Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Test #1817 Records: Ponting Proves his Point..

Ricky Ponting, who still bears the scar that he received from a Steve Harmison’s vicious delivery in the opening test of the last year’s Ashes at Lord’s and had to carry subsequent wounds of an Ashes defeat for the last 14 months, warned the English cricket team that it is not going to be that easy this time and England may have to endure a very painful and long journey in the current Ashes. First, he scored a magnificent 196 out of 602/9 declared and helped Australia register their highest total in any opening test innings of an Ashes series for 60 years. Then he chose not to enforce a follow on, saying that it would give his bowlers a break and a much needed rest. However, I think the main reason may have been to inflict more pain on an already crestfallen England and further expose their bowlers' inability to take wickets. He proved it by hitting a polished 60* in an unbroken partnership of 134 runs for the second wicket with Justin Langer.

Langer himself followed his first innings knock of 82 with an unbeaten 100 and proved that his travails with short pitched deliveries are long forgotten and anything pitched short would be duly dispatched to the boundary. The only wicket that fell in Australia's second innings score of 202 for 1 which lasted for 45.1 overs was that of Matthew Hayden via a run-out. After all, the so called Dad's army with only Michael Clarke being under the age of 30 (he is now 26) did teach a lesson or two to the young and youthful England who had just three players Ashley Giles, Paul Collingwood and Geraint Jones in their 30s. To make matters worse Australia's two oldest players Shane Warne and Glen McGrath took more wickets together than the entire English attack.

Following are some of the statistical highlights of this test match in which Australia drew first blood in their mission to regain the Ashes.

When Ricky Ponting reached the score of 12 during his second innings knock of 60*, he completed 9000 runs in test cricket and became the seventh batsman to do so.

Following is the list of all batsmen who have aggregated 9000 or more runs in a test career.

Ponting’s 32nd hundred also puts him in the 3rd place along with Steve Waugh in the list of top century makers. Sachin Tendulkar with 35, Brian Lara and Sunil Gavaskar with 34 each are the only others to have scored 30 or more hundreds in test cricket.

Ricky Ponting also completed 1000 test runs for the calendar year 2006 with the second run of his 2 nd innings score of 60*. Kevin Pietersen of England too reached the 1000 run mark for the current year when he crossed 61 during his second innings knock of 92. For Pietersen, this is the first of many more such years to come where as for Ponting this is the 4 th time that he has achieved this feat.

Brian Lara and Matthew Hayden with five times and Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar with four times each were the only other batsmen to have recorded this feat more than 3 times in a career. Hayden’s record is unique in the sense that he achieved it in five consecutive years starting from 2001. With just three more tests to go in this year and with the dismal form that he is currently in, Hayden will have an uphill task to keep the record going as he still needs 510 more runs to record 1000 runs for the year 2006.

Following is the list of all batsmen who have recorded 1000 or more runs during the calendar year 2006.

Ricky Ponting also completed 1000 runs at the Gabba and becomes the second batsman to do so after Greg Chappell. In all 37 players recorded 1000 runs or more at a single test venue in 52 instances. Alan Border, Greg Chappell, Steve Waugh, Brian Lara and Javed Miandad did it at three different venues whereas Ponting joins Mahela Jayawardane, Graham Gooch, John Wright and Sunil Gavaskar to have done it on two grounds.

Geraint Jones continued his career without a duck and holds the record for playing most innings in a test career without ever registering a duck. However he is in the fourth in the list of those playing the most innings before registering first duck in a test career. Aravinda De Silva has played a record number of 75 innings before getting out without scoring. Clive Lloyd of West Indies played 58 innings and Alan Davidson of Australia played 51 innings before recording their first no score innings.

Following is the list of all those players who were never dismissed for a duck in a test career spanning at least 30 innings

Australia's 602/9 decl is the 2nd highest score in an Ashes first test innings surpassing previous total of 601/8 decl in the first innings of an Ashes series at Brisbane in 1954-55 and 601/7 decl at Headingley in 1989. The highest score in the first innings of an opening test still belongs to Bradman's 1946/47 team which made 645 at the same venue in the first Ashes test after the World War II.

Ricky Ponting would not mind trading all the records that he achieved in this test for inflicting a whitewash on England to become only the second captain in Ashes history to do so after Warwick Armstrong’s 1920/21 Aussies. If the opening test is any indication of things to come in the current series, he may very well be proving a point that last year’s Ashes loss was just a blip in Aussies domination of world cricket.

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