Langer's last-Test heroics
Throughout this series, Justin Langer had looked the most likely Australian batsman to get a big score, but before his hundred in the last Test at The Oval, he'd failed to make his starts count: in eight previous innings, he'd passed 25 six times, but only twice did he carry on to a half-century. He set that record straight here, with his 22nd Test century - sixth in the all-time list for Australia. In the process, he also became the eighth Australian to get to the 7000 mark, passing Don Bradman's tally of 6996.
A feature of his innings was his positive attitude, reflected in his scoring rate of 4.3 runs per over, a whole run more than it had been in the first four Tests. He was also far more productive off the back foot, a reflection of the true nature of the pitch at The Oval.
Langer's century also kept in tact his superb record in the last Test of a series - 12 of his 22 hundreds have come in the final match. Many of them have been in dead rubbers, but this one will be invaluable if Australia can go on and win the Test.
|Opposition||Score||Venue and year||Result|
|West Indies||127||Antigua, 1998-99||Aus won by 176 runs|
|Pakistan||144||Perth, 1999-2000||Aus won by inn. and 20 runs|
|India||223||Sydney, 1999-2000||Aus won by an inn. and 141 runs|
|New Zealand||122*||Hamilton, 1999-2000||Aus won by 6 wkts|
|England||102*||The Oval, 2001||Aus won by an inn. and 25 runs|
|South Africa||126||Sydney, 2001-02||Aus won by 10 wkts|
|West Indies||111||Antigua, 2002-03||Aus lost by 3 wkts,/a>|
|Sri Lanka||166||Colombo, 2003-04||Aus won by 121 runs|
|Sri Lanka||162||Cairns, 2004||Draw|
|New Zealand||215||Adelaide, 2004-05||Aus won by 213 runs|
|England||105||The Oval, 2005||?|
Meanwhile, his opening partner had been in the throes of a horrible run, but came out of it with grit and poise. Matthew Hayden's unbeaten 110 has so far taken 250 balls, making this the slowest of his 21 hundred-plus scores so far. While it's been a slow innings, Hayden certainly hasn't struggled out in the middle, achieving an in-control factor of 84%. It was a significant improvement on the corresponding figure of 76.7% in the first four Tests.
|Opposition||Score/ balls||Runs per 100 balls||Venue and year|
|England||110* (250)||44.00||The Oval, 2005|
|Pakistan||119 (255)||46.67||Sharjah, 2002-03|
|New Zealand||105 (198)||53.03||Sydney, 2001-02|
|West Indies||125 (226)||55.31||Adelaide, 1996-97|
|West Indies||100* (180)||55.56||Port-of-Spain, 2003|
Hayden's 21st century came in only his 72nd Test, a rate of 3.4 matches per hundred. Among Australians with at least 15 Test tons, he's in second place, behind only Don Bradman (29 in 55). Langer, meanwhile, is in sixth place, after Greg Chappell, Neil Harvey and Ricky Ponting.
S Rajesh is assistant editor of Cricinfo