First-class cricket's most prolific batsman
Jack Hobbs was, quite simply, the most prolific batsman in cricket. His Test record is imposing enough - he finished with an average of almost 57, and was, at the time of retiring, the highest run-getter in Tests - but his overall first-class record continues to be quite staggering. Here are a few of his records, which will probably never be surpassed:
- With a gigantic tally of 61,760 first-class runs, Hobbs is the leading run-getter by far, and the only one to go past 60,000. England's Frank Woolley comes in next on 58,959. (To put things in perspective, Sachin Tendulkar's first-class tally is 22,336, and no one who has played beyond 1952 has an aggregate of more than 50,000.) It boggles the mind to think of what Hobbs' tally would have been had he not lost six years due to the Great War.
- Along with the record for most first-class runs, he also holds the record for most first-class hundreds, with 199. Patsy Hendren is next on 170, and only four others have more than 150.
- Hobbs scored his last Test century - 142 against Australia in Melbourne in 1929 - when he was all of 46 years and 82 days old, which remains a record. Hendren comes in second again, at 45 years and 151 days, while the oldest since 1980 is Geoff Boycott, at 41 years and 63 days.
Those are records that will almost certainly stay forever, not least because of the nature of the game in the modern era. While some of those first-class stats are staggering, his Test record is outstanding too, with 15 centuries in 61 Tests at an average of 56.94.
Hobbs started his Test career with 83 against Australia in Melbourne, but he didn't exceed that score till his 10th Test, when he made an unbeaten 93 against South Africa. In fact, in his first 11 Tests Hobbs had eight fifties but not a single hundred. That landmark only came in his 12th Test, when he scored 187 against South Africa. That was the beginning of a prolonged prolific passage for him: of the 12 years he played between 1910 and 1929 (there was no cricket between 1915 and 1919), only once, in 1921, did his average for the year slip below 50. In 44 Tests during this period, Hobbs' average soared to more than 65, and his conversion rate improved dramatically too, with 15 hundreds and 17 fifties.
|First 11 Tests||786||41.36||0/ 8|
|Next 44 Tests||4261||65.55||15/ 17|
|Last 6 Tests||363||33.00||0/ 3|
With the conditions loaded in favour of batsmen over the last decade, several of them have joined the list of 50-plus averages: with a cut-off of 5000 runs, 77 are in this league today, while there were only 44 before the start of the 2000s. However, Hobbs' average of 56.94 remains among the top five. It's in fifth place, next only to Bradman, Barrington, Hammond and Sobers.
Obviously Hobbs is among the top openers in Test history as well. Only Herbert Sutcliffe and Len Hutton have a higher average, among openers who've scored at least 4000 runs. Among modern-day openers, India's Virender Sehwag comes closest to the legends, with an average of almost 55.
|Herbert Sutcliffe||83||4522||61.10||16/ 23|
|Len Hutton||131||6721||56.47||19/ 31|
|Jack Hobbs||97||5130||56.37||14/ 27|
|Virender Sehwag||120||6312||54.88||18/ 19|
|Graeme Smith||136||6564||51.28||20/ 24|
|Matthew Hayden||184||8625||50.73||30/ 29|
|Sunil Gavaskar||203||9607||50.29||33/ 42|
|Justin Langer||115||5112||48.22||16/ 18|
|Geoff Boycott||191||8091||48.16||22/ 42|
|Herschelle Gibbs||116||5242||47.22||14/ 21|
At the time of his retirement, Hobbs was also easily the highest run-scorer in Tests. His tally of 5410 was almost 2000 more than Clem Hill, who was the second-highest, on 3412. Only five players had scored more than 3000 runs in Tests at the time.
The small group of Test-playing nations at the time also meant Hobbs played most of his Tests against Australia - 41 out of 61 were against them, and he scored 12 centuries in those games, at an average of more than 54.
|Jack Hobbs||61||5410||56.94||15/ 28|
|Clem Hill||49||3412||39.21||7/ 19|
|Herbert Sutcliffe||36||3396||66.58||13/ 16|
|Victor Trumper||48||3163||39.04||8/ 13|
|Frank Woolley||61||3160||37.17||5/ 22|
|Warwick Armstrong||50||2863||38.68||6/ 8|
With Herbert Sutcliffe, Hobbs formed an opening combination that remains the most prolific in Test cricket in terms of average opening stands. In 38 innings in which the two opened together, they managed an incredible 15 century stands, including a highest of 283 against Australia in Melbourne, a match England ultimately lost by 81 runs - it remains the third-highest partnership by a pair who ended up on the losing side. Twice the pair recorded century stands in three consecutive innings.
Not only does Hobbs top the list of leading opening pairs, he also comes in second: his 36 opening stands with Wilfred Rhodes were worth 2146 runs, at an average of 61.31.
Among the modern-day pairs, India's Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have the highest average partnership (with a 2000-run cut-off) - they average 60.06, with seven century stands in 50 innings.
|Pair||Innings||Runs||Average||100/ 50 stands|
|Hobbs - Rhodes||36||2146||61.31||8/ 5|
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo