Batting through the pain barrier

Eleven batsmen who overcame injury to make their mark on a game

Andrew McGlashan and Andrew Miller

November 20, 2008

Text size: A | A

Yuvraj Singh's incredible 138 from 78 balls in Rajkot last week was all the more amazing because of the back injury that apparently restricted his movement. With that in mind, Cricinfo recalls 11 other instances of batsmen putting their bodies on the line to further their team's cause.


Steve Waugh: defeated England on one leg, literally © Getty Images
Enlarge
 

Steve Waugh, The Oval, 2001
One of the toughest players of all time, Steve Waugh injured his calf as Australia chased victory at Trent Bridge, the third Test, to seal the Ashes. He was desperate to return for the final Test after England's Mark Butcher had inspired victory at Headingley. He spent most of his waking hours with physio Errol Alcott to aid his fitness bid, but he could still barely run when he started his innings at The Oval; by the time he finished he could hardly stand. That didn't stop him making 157 not out, and he defied his injury to reach three figures with a sprinted single that left him sprawling for the crease. For all the guts he displayed, Waugh's effort did him more harm than good. He developed a blood clot on the flight home, and had to undergo treatment for Deep Vein Thrombosis. However, all that mattered to Waugh was winning that Test.

Dean Jones, Madras, 1986-87
In stifling heat and humidity, Dean Jones played his greatest innings when he should have been in a hospital bed, and in the process set up one of the greatest Tests. It was just his third match, and his first for two-and-half years. Egged on by Allan Border's remarks - "You weak Victorian. I want a tough Australian out there. I want a Queenslander" - and his own personal drive, Jones defied India for close to eight-and-a-half hours. "I had pins and needles all over my body, I couldn't bend to sweep, and I was struggling even to get down the pitch, as I couldn't move my legs," Jones said. "And then I started to urinate involuntarily." He was rushed to hospital at the end of his innings, and although he batted again in the match, he was still suffering badly. Of course, that wasn't the end of the drama. The match finished in Test cricket's second tie. "Deano's innings was one of the highlights. For me it hasn't lost any of its impact," Border said years later.

Gordon Greenidge, Lord's, 1984
Whenever Gordon Greenidge started to limp opposition bowlers started to panic. Not many sides got on top of West Indies during the 1980s, but England fancied their chances at Lord's in 1984, so much so that David Gower was able to declare, setting the visitors 342. Then a limping Greenidge made him regret that decision. He cut and carved his way to a stunning double-century while playing on one leg. To avoid too much effort he struck 29 fours and two sixes in his 242-ball innings. "It was Greenidge's day, the innings of his life, and his ruthless batting probably made the bowling look worse than it was," said Wisden.

Rick McCosker, Melbourne, 1976-77
If it hadn't been for World Series Cricket, Rick McCosker would have played more than 25 Tests. He was good enough to hit four centuries, but one of his most famous performances was worth just 25 in the Centenary Test. The thing was, though, he made those runs with a broken jaw after being struck by Bob Willis. He emerged at No. 10 in the second innings, his face swathed in bandages, looking as though he'd gone 10 rounds with a heavyweight boxer. But despite the pain he managed to more than just survive, contributing to a ninth-wicket stand of 54 with Rod Marsh. That partnership was to prove vital in the final outcome as Australia won by 45 runs - despite Derek Randall's exuberant 174 - exactly the same margin as they'd managed 100 years previously.

Saeed Anwar, Chennai, 1997
Saeed Anwar was one of the game's most elegant left-hand batsmen whether he was fit or not. To prove the point one of his greatest performances came when he was suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration. Against India, in Chennai, he set a new world record for the highest ODI score with a breathtaking 194, and for most of his innings needed the services of Shahid Afridi as a runner. Sachin Tendulkar called it the best innings he'd seen and Bishan Bedi said "batting like that comes once in a lifetime". Some commentators suggested the innings was devalued by the use of a runner, but Anwar said: "To beat India in India is something special. Only we know the pressure we were subjected to back at home after our loss at Bangalore in the [1996] World Cup."

Robin Smith, Antigua, 1989-90
The "Judge" was always up for a battle. He was at his best against fearsome West Indies attacks, and only a warped selection policy prevented him appearing in more than 62 Tests. In the first Test, in Jamaica, he played a vital part in one of England's most famous, and unexpected, triumphs. His 57 helped set up a crucial first-innings lead of 200, but he was made to pay for his resistance for the rest of the series as West Indies' quicks, particularly Ian Bishop and Courtney Walsh, subjected him to a furious and unyielding barrage of short balls. Smith refused to take a backward step, until in the final Test in Antigua he was pinned on the jaw by a wicked in-cutting bouncer from Walsh - one of 11 in 12 consecutive deliveries. After a brief inspection from the physio and a grin at the bowler, he returned to face the music. He made only 12 from 43 balls before being trapped lbw from a rare full-length ball, but it turned out later - after he was reluctantly forced to retire-hurt in the second innings - that he had sustained a broken finger in that same barrage.

Sachin Tendulkar, Chennai, 1998-99
This match didn't need any hyping - it was the first Test between the two nations in nine years. It bubbled up into a classic finish as India chased 271 against Pakistan's mixture of swing and spin. They stumbled to 82 for 5, but Tendulkar defied a bad back to produce an innings that, given the conditions and the occasion, goes down as one of his best. In partnership with Nayan Mongia he made India favourites, but then Wasim Akram removed Mongia. Tendulkar, though, took the chase to within 17 until he tried to go over the top against Saqlain Mushtaq, and was caught at mid-off. The tail couldn't carry India over the line, but it was one of those occasions when the significance went beyond the result.

Colin Cowdrey, Lord's, 1963
The image of Colin Cowdrey striding out to bat at Lord's in 1963 with his left arm in plaster is one of the iconic shots of the age, and has come to epitomise one of the all-time great contests against West Indies. Cowdrey had sustained his injury while facing Wes Hall on the fourth afternoon, but with his team hurtling into trouble chasing 234 on the final day, he had no option but to come back out to bat. As he emerged from the pavilion following the final-over run-out of Derek Shackleton, all four results were possible - England needed six runs for victory, West Indies needed one wicket - but realistically the chase was already over. Had Cowdrey been required to face a ball, he would have had to do so one-handed, and with Hall and Charlie Griffith scenting blood, that was not a palatable prospect. In the event, David Allen blocked the final two balls to secure one of the most memorable draws in Test history.

Eddie Paynter, Brisbane, 1932-33
The Bodyline tour may have been notable for the heroism shown by several Australian batsmen in the face of Douglas Jardine's brutish tactics, but ironically the most remarkable act of bravery was carried out by an Englishman. On the first day in Brisbane, Eddie Paynter succumbed to a bout of acute tonsillitis, and was admitted to hospital from where, in the opinion of the Times, he had no chance of batting in England's first innings. Instead he commuted from his sick bed on consecutive days, first to rescue his team from a scoreline of 216 for 6, then to exceed Australia's first-innings 340 with a magnificent 83. "I'll never forget his face," recalled Harold Larwood. "He looked white and ill. At no time a great talker, he had even less to say that day than usual." His triumphant performance was sealed in the second innings, when he flicked a leg-side six to win the match.

MAK Pataudi, Melbourne, 1967-68
That the Nawab of Pataudi had a Test career at all is extraordinary, never mind that he went on to become arguably the greatest leader in the history of Indian cricket. In 1962, months before he was made captain at the age of 21, he was involved in a car accident that left him partially blinded in one eye. For the remainder of his 46-Test career, he suffered from blurred vision that effectively left him seeing two balls at a time, but he still went on to score 2793 runs, with six centuries and an average of 34.91. Arguably his finest hour, however, came against Australia in Melbourne in 1967-68, when - in addition to his everyday handicap - he came to the match with a hamstring injury suffered early on the tour, and yet rallied to produce 160 runs in the match. In the first innings, his 75 rescued India 25 for 5 - as Jack Fingleton wrote, he "looked a tragic figure as he walked in, dragging his injured leg. But immediately, there came in to the Indian innings character, intelligence and respectability" - and his 85 in the second carried them to within four runs of averting an innings defeat. "Pataudi combined batting genius with courage in a manner that warmed the hearts of all," wrote Wisden.

Lionel Tennyson, Headingley, 1921
In 1920-21, England's cricket was in disarray. Weakened by the war, and devoid of inspiring leadership, they were routed 5-0 in Australia and were lucky to escape two whitewashes in the space of 12 months when Warwick Armstrong's men sailed north for the return series. With Australia's fast bowlers, Jack Gregory and Ted McDonald, putting the wind up England with alarming regularity, only one man demonstrated sufficient pluck for England's cause: the Honourable Lionel Tennyson. A spirited dasher of a batsman, he was drafted in for the second Test at Lord's, where he made 74 not out, and then appointed captain for the final three games of the series. However, in his first game in charge, at Headingley, he split the webbing of his hand while fielding on the Saturday, and was in severe discomfort every time the ball made contact with the bat. Nevertheless, with a basket guard covering the injury, he shepherded the lower order with 63 and 36 in his two innings. It wasn't enough to avert defeat, however.

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer at Cricinfo, Andrew Miller is UK Editor

RSS Feeds: Andrew McGlashan

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Andrew McGlashanClose
Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.

    Test cricket's young Fab Four

Martin Crowe: Kohli, Root, Smith and Williamson will take turns as the No. 1 Test batsman. So far each has shown only one technical weakness

    Can keep, can bat

Numbers Game: The modern wicketkeeper needs to be more than capable with the bat, and West Indies and Pakistan have had some success with them recently

    'Which current England Test star made a duck on first-class debut?'

Cricket Brain: Ian Bell takes the challenge. How well does he know his own team-mates?

'Pietersen has won Tests on his own in India, Sri Lanka'

Modern Masters: Dravid and Manjrekar on KP's ability to change the course of a game in two or three hours

Why wasn't England v India a multi-format points series?

Raf Nicholson: The future of the women's game is tied in to whether all boards agree to adopt this system

News | Features Last 7 days

India disgraced themselves by not competing

MS Dhoni and the BCCI are to blame for a touring party that became too comfortable and compliant

'I couldn't bring myself to set a batsman up by giving him runs'

Glenn McGrath talks about the method behind his metronomic consistency, visualisation, and why aggression isn't about sledging

Dhoni doesn't heed his own warning

Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff

Errant elbows, and Priyanjan's shuffle

Plays of the day from the first ODI between Sri Lanka and Pakistan

Don't lap sweep when Sangakkara keeps

Plays of the day from the second ODI between Sri Lanka and Pakistan, in Hambantota

News | Features Last 7 days