The pain of 99

In England, South Africa is very well placed to go 2-1 up in the series, with one match to go. They require just five wickets or England needs another 236 runs on the final day.

It was Andrew Hall who set the platform for South Africa to set a large target – he made a hard-hitting 99 not out coming at number 8. Which prompted cricinfo to publish the list of all scores of 99 in Test cricket.

Which prompted me to do some analysis.

There have been 71 scores of 99 in Test cricket.

Of those:

5 were not out (7.04%)

13 were run out (18.31%), which would be way higher than the overall percentage of dismissals by run out (I can’t find what that actual percentage is). Obviously indicates extra anxiety which clouds the judgement.

8 were lbw (9.86%), which I suspect would be less than the overall percentage for lbw dismissals. Perhaps the old ump is reticent to raise the finger when the poor bugger is on 99. Of course, that statement only applies post neutral umpires. Prior to that, it would depend on which team the batsman belonged.

Breakdown of scores of 99

Prior to 1900 – 0
1900 – 1959 (60 years) – 18 – 0.30/year – or 0.030 per Test
1960 – 1989 (30 years) – 25 – 0.83/year – or 0.053 per Test
1990 – 2003 (13 years) – 28 – 2.15/year – or 0.057 per Test

I guess 99’s per year is irrelevant – as the number of Tests per year has increased over the years. The ratio per Test has risen since 1990 – perhaps this indicates a harder edge to the game. When cricket was a gentler game, I wonder if there was ever a tendency to allow a gallant batsman an easy single to post his century.

Of course, that is a thing of the past. Even in the dullest of encounters, the intensity of the fielding side lifts when a batsman reaches 99.

In my memory, the only time I can recall a batsman being presented with the opportunity to make a century was in 1982-83 when Greg Chappell was batting, facing Ian Botham. Australia needed 4 to win and Chappell was on 94. Botham bowled a slow, juicy long hop. Very decent. Chappell duly smashed the ball but it made the fence on the full – which would be six these days but back then was just 4. So no century for GS Chappell on that occasion.

Perhaps Border was allowed some easy runs at the end of a drawn Test in the mid eighties in the Caribbean. But that may have been to put the match out of it’s misery and to give Border a deserved reward. I think Gus Logie was bowling. The instant Border reached 100 (to compliment his first innings 98 not out), the match was ended.

My favourite 99’s? Boycott, of course. Any run out. And of course, SK Warne.

The most ridiculous? Mark Waugh padding up to Tufnell way outside of leg stump at Lords in 1993 and deflecting the ball between his legs, onto his stumps.

The most amusing? Steve Waugh being stranded on 99 against England in Perth back in 1994-95 as the last three of his partners were run out. Last of those was brother Mark, running for McDermott (who had that idea considering the twins’ infamous running? AB was a bit of a sadist). I wonder what Steve thought when brother Mark walked out the gate with McDermott?

And some notes from Cricinfo:

Notes: AG Chipperfield and RJ Christiani scored 99 on debut

NWD Yardley, JEF Beck, Maqsood Ahmed, RF Surti, MD Moxon, DN Patel, AJ Tudor and SK Warne never scored a Test 100

[dongles: not sure if Warnie, the unretired all-rounder would like the tone of the above statement]

Majid Khan, Mushtaq Mohammad and DL Amiss all scored 99 in the same Test

MJK Smith, G Boycott, RB Richardson, JG Wright, MA Atherton, Saleem Malik, GS Blewett and SC Ganguly have all scored two 99s

C Hill followed his 99 with scores of 98 and 97 in his next Test

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