The world’s friendliest pitch

It is official: Antigua Recreation Ground, St John’s, Antigua is the most batsman friendly pitch in the world. Well, equal with Leeds at any rate with three apiece. I’m declaring St John’s the title holder because in the past 11 years, the featherbed at St John’s has given up three triple centuries with Chris Gayle’s effort last night. Leeds has not seen a batsman reach 300 since 1965.

The details:

CH Gayle c Smith b Zondeki 317 runs, 483 balls, 37 x 4, 3 x 6
300 runs from 462 balls.

The series is dead, and the match is dead, not even finished both side’s first innings, with just 11 wickets falling in 4 days. Six centurions and counting.

Gayle came into the match having scraped together just 12 runs from 4 innings, having missed the 1st Test due to the sponsorship crisis. So the innings was important for Gayle and it was important that the West Indies not lose the match.

Most would know that the other two “triples” at St John’s belong to the spiritual owner of the ground, Brian Lara. Lara came into the match having posted innings of 176 and 196 in the previous two tests and many might have expected a huge score from Lara. The odds were very high, following South Africa’s demonstration of how easy the pitch was playing. Ironically, Lara made just 4 from 29 balls, having come to the crease with the score at 2/345.

I have attached the list of triple centuries in all Tests – just twenty of them. The achievement is always special, regardless of the state of the match, series or the opposition.

There are some interesting things to observe:

1. Two grounds, Leeds and St John’s account for 6 of those innings (30%).

2. Seven triples have been scored in the West Indies and five in England – 55% in just two countries. For the geographers, yes, technically, four countries as the West Indies is actually a collection of countries. So let’s say two cricketing entities.

3. A triple has not yet been posted in South Africa or India. Gayle’s triple is the first in a match that involved South Africa.

4. Two players, Lara and Bradman, have scored two triples.

5. Ironically, both players performed the feat both times at the same ground. In Bradman’s case, that was Leeds (1930 & 1934) and Lara at St John’s (1993 & 2003).

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