March 8, 2014

Forgotten Test innings: Readers' XV

Anantha Narayanan
Michael Slater scored 123 out of Australia's total of 184, the second-highest percentage contribution to the team total by a batsman in an innings  © Getty Images

I had scheduled the Test HSI (High Score Index) article for this fortnight. However the response to the last article, on the "forgotten Test innings" was very good and the readers had come up with their suggestions, many of which were absolute gems and matched the evocative and wistful tone of my article. Consequently, I decided to do the follow-up article, based on reader responses now and publish the Test HSI article next week. So, to the delight of many readers, another anecdotal article gets the nod.

My sincere thanks to all the readers who came up with their suggestions, especially Kamran Wasti and Harsh, whose suggestions could have filled up an entire article, Arjun, Pawan, David, Gerry et al. When I say that I had a problem selecting 12 out of 32, had to increase this to 13, 14 and 15, readers will appreciate the quality of their contributions. I would venture to say that this is a more exciting set of innings than my selection.

In these matters I know that whatever I say is not followed. The theme of the article is to not to highlight great innings, match-winning innings, match-saving innings or high-HSI innings. What I have highlighted are the innings that are not talked about and have gone off cricket followers' radars.

I suggest that readers understand this important point before asking questions like, "Where is the 337?", "Why is the 221 not included?", "How can you miss the 213?" and even "You are biased because you have not considered the 136", and so on. The 337, 221, 213, 136, the double-50s of Rahul Dravid et al will not be discussed since every cricket follower knows about these. But I bet there will be quite a few comments on some of these numbers.

Let us now move on to the readers' selections: this time presented in chronological order.

Test # 599. Australia v England

Played on 7,8,10,11 January 1966
  at Sydney Cricket Ground.
England won by an innings and 93 runs

England : 488 all out RW Barber 185 (0.70) Australia : 221 all out Australia : 174 all out

These were the John Arlott-TMS and Alan McGilvray-ABC days. Wonderful to hear the commentary in those mellifluous tones! The short-wave radio was a permanent companion, even in classrooms. Bob Barber was an oddity in those Boycott-Lawry days. A score of 185 in 255 balls was Sehwagesque. A strong middle order contributed a sum total of 8 runs. But this stupendous innings, supported by John Edrich's sedate hundred, and late-order support, paved the way for a big innings win for England. It is poignant that towards the end of a very ordinary career, Barber essayed one of the finest away Ashes innings ever, the only time he crossed 100 in Tests.

Test # 613. South Africa v Australia

Played on 31 December 1966, 2,3,4,5 January 1967
  at Newlands, Cape Town.
Australia won by 6 wickets

Australia : 542 all out South Africa: 353 all out RG Pollock 209 (2.50) South Africa: 367 all out Australia : 180 for 4 wkt(s)

Graeme Pollock's 274 is remembered far more than his more valuable innings of 209. Although this was the only Test lost by South Africa in an otherwise dominant series, Pollock was magnificent. Facing a huge total of 542, South Africa slumped to 12 for 2, when Pollock walked in, and then to 85 for 5. He scored 209 wonderful runs out of fewer than 350 runs added while at crease. Pollock got good support from Peter van der Merwe and Peter Pollock. His 209 was not enough to avert the follow-on and a loss. Graeme's HSI was a phenomenal 2.50.

Test # 665. Pakistan v New Zealand

Played on 8,9,10,11 November 1969
  at Dacca Stadium.
Match drawn

New Zealand : 273 all out Pakistan : 290 for 7 wkt(s) New Zealand : 200 all out MG Burgess 119* (2.90) Pakistan : 51 for 4 wkt(s)

This was an evergreen classic, unearthed by Kamran. After two middling innings, Pakistan secured a lead of 17 runs. New Zealand slumped to 25 for 4 and faced certain defeat when Mark Burgess walked in. On the fourth (and last?) day, Glenn Turner departed early and New Zealand faced disaster at 101 for 8. Burgess rescued them, in company of Bob Cunis, with a stand of 96 for the ninth wicket. Pakistan did not have enough time to secure a win. A match-saving innings nonpareil. Look at the very high HSI of 2.90.

Test # 779. England v West Indies

Played on 8,9,10,12,13 July 1976
  at Old Trafford, Manchester.
West Indies won by 425 runs

West Indies : 211 all out CG Greenidge 134 (2.81) England : 71 all out West Indies : 411 for 5 wkt(s) England : 126 all out

This is a peculiar selection in that West Indies finally won the Test by a massive 425 runs. But their first innings was a one-man effort and but for that we would not know how the match would have gone. Gordon Greenidge opened and saw four wickets fall for 26. He controlled the innings beautifully and scored 134 runs out of a score of 193 for 8. The first-innings score of 211 proved a huge mountain to climb and England folded for 71 and 126. Greenidge helped himself to a second-innings hundred, but nowhere near the first-innings gem. Look at the very high HSI. 63.5% of the completed innings, to boot.

Test # 797. West Indies v Pakistan

Played on 18,19,20,22,23 February 1977
  at Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Barbados.
Match drawn

Pakistan : 435 all out Wasim Raja 117* (0.39) West Indies : 421 all out Pakistan : 291 all out West Indies : 251 for 9 wkt(s)

This innings assumes importance because of what happened at the end of this exciting Test. Wasim Raja came in at 207 for 5 and against this hostile pace attack, Pakistan could easily have folded for 250. Wasim Raja controlled the second half of the Pakistani innings beautifully, adding valuable runs for each of the later partnerships. He remained not out on 117 and carried Pakistan to a potentially match-winning score of 435. Note the low HSI of this innings, which belies the value of this wonderful effort. Incidentally in the second innings, Wasim Raja and Wasim Bari added 133 for the last wicket to prevent a certain West Indian win.

Test # 841. India v West Indies

Played on 12,13,14,16 January 1979
  at M.A.Chidambaram Stadium, Chepauk, Chennai.
India won by 3 wickets

West Indies : 228 all out India : 255 all out GR Viswanath 124 (2.20) West Indies : 151 all out India : 125 for 7 wkt(s)

The two all-time classic 90s by the two stalwarts of Indian batting, Sunil Gavaskar's 96 and Gundappa Viswanath's 97*, tend to get talked about a lot more than many other top innings essayed by these two "giants". As such the top-class match-winning century of Viswanath in Chennai deserves a special look. West Indies finished with an average first-innings score of 228, thanks to a memorable 98 by Alvin Kallicharran, an innings worthy of being included in this list. Even though they had lost the big names to the Packer series, the trio of Sylvester Clarke, Norbert Philip and Vanburn Holder were not easy to face.

Viswanath, coming in at 11 for 2, anchored the Indian innings with a classical innings of 124, including an invaluable 70-run partnership with Syed Kirmani for the eighth wicket. The lead of 27 proved invaluable in the last innings, in which India chased a low target with difficulty. Viswanath's 124, with very little support, was the driving force behind the tough win.

Test # 873. New Zealand v West Indies

Played on 8,9,10,12,13 February 1980
  at Carisbrook, Dunedin.
New Zealand won by 1 wicket

West Indies : 140 all out New Zealand : 249 all out West Indies : 212 all out DL Haynes 105 (1.32) New Zealand : 104 for 9 wkt(s)

If ever a batsman nearly won a Test single-handedly, this was the one. In a match of low scores, Desmond Haynes was last out in both innings, participating in 20 partnerships for the match, as Arjun has pointed out. He scored 160 out of the team total of 352. In the second innings, he saw the score at a disastrous 29 for 4 and helped by two late-order partnerships, steered West Indies to 212 and a low target of 104. New Zealand almost did not make the target, thanks to excellent spells by Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Colin Croft. Haynes faced over 530 balls in the two innings, over 50% of the team balls.

Test # 901. West Indies v England

Played on 27,28,29,31 March, 1 April 1981
  at Antigua Recreation Ground, St John's, Antigua.
Match drawn

England : 271 all out P Willey 102* (1.08) West Indies : 468 for 9 wkt(s) England : 234 for 3 wkt(s)

This is a really forgotten innings by a journeyman cricketer. This might have been Antigua, but the bowlers were Andy Roberts, Holding, Garner and Croft, who could get the ball to talk on a concrete pitch. Peter Willey walked in at 138 for 5 and added 102 out of the 133 while at crease: one of the highest percentage of run contributions at 76.7%. This brave effort helped England reach a respectable total of 271 and safety in the match. Because he came in at 138 for 5, the HSI is relatively lower.

Test # 902. West Indies v England

Played on 10,11,12,14,15 April 1981
  at Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica.
Match drawn

England : 285 all out GA Gooch 153 (2.18) West Indies : 442 all out England : 302 for 6 wkt(s) DI Gower 154 (1.27)

The 154* at Headingley is one of the most talked about innings. Graham Gooch achieved immortality with that effort, against the might of the West Indies attack, to craft an unlikely win in a low-scoring match. A few years back, Gooch played an equally important innings, a run less. The bowling quartet of Holding, Malcolm Marshall, Croft and Garner were waiting for him at Sabina Park.

This innings of 153 suffers only in comparison to the Headingly innings. It was an equally great innings. Surprisingly Gooch was fifth out, having made his runs out of 249. Ninety-six of the runs were in boundaries. Geoff Boycott was the next highest scorer, at 40, giving Gooch's innings a very good HSI of 2.18. West Indies took a lead of 157 and then...

As I was writing up this effort of Gooch, I saw that an equally wonderful innings, matching Gooch's own 154, was played by David Gower. He essayed a 403-ball marathon effort that saved England. Two wonderful 150-plus scores in the same Test. No hundred from West Indies' batsmen to boot.

Test # 1096. West Indies v Pakistan

Played on 14,15,16,17,19 April 1988
  at Queen's Park Oval, Port of Spain, Trinidad.
Match drawn

West Indies : 174 all out Pakistan : 194 all out West Indies : 391 all out Pakistan : 341 for 9 wkt(s) Javed Miandad 102 (0.84)

Javed Miandad, purveyor of that most famous six of all time, in Sharjah, and the scorer of unbeaten 280. But I agree with Kamran that his most famous innings is his Port-of-Spain effort in 1988. Two average first innings were followed by an excellent West Indies score of 391, setting a daunting target of 372 for Pakistan with well over four sessions of play left.

The bowlers, a different foursome, no less fearsome: Marshall, Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and Winston Benjamin. Miandad came in at 62 for 2 and played a patient innings of 102, departing at 288 for 7.

Test # 1360. South Africa v Australia

Played on 14,15,16,17 March 1997
  at Crusaders Ground, Port Elizabeth.
Australia won by 2 wickets

South Africa: 209 all out Australia : 108 all out South Africa: 168 all out Australia : 271 for 8 wkt(s) ME Waugh 116 (1.23)

While I agree that this match-winning effort of Mark Waugh is not entirely forgotten, there is no doubt that it does not strike the same chords as the 153* in Bangalore or the 138 on debut do. So I have taken the liberty of including a tough-as-nails classic from the seemingly softer brother.

After three rather listless innings, Australia was set a very difficult winning target of 270 on a pitch in which the average RpW (Runs per Wicket) for the first three innings was 16.

Mark Waugh entered at a difficult score of 30 for 2. Each of the next three batsmen participated in useful partnerships. However Australia were never sure of a win, even at 145 for 3 at close of fourth day's play. Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis, Brian McMillan and Paul Adams formed a really difficult attack. Mark Waugh was out sixth at 258 when 12 runs were needed. Luckily for him, and Australia, Ian Healy took them to an improbable win.

Comparisons cannot be avoided. In many ways this innings was similar to Sachin Tendulkar's 136 in Chennai, where he was dismissed leaving India 17 runs to win. While the Australian late order obliged, the Indian late order did not. One can conclude that both batsmen did not complete the task.

Test # 1363. West Indies v India

Played on 27,29,30,31 March 1997
  at Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Barbados.
West Indies won by 38 runs

West Indies : 298 all out S Chanderpaul 137* (1.77) India : 319 all out West Indies : 140 all out India : 81 all out

This was a pulsating Test match won by West Indies by 38 runs when India were set the low target of 120 to win. Ian Bishop, Ambrose and Franklyn Rose were unplayable. They did not even need Mervyn Dillon to bowl.

But the real outstanding innings of the match was played a few days earlier. West Indies scored 298 in the first innings and any lower score would have meant India would have won. The West Indian innings was anchored by Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who scored 137 runs, worth more than many a double-hundred. He received only sporadic support from the top order.

Chanderpaul entered at 10 for 1 and steadied the innings, which, at 193 for 7, looked doomed. In partnership with Ambrose, Chanderpaul added 65 for the eighth wicket. The value of the 298 was felt three days later.

Test # 1439. Australia v England

Played on 2,3,4,5 January 1999
  at Sydney Cricket Ground.
Australia won by 98 runs

Australia : 322 all out England : 220 all out Australia : 184 all out MJ Slater 123 (3.50) England : 188 all out

Michael Slater's career-best innings was essayed during the 1998-99 Ashes series. It is one of the best Ashes hundreds ever. Australia had a first-innings lead of around 100.

But this lead would have been worthless if Australia did not have Slater. Opening the innings, he scored 123 out of the team total of 184. The innings percentage of 66.8 has only been bettered by Charles Bannerman's 165. One other batsman reached double figures: Mark Waugh, with 24. It was not a slap-dash innings. Slater faced 189 balls in a dominating display of four and a half hours.

The HSI was a stupendous 3.50: one of the highest in Test history. More on that in the next article.

Test # 1797. Bangladesh v Australia

Played on 9,10,11,12,13 April 2006
  at Narayanganj Osmani Stadium, Fatullah.
Australia won by 3 wickets

Bangladesh : 427 all out Australia : 269 all out AC Gilchrist 144 (3.02) Bangladesh : 148 all out Australia : 307 for 7 wkt(s) RT Ponting 118* (0.66)

If anyone is asked to talk of Ricky Ponting's career, he would mention the 140, 257, 156, 120 and 143* et al. No one would remember the 118 against Bangladesh. But that, in my opinion, is one of the most important innings Ponting played in his career.

Bangladesh took a first-innings lead of 158 runs and set Australia an imposing 307 to win. After a good start Australia were wobbling at 231 for 6. Ponting steered them home with a top-quality, unbeaten innings of 118. This innings is important because it saved Australia from the greatest of upsets.

Tendulkar played a similar match-winning innings of 105 against Bangladesh. But I did not include it here since who has ever "forgotten" any innings Tendulkar played.

As I was going through this scorecard I realised that Adam Gilchrist, in the first innings, played an equally important innings. In response to 423, Australia were on the edge of the abyss at 61 for 4 when Gilchrist walked in. Soon they slumped to 93 for 6 and follow-on (?) looked imminent. Gilchrist scored 144, his innings studded with six sixes and reduced the lead to a manageable 158. And manage, they did.

Test # 1812. Sri Lanka v South Africa

Played on 4,5,6,7,8 August 2006
  at P.Saravanamuttu Stadium, Colombo.
Sri Lanka won by 1 wicket

South Africa: 361 all out Sri Lanka : 321 all out South Africa: 311 all out Sri Lanka : 352 for 9 wkt(s) DPMD Jayawardene 123 (0.62)

This time I have included a single innings from the modern era. Mahela Jayawardene's 374 is a much-remembered innings. The world record created, the world record missed, the two days spent by the vaunted South Africa attack on the field and so on. Very few people remember what happened a week later.

Seven days and probably 7km (Sri Lankans could correct me) separated the Tests. What a pair of Tests these turned to be. One a batting marathon and a win by an innings and over 150 runs and another which had four scores either side of 350.

South Africa, after taking a lead of 40, set Sri Lanka, an imposing 352 to win. Although Sri Lanka were sitting pretty at 120 for 2, soon wickets fell at regular intervals and they were never in complete control of the chase. Jayawardene held the innings together with an excellent innings of 123. Like Waugh did, Tendulkar did and Brian Lara did not, Jayawardene fell ten runs off the target and a few anxious moments later, Sri Lanka won by one wicket. An excellent innings under pressure, throughout.

This has been a whimsical and nostalgic journey through 13 decades of Test cricket. It is like a whiff of fresh air for me and, I hope, for many readers. It really does not matter which innings has been included or excluded. I could easily have substituted five of these innings with others and not lost the impact of the article. My sincere thanks to all the readers for their enthusiastic participation. It is a reminder to me that I should go anecdotal more often.

A brief note on the Newlands tour de force. Sriram, our son, who was in India recently made a fairly serious statement that Test cricket, due to changing times and the enormous revenue-generation of initiatives like the IPL (and, sadly, minus sentiment/history), was in danger of dying out in ten to 15 years time. My heart protested at this but my mind was endorsing the tough statement, especially since he is a serious student of the game and the people who run the game. It is my considered belief that the BCCI wants Test cricket to take a distant third place, to be tolerated and humoured rather than encouraged. So Sriram is probably close to the mark.

But let me say this. As of today (March 5, 2014) Test cricket is alive and kicking, and how. The last three hours at Newlands produced more genuine cricketing excitement than the entire IPL can produce. An average bowler who can bowl four overs of innocuous left-arm spin and keeps the runs conceded to 30, or one who can hit across the midwicket fence a few times will pocket a million dollars.

At Newlands, it was guts all the way. The whole match was symbolised by the limping Ryan Harris, who is going under the surgeon's scalpel next week, producing two magical deliveries to snatch a win from an equally exciting draw. Harris wouldn't get an IPL contract: he would go "unsold" at a minimum price of 100,000 dollars. He would not get a million dollars for selling male fairness creams. His four overs would go for 40 runs and he would warm the benches if at all he was picked. In all probability he may never play in a Test match again. But his name will be there, talked about when people talk of courage and guts. The knowledgeable cricket followers salute you, Ryan, the other ten Australians and the 11 South Africans. You guys have shown the courage and fortitude on the field that your administrators have not shown off the field. Michael Clarke, Ryan Harris, Vernon Philander, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Dale Steyn, Kyle Abbott et al shine in this regard.

Incidentally, with a cut-off of 100 wickets, Ryan Harris has a better bowling average than Imran Khan, Keith Miller, Dale Steyn, Ray Lindwall, Croft, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Holding and Dennis Lillee.

South Africa deserved to come out with a draw. Australia deserved to secure a win. Both teams fought like tigers. It is possible that the way Australia bowled on a perfect batting strip on the last day and never gave up trying gave them the edge. Nothing was easy, not even the ninth wicket. If Test cricket could produce five classics in the past 80 days in Wellington, Auckland, Johannesburg, Newlands and Sharjah, maybe Sriram is wrong. Test cricket might very live well beyond me.

Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systems

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Posted by   on (March 12, 2014, 13:44 GMT)

Hi Ananth, Excellent twin articles, was as much fun reading the articles and the comments as it used to be back in the earlier avatar of It Figures. How does Harbajhan Singh's rather modern effort in Match no. 1974 against New Zealand stand up? without which India would have lost the match and probably the series. Regards Santosh
Welcome back, Santosh. The 115 is an outstanding innings and would be one of the best late-order innings ever. But Martin's devastating spell, sending to 15 for 5 made this innings quite well-known. But Laxman's 91 should not be forgotten. How many such innings has that gentleman played for India: 281/167/91/96/73 et al.

Posted by sourabhsharda on (March 12, 2014, 7:32 GMT)

Dear Ananthji, This is just a request to you for a kind indepth analysis of a particular pattern of the game which has me intrigued for sometime. I think it shall be a worthwhile analysis of yet another facet of the beautiful game. What I seek to know is the top 3/5 batsmen versus each test playing nation in both the test & the one day intl. formats of the game with the regular limit setting of atleast 10 matches or 500 runs scored with the most runs and highest average as the search criteria and also the bowler quotient against those played as per the quality standard that you have devised in all your earlier researches. Also the same could be done for the bowlers vis-a-vis most wickets taken & the lowest average criteria with regards to the quality of batsmen they have played against. Hope this different take will help in highlighting batsmen with a specific affinity to a particular country-style or method of bowling and bowlers who thrived more against particular type of batsmen
Will look into it. It is fairly complicated for possibly minimal insights. ANyhow will see what can be done.

Posted by harshthakor on (March 12, 2014, 5:20 GMT)

Maybe also 1an Botham's 118 at Old Trafford in the 1981 Ashes and ven 149 n.o at Leeds ,Sandeep Patil's 129 at Old Trafford in 1982 and Salim Malik's match-saving 277 at Lahorev Australia in 1986.
Yes, I agree these are not so well-known and deserve serioud consideration. You are probably referring to Salim Malik's match-saving innings of 237 at Rawalpindi during 1994.

Posted by harshthakor on (March 12, 2014, 5:17 GMT)

Never forget Kim Hughes's 100 not out out of 198 at Melbourne against West Indies that won the test for Australia in December 1981 against a great attack and after his team was precariously placed.Sunil Gavaskar's 96 against Pakistan at Bangalore in 1986-87 is arguably the best ever innings on bad wicket.Also Colin Cowdrey's 102 out of 191 against Australia which was a classic or even Dilip Vengsarkar's 102 at Leeds in 1986 on a wet wicket with the ball moving around. anyway great work Ananth.
Almost all these are very well known, Harsh.

Posted by Vijay_P_S on (March 11, 2014, 19:12 GMT)

@Ukraine, I don't think current players would want to speak out against their boards lest they lose their favor. Retired players on the other hand have free license to do it.

Posted by Nampally on (March 11, 2014, 14:08 GMT)

Mr. Narayanan, the greatest Test series ever was the 1959-60 WI vs. Australia which precedes your starting point of 1966. The first test @ Brisbane in that series ended in a Tie after the combined total of both the sides was nearly 1500 runs. The series included some excellent showmanship of Fast bowling, excellent batting & superb fielding. Only black mark was some really poor umpiring decisions by OZ Umpires. WI under the captaincy of Great Sir Frank Worrell showed remarkable sportsmanship despite crucial decisions going against WI. This was appreciated by nearly a million people turned up to bid farewell to the WI side travelling in open top Cars. Jack Fingleton described Sobers 168 in one of the tests as the greatest Test innings in the living memory- watched by Don Bradman. I was privileged to listen on Radio as a Kid in India. My contribution - "Lest we Forget" the greatest Test Series -which showed Cricket at its Best in all departments of the game + superb sportsmanship!
You seem to have missed my first article. There is no starting point. In my first article there was a 1898 innings of 188 by Clem Hill. The point is that most followers know about Sobers' innings.

Posted by   on (March 11, 2014, 0:32 GMT)

Simply superb article Ananth. Loved reading it. The cricket fan in me was delighted in reading it. I so wish along with the scorecard Cricinfo could somehow include video highlights as well. That though is a fantasy. It the painstaking work of fans like you that keeps the love of the game alive. [[
Many thanks.

Posted by David_1946 on (March 10, 2014, 21:55 GMT)

@ArjunHemnani: I watched much of that 1974 test; NZ had just beaten Australia for the first time in Christchurch. Walters' 104 was heroic, on a wet pitch, but he was helped by some dreadful NZ bowling, mainly from a young RJ Hadlee, who bowled a series of long hops that Walters and Marsh were easily able to cut and pull away to Eden Park's short side-boundaries. Hadlee's bowling was so bad that Congdon, who bowled very a gentle medium pace, was forced to bring himself on, and he had the ball rearing head high from a length, almost decapitating Marsh. Ian Chappell later said the pitch was the worst he'd ever batted on. The day's batting showcase was Turner's 34*, out of 85/8, where he handled Walker and Gilmour with relative ease, despite the treacherous conditions. On days 2 & 3, the pitch dried out, and Redpath's 159 was an exercise in watchful shot selection. After Turner had hit Mallett for 8 fours in 3 overs, NZ collapsed badly in its second innings to lose heavily.

Posted by arajeshn on (March 10, 2014, 12:40 GMT)

Ananth, Great list of innings, both in your original article as well as the reader's contributions. Plus, the reader's comments seem to bring up more of these forgotten gems.

Is there scope for a similar list of unhyped (not forgotten, (c) Pawan Mathur above) bowling performances? I was wondering whether a performance like Ryan Harris's courageous display in the Newlands test would make it to this list. I guess it probably would have done if it had been 30 years ago. Nowadays, with uninterrupted online and TV coverage, it may not meet the 'forgotten' criteria! [[
Yes, I want to do a bowler article also. Have to give a break and do that.

Posted by Oxonion on (March 10, 2014, 7:28 GMT)

Dear Ananth, yesterday I posted a comment on test # 890 (but it didnt get published?), which i was a witness to as a 12 year old and distinctly recall how the entire country had gone in to despair on facing the first ever defeat at Karachi. But for Raja's great epic, where bouncer after bouncer from Marshall, Croft, Garner and Clark, would just be played with the grace and class that only Raja could execute. He shielded the last 3 tailenders from the brute of the windies on a wet wicket for a good 2 hours, scoring an unbeaten 77 in four hours of exemplary doggedness, leaving no time for the windies to bat again and beat Pakistan. In the context of the game, it was one of the greatest match saving innings played by a Pakistani and as good as his display in the barbados tes. Hope this is appreciated. [[
No, ZM, it was published with my response. Pl see just after the featured comments. I have given below the datestamp.
Posted by Oxonion on (March 9, 2014, 10:39 GMT)

Posted by Biggus on (March 10, 2014, 4:48 GMT)

@Gerry_the_Merry:- Back in the old days (1970s) we kids could jump the fence and sit in that roped off corner of the WACA. Sweet, innocent times they were.

Posted by Cool_Jeeves on (March 10, 2014, 2:58 GMT)

Biggus, thanks for this. Now I understand something which has long puzzled me. So effectively, around 20 yards was removed and it still was a mighty 90 yards. [[
Unfortunately, at Mirpur or Fatullah (I don't know which), the distance to the stands was 75 yards and they had moved the ropes inward by more than 15 yards. The obsession with boundaries ???

Posted by lardster on (March 9, 2014, 21:15 GMT)

Yes, well we got 'roasted' over a couple. Mainly not rating Laxman's masterpiece highly enough. I'd be interested to know what you make of the method we employed. [[
Patrick, as and when I get hold of a copy, I will communicate with you. I will also send a mail from my mailid so that we do not have to meet using the blog comments route!!!

Posted by   on (March 9, 2014, 16:47 GMT)

Another very, very good article. A real pleasure to read. Much appreciated

Posted by Biggus on (March 9, 2014, 12:13 GMT)

@Gerry_the_Merry:- If you look at the you tube clip of Walters' hundred in a session in Perth in 1974 you'll see ropes about 20 meters in from the boundary on the eastern side of the ground. That's just the WACA, I know it well, and the distance to that boundary sans ropes must be something close to 110-120 meters. In my experience that side has always been roped off.

Posted by Cool_Jeeves on (March 9, 2014, 11:22 GMT)

@Inspector_Clouseau (March 9, 2014, 3:20 GMT)

If you look at footage of Pakistan's innings in 1992 World Cup Final, you would see some very huge sixes hit by Imran Khan, because there were no ropes at the MCG.

In a book on 100 greatest cricketers, Steve Waugh seems to bemoan the shrinking of grounds, by referring to Greenidge's innings of 95 in the Adelaide test of 1984-85. Greenidge was caught hooking on the boundary line by Rodney Hogg of Geoff Lawson. It was a flat shot, headed for six, until intercepted by Hogg. Waugh writes that today, that would have been a sure six. As it was, Greenidge went without a century in Australia.

But there were ropes in the Perth test of that series, when Dujon and Gomes made centuries. you can see that in youtube. But the ropes today are well inside, plus a couple of rows of seats have been added.

In the 80s, apart from Imran, Kapil, Botham, Richards and Greenidge, no one hit sixes.

Now even Rohit Sharma hits 17 in an innings.

Posted by   on (March 9, 2014, 10:57 GMT)

You have overlooked the Graham Yallop innings during the sixth Ashes test of February 1979 in test 846 He scored 121 in a total of 198, with Kim Hughes score of 16 being next highest score. He scored 121 out of the 179 scored whilst at the crease with him being the 9th man out. The English bowling attack of Willis, Botham, Hendrick, Embury and Miller is pretty good statistically [[
The Yallop innings was a magnificent one and is being referred to in the next article since the HSI is a huge 4.74.

Posted by Oxonion on (March 9, 2014, 10:39 GMT)

The classy Wasim Raja was Pakistan's savior against the mighty west indies of the 80s, more than once. The innings he played against Clark, Croft, Garner and Marshall on a wet wicket at Karachi in 1981 was equally heroic, if not more, than the one at Barbados. Pakistan in its entire history had not lost a test at Karachi at the time and against the full blast of the fearsome four, they were 85 for 5 in their 2nd innings (they had been blasted out for 128 in their first outing!) when Raja walked in. The entire nation saw the writing on the wall and it was excruciating! Despite being a fearless stroke player by nature, Raja spent 4 hours at the crease on the last day defying their brute, scoring 77 not out with only 3 fours! However what made it great was the fact that the last three tailenders spent 2 hours at the crease, scoring only 7 runs in between them! That is how well Raja shielded them from the bowlers. Pakistan scored 204-9 and saved the game and their record at Karachi. [[
If this innings had come up earlier this would have been given serious consideration. The irony was that Pakistan was almost never safe barring the last two hours or so. And that at the end of the match they could very well have been the favourites. 170 on that pitch against Imran and company could have been tight. Mohammad Nazir, batting at no.11, faced 40 balls.

Posted by 07sanjeewakaru on (March 9, 2014, 7:14 GMT)

Anath,Salute you for reviving these gems otherwise must've been forgotten.I'm a Sri Lankan..PSara and SSC are about 2 km apart..But if some one want he can have a path of 7 km long..Ha ha..So no matter..!

Anath, In first ever Test between SA and SL at Moratuwa in 1993..Jonty Rhodes played a wonderful,Gutsy innings to save the match..I don't think It'll make this list.But It was an awesome Innings.His career defining innings.. [[
I can see why you are referring to Jonty's innings. Set 364 to win, SA were never safe, at 15 for 2, 47 for 3, 92 for 4, 126 for 5 and 138 for 6. Rhodes and Smcox added 61 valuable runs for the seventh wicket. Even at 199 for 7, they were not safe. Then Eksteen carved out a defensive classic of 4 in 89 and Rhodes was there at the end. If this had come to my notice before the current article, this would have been a serious contender.
And Kumar Sangakkara's 230 at Lahore in Asian Test Championship final..Against Wakar and Shohib.. [[
I agree with the quality of innings. But this is a well-known classic from the elegant master especially as Sri Lanka's win was wholly unexpected.
Test cricket is the Ultimate form of cricket as it tests the patience through out five days..Patience of batsman,fielders,captains and Bowlers..No sport like that..To me,Patience is the hardest human aspect to gain and control.. Yes with bats ,shorter boundaries and field restrictions ODIs and T20s have become BATTING not Cricket..Its boring..! Thanks million.!

Posted by muzika_tchaikovskogo on (March 9, 2014, 6:45 GMT)

Dear Mr. Ananth, its always a pleasure reading your article (although the statistical details are usually beyond my mathematically challenged brain). Thanks to you, I'm getting to know of several great innings I was totally unaware of.

Posted by siddhartha87 on (March 9, 2014, 5:09 GMT)

what about Damien Martyn's 101 against South Africa at Johannesburg in April 2006. [[
Reminiscent of Mark Waugh's innings. Damien was out a serious 36 runs away from the target. Australia could very well have lost the match but for Lee.

Posted by Vijay_P_S on (March 9, 2014, 3:20 GMT)

Hi ananth, I always wondered about the size of cricket grounds in the past. I have a feeling that the ground sizes are becoming smaller by the day. Is this true? I am sure it is happening in ODIs but I don't know about tests. [[
In general, they move the boundary ropes inward in ODIs. Test matches probably remain the same. But the heavier bats make a mockery of most of these grounds.

Posted by Biggus on (March 9, 2014, 3:16 GMT)

Anantha, I remember Iqbal's innings very well, and a magnificent knock it was indeed, however Thomson didn't bowl in that innings, the second, since he was injured just after lunch on the first day colliding with Alan Turner trying to catch a miscued hook from Zaheer Abbas. [[
I agree. Still Lillee, Gilmour, O'Keefe and Chappell is a tough combination.

Posted by   on (March 9, 2014, 3:12 GMT)

Test no. 1098: England v/s West Indies : Played at Played at Trent Bridge, Nottingham 2,3,4,6,7 June 1988

England: 245 all out WI: 448 England: 301 for 3 Graham Gooch: 146 [[
Yes, a potent bowling attack. But the final score of 301 for 3 indicated a reasonably good position. All batsmen contributed.

Posted by SDCLFC on (March 9, 2014, 1:44 GMT)

...And Mark Waugh (again - he really is the forgotten war) on the first day of a 3 match tour of New Zealand which was actually quite evenly matched despite Steve Waugh's side winning 3 zip. From this tour everyone hails Steve's 150 from the second test in Wellington, ignoring that Slater's ton at the other end had held the top order together. However in the first test on a fresh surface we got right into the Australia line-up and would've rolled them completely if it weren't for a Mark Waugh "I-don't-see-what-the-problem-is", easy-breezy, 70-odd. Without it we may well have won the first test. [[
Thanks, Scott, for a wonderful slice of the trans-Tasman contests. 78 for 3 and Mark Waugh shepherds the innings to a potentially match winning 200+ score. Neither team crossed 230.

Posted by SDCLFC on (March 9, 2014, 1:37 GMT)

What good fun. Definately a challenge trying to select from innings that are not universally heralded. I'm sure there are many out there that cuold be included but here's a couplfe I want to put forward. Astel's 4h innings 222 against Englad at Lancaster Park, Christchurch, will be never forgotten but in the first innings Hussain scored a very important hundred. on one of the first ever drop in-pitches the first two innings were played on a real livewire before it flattened out for the mammoth runscoring of the 3rd and 4th innings. Hussain was dropped early (by Astle) as the England top order was blown away. England's final winning margain was just under 100 so the most definning runs of the game were played on the first day. TBC... [[
The 222, so incandescent an innings it was, completely overwhelmed many top class innings. The first innings of Nasser (106 out of 228 and a high HSI of 1.743) and Thorpe's 231-ball 200 in the second. Also Flintoff's blistering 100. Since the first two inninbgs produced 375 runs for 20 wickets, Nasser's innings assumes more significance. Afterwards over 900 runs were scored for 16 wickets.

Posted by Jonathan_E on (March 8, 2014, 21:10 GMT)

Another innings I really admired, also from the 1991 Eng/WI series.

We all know about Gooch's 154* at Headingley: but in the next match, there was another innings which I think was nearly as good.

West Indies made just one change - uncapped Ian Allen for Patterson (injured). England were unchanged, with no specialist spinner: a decision they regretted on the first day as Windies smashed their way to 317/3, two of the wickets to Hick's part-time offspin.

Next day, conditions were better for bowling: Windies folded for 419. England lost 3 for 16, followed by Ramprakash and Gooch to make 84/5. They were facing the follow-on and a heavy defeat.

Enter Robin Smith, who clubbed his way to 148*, aided by solid efforts from Russell, Pringle and DeFreitas, and Watkin defended stoutly for an hour for his 6. England reached 354, behind by only 65. Six overs later, Windies were 12/2 (effectively 77/2) and the match was back in the balance.

Sadly the last two days were rained off... [[
An excellent choice, Jonathan. If this had come in with the earlier article, it would have been a serious contender. 20 fours, probably quite a few of those rasping square cuts included, off a fearsome bowling attack made this top class innings. The HSI is a very respectable 1.439. One must give credit for Russell, Pringle and de Freitas for their support.

Posted by CricIndia208 on (March 8, 2014, 19:26 GMT)

Where is laxmans 103 vs SL in Colombo? [[
Conceded, a match-winning innings but Laxman himself has played at least 5 better innings. Off an average bowling attack, to boot.

Posted by steve48 on (March 8, 2014, 17:25 GMT)

Thanks, Anatha for answering my comment. I was very disappointed reading Gerry the merry 's post, as Dravid has been a hero of mine. Thing is, India DOES find bowlers of pace, they just all get injured/ lose pace/ lose accuracy! It can't ALL be down to the individual! They aren't even producing quality spinners any more! On another article, I posted my belief that although England's series win in India was an excellent effort, the lack of quality bowling in India means even their batsmen became vulnerable to our spinners! You can't really bat unless you face testing bowling, no matter how talented you are, it is a reactive skill. I know the Indian public love their batsmen, but are Kapil Dev, Bedi, Kumble not idolised too? Really, I don't know! Just wandering if the product being sold to the public is what they actually want. Are they really not interested in an Indian Dale Steyn? [[
Sadly, the reality is that Indians deify the batsmen a lot more than bowlers. Kumble never got anywhere the recognition that the contemporary batsmen received even though he was a true match winner for nearly 2 decades. At this stage I fear more for Indian spinners than the Indian pace bowlers. When I see Ashwin I wonder how someone has gone through about 10 bowling type changes instead of concentrating on the basics. Unfortunately the real spinner, Mishra, is being sidelined.

Posted by MiddleStump on (March 8, 2014, 16:37 GMT)

Often the reputation of the bowlers plays an unfairly larger role in rating the quality of an innings. For instance people still talk of the 97 not out by G.R.Viswanath in Madras against Roberts and company in 1975. However, the 124 you have mentioned was just as good a gem. I had the good fortune to watch both. Clarke was an outstanding bowler and Holder was wily. The most important difference between the two tests was the pitch. It had more pace and a lot more bounce in 1979 when compared to 1975. This made batting a lot more difficult and even dangerous. Yet this is not factored when rating a batting performance.

Posted by Biggus on (March 8, 2014, 15:26 GMT)

Ananth, re. your reply to steve48, we Australians won't be devaluing bowling any time soon that I can see. Just as many youngsters want to be bowlers as batsmen:- indeed to be a good bowler is as high status a position and commands as much respect as a prolific batsman does. If anything our bowling stocks at grade level, as at the higher levels, are better than batting and relatively low scoring contests are far more common than batathons. I have few fears for the future of our bowling, far less than batting where the preponderance of short form contests seems perhaps to be eroding the traditional batting skills such as seeing off the new ball and building and innings. [[
It is the innate attitude of the Australians who really believe that bowlers are needed to win matches. How often have we seen the Indian team take the field with insufficient number/wrong combination of bowlers. Also the unnecessary emphasis on bowlers' batting skills. Mishra could win Tests for India. But Dhoni would go with Jadeja, a very average spinner outside India, as the lone spinner. The T20/ODI skill-sets are telescoped into Test areas.

Posted by Insightful2013 on (March 8, 2014, 14:23 GMT)

Has the author actually seen these innings and if not, how do you assign relevance. Surely, it simply cannot be from the stats? Too many variables can account for averages and interpretation is entirely subjective. Visceral perception, should be the only criteria. Isn't that the rationale for sport? How it makes you feel! The performances, convey an emotional impact that transcends the norm, lifts you, entertains you and leaves you breathless! I fail to see how stats effectuate those feelings, except intellectually. [[
If I have seen Clem Hill's 188, I should be 130 years old and would be in Guinness Book of World Records. I do not have to physically see anything to appreciate its worth. If you limit yourself to appreciating and understanding only eye-witness accounts, your opportunities will be limited. And you would be solely depending on the coloured views of one, possibly biased, individual. But that is your choice.

Posted by Cool_Jeeves on (March 8, 2014, 14:14 GMT)

Saeed Anwar's 145 in Rawalpindi and 119 in Brisbane in 1999 both against Australia (McGrath, Warne, etc.) were also very good lone hands. [[
Yes, I agreed. Probably not as good as the 188.

Posted by 07sanjeewakaru on (March 8, 2014, 12:30 GMT)

Wonderful list..I've one Ancient innings which I thought one of all time best but modern world haven't considered.. Gilbert Jessop's 4th innings blinder of a century in 5th Ashes test at Oval in 1905. minuites innings..May be the best hitter in the cricket history. Mahela Jayawardana's innings at 20012 SL vs England test series at Galle. [[
I briefly looked at Jessop's innings and dismissed it as "too well-known". And Jayawardene's innings is too recent and in the memory of all cricket followers. But both are wonderful innings, I concede. The 180 is in a top-20 position.

Posted by   on (March 8, 2014, 10:52 GMT)

where does sehwag 201 in Sri Lanka stand amongst those. [[
You should read the article fully and understand the criteria for selection.

Posted by   on (March 8, 2014, 9:16 GMT)

Arvinda de silva 100 in second innings against india in late 90's.

Posted by Cool_Jeeves on (March 8, 2014, 8:37 GMT)

Ananth, true, Gavaskar et al are aligned with BCCI. But the BCCI is promoting what sells. When the Aus SA test was going on, crowds were gathered around TV shops which were showing the Bangladesh match.

The traditional followers of the game are too few, the the watchers of masala cricket too many, so Indian influence will ultimately only weaken test cricket. Dravid puts 100% of his time in IPL. Says it all.

The only hope for test cricket is that England, Aus, SA play against each other regularly and over time even Indians realize that they cannot place their beloved batsmen alongside Dravid, Gavaskar and Tendulkar unless our team continues to be a force in test cricket. For that to happen, it will take a very long time.

Posted by Jimmyrob83 on (March 8, 2014, 8:07 GMT)

"since who has ever "forgotten" any innings Tendulkar played" I threw up in my mouth a little when I read this.

Posted by   on (March 8, 2014, 7:52 GMT)

I can say you forgot 2 Martyn innings one at Kandy and other at Chennai in 04 and Gilchrist in Kandy in 04 and Hayden in Galle in 04.

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Anantha Narayanan
Anantha spent the first half of his four-decade working career with corporates like IBM, Shaw Wallace, NCR, Sime Darby and the Spinneys group in IT-related positions. In the second half, he has worked on cricket simulation, ratings, data mining, analysis and writing, amongst other things. He was the creator of the Wisden 100 lists, released in 2001. He has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket, and worked extensively with Maruti Motors, Idea Cellular and Castrol on their performance ratings-related systems. He is an armchair connoisseur of most sports. His other passion is tennis, and he thinks Roger Federer is the greatest sportsman to have walked on earth.

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