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Unbreakable

Much of the fascination of cricket is interwoven with its numbers and statistics. Here are 11 records that are unlikely to be beaten

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
11-Apr-2011
Lawrence Rowe bats, August 1976

Lawrence Rowe made a hundred and a double in his first Test  •  Getty Images

Tendulkar's hundreds
As the world holds its breath for Sachin Tendulkar's 100th international hundred - at the moment he has 51 Tests and 48 in one-day internationals - it's difficult to see anyone ever overtaking his final tally. It's not, of course, impossible, but it's going to take some doing - at the time of writing Ricky Ponting has 69 international hundreds and Jacques Kallis 57.
Laker's figures
Those bowling figures trip off the tongue - 19 for 90. That was Jim Laker's astonishing match return against Australia in the Old Trafford Ashes Test of 1956. On a helpful pitch, the real wonder was that Tony Lock, Laker's left-arm spinning partner, could not manage more than one wicket. Again, it's theoretically possible that someone could beat Laker's figures, but in more than half a century and 1500 Test matches since, no one has taken more than 16 - and no one has seriously threatened it in first-class cricket either - so it seems a pretty safe bet that Laker will sit forever atop that particular bowling table
Hobbs' hundreds
Jack Hobbs' batting figures must boggle the minds of today's first-class players. With no one-day cricket to worry about (plus leisurely tours against often outmatched opposition), Hobbs was able to clock up 30 or more matches a season, and played till he was past 50. That all added up to 61,237 runs and 197 centuries in first-class cricket (some figures differ slightly as they include a private tour whose status remains a matter of debate), all of them made with a smile - it's impossible to find anyone who had a bad word to say about "The Master". The nearest thing to Hobbs today - at The Oval and in county cricket generally, if not perhaps quite in temperament - is Mark Ramprakash, now 41: by the start of the 2011 season he had 34,839 runs and 113 hundreds.
Murali's wickets
A dangerous one, this, as back in 1964 it was widely assumed that no one would ever surpass Fred Trueman's 300 Test wickets. But Murali has pushed the barrier to a stratospheric 800, and of the current crop of bowlers no one else is even halfway there yet: Harbhajan Singh, who's nearly 31, currently has 393 wickets in Tests. The growing popularity of Twenty20 cricket is likely to mean that there are fewer Test matches than previously, so Harbhajan and the others will have to work very hard to get anywhere near 800.
The age barrier
It's just about a cast-iron certainty that Test cricket will never again see a 50-year-old player: the last two of them appeared together in 1929-30, when the England team in the West Indies contained Wilfred Rhodes (at 52 the oldest Test player of them all) and George Gunn (50). In the final Test, in Kingston, Clifford Roach set another unassailable record by being caught Gunn bowled Rhodes, a venerable pairing with more than 103 years between them. These days, with athleticism at more of a premium, 40-year-old Test cricketers are a rarity. It will be interesting to see how much longer Sachin Tendulkar - who is 38 shortly - can carry on.
Lara's 501
Brian Lara's Test record of 400 not out looks stratospheric, but there have been enough near-misses recently to suggest that it's not unbeatable. If Virender Sehwag stayed in for a day and a half... But Lara's half-thousand, scored in 1994, seems more impregnable somehow - it's even survived those long battles for first-innings leads in which India's Ranji Trophy specialises.
Verity's 10 for 10
At Headingley in July 1932 the Yorkshire left-arm spinner Hedley Verity had the mind-blowing figures of 19.4-16-10-10 against Nottinghamshire: this remains the best return in first-class history. With tailenders taking their batting more seriously these days, and with batting generally being more scientific, it's hard (if not impossible) to see Verity losing top spot here.
Tich's tally
Now that it's rare for anyone to threaten to take 100 wickets in the English first-class season - last year's leading wicket-taker was Andre Adams of Nottinghamshire, with 68 - the feats of the tiny Kent legspinner Tich Freeman make astonishing reading. In 1928 he took no fewer than 304 wickets - an unprecedented number - and reached 200 in each of the next seven seasons as well. But for the First World War, which delayed the start of his career, Tich might have exceeded Wilfred Rhodes' wicket-tally (see below): he finished with 3776.
Compo's golden season
In what seems in retrospect to be cricket's most golden summer, Denis Compton scored 3816 runs and 18 centuries in first-class cricket in 1947. It can't quite have been the case, of course, but when you read about that season now it feels as if Compo spent the whole of it batting, most of the time with his soulmate Bill Edrich, who broke the old seasonal record himself with 3539 runs. Once again, these figures will never be approached unless there is a surprise return to more first-class cricket (Compton played 30 matches that year and had 50 innings: today's players are lucky to get half as many).
Rhodes' wickets
Wilfred Rhodes of Yorkshire and England packed a lot into a long life, batting everywhere from No. 11 to opener in a Test career that lasted more than 30 years, and finishing with more than 4000 first-class wickets. The restricted amount of first-class cricket these days means that 1000 - a figure reached by Robert Croft in 2007 - is a fine performance.
Rowe's debut
In almost 2000 Test matches only one person has ever managed to score a double-century and another hundred in his first match - Lawrence Rowe, with 214 and 100 not out for West Indies against New Zealand in Kingston in 1971-72. At that stage of his career Rowe had never scored a first-class century outside his native Jamaica, and although he put that firmly to rights with 302 in a Test against England in Barbados, he never quite scaled the heights his first Test hinted at, not helped by an unusual allergy to grass. Yasir Hameed (with 170 and 105 for Pakistan against Bangladesh in 2003) is the only person to approach this feat before or since, and even though scoring rates have been on the up for a while in Tests, it will take an unusual set of circumstances for anyone to get the chance to out-Rowe Lawrence.

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Cricinfo Guide to International Cricket 2011