Multistats January 5, 2012

Multistat: 1

That's what the magic number is

The number of times in the documented history of mankind that a Test team has scored two 250-plus partnerships in the same innings. Until 2012, that total was zero. Now it is one, thanks to some fine batting by Clarke, Ponting and Hussey, and some minimum-intensity cricket by an Indian team that, just a very-long-seeming year ago, was ranked No. 1 in Tests (and about to embark on a victorious World Cup campaign).

All summits must be descended from. Preferably with due care and attention. As a Test team, however, India have tobogganed back to base camp at alarming velocity, like an over-excited Edmund Hillary desperate to get home to tell his mummy about how he had just conquered that really big mountain that she had promised him a new bicycle for climbing.

In their last two away series, in England and Australia, India have been mostly careless and uncertain with the bat, listless with the ball and snoozy in the field. Does their creaking batting line-up of ageing legends have it in them to rouse themselves to greatness again? Can Dhoni bring the toboggan skidding to a controlled halt, turn it around, and cajole his team to start shoving it back uphill? Does the IPL care? As Hussey and Clarke helped themselves to some of the least challenging runs of their long careers on day three, against opponents playing with the fierce and unrelenting intensity of a three-day-old bowl of half-eaten porridge, it was hard to be optimistic.

Also: The number of batsmen who have been left stranded on 299 not out in Tests. That man was Don Bradman (“A useful accumulator of runs” – International Society for Understatements). Clarke, as captain, had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join Bradman by declaring when he was one run short of his triple-hundred, in the ultimate cricketing self-prank. It would have been worth it just to see the look on his team-mates’ faces. Bradman was also the only player before Clarke who had scored a Test triple-hundred when batting at No. 5 or lower – he did so in Leeds in 1934.

Also: The number of (a) pairs and (b) scores of more than 201 that Jacques Kallis has scored in his illustrious Test career. These have come in his last two Tests, meaning that Kallis, the very embodiment of cricketing reliability for a decade and a half, has become the most inconsistent cricketer in the universe. With the possible exception of Clarke, whose last 13 Test innings have been 13, 6, 112, 151, 2, 11, 2, 139, 22, 0, 31, 1 and 329 not out. On current form, he is a good man to dismiss early.

Also: The number of Test teams that have conceded two individual scores of 290 or more within a six-month period. Clarke’s mammoth score followed hot on the heels of Alastair Cook plinking India to distraction with 294 last summer. Incidentally, in case any of you want a stat to impress / distract / annoy / confuse a potential employer at a job interview, there have now been as many 290-plus Test innings in the last four years as there were between 1939 and 1989 – seven (by Virender Sehwag, Younis Khan, Sarwan, Sehwag again, Chris Gayle, Cook and Clarke; between Len Hutton’s 364 in 1938 and Graham Gooch’s 333 in 1990, only Hanif Mohammad, Garry Sobers, Bob Simpson, John Edrich, Bob Cowper, Lawrence Rowe and Viv Richards passed 290).

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer