January 12, 2015

Sticky customers

The 669-ball partnership between Kane Williamson and BJ Watling in Wellington brought to mind some other memorable long stands

The firm: VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid's 376-run stand altered the course of the Test and the series © AFP

McCullum and Watling
Less than a year before, also in Wellington, BJ Watling had shared another record-breaking stand for the sixth wicket with Brendon McCullum, who completed New Zealand's maiden Test triple-century. They put on 352 to save the game against India, breaking the record for the highest sixth-wicket stand in Tests by one run. That partnership was even longer than the recent one against Sri Lanka, weighing in at 738 balls. A plaque to mark this feat was unveiled at the Basin Reserve before the recent match, in which Watling helped break his own record.

May and Cowdrey
Another famous rearguard, at Edgbaston in 1957, saw Peter May and Colin Cowdrey add 411 in 500 minutes, a Test fourth-wicket record at the time. This was the famous occasion when the England batsmen used their pads more than their bats to negate the varied spin of West Indies' Sonny Ramadhin, who had taken 7 for 49 in the first innings: in this second effort he toiled through a record 98 overs, and shouted himself hoarse appealing for lbws. Many felt he was never the same bowler again. Because Ramadhin and his fellow spinner Alf Valentine did most of the bowling, although the stand lasted 500 minutes (well down the all-time list) a total of 191 overs were bowled, or 1146 balls, probably the longest by that yardstick in Test history. However, the Melbourne statistician Charles Davis suspects that Glenn Turner and Terry Jarvis batted for one over longer in their opening stand of 387 for New Zealand against West Indies in Georgetown in 1971-72.

Jayasuriya and Mahanama
Then the biggest - and also the longest. In a record-breaking batsmen's match in Colombo in 1997, Sanath Jayasuriya (340) and Roshan Mahanama (225) shared a second-wicket stand of 576 - more than 100 higher than any other Test partnership at the time - against the toiling Indian bowlers on a Premadasa shirtfront: Sri Lanka's eventual total of 952 for 6 was also a record. The two stayed together for 753 minutes, and faced 1110 balls.

Sobers and Worrell
A couple of years after they had fielded through the May/Cowdrey padathon, Garry Sobers and Frank Worrell paid England back in Bridgetown with a huge stand of their own, batting for more than two full days (although weather chipped a few overs off the first of those). Sobers made 226 while Worrell remained undefeated on 197: they added 399 for the fourth wicket in 579 minutes, and around 160 overs.

Bailey and Watson
Not quite as long as some of these stands, but more famous than most: Willie Watson and Trevor Bailey saved the match - and probably the Ashes - with a long rearguard at Lord's in 1953. They came together early on the final day with England 73 for 4, chasing an unlikely 343. A longish tail (Johnny Wardle was at No. 9) meant that a quick wicket would probably be fatal - but Bailey produced the barn-door defence that became his trademark, and the stylish Watson buckled down too. They put on 163 before Watson finally fell, and when Bailey was out for 71 in 257 minutes there were only 35 minutes left for the others to survive. At one point during their stand, Watson asked his partner whether they should go for the win: Bailey turned his back and stomped back to the other end.

Laxman and Dravid
Few partnerships have had the effect of the fifth-wicket alliance between VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid against Australia in Kolkata in 2000-01. India were still behind in the follow-on when the two came together, but they would not be moved for more than a day - 104.1 overs or 625 balls - and added 376. Laxman's eventual 281 was the greatest of his several virtuoso performances against Australia - who have been chary of enforcing follow-ons ever since. India grabbed the momentum in stunning style, and took the series by winning the next Test too.

Sangakkara and Jayawardene
Another Sri Lankan run-fest, and another world record: Mahela Jayawardene (374) and Kumar Sangakkara (287) put on 624 against South Africa at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo in 2006, after coming together at 14 for 2. Their third-wicket alliance, a record for all first-class cricket, lasted 157 overs and a touch more than 11 hours. The two close friends eventually shared 19 century stands in Tests.

Atherton and Russell
England looked done for on the final morning in Johannesburg in 1995-96 when, chasing 479, they dipped to 232 for 5. But England's captain Mike Atherton dug deep, and was joined by the doggedly defiant Jack Russell. Together they kept out an attack spearheaded by Allan Donald and containing the young Shaun Pollock, and were still together when time ran out. Atherton batted for 643 minutes in all - his 185 not out was his highest Test score - and Russell for 274, in which time he scored 29 not out.

There's something about Wellington: the Basin Reserve has witnessed mammoth stands of 467, 365 and 352 © Getty Images

Crowe and Jones
Despite the sterling efforts of BJ Watling and friends, New Zealand's highest Test partnership remains the 467 that Martin Crowe and Andrew Jones shared for the third wicket against Sri Lanka in Wellington in 1990-91. It came in the second innings, after their side had conceded a lead of 323, lasted for 547 minutes - and 924 balls, the fifth-longest on record. The match was left drawn when Crowe, after more than ten hours at the crease, was agonisingly out for 299 to the friendly bowling of his opposite number, Arjuna Ranatunga.

Amla and Kallis
Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis shared several big partnerships for South Africa in their contrasting styles, none more glorious than the 377 they piled on to demolish England at The Oval in 2012. It lasted 434 minutes, and 101.5 overs.

Miandad and Nazar
In Hyderabad in 1982-83, Mudassar Nazar and Javed Miandad of Pakistan equalled the Test record at the time with a partnership of 451, made all the sweeter as it came against their old foes India. They were together for 533 minutes, 217 more than it took Bill Ponsford and Don Bradman to rattle up their 451, for Australia against England at The Oval in 1934. Miandad batted for 696 minutes in all, and would have liked a few more: he was not amused when Imran Khan declared with his score at 280. He never did make a Test triple-century.

Du Plessis and de Villiers
One of the steeliest stands of recent years came in Adelaide in November 2012, when Faf du Plessis - making his Test debut for South Africa - resisted the Australian attack for 466 minutes to rescue a seemingly lost cause, making 110 not out. Even that might have been in vain but for a 68-over alliance with AB de Villiers, who reined in his normal attacking instincts to collect 33 runs from 220 balls, in more than four hours. In the next Test in Perth - which South Africa won to pinch the series - de Villiers reverted to type, scoring 169 in 36 fewer deliveries than he had faced in Adelaide.

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2014. Ask Steven is now on Facebook

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