Cricinfo XI

Filling their boots

Cricinfo takes a look back at other batsmen who have made bowling attacks shudder as they enjoyed memorable years

Martin Williamson and Andrew McGlashan

November 30, 2006

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Over the past week, Mohammad Yousuf and Ricky Ponting continued their outstanding form of 2006 by adding further centuries to their growing mountain of runs. Cricinfo takes a look back at other batsmen who have made bowling attacks shudder as they enjoyed memorable years



Clem Hill was the first man to pass 1000 and it took a while for others to catch up © The Cricketer
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Clem Hill 1902 - 1060 runs at 55.78
It was a mark of Clem Hill's dominance that he was the first batsman to make 1000 runs in Test history and the only one for the first 70 years. Hill was regarded as Australia's greatest batsman, until superceded by Victor Trumper, and he started the year with a hat-trick of nineties (97, 98 and 99) against England, continuing that form when Australia toured England immediately after, although that series was blighted by rain - however, a quite brilliant one-handed catch when England needed eight to win with two wickets in hand at Manchester was instrumental in Australia retaining the Ashes. On the way home, South Africa hosted three more Tests and Hill made hay on the matting wickets. Wisden's editor, perhaps not at his most objective, was churlish about his achievements. "I do not think he was so great a batsman as in 1899," he wrote."He hit harder than before, but even on good wickets it did not seem such a difficult matter to get him out."

Denis Compton 1947 - 1159 runs at 82.78
Few players captured the euphoria of the immediate post-war years better than Denis Compton, English cricket's first genuine pin-up. He batted as if determined to make up for the lost years, using his 2lb 2oz bat - with which he made all his runs that summer, and given that he lent it to team-mates freely, it scored many more - like a wand. He was one of the few pluses of a wretched 1946-47 Ashes tour, with the highlight being two hundreds at Adelaide in January. But it was the 1947 English summer that was his annus mirabilis. Overall, he smashed the records for the most hundreds (18) and the most runs (3816), and he flayed South Africa, scoring hundreds in four of the five Tests, leaving John Arlott to coo at the "command, brilliance and gaiety of their making". Compton remained a force for another decade, but a wretched knee, which he aggravated in making his final century of the season, increasingly hampered his skill in effortlessly cutting the best bowlers to shreds.

Don Bradman 1948 - 1025 runs at 113.88
Less than 14 months before Don Bradman's New Year's Day hundred against India, it had been widely speculated that he would retire to rest off his pre-war laurels, largely because of his poor health. But he didn't, and his swansong was spectacular. In three Tests at the start of the year he scored 517 runs for twice out, and then in England he bowed out of Test cricket with 508 runs at 72.57. The only blip was the duck in his final innings at The Oval, but that aside, the tour he led was more like a royal procession as crowds flocked to see him and his team of Invicibles. It was widely recognised that he was not the batsman he was before the war - he was a shaky starter - but he was still far better than anyone else.



Garry Sobers: a mountain of runs in 1958 and the world record helped © The Cricketer
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Garry Sobers 1958 - 1299 runs at 144.33
Such is Garry Sobers's place in cricket's greats that it is surprising that by the end of 1957 his form was ordinary - in 14 Tests he had a highest score of 66 (and an average of 30.54) and had taken 16 wickets at 41.05. All that changed when Pakistan toured the Caribbean. Sobers warmed up with three fifties, and then broke Len Hutton's world record by making an unbeaten 365 in the third Test at Kingston - "Hanif Mohammad had been bowling right-handed," he recalled, "but when I reached 364, he came on and bowled left-handed. I pushed it and took off like I had a fire under me." He following up with a brace of hundreds in Guyana, and ended a remarkable year with back-to-back hundreds in Bombay and Kanpur.

Dennis Amiss 1974 - 1379 runs at 68.95
In 1974 England opener Dennis Amiss came within two runs of beating Bobby Simpson's 1964 record for the most runs in a calendar year, and yet by the third Test of 1975 he had lost his place in the side. The reason was that, as with a number of others, he had been simply blown away by Australia's Jeff Thomson and Dennis Lillee. It was not that Amiss lacked neither courage nor technique against fast bowling. Against West Indies in 1973-74 he had scored 663 runs, including a gutsy 262 not out in nine-and-a-half hours to save the Kingston Test when he almost carried his bat. In England in 1974, he made big hundreds against both India and Pakistan, but it all went wrong in Australia in 1974-75. After 90 in the third Test, he only managed 19 runs in his next seven Test innings against them. "Many a time I walked out to the middle in a Test match knowing it was virtually a waste of time carrying a bat," he later admitted.

Viv Richards 1976 - 1710 runs at 90.00
Pundits had predicted great things for Viv Richards when he scored 192 not out at Delhi as a 22-year-old in his second Test. But he struggled to master Test cricket and in 1975 managed 210 runs - and a best of 50 - in seven matches. But at Adelaide in January 1976 he made 101 and proved that was no one-off by making hundreds in all three Tests against India in the Caribbean. He arrived in England in 1976 in confident mood. He had every reason. That summer, blessed with rock-hard pitches more Kensington than Kennington, in four Tests he amassed 829 runs at 118.42, including two double hundreds. He missed the Lord's Test because he contracted glandular fever, a debilitating viral illness that makes his achievements later in the year all the more remarkable.



Allan Border fought a lonely battle throughout 1985 as Australia struggled © Getty Images
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Allan Border 1985 - 1099 runs at 64.64
The Australia players and board were still at loggerheads in the aftermath of World Series Cricket and the team was again stripped of key players by the rebel tours to South Africa. But through it all Allan Border held firm; without him the situation could have got even more dire. As it was results were shocking - the Ashes had been a 3-1 reversal and even New Zealand won a series 2-1 - but Border was immense as captain. His 196 at Lord's led Australia to their predictable win at headquarters, a rare high in a depressing period.

Andy Flower 2000 -1045 runs at 80.38
The first cracks were appearing in Zimbabwe cricket after Murray Goodwin and Neil Johnson walked out and it was always a fight to compete with the top nations. Flower managed it almost single-handedly. He should have presided over an historic victory at Port-of-Spain where he made a masterful, unbeaten 113, but West Indies managed to defend a target of 99. However, it was against spin where Flower stood out as a class above and on the tour of India amassed 540 runs in just two Tests, sweeping the spinners to distraction. Zimbabwe went down 1-0 in the series, but as Wisden noted: "Zimbabwe's fighting draw [in the second Test] represented a moral victory." Flower remains the only Zimbabwean to pass 1000 Test runs in a calendar year, a record that is unlikely to change for a long time to come.

Sachin Tendulkar 2002 - 1392 runs at 55.68
No list of run-scoring feats is really complete without a mention of Tendulkar and 2002 was a stellar year for him, perhaps the last before his powers began to wane. What makes his numbers more impressive is that on tour in West Indies he went through a trot which read 0,0,8,0 after an earlier ton in Trinidad. But he put the record straight in England and especially at Headingley where his 193 (overtaking Bradman's record of 29 centuries) paved the way for one of India's most memorable overseas victories. Later in the year he produced a match-saving 176 against West Indies at Kolkata, and Wisden reported: "In this daunting situation, would he dig or hit out? He did both...with minimum risk and to maximum effect: unlike lesser batsmen, he looked least likely to get out when most dominant. This was the Tendulkar of old..."



Michael Vaughan became the leading England run-scorer in a calendar year in 2002 © Getty Images
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Michael Vaughan 2002 - 1481 runs at 61.70
He will always be remembered as the captain that ended England's Ashes drought, but this was the year when Vaughan arrived as a Test cricketer. At the start of 2002 his career was still one of promise rather than performances. He returned from disappointing tour of New Zealand, where he'd found a habit of racing to 30 but not much else, and started the home season needing to establish himself as Marcus Trescothick's opening partner. He has Sanath Jayasuriya to thank for a kick-start when the Sri Lankan spilled him twice at slip during the Lord's Test and Vaughan capitalised with a match-saving century. His weakness in the thirties then extended to the 190s as he flayed the Indian bowlers before his pinnacle on the 2002-03 Ashes tour. As the England batting crumbled around him, Vaughan graced Adelaide and Melbourne with breathless centuries, making him England's highest run-maker in a calendar year and gaining a respect from the Australians that he would never lose.

Ricky Ponting 2003 - 1503 runs at 100.20
The world's bowlers are well aware of the width of Ponting's current bat, but it was in 2003 that, the then, future Australian captain signalled his intent. The attacks he faced were not the most testing but it was his hunger for runs that impressed. It was the year where Ponting matured and he credited married life to adding a new dimension to his play. The recklessness disappeared but without tempering his awesome natural ability. Three double centuries in the year, including back-to-back efforts (only the fifth occasion in Test history) against India at Adelaide and Melbourne boosted his average towards stratospheric levels. At the end of the year Steve Waugh's career was drawing to a close; his successor was certainly going into the job on a high.

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo and Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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