the whim of the ICC marketing consultants.
I'll be happy if Lara reaches 214 today, but I'll be saving the full ovation for 255.