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Lara, Enid Bakewell inducted into Hall of Fame
The West Indies contingent turned out in force to see Brian Lara inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame, but it was England's Enid Bakewell, the women's inductee, who stole the show in Colombo, with charming anecdotes from her career and a dedication to the sport that still endures 33 years after retirement.
Lara became the17th West Indies player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, while Bakewell is the third women's inductee, after team-mate and captain Rachel Heyhoe-Flint and Australian Belinda Clark.
Bakewell was an allrounder from 1968 to 1982, who in twelve Tests scored 1078 runs at 59.88 and took 50 wickets at 16.62. She is one of only five cricketers, male or female, to have hit a century and taken ten wickets in the same Test - a feat she achieved in her final match, against West Indies at Edgbaston. Now, at 71, she still turns out for the Redoubtables club side in Surrey, for whom she opens the bowling, but only because she helps keep the run rate down, she said.
Her glittering statistics have earned her a place among the greats of the women's game, but it was not the personal achievements that she remembered most fondly.
"I wasn't interested in my own success," she said. "As long as we got a win and we were part of a very good team, that was the most important thing." The names sometimes eluded her, but her team-mates contributions to her own success were retold with vivid enthusiasm. "I couldn't have done it without our brilliant wicketkeeper," she said of Shirley Hodges, who made 13 stumpings and took three catches off Bakewell's left-arm spin. "A girl from Yorkshire, who opened the bowling, took three splendid catches to give me a hat trick in Australia," Bakewell said of Julia Greenwood.
Lara's induction, as ICC chief executive Dave Richardson put it, was "mere formality". Former Australia fast bowler Craig McDermott paid tribute to Lara's "very broad bat", referring to the 277 in Sydney that launched Lara into batting stratosphere, while former West Indies captain Richie Richardson spoke of the promise he Lara had shown as a youth, and the manner in which he had, unlike so many others, lived up to those high expectations.
The 375 and 400 not out against England and the 501 not out for Warwickshire were suitably evoked, as the most conspicuous statistical markers of Lara's prowess. But like in the case of Blakewell, it was the performances that led to victories that Lara remembered most fondly, particularly the 213 in Kingston, to level the home series against Australia, and the 153 not out in Bridgetown that clinched the following match by one wicket. Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, Lara said, gave him some of his most memorable battles, and rarely failed to draw the best out of him.
The ICC will announce two more Hall of Fame inductees later this year.
Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Sri Lanka