September 3, 2012

Symmetrical stats

Cricket's statistics aren't all 99.94s. Sometimes the numbers are satisfyingly round

100 - and 50
Andrew Strauss inspired this list by announcing his retirement immediately after his 100th Test match - which was also his 50th as captain. Only Mike Atherton (54 Tests) and Michael Vaughan (51) have captained England more often. Viv Richards and Mark Taylor also skippered in exactly 50 Tests.

100 - and 200
The only other man to win exactly 100 Test caps was the Surrey and England left-hander Graham Thorpe, between 1993 and 2005. And his highest score was 200 not out, against New Zealand in Christchurch in 2001-02.

Muttiah Muralitharan's quest for 800 Test wickets was one of the statistical highlights of 2010. He went into what he announced beforehand would be his final Test - against India in Galle - needing eight to make it, and with the last pair in he was stuck on 799... twice Murali narrowly missed chances to run the last man out (not deliberately!) before finally Pragyan Ojha became victim No. 800. All Sri Lanka breathed a sigh of relief, and we'll never know whether he would have been tempted out of retirement for one more match if he'd been marooned one short!

When Mark Boucher was forced to announce his retirement after an untimely eye injury earlier this year, several people (me included) pointed out that he was stuck on 999 international dismissals - 555 in Tests and 444 in limited-overs matches (including one catch in the field). But ... Boucher also took a Test wicket (Dwayne Bravo in Antigua in 2005, which reduced West Indies to the depths of 747 all out), so he could be said to have finished on a round thousand.

2000 in 2000
Pakistan's silky middle-order batsman Mohammad Yousuf celebrated the new millennium by scoring 1161 runs in one-day internationals and 839 in Tests - that's exactly 2000 international runs in the year 2000.

20 and 20 in Twenty20
The Zimbabwean batsman Hamilton Masakadza's stats in the shortest form of the game are pleasing to the eye. He's currently had 20 innings in 20 Twenty20 internationals... and hit 20 sixes too. And overall, as I write, he's scored exactly 2000 runs in all Twenty20 games.

200 - and 100
Tearaway fast bowler Jeff Thomson finished up with 200 Test wickets for Australia - and exactly 100 of them came against England. It's a fair bet that Thommo - who summed up his approach to pace bowling as "I'd just lope in and go whang" - wasn't too bothered about this statistical neatness.

10 for 10
The best bowling figures in first-class history came during a County Championship match at Headingley in 1932. The Yorkshire and England left-arm spinner Hedley Verity demolished Nottinghamshire for 67, and finished with the stunning analysis of 10 for 10. Notts had been 38 without loss before Verity got to work: Wisden reports that he "not only performed the hat-trick in sending back Walker, Harris and Gunn, but got rid of Arthur Staples and Larwood with the last two balls of his next over and then, disposing of Voce and Sam Staples with the third and fourth balls of his following over, brought the innings to a close".

100 and 100
Playing for Pakistan International Airlines against Railways in Lahore in 1980-81, Zaheer Abbas scored 100 not out in the first innings - and 100 not out in the second. It was one of a record eight occasions that the elegant Zaheer scored a century in each innings of a first-class match.

The reliable Northamptonshire batsman Dennis Brookes, who won one England cap, scored exactly 2000 runs in the 1950 English county season. Chris Smith of Hampshire and England followed suit in 1985.

2000 (and 1)
Dilip Sardesai retired thinking he had scored exactly 2000 Test runs, the highlight a superb 212 which helped India draw the first Test in the West Indies in 1970-71, a series they eventually won. But somewhere along the line there was an adjustment after examination of old scorebooks, and Sardesai finished up with 2001.

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2012.