May 9, 2003

Richardson close to breaking New Zealand record

Mark Richardson is 148 runs and two innings away from becoming the fastest New Zealand Test batsman to reach 2000 runs.

Richardson ended the tour of Sri Lanka on 1852 runs scored in his 24 Tests and 41 innings.

The fastest New Zealander to the mark might surprise many, but the honour belongs to Andrew Jones who took 44 innings to score his 2000th run during the first Test against Zimbabwe played in 1992/93.

Jones, an outstanding No 3 batsman who made a belated appearance in international cricket, scored six Test centuries and seven half-centuries in his first 2000 runs. This compares with the two centuries and 16 half-centuries that have been scored to date by Richardson.

So well did he adapt to his role after being selected first for the abandoned tour of Sri Lanka in 1986/87, that Jones found himself included in the New Zealand Living Legends side selected as part of the Millennium celebrations.

It was recognition of his often under-rated, and under-appreciated, performances for the side. When his career ended, he had scored 2922 runs at 44.27. During his career he achieved a highest score of 186, his share in the world-record stand of 467 for the third wicket with Martin Crowe against Sri Lanka at the Basin Reserve in 1990/91.

So well did Jones adapt to Test cricket, this despite being called an ugly duckling by Australians during his first Test there at Brisbane, that he beat Bert Sutcliffe's record for reaching 2000 runs in the fastest time.

Sutcliffe took 26 Tests and 46 innings, one less innings than Glenn Turner. There is a significant gap then to the fourth fastest to the mark, Craig McMillan. He took 31 Tests and 52 innings.

Be comparison, no one comes anywhere near Australian Don Bradman who took 22 innings to reach 2000 runs and his average when he achieved the mark was the neat 100.00.

West Indian George Headley was second with 32 innings and England's Herbert Sutcliffe third with 33 while Australian Doug Walters and West Indian Brian Lara shared 35 innings.

One concern that Richardson does have is his conversion rate from half-centuries to centuries. At the moment his two centuries and 16 half-centuries has him fourth equal with Farokh Engineer as the poorest conversion rate among those who have scored more than one Test century.

At the moment Pakistan batsman Rameez Raja has the worst rate having scored a century once in every 12 times past 50. Sri Lanka's Arjuna Ranatunga is second with one every 10.5 times, Alistair Campbell of Zimbabwe has one in 10.

(Statistics compiled by Duane Pettet)

Fastest New Zealanders to 2000 runs (ordered by innings):

Tests   Innings
Andrew Jones            24       44
Bert Sutcliffe          26       46
Glenn Turner            26       47
Craig McMillan          31       52
Martin Crowe            34       56
Nathan Astle            34       60
Stephen Fleming         35       60
Graham Dowling          32       62
Geoff Howarth           34       62
Mark Burgess            36       64
Jeremy Coney            39       65
Bryan Young             34       66
Bevan Congdon           35       67
John Wright             39       67
Mark Greatbatch         40       69
John R Reid             38       70
Chris Cairns            43       73
Ken Rutherford          45       79
Adam Parore             48       83
Richard Hadlee          54       91

All countries:

Tests   Innings
Don Bradman             15       22
George Headley          17       32
Herbert Sutcliffe       22       33
Brian Lara              22       35
Doug Walters            22       35
Viv Richards            21       36
Frank Worrell           22       36
Arthur Morris           23       36
Everton Weekes          23       36
Graeme Pollock          21       37
Neil Harvey             22       37
Denis Compton           23       37
Walter Hammond          23       39
Garry Sobers            23       39
Michael Slater          23       40
Rahul Dravid            25       40
Alvin Kallicharran      25       40
Dudley Nourse           22       41
Jack Hobbs              23       41
Ken Barrington          25       41
Adam Gilchrist          30       41