May 15, 2002

Low on excitement, high on statistics

Staff Reporter

Unfortunate, but largely true - a high-scoring, tamely drawn Test match sometimes produces the most glittering of statistical nuggets. Antigua, after the fourth Test between the West Indies and India, will now be in the record books for much more than Brian Lara's 375 against England.

Ridley Jacobs
© CricInfo
Ajay Ratra, Man of the Match possibly for disproving Geoffrey Boycott's assessment of his batting skills, had a hand in both of the more unique records set during the course of the Test. His century in the first innings - one, incidentally, that made the 20-and-a-halfyear-old the youngest wicket-keeper to score a century - was followed by Ridley Jacobs' hundred, making the Antigua match the only one in which the regular wicket-keepers of both sides reached three figures.

The fact, no doubt, will come as a surprise to many, especially considering the calibre of wicket-keepers who have played in the same Test. Alec Stewart and Adam Gilchrist, Andy Flower and Kumara Sangakkara, Alan Knott and Rod Marsh, Farokh Engineer and Imtiaz Ahmed are just some names that instantly emerge from cricket's rich trove of stumpers.

There was, however, another occasion on which men who kept wicket also scored hundreds - double hundreds, in fact. When Australia played Pakistan at Faisalabad in 1979/80, Greg Chappell slaughtered the attack to the tune of 235 runs, and his side was bowled out for a mammoth 617.

Ajay Ratra
© CricInfo
That happened only on the fourth day, and a draw loomed decisively in the offing. Taslim Arif, Pakistan's wicket-keeper and opening bat, took the opportunity to hit 210 not out. With any result absolutely out of the question, Australia decided to have some fun. Chappell donned the wicket-keeping pads himself and let Marsh bowl 10 overs for 51 runs.

Australia, thus, used 11 bowlers in that innings, but in this unique feat, they were pre-empted by the old enemy, England, who did so against the visiting Australians at the Oval in 1884. The Hon. Alfred Lyttleton, England's wicket-keeper for the match, was actually the highest wicket-taker in the first innings, taking four for 19.

Ratra, thus, was instrumental in creating another notable highlight when he bowled the penultimate over of the Test. He may not have had Lyttleton's stunning success, but India became the third side to use 11 bowlers in an innings.