Tests: The innings which woke up the dead and put watchers to sleep
In a follow-up to his previous column, Anantha Narayanan delves into Test batting performances with quick and even super slow scoring rates. Think you know any?
I went back over the CastrolCricket folder and suddenly realized that I had not covered the important measure of innings scoring rates in both Tests and ODIs. In ODIs, I have the complete ‘Balls Played’ data and it is not very difficult to extract the same. Last week, I had come out with an article covering the ODI innings. This article covers the Test arena.
Because the ‘Balls Played’ data is available only for about 1370 matches, about 68%, this is not a complete report. However, it is good enough to draw some insights.
As the tongue-in-cheek title says, these are innings which would have got the cemeteries come alive. When someone scores at the rate of around 10+ runs per over, that is what is likely to happen. The cut-off is that the innings should have reached the half-century mark. This is needed to separate the cameos.
Kallis’s innings was against Zimbabwe which was not a poor attack with the availability of Streak. He helped South Africa reach 340 in 50 overs, the fastest Test innings on record. Southee’s brave effort was in a losing cause, that too on his debut. Richards’s hundred is the fastest on record. Cairns’s innings was in the first innings of a lost Test. After two rather low first innings scores, Gilchrist ignited Perth with the second fastest century of all time and took Australia to a series win.
Southee’s was a miniature version of Astle’s unbelievable 222 off 168 balls a few years earlier. This was also in a losing cause. Both were made with New Zealand chasing over 500 runs. And New Zealand finished about 100 runs short each time.
Now for those innings which make us wonder why the batsmen walked in at all. However, unlike in ODIs, some of these slow scoring innings have been effective in that these have allowed the teams to forge useful partnerships. The criteria is that the innings should be 50 balls or more. Then the scoring rate takes over.
Three batsmen who faced in excess of 50 balls without troubling the scorer: Allott, Ellison, and Such. All bowlers, batting late in the order. Allott hung on for nearly 90 minutes, helped Harris add 32 for the last wicket and save the Test. Such hung on for a valuable ninth wicket stand of 31 with Ramprakash and again helped England draw the Test.
For the aggressive fast bowler he was, Croft was a dour batsman and features in two of the top-10 positions in this table. The first was a 53-ball single which helped West Indies win a low-scoring match. He came in as a night-watchman at 22 for 1 and hung on for well over an hour next day. The other innings of 2 off 73 balls was played in his usual position of no.11. The match was drawn.