Cricinfo XI

When big isn't big enough

Cricinfo looks back at large totals that didn't prevent a time ending up on the wrong side of the result

Martin Williamson and Andrew McGlashan

December 7, 2006

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England's defeat in the second Test at Adelaide came despite a massive first-innings of 551 for 6. It was the highest first-innings declaration to lose a Test and is third on the list for any first innings. Here Cricinfo looks back at other large totals that didn't prevent a team ending up on the wrong side of the result.



Bobby Peel wasn't feeling his best before taking 6 for 67 against the Australians © The Cricketer
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586 - Australia, Sydney, 1894-95
Until The Headingley Test in 1981, this was the only occasion a side won after following-on. England trailed by 261 on first innings, but with the pitch getting easier by the hour, they were able to amass 437 second time round. With it being a timeless match, Australia's target of 177 looked a formality, and by the close of the fifth day they were 113 for 2. But heavy overnight rain left the pitch saturated and Bobby Peel took 6 for 67 to bowl England to a 10-run win. So convinced had the England players been that the game was as good as over on the previous evening that they had gone out on the town. Peel was in such a bad way the next morning that Andrew Stoddart, the England captain, had to stand him under a cold shower before setting off for the ground.

556 - Australia, Adelaide, 2003-04
Ricky Ponting's magnificent 242 had been the centrepiece of Australia's formidable first-innings total as the Indians were forced to chase leather and conceded more than four an over. When Andy Bichel reduced India to 85 for 4 during the second day a familiar Australian canter to victory was racing into view. But inspired by memories of the Laxman-Dravid Kolkata epic in 2001, the same pair produced another heroic stand. When Laxman fell for 148 they'd added 303 and Dravid kept on going until he was last-out for 233 and India were just 33 behind. But surely all it had enabled was for them to leave with honours even. Step up Ajit Agarkar for the finest moment of his career as a powerful burst of out-swing bowling toppled Australia for 196. A target of 233 was no cakewalk, but thanks to Dravid India crossed the line by four wickets.



Garry Sobers was left to rue his declaration in 1968 © The Cricketer
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526 for 7 dec - West Indies, Trinidad, 1968
Garry Sobers made one of Test cricket's most controversial declarations when he ended his second innings on 92 for 2 and set England a far-from-daunting 215 in 165 minutes. With the series level at 0-0, caution might have been the better option, but Sobers believed that the legspin of Basil Butcher, who took 5 for 15 in England's first innings, would be enough to give West Indies victory, or at least prevent England winning. But Colin Cowdrey smacked 71 in 76 minutes, and with a perfectly-paced 80 not out from Geoff Boycott, England eased home with five minutes to spare. Butcher managed only five wicketless overs and, crucially, fast bowler Charlie Griffith did not take the field - as Cowdrey later noted, "without him West Indies were doomed". Sobers was vilified in the Caribbean media, although it later emerged that the decision to declare had been made with the support of other players and board officials. "Nevertheless," Cowdrey observed, "the sky fell in on his head."

520 - Australia, Melbourne, 1953
A remarkable win, and one which levelled the series at the death, came about after the South Africans had seemed destined to follow-on at the close of third day, with 46 runs needed to avert it and only four wickets remaining. In fact, they conceded a lead of just 85 although when set 295 on a surface beginning to crack up, few gave them a hope. "Australia's bowlers, fast and slow, received similar punishment, and the match culminated in a fitting finale by the aggressive Roy McLean," wrote Wisden. "Although handicapped by a bruised eye sustained in his first innings, McLean showed scant respect for the attack. In 80 minutes he hit 14 fours in scoring 76 of 106 added in an unbroken fifth-wicket partnership with Headley Keith."

519 - England, Melbourne, 1928-29
Another timeless Test, matches where a massive first innings was only any good if you bowled out your opponents cheaply. England made 519 but only ended with a lead of 28, and fast bowler Tim Wall took 5 for 66 on debut to bowl England out second time round for 257. A tired England side, who had already secured the Ashes, fought hard but with their two main weapons, Harold Larwood and Maurice Tate, out of sorts, Bradman and Jack Ryder guided Australia home on the eighth morning with five wickets in hand. Shortly before the winning hit, Ryder made a single and Tate grabbed two stumps as souvenirs and headed towards the pavilion ... only to have to sheepishly return them to their original position when informed the match was not yet over.



Don Bradman was unstoppable at Headingley as Australia chased 404 © Wisden Cricket Monthly
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496 - England, Headingley, 1948
After three high-scoring innings, England declared five minutes into the final day, allowing them to use a heavy roller which they believed would help break up the surface. Australia were set 404 in 344 minutes, a seemingly impossible task. But England only had one front-line spinner - Jim Laker, then a raw offspinner in his seventh Test who, by his own admission, bowled badly - and that deficiency was aided by some much-criticised bowling changes by Norman Yardley, England's captain. It was left to the part-time spin of Denis Compton to hold things up, and crucially he had Don Bradman dropped in the slips as England wilted in the face on an onslaught from Bradman (173*) and Arthur Morris (182), who added 301 in 217 minutes for the second wicket. Australia romped to a seven-wicket win.

490 - Australia, Barbados, 1998-99
Steve Waugh's first Test series in charge wasn't going exactly to plan. After crumbling for 51 in the first Test in Trinidad, West Indies turned the tables thanks to Brian Lara's 213 in Jamaica and levelled the series. Normality appeared to have returned at Kingston as Waugh's 199 pushed Australia close to 500 before Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie had West Indies reeling on 98 for 6. However, Sherwin Campbell's 105 clawed them past the follow on, then Courtney Walsh kept Australia to 146 second time around. Still 308 was a tough target and seemingly impossible at 105 for 5. Then Lara cut loose and with Jimmy Adams for support the requirement was down to less than 100. Runs and wickets were traded until it came down to six needed with Walsh joining Lara. Australia missed an edge off Lara before a searing cover-drive sent a whole region into delirium.

484 - South Africa, The Oval, 2003
England had been heavily criticised following a typically insipid Headingley performance and, in just his third Test in charge, Michael Vaughan was already bemoaning English cricket. The first day of the final Test suggested a recovery wasn't imminent as Herschelle Gibbs and Gary Kirsten added 227 on a surface full of runs. However, slowly but surely England pulled themselves back, but 484 put South Africa within sight of at a least draw - all they needed to claim the series. During the Saturday a stunning partnership between Marcus Trescothick (219) and the returning Graham Thorpe (124) made major inroads, so much so that by the close England had edged ahead - but with just three wickets left. The next morning Andrew Flintoff took another step along the road to maturity and his 90 turned a minor advantage into something tangible. Suddenly, South Africa sensed they could lose and England pounced. The unlikely pairing of Martin Bicknell and Steve Harmison bounced and swung through the innings then Trescothick slammed 69 as England charged to victory. Still, South Africa couldn't shake the tag of chokers.



Ricky Ponting celebrates his second hundred against South Africa at Sydney © Getty Images
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451 for 9 dec - South Africa, Sydney, 2005-06
This was a tough result on Graeme Smith after his team had played some impressive cricket for the first three days. Centuries from Jacques Kallis and Ashwell Prince anchored South Africa's first innings and, despite 120 from Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist's 86, they led by 92. But rain on the fourth day ate away at the time they had to set a formidable target. Trailing 1-0 in the series, Smith was forced to gamble on the final day and leave Australia 287 in 76 overs. It wasn't even a challenge for the Australians, as Ponting completed a twin set of hundreds and Matthew Hayden contributed a thumping 90. A rueful Smith pointed to the weather rather than his bowlers, but he still left as just the second captain (after Sir Garry Sobers) to have declared twice and lost.

448 - West Indies, Galle, 2001-02
West Indies were not given much hope of overturning Sri Lanka on home soil so 448 in their first innings of the series was a commendable effort. However, that only tells half the story and they had already begun to unravel. At one point West Indies were 393 for 3 with Brian Lara winning his battle with Muttiah Muralitharan but the last seven wickets fell for 55. Tons from Kumar Sangakkara and Hashan Tillekeratne propelled Sri Lanka to 590 and West Indies folded against Muralitharan on a turning pitch. Their 144 was less than Lara managed on his own in the first innings and he would go on to score 688 runs in the series and still watch the team lose 3-0.

447 - Australia, Headingley, 2001
The Ashes had been decided in 11 days as Australia overpowered an England team that suffered a collective loss of form and confidence. Talk of an historic 5-0 whitewash was well advanced and, although Steve Waugh was forced out of the fourth Test with a calf injury, everything was on course as Australia motored along at more than four an over. Ricky Ponting and Damien Martyn struck equally attractive centuries before Glenn McGrath's 7 for 76 earned a more-than-handy lead of 128. Then came the first spanner in the works as showers scudded across the ground throughout the fourth day. Intent on not letting up in their quest for history, stand-in captain Adam Gilchrist pulled out with a lead of 314 and 110 overs left in the match. Plenty of time for England to get the runs, but that wasn't a prospect with an attack of McGrath, Gillespie, Lee and Warne. Then, on the final day Mark Butcher decided to carve the attack apart and with it a place in Ashes history. His unbeaten 173 was a once-in-a-lifetime innings and nothing the Australians tried worked. In the end they just applauded and, for a few days at least, English cricket basked in the glow.

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

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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