Today Brian Lara announced his retirement from international cricket.
He is or, depending on when you read this, was unquestionably a great player. I remember him for two majestic innings which I saw him play at the Adelaide Oval: the first 156 in a one day international against Pakistan on 28 January 2005, the second 226 in a test against Australia in November that year.
In both games he took time to play himself in before unwrapping his repertoire of strokes. In the one dayer he went into overdrive and cut loose, hitting 5 sixes as well as 12 fours. In the test he was more restrained and hit 22 fours but no sixes. There he kept the ball on the ground - I recall several exquisite drives which sped over the turf like a billiard ball across the cloth.
Yes, a batting superstar, but, it's generally agreed, not a leader. During his periods of captaincy the West Indies sunk to their lowest ebb since their earliest test playing days. That, for so long in the 1980s and early 1990s , they were head and shoulders above everyone else in world cricket, makes their decline the more disturbing.
While Lara was part of this, he was for so long the one torchbearer of the flame of West Indies cricket. What will happen when he goes? There are some good players, but no one who comes close (or who seems to have the potential to do so) to Brian Charles Lara.
Update 22 April
Lara's last ODI ended in a one wicket loss to England. He made 18 with the bat before being run out at the non- striker's end for 18.
Cricinfo's S Rajesh has produced a detailed statistical survey of the great man's Test and ODI career.