Cricinfo XI January 31, 2006

Eleven more hot streaks

Andrew Miller and Martin Williamson
Eleven more batsmen who scaled the heights

As expected, last week's Cricinfo XI generated plenty debate and lots of feedback. As promised, here's a selection of the best of your suggestions

Mohammad Azharuddin: England couldn't stop him from the moment he made his debut © Getty Images

Mohammad Azharuddin (1984-85)
Azhar's artistry has since been besmirched by the revelations that brought an early end to his career, but his beginnings could hardly have been more poetic. A willowy wisp of a 21-year-old, Azhar was called into India's squad for the third Test against England in December 1984, and immediately charmed his way to a century on debut at Kolkata. Two weeks later, he was at it again in Madras, with 48 and 105, and he completed the set in the final Test at Kanpur, with 122 and 54 not out. Three matches, three hundreds and a star had emphatically been born.

Aravinda de Silva (1996-98)
He's travelled the world, become an honorary citizen of Kent, and scored runs on just about every continent in the game, but for Aravinda de Silva, there's no place like home. Whereas Brian Lara took 20 innings to reach three figures in front of his adoring fans in Trinidad, de Silva managed to post a remarkable seven centuries in eight consecutive innings in his home town of Colombo. That hot streak included two centuries in the match twice, against Pakistan and India, but just a solitary victory - a hard-earned five-wicket affair against a strong Zimbabwe side. In between whiles he saved a Test against India in Mohali with an unbeaten 110 - just to prove he wasn't a complete homeboy.

John Carr on his way to a career-best 261* © Martin Williamson
John Carr (1994)
John Carr's daughter was born in early August 1994. From then to the end of the season he averaged 854 thanks to successive scores of 78 not out, 171 not out, 136, 106 not out, 40 not out, 62 not out and 261 not out. This also meant he pipped Brian Lara to top place in the national averages - despite the latter's 501 not out earlier that year. When asked to explain his prolific form, he noted that "when you become a father, you don't expect to get out much". Carr is now the ECB's Director of Cricket and so presumably has ultimate say on when current England players disappear on paternity leave. David Kendix

Andy Flower (2000-01)
For a glorious yet futile period at the start of the 2000s, Andy Flower was indisputably the leading batsman in the world. A nuggetty left-hander with the hopes of a nation on his shoulders, he performed feat after feat of Herculean endurance to enable Zimbabwe to defy all the odds and punch a considerable distance about their weight. His three finest performances actually resulted in two losses and a draw, but Zimbabwe's performances in the post-Flower era have confirmed the scale of the humiliation that would have awaited without his input. On Zimbabwe's two-Test tour of India in 2000-01, Flower amassed 540 runs in four innings, including 183 not out at Delhi, and a match-saving 232 not out at Nagpur, when Zimbabwe followed-on 227 runs in arrears and batted for six sessions to save the game. Then, against South Africa the following season, he produced phenomenal twin innings of 142 and 199 not out at Harare, but still proved powerless to resist a cruel final-session defeat.

Was the good doctor over the hill at 46? Not a bit of it © Wisden

WG Grace (1895)
After a poor season in 1894, it was generally assumed that WG Grace's powers were in decline - he was, after all, 46. A hundred in his first match of 1895 did not seem to signal anything of particular significance, but Grace then reeled off scores of 288, 52, 257, 73 not out, 18 and 169, the last bringing him 1000 runs before the end of May - the first man reach that landmark. In addition, his 288 was his 100th hundred, and he was the first to achieve that feat as well. The Daily Telegraph marked his achievements by launching a shilling fund, raising £9073 - more than £350,000 in today's money - to the displeasure of many of his fellow players. Grace was, after all, an amateur, if only in name.

Jack Hobbs (1925)
Age did not weary Jack Hobbs - more than 100 of his 197 centuries came after his 40th birthday. But in 1925, aged 42, he broke record after record, culminating in his 125th and126th first-class hundreds at Taunton, first equalling and then overtaking Grace's career record and ending weeks of speculation as newspapers and movie news-teams followed his progress around the country (each score of 80 or 90 was presented to the public as "a failure"). Hobbs ended the season with 16 hundreds and 3024 runs at 70.32. He was still good enough to pass 1000 runs in 1933, aged 51, at an average of 61.38.

Mike Procter: a free-scoring batsman throughout his career © Getty Images
Mike Procter (1970-71)
A free spirit with bat and ball, Procter would have been recalled as one of the game's greatest allrounders, had it not been for South Africa's sporting isolation of the 1970s, which limited him to just seven Test appearances. Still, he didn't dwell on what might have been, and set about drilling his name into the domestic record-books instead. A tally of 1417 wickets at 19.53 wasn't bad for starters, but it was with the bat that he made his biggest splash - never more so than in the 1970-71 season, when he cracked six consecutive centuries for Rhodesia. The first five came in the Currie Cup, while the sixth - the small matter of a career-best 254 - came in a friendly against Western Province, having been launched from the inauspicious position of 5 for 3.

Jacques Kallis (2003-04)
South Africa's home season in 2003-04 was a triumph for Kallis, who had primed his predatory instincts with hundreds against Bangladesh and Pakistan the previous season, but now feasted on a West Indian attack that gradually lost the will to live as the summer and the series wore on. In consecutive innings he scored 158, 44, 177, 73, 130 not out and 130 not out - 712 runs at 178, including hundreds in each of the four Tests. South Africa swept to a 3-0 victory, with Kallis at the crease for 28 hours and 1248 balls. For good measure, he decamped to New Zealand soon afterwards, and extended his stay by a further 16 hours while amassing 353 more runs in two Tests.

Clyde Walcott (1953-1955)
Between March 1953 and June 1955 Clyde Walcott achieved unrivalled supremacy in international cricket. He kicked off with hundreds in successive Tests against India, followed up with three more at home to England in 1953-54, and then against Australia the following season he hammered five more, setting a then-record West Indian aggregate of 827 runs in the series. In 12 Tests he made 1773 runs at 88.65, the only shame being that West Indies' lack of matches at that time meant he did not get more opportunities to add to his remarkable record. All 12 of these matches were played in the Caribbean, but he still managed to average more than 40 overseas.

The sublime Garry Sobers © The Cricketer
Garry Sobers (1958-1959)
It's surprising to learn that, with the bat, Garry Sobers made a slow start to his Test career. At the start of the 1957-58 series at home to Pakistan, the 21-year-old Sobers had three fifties to show from his 25 innings and a meagre average of 30.54. But he kick-started his career with three fifties in a row, then made his first Test hundred at Kingston - the little matter of a world-record 365 not out. Two more hundreds followed at Georgetown, and he ended the series with 824 runs at 137.33. He continued that form when West Indies toured India later that year with hundreds in each of the first three Tests. In eight matches over 12 months he had made 1299 runs at 144.33 with six hundreds.

Everton Weekes (1947-49)
When Everton Weekes walked out to bat against England at Kingston in March 1948, he was booed all the way to the middle by a crowd who wanted their man, John Holt, in the side instead. He responded with 141, and continued that form (after an eight-month gap) in India later that year, scoring hundreds in his next four Test innings. His record would have extended to six had it not been for a controversial run-out decision at Madras. In England in 1950 his rich form continued with 2310 runs at 79.65 on the trip, including a triple-hundred against Cambridge, although in the Tests he made only 338 at 56.33.