Saturday, December 09, 2006

Test #1819 Records: Australia's Amazing Victory at Adelaide

Test #1819 England in Australia 2006/07 Ashes 2nd Test at Adelaide Oval.

For a while, the second test match at Adelaide looked as if it’s following the same course as did the 2nd test at Edgbaston of 2005 Ashes. But the main difference was the time that England took to compile their first innings total of 551 for 6 decl. At Edgbaston England scored 407 on the first day of the test match itself whereas at Adelaide they took almost 5 ½ sessions to reach 551 runs and Australia always had a chance to escape with a draw. But when Australia lost 3 wickets without putting 100 runs on the board, it seemed as if the Ashes ghost of Edgbaston might be resurfacing all over again.

But Ricky Ponting must have been thinking about India’s victory at the same venue in 2003/04 when they won the test match after conceding 556 in Australia’s first innings with Ponting himself leading the charge with a magnificent knock of 242. Rahul Dravid (233) and VVS Laxman (148) helped India reply strongly with a total of 523. Australia in that test bundled out for 196 in their second innings and India cruised towards victory target with Dravid again providing the backbone of their chase.

Though the scoring rate in the second Ashes test was extremely slow when compared to the India vs. Australia test of 2004/05 test, it followed the same pattern. It shows how determined is Ricky Ponting to bring the Ashes back to Australia ‘If there's something there to chase we'll have a go’ , he said at the end of 3rd day’s play during which he added 192 crucial runs with Michael Hussey on his way to his second hundred of the series and 7th of the year. It sounded cocky at that time . But rather than waiting for Flintoff to set a target to chase when Ponting marshaled his bowlers meticulously and applied pressure on English batsmen all through their 2nd innings, it was evident he was walking the talk. All his bowlers responded to his call and helped Australia bowl England out for a paltry 129.

That England dig its own grave by batting painfully slow and in such a style which might have made Geoff Boycott feel like as if he is the fastest scorer around and made Australia get right back into the game doesn’t take away the credit from Shane Warne, who was in his elements in the 2nd innings striking four crucial blows. A 50 runs more in their second innings would have given them a chance of drawing the match. In the end the target of 168 runs in 36 overs was never going to be a difficult task for Australia. Ponting again provided the backbone with an innings of 49 and Mr. Cricket saw it through for a 6 wicket win for Australia. Adelaide lived up to its reputation of providing a result as last 9 test matches played here since 1997/98 drawn encounter against South Africa ended in a victory for Australia with the only exception being their loss to India in 2003/04.

Here are some of the statistical highlights of on of the greatest test match victories of Australia in recent times.

Paul Collingwood’s 206 is only the 11th double hundred by an Englishman in Ashes. Four of them were scored by Walter Hammond. Collingwood also breaks a 70 year old jinx of an Englishman not being able to record a double hundred in Australia. Following is the list of all double hundreds scored for England in chronological order.

During his knock of 206 Collingwood completed 1000 runs for the Calendar year. He is the 6th cricketer to have done so for this calendar as shown in the list below.

It is very rare that a team batting first registers a total of 500 or more and then goes on to lose the test match. England suffered the ignominy in this test . In fact England's 551 for 6 at Adelaide is the third highest score in the first innings of a Test that resulted in a loss. The record belongs to Australia who after making 586 in their first innings at Sydney in 1894 against England and also enforced a follow-on, still ended up losing the test match. Australia also made 556 against India in the first innings at Adelaide in 2003/04 and lost the test match. Many of the current members of the Australian team who played in that test match may have fathomed their chances of winning in spite of England’s mammoth first innings total in the recently concluded Adelaide test, especially the captain, Ricky Ponting who was at the receiving earlier.

England, also achieved the dubious distinction of suffering a defeat after declaring with a 500-plus total in the first innings of a Test. The only other occasion when this happened was England came out victors.. Gary Sobers sportive declaration in West Indies’ second innings at 92 for 2 after closing the first innings at 526/7 at Port-of-Spain in 1967/68 set England 215 runs for a victory in 165 minutes and England romped home by seven wickets.

Paul Collingwood with his 206 provides only 10th instance of a batsman hitting a double hundred in a defeat with Ricky Ponting leading the way with the highest score among those instances.

The record partnership of 310 runs for England against Australia between Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen also finds a place in the records books as the second 300+ partnership in a test defeat. Last time it happened both Collingwood and Pietersen were on the other side of the table. Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf added as many as 363 runs for the third wicket against England at Headingley this year but still ended on the losing side.

Shane Warne, who with his amazing spell of 4 for 49 in the second innings tightened the screws on England was quite a different bowler in the first innings. He conceded most number of runs in an innings ( 1 for 167) in test . In 2001 , he conceded 165 runs in an England’s total of 432 at The Oval in 2001. However, unlike in Adelaide his efforts did not go waste at that time as he took 7 wickets in that innings and added 4 more in the second to win the Man of the Match award in an Australian victory by an innings and 25 runs.

On the positive side, during his first innings knock of 43 , Shane Warne, completed 3000 runs in test cricket. He now joins the ranks of six of the greatest All-Rounders of all-time that have all taken 300 wickets and scored 3000 runs in their test career. Interestingly Warne, is the only cricketer in test history to aggregate 3000 runs in a career without ever registering a century.

During his second innings knock of 49 Ponting completed 1000 runs at Adelaide venue and became the fourth batsman to do so after Alan Border, Steve Waugh and Justin Langer. Following list provides the record of each of these batsmen at this venue.

Just for the record , Paul Collingwood played one of the slowest innings of recent times 22* of 119 balls and 198 mts but it did not quiet make it into the record books as Martin Crowe spent more minutes (217) and faced more deliveries(157) to score fewer (19) runs against Sri Lanka at Colombo(SSC) in 1983/84.

Michael Hussey, while anchoring the innings during Australia’s chase completed his 3rd consecutive half century of the series and with his unbeaten 61 in the 2nd innings of the Adelaide he now scored 1377 runs in 13 tests at a bradmanesque average of 81.00 including 4 centuries and 7 fifties. It remains to be seen how long Mr. Cricket will carry on his batting average in stratosphere.

For Damien Martyn who announced his retirement on Friday from both domestic and international cricket, this test match will go down in the history books as his last test . Martyn’s 15 years of international career was never been a smooth one , but he always seized the opportunity to prove himself and compiled 4406 runs in 67 tests at an healthy avg of 46.37. He scored 13 hundreds with 165 against New Zealand at Wellington in 2004/05 being his highest test score.

Of all the reactions about his retirement, perhaps his captain Ricky Ponting’s words seem to best describe Martyn’s character and contribution to Australian cricket. Ponting said : "He is one of the world's most unsung players in both forms of the game and I don't think it is really understood how good a player he actually is." – No one will argue about that statement about Damien Martyn, undoubtedly one of the most stylish and elegant batsmen Australia ever produced.

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