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Twin Tons

In the Test that just finished between Pakistan, debutant Pakistani batsman Yasir Hameed made a century in each innings, coming in at first drop. Yasir scored 170 and 105. Scoring “twin tons” is a rare event in itself, but to do it on debut is very special. The only other player to achieve that feat was Lawrence Rowe (214 and 100*). Now the Bangladesh bashers may say that it doesn’t count – but think about it – how often do top batsmen actually get to complete two innings against Bangladesh?

There are several items that a batsmen could want on his CV, come the end of his career. Here are a few:

A century
A double century
A triple century
Bat the entire day of a Test match
Carry the bat (if you are an opener)
Centuries against all other nations
A century in each innings of a Test match

Throw in all sorts of partnership records and a batsman can retire happily.

Many of the items on the above list, aside from the century and double century elude many of even the great batsmen.

Mark Taylor achieved them all except for the twin tons and when he retired, he had scored centuries against all nations that Australia had played against. “Tubby” narrowly missed the twin ton in the same match that he got his triple, scoring 91 in the second dig.

Steve Waugh can check them all off, except the triple century – he could have done with a really big score at some stage in his career. And carrying the bat is obviously not applicable. And he has scores of 150+, no less, against all other nations.

Here are some other interesting points:

1. Only one player has scored twin tons on three occasions: Sunil Gavaskar. Our own Allan Border has achieved the feat twice and narrowly missed a third when he made 98* and 100* against the West Indies.

2. Not many have achieved the feat twice. Just 6 in addition to Gavaskar.

3. Bradman achieved the feat just once (132 & 127 against India in 1947/48) – which might surprise a few. He scored a century in test cricket, on average, every 2.75 innings. So statistically, he was the player most likely to achieve the feat of multiple times. However, he played only 80 innings in 52 Tests – which means he batted twice in just 54% of the Tests that he played. His first innings scores were often so colossal that there was often no need to bat again. I believe that another factor was the pitches. Pitches were uncovered when Bradman played and the chances were that often enough, at some stage in the match, the batsman would be subjected to a rain affected, difficult (unplayable even) pitch.

4. Most of the players in the list (attached) are truly great names – see for yourselves. For Australia, these include: Bardsley, Morris, Bradman, Simpson, Walters, Greg Chappell (twice), Ian Chappell, Border (twice), Dean Jones (great? Hmmm), Steve Waugh and Hayden. Only Jack Moroney is a player of lesser note.

5. Five players have made twin tons and scored doubles or triples in the first dig. Gooch made 333 & 123 – the highest individual aggregate for a Test. Gavaskar is the only player to turn his second century for the match into a double.

6. Allan Border is the only player to have topped 150 in both innings. (150* and 153 in Pakistan in 1979/80).

7. Two sets of brothers have achieved the feat. The Chappells and Andy and Grant Flower of Zimbabwe. Ian and Greg achieved the feat in the same match in Wellington in 1973/74. So put that in your pipe and smoke it.

8. The great West Indian, Clyde Walcott achieved the feat twice in the one series, against Australia in 1954/55.

9. Duleep Mendis of Sri Lanka is the only one to make true twins – with the same score in both innings. He made a pair of 105’s in India in 1982/83.

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

Changes to the ICC Test Championship Table

I was interested to note an article that I read before the Australia versus Bangladesh Test series that referred to the possible changes to the ICC Test Championship Table. It referred to the impact of all combinations of results and also the series margin that England needed to beat South Africa by, to climb ahead of New Zealand.

This was all news to me, because, as far as I was aware, the table was calculated on series results – win (2 points), lose (1 point) or draw (0 points). It had often been criticised that the margin was not relevant.

I wrote a piece a while back explaining the way the table worked and that it was actually quite simple – probably overly simple.

This has now been addressed by the ICC. I’m not going to outline how it works because it is far more complicated now – but as a result, it is almost certainly more indicative of the true standings.

If you want to look for yourselves, I have provided the web site below.

http://www.cricket.org/link_to_database/NATIONAL/ICC/TOURNAMENTS/ICCTC/ICCTC_BACKGROUND.html#1

I have listed the reasons and broad objectives of the changes from that web site:
1) Includes all Test results – the model to take account of the result of every Test match played, whether a one-off fixture or part of a longer series
2) Includes series results – in addition to 1) above, the model to take account of all series results, where a series comprises two or more Tests
3) Takes no account of venue – there is to be no rating difference between home and away results
4) Takes no account of margin of victory – the model to note only whether an individual Test is won, drawn, tied or lost
5) Reflects current form – the model to place a greater weighting on more recent results
6) Reflects strength of opposition – the model to reflect the strength of each opponent
7) Fully disclosed formula – the formula used in the model to be publicly available, allowing an outsider to update or verify changes to the published ratings
Current Table

Australia 129
South Africa 119
New Zealand 106
England 101
India 94
Sri Lanka 91
Pakistan 90
West Indies 83
Zimbabwe 58
Bangladesh 2

The fate of a captain

I note with interest that Nasser Hussain posted 116 in the 3rd Test against South Africa, helping England to an imposing first innings of 445. Hussain resigned as captain after the first Test of the series (where England were slaughtered by the South African batsmen but were saved by rain in the end). I’m not a big fan of Hussain but I believe credit is due where character is shown. In the his first Test playing under the new captain, Michael Vaughan he made 61 and now he has notched a century.

But is the position of captain regarded in the same way in England as it is Australia, or Pakistan, or and other team for that matter?

I believe that there are cultural differences in the appointment and behaviour of the captain in different countries.

Since 1984-1985 – 19 years this summer, Australia has had just three Test Captains (not including Adam Gilchrist standing in for the injured Steve Waugh on two occasions). All of these men (I’m hoping Steve Waugh doesn’t prove me wrong), will retire as captain, playing their last match as captain. And in my opinion, that seems good.

Most of the prominent English captains of recent times, played for a long time after they resigned from the captaincy. Before I researched this article, I had it in mind that the English captaincy was fairly fluid and players such as Botham, Gatting, Gooch, Gower, Atherton and Willis all had multiple turns at leading the team. This is not actually true. Of those players, only Gower had two stints as captain. None of the players mentioned retired as captain and all except Willis played for a long time after resigning the captaincy. Does having the captaincy mean something different to an Englishman than it does to and Australian?

It seems to be very British to fall on one’s sword when the team is failing. Maybe the fact that it is the English practice to select the captain and then the team (as opposed to the Australian practice of selecting the team and choosing the captain from that team) that makes the captain fell more obliged to do the honourable thing and sack himself.

The only time in my memory that I can recall an Australian captain “falling on his sword” was Kim Hughes in 1984-85. Who could forget his tragic and tearful resignation? He played the next two tests as a shattered man and scored 0,2,0 & 0 – and left the selectors with no choice but to drop him.

Contrast that with the great Ian Botham. He lead England for 12 Tests and didn’t record a win in the last nine of those. He averaged a pathetic 13.14 with the bat and a below par 33.08 with the ball during his captaincy. He resigned as captain after the second Test against Australia 1981, where he scored a pair and Australia won, and took a 1 nil lead in the series.

“Beefy” was retained as a player and in his first match playing under new captain, Mike Brearley, who was reinstated as player and captain for that Test, Botham helped England stage one of the most remarkable comebacks in history. We all know the story – with England following on, and seven down, still behind the Australian total, Botham smashed (and I mean SMASHED) 149 not out to at least set Australia a small target. Willis took 8-43 and England won. In the next Test, Australia was once again chasing a small total, looked to have the game in hand and Botham took 5-1 in a remarkable spell of bowling – and England won. In the next Test, Botham bludgeoned another century and that series is now legendary due to his deeds.

Botham seemed to recover quite well having resigned the captaincy. Perhaps it didn’t hold the same shame as it did to Kim Hughes. Perhaps it feels honourable for an Englishman to give someone else “a go”. In Botham’s case, I’m certain that his talent and genius benefited from being relieved from the responsibility and pressure that goes with captaincy.

Of all of the England captains, only Mike Bradley stands out as a player who was not worthy of selection as a Test player on merit alone – he really was selected as captain. He played 39 Test (31 as captain), opened the batting, averaged 22.28 and had a high score of 91.

It may be of interest that there are quite a few notable Australian Test captains who did not play their last match as captain:

Greg Chappell played his last match in 1983-84 against Pakistan under Kim Hughes. This was brought about due to Chappell’s decision not to tour towards the end of his career. At first he was allowed to be captain for home series but this was seen as unsettling and Hughes took over.

Ian Chappell played his last Test in 1979-1980 against England under Greg Chappell. He played but a handful of Tests after WSC but had handed over the reigns to brother Greg before the 1975-76 homes series against the West Indies.

Richie Benaud had announced that he would retire at the end of the five Test series against South Africa in 1963-64. He was injured and missed the 2nd Test and Bob Simpson stepped up and Australia won the Test. Benaud played the rest of the series but volunteered for Simpson to remain as captain. The series was drawn 1-1.

Bob Simpson did play his last Test match as captain but only under very unusual circumstances. He played what he thought would be his final Test under new captain Bill Lawry. Simpson captained (and won) the first three Tests of the four Test series against India and handed over to Lawry. Perhaps he appreciated the example set by Richie Benaud. However, as we would all know, ten years later, in extraordinary circumstances, he was recalled as player and captain during the turmoil surrounding WSC. He captained Australia for two series before permanently retiring.

Graeme Yallop succeeded Simpson as captain in 1978-79, still during WSC. I guess it is obvious that if it were not for WSC, he would never have captained Australia. Post WSC, he was in and out of the team until 1983-84 but did manage a total of 39 Tests, scored 8 centuries and averaged 41.13.

And a quick mention for the Pakistanis. I can’t begin to understand the politics there, but their revolving captain policy is all about administration and player power base. Here are some key players and how many turns during their most turbulent times: Imran Khan (2), Javed Miandad (6), Wasim Akram (4) and Saeed Anwar (2). Exciting times.