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Feature

Junior Waugh special, and Greatbatch the limpet

We asked you to pick out the greatest Test you had ever seen (or one you wished you had), and the responses ranged from the predictable to the not-so

Cricinfo staff
19-Aug-2005
After our correspondents, it's your turn, and the entries have been coming in about as quick as a Shoaib Akhtar special. We asked you to pick out the greatest Test you had ever seen (or one you wished you had), and the responses ranged from the predictable (Kolkata 2001, Headingley 1981, Bridgetown 1999) to the not-so (The Oval 1976). Over the next week, we shall publish the best entries we receive. Entertaining cameos, rather than Chris Tavare marathons, are easier on the eye. We welcome you to pick your own greatest Test and send us a paragraph on it.


Mark Waugh: one of the greatest fourth-innings centuries of all time © Getty Images
A Junior Waugh special
Sriram Vaidhyanathan on Port Elizabeth 1996-97
As far as see-sawing action goes, few Test matches can compare to the thriller at Port Elizabeth in 1997. On what was an extremely green pitch, South Africa struggled to 209 in their first effort, with Australia apparently on top. The next day, the Aussies crumbled to 108, and the South Africans proceeded to march to a 184-run advantage, with all second-innings wickets intact. Mark Taylor - himself in the middle of a horrific run of form - and his men were staring down the barrel, but incredibly, they staged a valiant recovery, leaving themselves a target of 270. Few gave them a chance, but nobody told Mark Waugh. He produced a classic of elegance and poise - 116 of the finest on a minefield against the might of an Allan Donald-led pace attack, in a match where there was only one other half-century. When Healy slogged Cronje over square leg, they had closed out a two-wicket win, replete with some of the most exciting cricket ever seen in South Africa.
Magical Vishy and the allrounder
Angshuman Hazra on Madras 1978-79
India were facing a depleted West Indies side in this series, but Chennai then used to have a reputation as the fastest track in India. Three consecutive draws coming into this Test meant that the hosts had everything to play for. Kapil Dev and Venkataraghavan restricted the West Indies first innings to 228. Alvin Kallicharan did some damage control by scoring 98. India then took the initiative in a low-scoring match by scoring 255 in their first hit. In their second essay, West Indies were once again unable to handle the onslaught of Kapil, Venkat and Ghavri. They collapsed in the second innings for 151, despite a defiant 91 from Gomes. India had to get 125, and were down to 84 for 6 at one stage. Kapil took stock with the bat now and protected the infamous tail from further exposure to a dreaded attack. India were home for the loss of seven wickets with Kapil staying not out on 26. In the event of a combined match contribution of five runs from India's most consistent batsmen, Sunil Gavaskar and Dilip Vengsarkar - who made a pair - even such an allround performance from Kapil would have fallen way short of ensuring victory for his team without the small matter of Gundappa Viswanath top-scoring in both innings with typical gems of 124 and 31.
Cork shows his bottle
Russell Hope on Lord's 2000


Cork is exultant after sealing a series-turning triumph © Getty Images
England's recent revival can be traced back to one of the most extraordinary wins ever. They trailed 1-0 to a weak West Indian side coming into the second Test at Lord's and had already pressed the panic button (remember that?) by making four changes, including the recall of Dominic Cork. The first day, which the West Indies closed on 267 for nine highlighted their batting frailties but no one was prepared for the incredible events of day two. The crowd saw play from all four innings as Caddick knocked over the last man with the first ball of the day. Ambrose and Walsh then put their side's total into perspective by taking four wickets each as England conceded a lead of 133. If England had gone on to lose the match, and with it probably the series, who knows where they might be now? I'd love to know what was said to Caddick between innings because he produced an unstoppable spell of hostile fast bowling that left West Indies all out for 54. Remember that this was a team England hadn't beaten since 1970. There was still time for England to start their run-chase, which culminated in Saturday's diabolically nervous crawl to the depths of 160 for eight, from where Cork's penchant for limelight-stealing rescued them. Thrilling, emotional stuff.
Greatbatch and 14 hours of adhesion
Michael Thorn on Perth 1989-90
In November 1989, New Zealand played Australia in a one-off Test at the WACA. New Zealand were without Richard Hadlee and Andrew Jones, and were expected to lose heavily against an Australian team that had been rampant in England. The game started predictably enough when Australia won the toss and ground out 521/9. David Boon scored a double-century and Dean Jones was given out to an appallingly bad lbw decision on 99. By the time Jones was dismissed, I had lost almost all hope of New Zealand escaping defeat, so to make up for it, brainless teenager that I was, I jeered at my television as Jones walked from the pitch and tried to soak up as much malicious glee as I possibly could from his expression of anguish. New Zealand started day three with nothing ahead of them except for the distant hope of a draw and the more obvious prospect of a heavy defeat. Terry Alderman bowled Robert Vance almost as soon as play got underway and that brought Mark Greatbatch to the crease. The scorecard tells me that Greatbatch must have spent some of the next three days sitting in the stands and that other people must have batted, but if that's true, I don't remember it. What I can remember is that for 221 minutes in New Zealand's first innings and for 655 minutes in the second, Greatbatch stood firm. Carl Rackemann was ferocious and had the ball bouncing and screaming from the hard and fast WACA pitch, but each of his rockets was met by a Greatbatch defensive stroke which dropped the ball, quiet and dead, to the ground. Even more strongly, I can remember the faint prospect of a draw looming larger and larger and this causing a fear of that hope being crushed to grow at an exponential rate. There were no flashy strokes and no prospect of a New Zealand victory, just a solid forward-defensive shot that acted like a hypnotist's charm, a buzzsaw of tension and a building realisation that there was a damn sight more to cricket than jeering at Dean Jones.
The old order changes
Lee Reid on Jamaica 1994-95


Steve Waugh copped many a fearful blow en route to a double-century that changed the course of cricket history © Getty Images
Australia's series win over West Indies in 1995 was the moment one great empire finally collapsed and another dynasty began. After Australia outbowled West Indies in the first Test, a rained out draw and a green-top lottery that saw the battered Aussies go down meant that the score was 1-1 as a bowler-dominated series went to Jamaica. I remember seeing Greg Blewett take a second ball catch at bat-pad, as I got home after midnight from an eight-hour bus trip - I was 11 at the time. Richardson scored the first century of the series, but 265 wasn't looking a huge total. However, Walsh and Ambrose were in menacing form and 3 for 73 spelt trouble. The Waugh twins' finest hour followed, repelling the pace barrage, and putting on a double-hundred stand. Steve Waugh remained unbowed, despite taking some brutal punishment and eventually reached 200, helped by an innings of three not out from McGrath that would remain his finest for years. West Indies came out to bat looking beaten, despite pre-series talk that McGrath, Reiffel and Julian looked ramshackle. They were in control all series and when Taylor caught Benjamin off Warne at slip, the spell lifted - these men from the Caribbean were beatable, and looking very old to boot.
We welcome you to pick your own greatest Test and send us a paragraph on it. The best written entries will win one of these DVDS: India v Aus 2001, Edgbaston 2005 or Botham's Ashes, 1981.