Trivia - batting May 9, 2008

So near yet so far

When Virender Sehwag strode out on the fourth day of the recent Test against South Africa in Chennai, he already had 309 runs to his name
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When Virender Sehwag strode out on the fourth day of the recent Test against South Africa in Chennai, he already had 309 runs to his name. There would have been a great many fans wondering how far he could go: could he top Brian Lara’s 400?

Statistics, however, indicate the fans were very likely to be disappointed [as they were]. The truth is that while 309 and 400 sound like reasonably similar scores, they are not. In fact, it is harder for a batsman to add another 100 runs if he has already made 300, than it is at almost any other score.

There have now been 22 Test triple-centuries, enough for some statistics. Only one of those triples has gone on to produce the magic 400, while 17 others have been dismissed before reaching that mark. Only one out of 18: that is only a 5.6% conversion rate. (The other four innings finished not out between 300 and 399; it is better not to include them in this calculation.) It is interesting to compare this to the conversion rates at other scores:

Conversion rates in 100-run increments
Score range No. of dismissals No. of successes Conversion rate
0-99* 33,822 2942 8%
100-199 2334 279 10.7%
200-299 192 22 10.3%
300-399 17 1 5.6%

*0-99 data involves only recognised batsmen (#1-6 in batting order). “Number of successes” refers to the number of innings that have passed through the specified range without dismissal, e.g., for 0-99 it refers to the number of centuries.

While interesting, this data is not very robust for the 300-399 range. If the next batsman to make a triple-century happens to go on to 400, the conversion rate will almost double [to a rate similar to the 300-400 conversion rate in first-class cricket of 11%]. However, the difficulty batsmen encounter above 300 can also be seen when we look more closely, at 20-run increments.

Conversion rates in 20-run increments
Score range No. of dismissals No. of successes Conversion rate
100-119 1105 1791 62%
120-139 581 1087 65%
140-159 329 667 67%
160-179 209 414 66%
180-199 110 279 72%
200-219 96 142 60%
220-239 50 84 63%
240-259 22 55 71%
260-279 19 30 61%
280-299 5 22 81%
300-319 7 14 67%
320-339 5 7 58%

Note the similarity of the pattern at the 200-run mark and the 300-run mark. As batsmen approach 200, their conversion rate rises, only to fall suddenly after reaching the milestone; the same thing happens at 300. A dismissal between 280 and 299 is a rare thing.

It is also striking that a batsman’s ability to add runs once he has reached 300 [67% and 58% for 300-319 and 320-339] is, in effect, no better than for those who have just reached 100 [62% and 65%].

Further perspective can be gained by looking at the one batsman who did make it to 400, Brian Lara at St John’s in 2004. In that innings, Lara played with caution and great focus after reaching 300, taking 178 balls to go from 300 to 400 [56 runs per 100 balls]. This is probably the slowest progression from 300 to 400 in first-class cricket: in doing this under very benign conditions when quick runs were called for, Lara also sacrificed any chance his team had of winning the match.

Few triple-centurions take this approach. The surprisingly high rate of failures after reaching 300, when scoring should be easiest, is probably a combination of mental exhaustion and the need for quick runs in those circumstances. The typical scoring-rate for triple-centurions in their first 300 runs is about 63 runs per 100 balls, but for runs beyond 300 [apart from Lara], the rate is over 80 runs per 100 balls, in time-limited Tests.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rahul on May 28, 2008, 8:11 GMT

    Hey Charles,

    That was a good one.But statistics can be tricky at times.Considering the fact that 300+ scores have been achieved only 18 times it's a bit odd to calculate percentages from that since all the others,that is 0-100,100+,200+ all have been achieved much much more. But still its an interesting way to look at things.The batsmen get really drained after batting to score 300+ and usually then the team gets to strong position and they go for quick runs/declare.That is a reason 400 has been achieved only once.And the test matches moves at a faster pace than olden times,so unless you score really fast you wont get to 300.Something Sehwag has done successfully.And always team comes first then only the player himself.

  • Jeff on May 21, 2008, 11:53 GMT

    In an effort to bring this back on topic...

    ... I'm more surprised that the difficulty doesn't increase "significantly" between going from 100 - 200 than from 200 - 300 - I would have thought the opposite due to:

    1. keeping up the concentration (though this may be countered by bowlers getting tired)

    2. Achieving personal milestones and thus losing desire - for example, a player may have more desire to score early runs in order to secure his place in the team - once he feels "safe", his (possibly subconscious) desire to keep going falls. Then as he continues he looks to achieve milestones - a century, his highest test score, a double, his highest FC score etc etc. After each is achieved then his desire to carry on is diminished.

    3. Time issues - pressure from captains to "get on or get out"

    So for me, the real insight here is that it's basically no more difficult to get from 200 to 300 than from 100 to 200.

  • Orville D'Silva on May 17, 2008, 0:07 GMT

    With regards to the comments suggesting that Lara was only average batsmen probably need to view footage of the times he single-handedly won games for West Indies against teams like Australia.

    I agree with you in thinking that moving from 300 to 400 is difficult. Like when batsmen reach scores of 100 or 200, it seems like the batsmen are somewhat relieved leading to a lack of concentration and in turn their dismissal. I would also like to add that by the time bastmen are on scores like 300, one would expect the field to be very defensive and this coupled with mental and physical exhaustion would no doubt make it very difficult to score runs quickly. I suppose this is different for batsmen like Sehwag who I suppose naturally hits more sixes.

  • Michael Jones on May 16, 2008, 12:16 GMT

    Just to note a few more differences between Hayden and Lara:

    - Lara was captain, so it was up to him whether or not he went for the record. Hayden wasn't.

    - Hayden was batting on the second evening, so even if Waugh had allowed him to aim for 400 at his own pace he could have declared with more than three days left to bowl the opposition out twice. By the time Lara was in sight of the record it was already the third afternoon.

    - The relative strengths of the team's own bowling attack (Lee, Gillespie, Bichel, MacGill vs Edwards, Collins, Best and Collymore) and the opposition's batting (Ebrahim, Gripper, Vermeulen, Carlisle, Wishart, Evans: combined Test batting average 128.38; Trescothick, Vaughan, Butcher, Hussain, Thorpe, Flintoff: 235.18). So on both these counts Lara should have given his bowlers more time to take 20 wickets.

    Repeat: however flat the pitch, it's as good as impossible to lose a Test after scoring 650. So declare then.

    [Reply: PLEASE NOTE. No more comments will be published on Lara or Hayden.]

  • Akshay on May 16, 2008, 9:59 GMT

    I don't agree with the "selfish" aspect of Lara's 400. There is a lot of difference losing 4-0 and 3-0 or 3-1. 4-0 (white wash or black wash, whatever you may call it) is a humiliating prospect which most doesn't want to experience. During those times, WI had this spectacular brilliance of collapsing like nine pins for nothing. To put it in perspective, remember the series in Sri Lanka when Lara made more than half his side's score in the entire series and still lost 3-0? In that series against England, WI collapsed and lost in a match they had every chance of winning. If I am Lara, I would gladly give something to my country men to cherish about for years to come than declare the match relying on a bunch of no-performers..Period.

  • Ronald on May 16, 2008, 9:33 GMT

    Silliest so called "achievement" in cricket.

    Lara is one of the most overrated batsmen of the generation. Great against spin and medium pace only.Positively subpar against extreme pace..seen him playing Donald or Akram? Embarrasing!

    What a load of nonsense is this that a batsman can carry on batting as long as he damn well pleases( since he is captain) to create some ridiculous record which his tiny band of fans will then celebrate?!! Even in the "Marathon" you have a "fixed" distance which athletes attempt to cover in ever reducing times. Do you have an event wherein a runner decides to keep on running,regardless of time,as long as the weather and terrain suits him?.....and then goes about trumpeting his "great" record?

  • Nick on May 16, 2008, 7:51 GMT

    @Terry. Since the topic obviously wasnt tendulkar/lara but some of you people insisted on bringing it up. I would unequivocally vote for tendulkar........

    [Comment edited. Please, this is not a Lara vs Tendulkar forum. NO more comment not directly related to the post, please.]

  • shahid on May 16, 2008, 5:15 GMT

    was english attack tired when they landed in the ground or brian Charles lara made them tired and they looked like "hurt" and "wounded" by lara's feat.dont forget the man has had many master pieces against the best of the worlds attack that cricket has known for last five four decades with likes of wasim,waqar,mcgrath,brett lee,shoaib akhtar,shane warne,murli,kumble,. you dont score over ten thousand test runs over night.its all about putting your name on top when you get the opportunity to do so.hats off to prince of trinidad ....

  • Geno on May 15, 2008, 5:41 GMT

    Lets get one thing perfectly clear... Matthew Hayden got out at 380 because he WAS chasing the magical 400... Steve Waugh told Hayden that he wouldn't declare until he either got to 400 or he got out. Hayden simply got out trying to get the last 20 off one over from a lackluster bowler. Those that suggest he was playing for the team when he got out are just kidding themselves.

    [Reply: a remarkable perspective, I must say! A batsman, with a unique achievement within easy reach, is caught in the deep trying to hit 20 runs off an over when quick runs were called for. This is indeed a new definition of batting selfishly.]

  • MaraudingJ on May 14, 2008, 10:24 GMT

    This response is to Chris (May 10, 2:19 PM):

    The suggestion that Test scores of 300+ are anything but extremely exceptional is bizarre. Let's go through your list:

    1. This is not necessarily true. Exceptions: Hanif's rearguard in '58, Bradman's 304 in '34, Rowe's 302 stymied by England salvaging an excellent draw. 2. Only sometimes. 3. Probably. 4. Not true. If the criterion is "live" matches (with result bearing relevance on series result to either team), then 16 innings were scored in matches where teams "aimed to win". 5. It's not logical to analyze the list by looking at the greats that are NOT there. The "all-timers" that ARE there (one of top 3 batsmen their country has produced) number at least 7 out of 19, and almost all could be considered "great". 6. Probably. 7. Usually. 8. This seems redundant. 9. Not true. 8/22 innings were in wins, so the innings had meaning.

    While some may be better than others, triples are amazing feats, no matter what the conditions.

  • Rahul on May 28, 2008, 8:11 GMT

    Hey Charles,

    That was a good one.But statistics can be tricky at times.Considering the fact that 300+ scores have been achieved only 18 times it's a bit odd to calculate percentages from that since all the others,that is 0-100,100+,200+ all have been achieved much much more. But still its an interesting way to look at things.The batsmen get really drained after batting to score 300+ and usually then the team gets to strong position and they go for quick runs/declare.That is a reason 400 has been achieved only once.And the test matches moves at a faster pace than olden times,so unless you score really fast you wont get to 300.Something Sehwag has done successfully.And always team comes first then only the player himself.

  • Jeff on May 21, 2008, 11:53 GMT

    In an effort to bring this back on topic...

    ... I'm more surprised that the difficulty doesn't increase "significantly" between going from 100 - 200 than from 200 - 300 - I would have thought the opposite due to:

    1. keeping up the concentration (though this may be countered by bowlers getting tired)

    2. Achieving personal milestones and thus losing desire - for example, a player may have more desire to score early runs in order to secure his place in the team - once he feels "safe", his (possibly subconscious) desire to keep going falls. Then as he continues he looks to achieve milestones - a century, his highest test score, a double, his highest FC score etc etc. After each is achieved then his desire to carry on is diminished.

    3. Time issues - pressure from captains to "get on or get out"

    So for me, the real insight here is that it's basically no more difficult to get from 200 to 300 than from 100 to 200.

  • Orville D'Silva on May 17, 2008, 0:07 GMT

    With regards to the comments suggesting that Lara was only average batsmen probably need to view footage of the times he single-handedly won games for West Indies against teams like Australia.

    I agree with you in thinking that moving from 300 to 400 is difficult. Like when batsmen reach scores of 100 or 200, it seems like the batsmen are somewhat relieved leading to a lack of concentration and in turn their dismissal. I would also like to add that by the time bastmen are on scores like 300, one would expect the field to be very defensive and this coupled with mental and physical exhaustion would no doubt make it very difficult to score runs quickly. I suppose this is different for batsmen like Sehwag who I suppose naturally hits more sixes.

  • Michael Jones on May 16, 2008, 12:16 GMT

    Just to note a few more differences between Hayden and Lara:

    - Lara was captain, so it was up to him whether or not he went for the record. Hayden wasn't.

    - Hayden was batting on the second evening, so even if Waugh had allowed him to aim for 400 at his own pace he could have declared with more than three days left to bowl the opposition out twice. By the time Lara was in sight of the record it was already the third afternoon.

    - The relative strengths of the team's own bowling attack (Lee, Gillespie, Bichel, MacGill vs Edwards, Collins, Best and Collymore) and the opposition's batting (Ebrahim, Gripper, Vermeulen, Carlisle, Wishart, Evans: combined Test batting average 128.38; Trescothick, Vaughan, Butcher, Hussain, Thorpe, Flintoff: 235.18). So on both these counts Lara should have given his bowlers more time to take 20 wickets.

    Repeat: however flat the pitch, it's as good as impossible to lose a Test after scoring 650. So declare then.

    [Reply: PLEASE NOTE. No more comments will be published on Lara or Hayden.]

  • Akshay on May 16, 2008, 9:59 GMT

    I don't agree with the "selfish" aspect of Lara's 400. There is a lot of difference losing 4-0 and 3-0 or 3-1. 4-0 (white wash or black wash, whatever you may call it) is a humiliating prospect which most doesn't want to experience. During those times, WI had this spectacular brilliance of collapsing like nine pins for nothing. To put it in perspective, remember the series in Sri Lanka when Lara made more than half his side's score in the entire series and still lost 3-0? In that series against England, WI collapsed and lost in a match they had every chance of winning. If I am Lara, I would gladly give something to my country men to cherish about for years to come than declare the match relying on a bunch of no-performers..Period.

  • Ronald on May 16, 2008, 9:33 GMT

    Silliest so called "achievement" in cricket.

    Lara is one of the most overrated batsmen of the generation. Great against spin and medium pace only.Positively subpar against extreme pace..seen him playing Donald or Akram? Embarrasing!

    What a load of nonsense is this that a batsman can carry on batting as long as he damn well pleases( since he is captain) to create some ridiculous record which his tiny band of fans will then celebrate?!! Even in the "Marathon" you have a "fixed" distance which athletes attempt to cover in ever reducing times. Do you have an event wherein a runner decides to keep on running,regardless of time,as long as the weather and terrain suits him?.....and then goes about trumpeting his "great" record?

  • Nick on May 16, 2008, 7:51 GMT

    @Terry. Since the topic obviously wasnt tendulkar/lara but some of you people insisted on bringing it up. I would unequivocally vote for tendulkar........

    [Comment edited. Please, this is not a Lara vs Tendulkar forum. NO more comment not directly related to the post, please.]

  • shahid on May 16, 2008, 5:15 GMT

    was english attack tired when they landed in the ground or brian Charles lara made them tired and they looked like "hurt" and "wounded" by lara's feat.dont forget the man has had many master pieces against the best of the worlds attack that cricket has known for last five four decades with likes of wasim,waqar,mcgrath,brett lee,shoaib akhtar,shane warne,murli,kumble,. you dont score over ten thousand test runs over night.its all about putting your name on top when you get the opportunity to do so.hats off to prince of trinidad ....

  • Geno on May 15, 2008, 5:41 GMT

    Lets get one thing perfectly clear... Matthew Hayden got out at 380 because he WAS chasing the magical 400... Steve Waugh told Hayden that he wouldn't declare until he either got to 400 or he got out. Hayden simply got out trying to get the last 20 off one over from a lackluster bowler. Those that suggest he was playing for the team when he got out are just kidding themselves.

    [Reply: a remarkable perspective, I must say! A batsman, with a unique achievement within easy reach, is caught in the deep trying to hit 20 runs off an over when quick runs were called for. This is indeed a new definition of batting selfishly.]

  • MaraudingJ on May 14, 2008, 10:24 GMT

    This response is to Chris (May 10, 2:19 PM):

    The suggestion that Test scores of 300+ are anything but extremely exceptional is bizarre. Let's go through your list:

    1. This is not necessarily true. Exceptions: Hanif's rearguard in '58, Bradman's 304 in '34, Rowe's 302 stymied by England salvaging an excellent draw. 2. Only sometimes. 3. Probably. 4. Not true. If the criterion is "live" matches (with result bearing relevance on series result to either team), then 16 innings were scored in matches where teams "aimed to win". 5. It's not logical to analyze the list by looking at the greats that are NOT there. The "all-timers" that ARE there (one of top 3 batsmen their country has produced) number at least 7 out of 19, and almost all could be considered "great". 6. Probably. 7. Usually. 8. This seems redundant. 9. Not true. 8/22 innings were in wins, so the innings had meaning.

    While some may be better than others, triples are amazing feats, no matter what the conditions.

  • Saurus on May 14, 2008, 8:38 GMT

    Interesting analysis Charles and I have only 1 point to make - I feel really previleged to have see that man Lara make 200 - so let's not knock him and rather acknowlege his brilliance.

    [Reply: this will be the last "Lara is a great batsman" comment. I have never disputed that, and I would prefer comments that went beyond stating the obvious.]

  • Anindo on May 14, 2008, 7:46 GMT

    Sehwag may not be as good a player as Lara, but both his triple 100s were better innings than Lara's. The first one led to India's first evervictory in Pakistan and the second turned a position of weakness (India conceded 550 in the 1st innings) to a position of strength. Had it not been for the batting collapse after Sehwag's dismissal India could have put a lot of pressure on South Africa.

    Sehwag is not the greatest batsman ever but he certainly has played some outstanding innings. So give him his due.

  • Danny on May 14, 2008, 1:00 GMT

    Hossum Dee, there is an element of doubt surrounding pace of Sehwag's 300+ innings. The man is only an average-skilled batsman who relies heavily on an above-average hand-eye coordination to spank the ball in vivid contrast to the silky strokes played by Lara and Tendulkar, the crisp drives and smooth pulls played by Ponting. You've said that the pace of his innings shows his desire to help the team. I'd argue the man doesn't possess a viable defensive technique and no matter what the situation is he'd blaze away. When it comes off he's lauded for scoring quickly for the team cause. When the situation demanded caution and stonewalling and he's caught blasting a wide ball to the cover fieldsman, well the tune would certainly be different wouldn't it?

  • Hossum Dee on May 13, 2008, 21:28 GMT

    The pace at which Sehwags triple hundreds have been constructed makes those knocks far more valuble than that of Lara's. The quicker a batsmen scores his runs, the better chance his team has of winning the match. In my opinion, Lara was selfish in his record breaking knock, with his personal achievements being put before the team. Sehwag tried to continue his innings' the way he began them, getting runs for his team, and not thinking of himself.

    Lara is over-rated when compared to the likes of Sachin, Bradman, Ponting, Hutton, Sobers, G.Pollock, Viv....(the list goes on!)

  • terry on May 13, 2008, 20:50 GMT

    There are greats i.e. tendulkar, McGrath, kumble, Murli,Gavaskar, Walsh, miandad, waugh, gooch etc and then there are greats with 'X-FACTOR' like V richards, Sobers, lara, khan, wasim, dev, botham,lillie. X-factor players have it all plus that little bit extra that makes us stand in awe.

  • Kavir on May 13, 2008, 20:02 GMT

    It was a bit of a fedup period for Lara (growing over the years) always having to support the team that's been falling around him. After going through the usual strides of losing and saying 'we've learnt something from it' or some other cliche, he must have decided hey whatever...we did absolute rubbish in the series so far so what's the difference. West Indians throughout celebrated the record more than they would have celebrated a victory....and even if he did it for him, I sya he deserved it because he has more than paid his dues for a team/cricket board that underappreciated & simply don't deserve such brilliance. Remember Lara once said (on the bold side) that he wished to play with a winning side - Australia. Imagine how much that could have eaten him up over the years. Given the criteria, he probably just went for it in the midst of all the dismay.

  • Irie on May 13, 2008, 17:21 GMT

    Great piece and some good comments but the majority are way off track. That should be expected though because ANYTIME Lara or Tendulkar is mentioned in an article or comment regardless of how little the content of the article has to do with those two then it become a Lara or Tendulkar fest and the usual Lara vs Tendulkar! I guess it says a lot about those two that they can inspire such passion in fans lol. But to be guilty of what I accuse others of I will have to add that most comments diminishing the importance of Lara's 400 in that fateful match comes from non-West Indians, now why is that? To quote a popular Balck American slogan I will suggest "it's a black (well windies anyway) thing so you just don't understand" The fact is ensuring that we did not get our first ever white wash from our former colonial and slave masters was if vastly more importance than winning one measly match in a lost series. The 400 was almost as important for us, we needed the record back home. Lara knew!

    [Reply: thanks for your comment. I do find these "X is better than Y' arguments dull if no new information is being offered, especially when it is irrelevant to the original blog post.]

  • Ananth on May 13, 2008, 13:40 GMT

    [Reply: the point is not that Lara continued batting, but he did so more cautiously than most other triple-centurions. If indeed he was playing for pride or the world record, that's not necessarily such a bad thing, but if so let's recognise that winning was therefore of secondary interest.]

    Accepted that this is a very valid point, specific to the theme of the article. Lara could as well have pressed the pedal.

  • Balajee on May 13, 2008, 13:08 GMT

    Probably,Lara showed what legends are made of.. The reason why cricketing fans remember both these innings so vividly is the authority with which both these men wielded their bat.. Arey don't forget that pitch was a featherbed in both cases and opposition bowlers were much worse than a bowling machine!!!

    But,it would be really difficult for an ordinary cricket fan to remember some of their best innings under demanding conditions(Lara's exploits against Aussies in late 90's and Viru's purple patch in England & Australia during 2002 & 2003)...

    If this is the case,then even the likes of Tino Best would challenge Lara's legacy....

  • Arnie on May 13, 2008, 12:09 GMT

    Of the 22 triple-centuries, how many of those 22 matches (and which) ended in a win? I think that would be a meaningful, although not absolutely conclusive, point.

    [Reply: of the 22, eight were for winning sides, one of which (Hutton) was in a timeless Test. Of the 14 triple centuries in draws, one was in a genuinely defensive situation throughout (Hanif).

    It's worth noting that in Bradman's two triple centuries, the bowlers had the better of the batsmen, Bradman excepted. Australia would probably have been out for under 250 if he had failed. This applies to his 299 not out and 270 also.]

  • Ananth on May 13, 2008, 12:08 GMT

    Charles

    I am not sure whether you are right in saying that Lara sacrificed his team's chances. If you go through the Test, it was only the fact that West Indies scored in excess of 700 kept them in the hunt for a win until late on the fifth day. He needed to enforce the follow-on which was again the only realistic chance to get a win. Finally if Lara himself had not dropped Vaughan on the fourth evening, an easy chance, when Vaughan had not scored much, West Indies would still have won. There is also the matter of pride gained, for an awful team otherwise, by regaining a lost World Record.

    [Reply: the point is not that Lara continued batting, but he did so more cautiously than most other triple-centurions. If indeed he was playing for pride or the world record, that's not necessarily such a bad thing, but if so let's recognise that winning was therefore of secondary interest.]

  • Bruce on May 13, 2008, 11:10 GMT

    Lara's 400 was a victory for him alone, what did the rest of the team have to celebrate? Maybe someday given the right circumstances somebody will bat for 4 days and score 1000 not out, declaring at tea on the 5th day, but what would they really have achieved? Most batsmen who play a long innings are dismissed by the same thing - fatigue, either physical or mental.Usually the ball that dismisses them isnt any better than hundreds of others they faced in their innings.

  • Salim on May 13, 2008, 10:30 GMT

    @Muhammad Shafiq... iwould agree with most of your comments about Lara, although i'd put M Marshall next to Wasim as the finest seam/fast bowlers ever and i would also say that Warne also had 'X-factor'.

  • Michael Jones on May 13, 2008, 10:09 GMT

    No-one can deny that Lara was a great batsman (although I'm not going to enter into the debate as to whether or not he was better than Tendulkar); just to pick two examples, his 153* and 213 vs Australia were among the best Test innings of all time, and drew a series against the best team in the world virtually single-handedly, but, as others have said, neither of his Test record knocks can be considered among his greatest. The 501 was slightly different - given that Warwickshire were facing a total of 550-odd, someone needed to make a big score to avoid defeat. Once they'd passed the follow-on mark the match was safe, so beyond the first 200 or so it certainly wasn't a match-saving effort; then again, Warwickshire had virtually no chance of winning either (could have declared at 700 maybe, but they'd have had very little chance of bowling Durham out for 150 on that pitch) so there was no reason why Lara shouldn't have batted on. In the 400 there was.

  • Kartik on May 13, 2008, 9:42 GMT

    Hey, Lara's 400 is really an appreciable feat. But one really wanted Sehwag do get 400 as it would had not only been a proud moment for him but an innings that would had been throughly enjoyed by all watching it.

    Also, he is the third such batsmen in the history of the game to reach the triple figure twice. So, it's only time when Sehwag would hold the record.

    He is the best bet at beating that record of 400 and one the world would cherish to look at again and again...

  • Raman on May 12, 2008, 21:11 GMT

    Lara's 400* proved his love of showmanship once and for all. The truth is Lara's biggest hundreds have all come in drawn drab affairs. It's usually his lower centuries or barely double centuries which have shown his true genius. So, as I completely agree with your assertion on Lara, I think it would be best to not use Lara's 400* as an example to disturb what is obviously a trend for cricketers of less selfish and showman nature.

  • Sandeep on May 12, 2008, 16:40 GMT

    funny that this thing heading towards best batsman debate. no doubt that Lara is the greatest batsman of last 15-16 years. I think Tendulkar will be on par with him(but not better than Lara) and comparing Sehwag's innings with Lara's, both the pitches were tailor made for draws... Dumb cricket. Nothing much to harp in the opposition attacks. Still i would have been rather sad if Sehwag had reached 400. That record belongs to Lara.

  • Luke Richards on May 12, 2008, 15:02 GMT

    I must say i wholeheartedly AGREE that Lara's 400 did take away any chance of windies winning the match. Yes, England batter 236 overs but that was on a featherbed and after windies had posted 751/5 England are in no way going to be going out with a MINDSET of winning the match, especially not when 3-0 up in the series.

    Lara's knock was undoubtedly selfish but when 3-0 down in a series with only pride to play for and a massive record at stake, who can blame him?

  • Muhammad Shafiq on May 12, 2008, 11:15 GMT

    Well, if someone wants to compare dash of shewag with the greatness of Lara, he probably has to reconsider his cricketing perception. LARA in batting is more like wasim akram in bowling---Aggressive, a sheer talent in wrong system, a gift of GOD---! His feats are numerous. Though Tendulkar is more like McGRATH, always workinghard, accumulating, conservative and with plans on tailor-made tracks.... I don't have any doubt that Tendulkar is a great great player but without any doubt WASIM AKRAM is the greatest bowler of our era, and LARA is the greatest batsman. No disrespet to MGRATH, AMBROSE, WAQAR, Warne, KUMBLE, MURALTHARAN, QADIR. sorry to you warne & Tendulkar.

  • mayhew on May 12, 2008, 6:29 GMT

    To Uddipan: thanks for that, I am hopeless at maths and would never have approached the problem that way. Your post put Lara's (and any other high-scoring batsman's) innings in a much more useful and impressive context.

  • ashish on May 12, 2008, 6:18 GMT

    We have to start accepting the BRIAN CHARLES LARA is the best batsmen after Don Bradman. Just look at his records, and the way he batted.. he is a treat to watch.Best batsmen of our generation.so please dont reduce its greatness by pointing towards silly reasons.

  • John on May 12, 2008, 3:35 GMT

    Lara: Most runs in an over in tests,Most test runs, highest test score, highest first class score, most runs in a day in a first class match, Only player to score 500 runs in an innings,only player to score 400 in tests, Only player to regain the record for the highest score. If this is not greatness then what is.

  • John B on May 12, 2008, 3:33 GMT

    Plenty of players have had the situation and all of the conditions in their favour and not made 400. You can certainly argue that it isn't the best test innings, or even the best of the 300+ test scores, but regardless of the motivations and the circumstances, and agreeing that biggest isn't necessarily best, you can't say it wasn't a brilliant achievement.

    It's also worth mentioning that while you could also downplay the quality of his 375 and 501, it's much harder to do that for his 150 odd in the WI and 270 odd at Sydney, both against Australia. When someone can point to all those (and of course many other) innings on their CV a bit of a pattern starts to form - they obviously have very special qualities and they're obviously worthy of being treated as right up in the top rung of great players.

  • Michael Jones on May 11, 2008, 22:43 GMT

    Peter/Fez - precisely my point. Lara aimed for 400 not only to boost his own ego, but also those of WI fans who wanted the record more than the win.

    no_quiero: the suggestion that England's attack was the best in the world is ludicrous. True, Harmison had had an excellent series (although he'd made virtually no impact in Tests before it), but calling him the best bowler in the world is a ridiculous exaggeration. Flintoff's record up to that point was modest at best, Simon Jones had only played five Tests, and England's attack was completed by the menacing trio of Gareth Batty, Michael Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick. Yes, they beat Australia, but it was then that Harmison, Flintoff and Jones peaked - not 15 months earlier.

    PS Sorry if this posts twice, got an error message the first time so I wasn't sure if it got through.

  • Michael Jones on May 11, 2008, 22:31 GMT

    Your "fact" that Lara has held the record for the longest duration is complete rubbish. He held it for less than 10 years the first time and for 4 so far the second; the two record holders before him held it for 20 and 36 years respectively. Lara has held the FC record for 14 years; Bradman held it for 29 and Hanif 35.

    Chris/Gavin/David - the increase in the number of Tests played contributes to the increased number of 300+ scores, but doesn't entirely explain it: before Gooch's 333 there had been 11 triple centuries in 1147 Tests, one every 104; since then there have been another 726 Tests and another 11 triples, one every 66. So even taking into account the number of Tests played nowadays, triples are more frequent. The presence of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe doesn't account for it, since only one has been scored against them, so what other factors? Flatter pitches maybe - especially at St John's, where three of the 11 have been scored. Take those away and there's barely a difference.

  • safwan on May 11, 2008, 22:31 GMT

    please dont compare sehwag with lara......veru is more of a flat track bully who thrives on dead sub-continental pitches.....Lara on the other hand is a proven maestro under all conditions, he was the best batsman of the modern generation.

  • Michael Jones on May 11, 2008, 22:21 GMT

    I'd agree that having at least some of the factors on Chris's list is a requirement - flat pitches and/or weak attacks have account for most Test triples, probably at most five or six of them have been scored without the benefit of either, although again that's not to demean the batsmen in question - it's still a feat of concentration to bat for two days, which is what it takes most batsmen except Bradman and Sehwag to reach 300.

    Aditya - I'm not going to argue regarding Hayden; as I said, the judgement as to whether the batsmen got out due to playing for the team or loss of concentration etc. is largely subjective, and I wasn't watching the match so I can't make a personal judgement on his dismissal. Saying that Lara didn't play for the team is not "amateurish" though, it's true - as previously discussed, WI had no chance of losing once they'd passed 650, so declaring then would not have risked a whitewash.

  • Nick on May 11, 2008, 16:14 GMT

    All batting records,including Lara's 400 are going to be broken. It is a question of if ,rather than when. As several people have mentioned,given the sudden preponderance of huge scores in the last decade,it probably won't take more than a few years. The only records which seem remote are Bradman's average of 99.94 and Tendulkar's ODI run aggregate(currently more than 16000.Heaven knows what the Little Master will finally finish at).

  • Terence on May 11, 2008, 14:53 GMT

    Gary Sobers and Ravi Shastri got 6 sixes in an over.Not an ODI,but a regular first class match. Jim Laker and Anil Kumble got 10 wickets in a innings. I think these are irregular events wherein a multitude of factors need to be "just right". I would say 'Chris's list is absolutely right,but you also need to incorporate various and many other factors like the weather,fast outfield etc. Not going to score many runs with rain interruptions and a sluggish outfield are we?

    [Reply: When Bob Cowper scored 307 at the MCG on a very slow outfield after rain, he hit 20 fours and 26 threes. When Chris Gayle made his triple ton at St John's - a very small ground made smaller by boundary ropes - he hit only 2 threes. I wonder how many Cowper would have scored at St. John's, especially with a 21st century bat.]

  • John on May 11, 2008, 14:38 GMT

    As with all records they create a bit of furore when created…and seem impregnable ,until of course they are broken in due course. @no_queiro: At the start of the Antigua match Flintoff had a Test bowling average of 41, Jones had only played five Tests (albeit with the decent record of 15 wickets @ 26), Harmison was banned from bowling for running on the pitch and 83 overs out of the 202 in the innings were bowled by Gareth Batty (Test average 67), Michael Vaughan (94) and Marcus Trescothick (155) - obviously the greatest attack ever. @peter: Lara was also dropped on 250+. Surprising you don’t remember. Perhaps that is nitpicking,but if that regulation catch at cover had been taken all this would never have come up. What I mean is if a batsman like Jayawardene, no disrespect meant ,can get to 374 against a quality attack, do the additional 20 runs or so amount to something like the end of the world ,like some people are making it out to be? Given the sudden epidemic of triples in the last decade it wouldn’t surprise me to see Lara’s record gone within a decade.

  • no_quiero on May 11, 2008, 9:50 GMT

    If the wicket in Antigua was so flat then why did England got bowled out for 280 runs in the first innings and followed on.

    Secondly, when lara made his 400 runs he made it at that time against the best attack in the world. Steve Harmission then was at peak of his career and the best bowler in the world. There were also bowlers like Hoggard, Flintoff, Simon Jones. That English team later beat Australia.

  • David Barry on May 11, 2008, 9:37 GMT

    Gavin, an analysis of frequency large scores would be too detailed to get into here, but basically the rising overall batting averages recently, combined with the huge expansion in the number of Test matches, almost entirely accounts for there being 11 triple centuries until 1990, and 11 triples since 1990.

  • Fez on May 11, 2008, 9:19 GMT

    Without taking a side........i just wonder........what would have the West Indian fans of that time (time in which windies were losing every single series, getting whitewashed very frequently and had NOTHING to feel proud about)wanted?

    Would they want Lara to declare to give them a little better chance of winning? Or would they want him to make history which would stay with them for a long long time?

    If the latter is true............then can we call Lara "selfish" EVEN IF his PRIORITY was 400?

  • Peter on May 11, 2008, 8:20 GMT

    I think Lara is the best batsman I have ever been personally privileged to see. I watched that wonderful innings on television, though. He nearly got out for 0, and then the next mistake I recall was the edge that got the record! Or the 400, I misremember which, but it was just about his only error in an innings of 400*. He did declare at that score, but thought about it first for an over or two, so obviously had other things than his personal score in mind.

    In the special circumstances of the series, avoiding the whitewash was paramount. A victory would have been nice too, but what would West Indians remember longest, 3-1 rather than 3-0 or getting the world record back? I think everything about that innings was right.

  • Alistair on May 11, 2008, 7:14 GMT

    Mr"Aditya Shah", wouldn't a 350 have "single-handedly avoided a series white-wash"?

  • Indian on May 11, 2008, 7:13 GMT

    The comment by Aditya says it all. He single handedly avoided a white wash. Thus preventing the biggest humiliation in the history of WI cricket.. a white wash at home!

  • Prashant on May 11, 2008, 7:10 GMT

    @aditya shah, I think your observation is wrong.I would say that Chris's list is quite correct. And most of it applies to Sehwag as well: dead pitch,home ground,passive partner(dravid),no quick wickets other end,going for a win irrelevant,Sehwag's not on anyone's "alltime" list ,he is at best a modestly skilled batsman,he opened the innings,and he sure as hell rubbed it in,didn't he?....so in what way do you disagree? cant figure that one out. practically every point on that list carries a "check".

    Also as you mention ,Lara would have probably thought the avoidance of 4-0 was better,so no thought of going for a win either. I suppose he thought getting the record would be much better though right? Considering he declared at exactly 400.

  • Haridas on May 11, 2008, 6:30 GMT

    I don't know why people are arguing .The article itself pointed out an interesting fact .As far as Lara's 400 is concerned how many batsmen in the history of cricket have scored 400 runs in the first class game . just reaching ther irrespective of the attack ,the pitch , the size of the ground and any other factor does not take away from the fact that a tremendous amount of skill and concentration are required . Lara's innings should be seen in this context.

  • Gavin on May 11, 2008, 6:17 GMT

    Keen observation by "Chris". Out of the 22 odd triples, 11 have taken place in the last 15 or so yrs. So the first 120 odd years of test cricket have produced 11 triples. The other 11 have come in some 15 odd years. What gives?

  • Aditya Shah on May 11, 2008, 5:52 GMT

    First and foremost, Chris - Sehwag's 309 alone defies most of the must-haves on your list, so i am not going to go into many other innings doing the same. Jones - saying that Lara didn't play for the team is amateurish coz it is more humiliating to lose 4-0 than to lose 3-0. So to go for a 3-1 and losing 4-0, given the state WI cricket was in that time... no-brainer. And to say that Hayden got out playing for the team is being too sympathetic to him, it was just a lapse of concentration and loss of motivation. Fact remains that Lara remains the player to own the record for the highest duration amongst all cricketers ever to have played - both in tests and first-class. What makes the 400 even more special is the fact that he single-handedly avoided a series white-wash. You can never quantify this feat.

  • Chris on May 11, 2008, 2:31 GMT

    Regretably some persons seem to have taken my "list" as some sort of personal grievance against Lara,or against any triple centurions for that matter.

    None exists nor is any intended.It is simply a "list" on which practically every criterion must be fulfilled in order to post large scores. The general argument is :The good marathoner is not necessarily the good overall runner.It is a case of "second wind". You have various "types" of events for eg. from 100mtr on. Perhaps ,cricket has ODIs as equivalents? I wouldn't venture to be absolute about such a parallel.

    In any case it is worth noting that the fastest triples have all been within the last ten years or so,and so also the maximum number of triples: Lara's,Sehwag's,Hayden,Inzamam,Jayasuriya,Jayawardene,Taylor...i.e more than half of all triples ever scored.So this era seems to be the golden era for triples. As such a rational and logical observer may deduce that there is more to this tendency than just pure skill.

  • Indian on May 11, 2008, 2:14 GMT

    Charles says that Lara played 187 balls for moving from 300 to 400. My point is this... if he had played only 100 balls instead (i.e 87 balls or 14 overs lesser), then England would have to face 250 overs instead of 236. This is a 6% increase in the number of overs they would have had to face. And in this 6%, WI had to take 25% more of English wickets (since WI took only 15 of the 20 English wickets to fall). This seems highly unlikely, given that all the WI bowlers combined had not taken 200 wickets in their career.

    Also bear in mind that if Lara had thrown away his wicket for quick runs, then WI might have collapsed to 600 or so and might have had to bat again. (similar to the recent Adelaide Ashes test)

    So, please realize the pressure that WI and himself were under and also the fact that with all that pressure, he never stopped to entertain, scoring at a strike rate of about 68.

    [Reply: Lara was certainly an incredible entertainer. It's interesting that he scored more slowly in this situation than at many other times under much tougher conditions].

  • Michael Jones on May 11, 2008, 0:49 GMT

    PS toabc - you're entirely correct that I haven't scored 400 runs in my life, nor am I likely to do so (my career HS is 1*), but that doesn't mean I'm not qualified to comment on Lara's innings. Yes, it was an exceptional feat of concentration, but that doesn't alter the fact that it wasn't what his team required in the circumstances. It quite probably was, though, what many West Indians' egos wanted - it meant more to them that their hero held the world record again than whether their team lost a series 3-0 or 3-1 - witness the Trinidadian who emailed the Cricinfo commentary team during Sehwag's innings to say he was glued to his computer willing Sehwag to get out, since he couldn't countenance the thought of anyone breaking Lara's record.

    General PS - I hate this 1000 character limit compelling me to spread my comments over several posts!

  • Michael Jones on May 11, 2008, 0:41 GMT

    So, out of the ten highest in which the batsman was actually dismissed, I'd say (although, as I mentioned above, I'm aware that this is a subjective judgement) that only Hayden could potentially have made 400 but failed to do so because he was playing for the team; Bradman and Inzamam could have made more than they did, but would almost certainly not have reached 400 because they'd have run out of partners first, and the others failed due to loss of concentration/good ball/bad shot. Of the not-outs, both Sobers and Hammond were flogging weak attacks and could well have continued doing so, but their captains declared as soon as they passed the existing record - if Hutton had made 399 rather than 364, Sobers's captain would probably have allowed him to bat on, and it's entirely possible that he'd have been the first to make 400.

    [Reply: Alexander probably would have allowed Sobers to continue, but overzealous fans had damaged the pitch when they ran on to congratulate him, so Alexander decided to declare. It's just as well that the scorers had the score correct. There was in fact an error made by the scorers during Sobers' innings - it can still be seen in the scorebook - but they had corrected it by the time he approached Hutton's record.]

  • Michael Jones on May 11, 2008, 0:30 GMT

    Jayasuriya - would definitely have wanted to go for the record, if not for 400, and there was no question of having to play for the team as the match was dead drawn anyway. He just lost concentration.

    Hanif - wouldn't have had time to reach 400 since the match was in the final session, and given the situation, batting for as long as possible was the best thing he could have done for his team. By his own account he didn't lose concentration, just got a good ball, but it comes to the same result.

    Bradman - had already broken the record, and was compelled to attempt to accelerate because he was running out of partners.

    Gooch - lost concentration and was bowled. Prabhakar wasn't the greatest bowler ever (average 37), although better than Gripper.

    Inzamam - forced to attack because he was running out of partners.

    Sandham - already had the record (in fact the first Test triple) so he probably wasn't too interested in getting the first quadruple as well.

  • Michael Jones on May 11, 2008, 0:18 GMT

    Yes, sorry Charles - my previous post was concentrating on Lara, and rather missed the point of the article. Although this is difficult to analyse statistically as the assessment in each case is fairly subjective, it's interesting to consider how many of those who came closest to 400 failed because they weren't trying (playing for the team etc.), and how many for other reasons:

    Hayden - had already broken the record, probably wasn't interested in going for 400, hit out and got out (unlikely to have had much to do with the quality of the bowler, since Trevor Gripper has a Test bowling average of 85). Lara - had already broken the record, also probably wasn't concerned about 400, played a loose shot and edged it behind. Jayawardene - would certainly have wanted to go for 400, since that was the record at the time, but just got a good ball. Hutton - time wasn't a factor since it was a timeless Test; although he'd already broken the record there was no reason for him not to bat on.

  • the only american born cricketer on May 10, 2008, 22:55 GMT

    I believe that people are making Lara's 400 seem like a small task. The fact of the matter is, that although it was a joke of a pitch and England's attack was tired, Lara was still out there and produced 13 hours of almost mistake free cricket. To say that his 400 should be discounted because he scored slowly is simply foolish. What his 400 proves is that he is a master of concentration, and to think that certain fanboys are making small light of the world record because he didn't score fast enough or because the pitch was dead, I say: most of you haven't even scored 400 runs in your life, much less in 13 hours. Please don't play down this amazing feat due to petty reasons.

  • salim on May 10, 2008, 22:33 GMT

    Unfortunatley 'Chris' and 'Alistair' THINK they know about batting, but obviously they do not. There has been over 120 years of test match cricket with hundreds upon hundreds of test matches being played. Only once in that long history has anyone scored 400. Now if you add Lara's first class 501* we are definately looking at a much more than 'Chris'' check list, we actually see a batsman that has pushed the boundaries of inning making to new heights. Also Mr Davis incorrectly states in his piece there have been 22 triple centuries. I think you'll find there has been 21, and one quadruple. 400* is not a triple!

  • riverlime on May 10, 2008, 19:07 GMT

    Some respondents on this blog seem to suggest that Lara's 400 is not all that special(Chris, Alistair, et al.). Time alone will tell. The fact of the matter is that despite Chris's exhaustive list above, he missed one thing. No one since Bradman has had Lara's powers of CONCENTRATION, and there is no one around as yet to match it.

  • Chris on May 10, 2008, 14:19 GMT

    I would say that all triples, or indeed any “largish” score, have the following requirements which absolutely must be fulfilled. More or less in order of importance: 1) An absolutely “dead” pitch with no assistance whatsoever to bowlers. 2) A relatively small ground, ideally at home. 3) A relatively passive partner. 4) A match situation in which there is no aim to go for a win whatsoever. 5) A relatively skilled batsman. If you look through the triple centurion scorers a lot of names will not really make anyone’s “all time list”. Even All time Greats such as Viv Richards and Sachin Tendulkar are not on there. So a very high level of pure skill is not a requisite. 6) Decent doses of luck. Both Lara and more recently, Sehwag, were dropped and had some awfully close Lbw’s turned down. 7) Normally the batsman open or are at No.3, so they have a long time in. If at No.4, the openers must fall early. 8) No quick wickets falling at the other end. 9) A tendency to “rub it in” and not throw away your wicket, since the bowlers beyond a certain point are merely going through the motions. It is not much fun going on when nothing is happening off the pitch or through the air, and no batsmen getting out either.

    There are some other requirements, but the above list covers all triples. A few years down the line, given the dearth of quality attacks, and batting friendly tracks Lara’s record is certain to go. He took ten years from his 375 to get to the 400 himself. Amazingly on the same ground, but if you look at the above list it is not so amazing, since that is clearly requirement No.1.

  • Alistair on May 10, 2008, 13:53 GMT

    I remember when Sunny Gavaskar crossed 10,000 Test runs. First man to do it more than hundred years of test cricket. It was considered a phenomenal achievement ,considering the tracks,bowling attacks etc. I think Lara's 400 should be placed in the appropriate context. A smaller than usual ground ,a featherbed in Antigua,an injured tired English attack,hardly any other wickets fell during some three days of batting. What does it really prove,if anything? That Lara wanted the record "really,really" badly?...that is effectively the bottom line.

    Did others ,such as Sehwag recently ,really want it so terribly? Doubtful,as he practically threw away his wicket in the first couple of overs on day 3.

    Was Lara's innings selfish and purely a manner of "making hay" when the going was good?Likely. Were all the other triple centurions really trying for the 400? I don't know. But although it may seem like a major achievement I don't think the true cricket fan will put much value on it.

  • Uddipan on May 10, 2008, 13:51 GMT

    Looking at the 20-run increment table, would it be correct to say that for somebody crossing 100, the chance that they will reach 139 is 62%*65% = 40.3%.

    If this interpretation is right, then automtically, we can see the probabilistic difficulty of reaching a really high score. The probability of a batsman with a 100 to his name of reaching 339 is 0.661% i.e. 1 in 150 centurions will ever reach this mark.

    Extrapolating with 66% as the average probability of a centurion to survive the next 20 runs, the probability of a centurion to outscore Lara is 0.125% i.e. we have to wait for another 800 centuries before his record is broken. Given that only 1 in 12 knocks produces a century, that's a wait of 9600 knocks. As this covers only #'s 1-6, that means 1600 innings. Assuming an average of 3 innings per Test, that equals 533 tests. Assuming 50 tests per year, it's a wait period of 10-11 years! Perhaps, a bit lesser bcoz of benign tracks and toothless attacks.

    Hope this makes sense.

  • salim on May 10, 2008, 12:43 GMT

    I agree that the 400 is the most under-rated batting feat ever, ive been saying this for years, but i DISAGREE strongly when you suggest that Lara gave up all chance of winning the test match. WI were 0-3 down and facing their first ever white wash at home. Lara's and WI's mission was first to avoid the white wash and then perhaps go for the win (which they had plenty of time to do). I also believe the high score record is something that the WI puplic are very proud of and have held for more than thirty years. When Hayden broke the record against ZIM (self-confessed part-time chicken farmers) i believe Lara felt it was his duty, mission, destiny to re-claim the record. He is truely the most remarkable batsman since Bradman. No-one has ever scored 400 in a test or 500 in a first class game.

    [Reply: We are closer to agreeing than you think. You say Lara's primary mission was to avoid defeat. Very well, but that means reducing your chances of winning: that's just the way cricket works in high scoring matches. My main point is that Lara did something very difficult that no one else could do, so please, no more on this.]

  • Michael Jones on May 10, 2008, 12:29 GMT

    Ah, someone who agrees with me that Lara's selfish refusal to declare cost WI their chance of a win. Yes, England batted for 236 overs, and yes, in most conditions that should be enough to bowl the opposition out twice - but remember this is the St John's Recreation Ground pitch we're talking about here. Lara, and everyone else, would have known that it's probably the most batsman-friendly pitch ever used for Test cricket (although a case could be made for the RPS pitch on which Sri Lanka made the world record total), so he should have allowed his bowlers more time than he might have done anywhere else. Even given the nature of the pitch, and the fact that WI's bowling attack was their weakest for decades, Lara could have declared 100 runs earlier without risking defeat - no team has ever lost a FC match, never mind a Test, after topping 650. England would have needed to score 800+ in 200 overs then bowl WI out for 150 - no chance.

    That aside, interesting analysis - thanks Charles.

  • Ariz on May 10, 2008, 11:35 GMT

    Interesting stats Charles, I wonder what would 0 - 99 look like in "Conversion rates in 20-run increments" Course, it will have minimum conversion rate for 0 - 19!

  • Bharanidharan on May 10, 2008, 7:29 GMT

    dude...

    [Reply: insulting comment deleted. Please folks, keep it civil; disagree if you like, but no insults.]

  • riverlime on May 10, 2008, 6:58 GMT

    I think your article is fundamentally flawed in assuming that the intended score of a triple centurion is 400. It may have been so for the past few years, but since Sandham's 325, the aim was the world record, and not much more. Take for example Sobers' 365 not out (or Taylor's declaration below Bradman's 334). I'm afraid your sample size has been drastically slashed. Perhaps it would be worth revisiting in a few years time, when there have been a few more attempts on Lara's seemingly impregnable record.

    [Reply: there is no such assumption, unstated or otherwise. The main point is that it is harder than expected to score above 300. 17 batsmen have got out between 300 and 400: 12 of them were short of the world record at the time. Of those who have broken the record, two finished not out, while of those that got out, few if any threw their wickets away (Hayden, maybe). The small sample size was recognised in the article; that's why I also looked at other evidence.

    Lara's last 100 in that 400 was a remarkable achievement. Even Sobers, batting in an innings of 790/3, found it tough going towards the end; he did not hit a single boundary in his last 40 runs.]

  • Indian on May 10, 2008, 6:12 GMT

    I too don't agree with your assertion that Lara's 400 "sacrificed any chance his team had of winning the match.". Being 0-3 down in the series, Lara made sure that the Windies dont lose the test and suffer a complete white wash. If he had thrown away his wicket when WI had reached 600 or so, they might have had to bat again in the second innings.. and then might have collapsed for 50 or so. Given the circumstances facing Lara: 1. WI had collapsed to their lower test total ever in one of the previous tests and their batting and bowling was below par in the previous tests 2. they were facing a 0-4 series defeat.. their first ever in history

    Lara did a remarkable job in bringing back some pride for the Windies. In fact, one banner "Our wounds are healed" in the stands said it all.

    [Reply: in a funny way, Lara's innings made a statement about the mindset of the West Indian team. How many teams, 600 ahead with plenty of wickets left, have worried about defeat?]

  • Marcus on May 10, 2008, 5:24 GMT

    I don't agree with your assertion that Lara's 400 "sacrificed any chance his team had of winning the match." England batted for 236 overs- that's plenty of time (or should be) to bowl out the opposition twice. The fact that England managed to draw is probably a better reflection of the West Indian bowling than Lara's selfishness.

  • Anonymous on May 9, 2008, 19:00 GMT

    with all do fairness, sehwags 300s have all been in quick time and hence more repespect worthy than laras slow 400 and against a tired england

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  • Anonymous on May 9, 2008, 19:00 GMT

    with all do fairness, sehwags 300s have all been in quick time and hence more repespect worthy than laras slow 400 and against a tired england

  • Marcus on May 10, 2008, 5:24 GMT

    I don't agree with your assertion that Lara's 400 "sacrificed any chance his team had of winning the match." England batted for 236 overs- that's plenty of time (or should be) to bowl out the opposition twice. The fact that England managed to draw is probably a better reflection of the West Indian bowling than Lara's selfishness.

  • Indian on May 10, 2008, 6:12 GMT

    I too don't agree with your assertion that Lara's 400 "sacrificed any chance his team had of winning the match.". Being 0-3 down in the series, Lara made sure that the Windies dont lose the test and suffer a complete white wash. If he had thrown away his wicket when WI had reached 600 or so, they might have had to bat again in the second innings.. and then might have collapsed for 50 or so. Given the circumstances facing Lara: 1. WI had collapsed to their lower test total ever in one of the previous tests and their batting and bowling was below par in the previous tests 2. they were facing a 0-4 series defeat.. their first ever in history

    Lara did a remarkable job in bringing back some pride for the Windies. In fact, one banner "Our wounds are healed" in the stands said it all.

    [Reply: in a funny way, Lara's innings made a statement about the mindset of the West Indian team. How many teams, 600 ahead with plenty of wickets left, have worried about defeat?]

  • riverlime on May 10, 2008, 6:58 GMT

    I think your article is fundamentally flawed in assuming that the intended score of a triple centurion is 400. It may have been so for the past few years, but since Sandham's 325, the aim was the world record, and not much more. Take for example Sobers' 365 not out (or Taylor's declaration below Bradman's 334). I'm afraid your sample size has been drastically slashed. Perhaps it would be worth revisiting in a few years time, when there have been a few more attempts on Lara's seemingly impregnable record.

    [Reply: there is no such assumption, unstated or otherwise. The main point is that it is harder than expected to score above 300. 17 batsmen have got out between 300 and 400: 12 of them were short of the world record at the time. Of those who have broken the record, two finished not out, while of those that got out, few if any threw their wickets away (Hayden, maybe). The small sample size was recognised in the article; that's why I also looked at other evidence.

    Lara's last 100 in that 400 was a remarkable achievement. Even Sobers, batting in an innings of 790/3, found it tough going towards the end; he did not hit a single boundary in his last 40 runs.]

  • Bharanidharan on May 10, 2008, 7:29 GMT

    dude...

    [Reply: insulting comment deleted. Please folks, keep it civil; disagree if you like, but no insults.]

  • Ariz on May 10, 2008, 11:35 GMT

    Interesting stats Charles, I wonder what would 0 - 99 look like in "Conversion rates in 20-run increments" Course, it will have minimum conversion rate for 0 - 19!

  • Michael Jones on May 10, 2008, 12:29 GMT

    Ah, someone who agrees with me that Lara's selfish refusal to declare cost WI their chance of a win. Yes, England batted for 236 overs, and yes, in most conditions that should be enough to bowl the opposition out twice - but remember this is the St John's Recreation Ground pitch we're talking about here. Lara, and everyone else, would have known that it's probably the most batsman-friendly pitch ever used for Test cricket (although a case could be made for the RPS pitch on which Sri Lanka made the world record total), so he should have allowed his bowlers more time than he might have done anywhere else. Even given the nature of the pitch, and the fact that WI's bowling attack was their weakest for decades, Lara could have declared 100 runs earlier without risking defeat - no team has ever lost a FC match, never mind a Test, after topping 650. England would have needed to score 800+ in 200 overs then bowl WI out for 150 - no chance.

    That aside, interesting analysis - thanks Charles.

  • salim on May 10, 2008, 12:43 GMT

    I agree that the 400 is the most under-rated batting feat ever, ive been saying this for years, but i DISAGREE strongly when you suggest that Lara gave up all chance of winning the test match. WI were 0-3 down and facing their first ever white wash at home. Lara's and WI's mission was first to avoid the white wash and then perhaps go for the win (which they had plenty of time to do). I also believe the high score record is something that the WI puplic are very proud of and have held for more than thirty years. When Hayden broke the record against ZIM (self-confessed part-time chicken farmers) i believe Lara felt it was his duty, mission, destiny to re-claim the record. He is truely the most remarkable batsman since Bradman. No-one has ever scored 400 in a test or 500 in a first class game.

    [Reply: We are closer to agreeing than you think. You say Lara's primary mission was to avoid defeat. Very well, but that means reducing your chances of winning: that's just the way cricket works in high scoring matches. My main point is that Lara did something very difficult that no one else could do, so please, no more on this.]

  • Uddipan on May 10, 2008, 13:51 GMT

    Looking at the 20-run increment table, would it be correct to say that for somebody crossing 100, the chance that they will reach 139 is 62%*65% = 40.3%.

    If this interpretation is right, then automtically, we can see the probabilistic difficulty of reaching a really high score. The probability of a batsman with a 100 to his name of reaching 339 is 0.661% i.e. 1 in 150 centurions will ever reach this mark.

    Extrapolating with 66% as the average probability of a centurion to survive the next 20 runs, the probability of a centurion to outscore Lara is 0.125% i.e. we have to wait for another 800 centuries before his record is broken. Given that only 1 in 12 knocks produces a century, that's a wait of 9600 knocks. As this covers only #'s 1-6, that means 1600 innings. Assuming an average of 3 innings per Test, that equals 533 tests. Assuming 50 tests per year, it's a wait period of 10-11 years! Perhaps, a bit lesser bcoz of benign tracks and toothless attacks.

    Hope this makes sense.

  • Alistair on May 10, 2008, 13:53 GMT

    I remember when Sunny Gavaskar crossed 10,000 Test runs. First man to do it more than hundred years of test cricket. It was considered a phenomenal achievement ,considering the tracks,bowling attacks etc. I think Lara's 400 should be placed in the appropriate context. A smaller than usual ground ,a featherbed in Antigua,an injured tired English attack,hardly any other wickets fell during some three days of batting. What does it really prove,if anything? That Lara wanted the record "really,really" badly?...that is effectively the bottom line.

    Did others ,such as Sehwag recently ,really want it so terribly? Doubtful,as he practically threw away his wicket in the first couple of overs on day 3.

    Was Lara's innings selfish and purely a manner of "making hay" when the going was good?Likely. Were all the other triple centurions really trying for the 400? I don't know. But although it may seem like a major achievement I don't think the true cricket fan will put much value on it.