Friday, December 22, 2006

Test #1821,#1822 & #1823 : Three tests that followed the same pattern

Shane Warne’s retirement announcement has overshadowed all cricketing news of the past week. A Predictable Aussie win at Perth, an incredible and first Indian Victory in South Africa and another Muralitharan orchestrated Sri Lankan win at Wellington which squared their mini test series against New Zealand have all shifted their occupation from being headlines, not surprisingly, to the back pages once arguably the greatest spinners of all time let the Cricketing World know that the final test of the current Ashes series to be played at Sydney will be his last international appearance for Australia.

The Ashes Victory for which the Preparations started on the last day of the final test of last years Ashes debacle, yielded the results that were widely anticipated, but nobody anticipated that Shane Warne too started his preparations for quitting the game while still being at the top of his art. As Shane Warne wielded his magic hand one more time, Ricky Ponting’s ageing Aussies did reclaim the Ashes which were kept away from their kitty for less than 16 months. England took more than 18 years to regain the Ashes whereas Australia took fewer than 18 months. Though Eng fought bravely and took the match to its fifth day, in the end Aus completed the ritual of going up with an unbeatable lead of 3-0 in the series quite convincingly and with a clinical precision. Their marvelous surgeon Shane Warne for umpteenth time responded to his team’s call on the final morning when Flintoff was blazing away and gave a glimmer of hope to England’s declining fortunes. Warne completed his mastery over the English batsmen and set a stage for himself to claim his 700th test victim in front of his home crowd at Melbourne during the Boxing Day Test.

The other two test matches , SL against NZ at Basin Reserve, Wellington and India against SA at Wanderers, Johannesburg, both of which started the day after the Perth test too followed the same pattern of the Ashes test as the team that batted first could not make big total but bowled out the opposition for even lesser totals. Then they piled on more runs to set the team batting last a difficult target and finally went on to win with more than 100 runs margin , though in all three tests the second innings performances of the teams that lost were far better than the previous innings.

Following are some of the highlights of these three test matches which had some memorable performances by all six teams involved.

The most memorable one in my opinion is Adam Gilchrist’s unbelievable 57 ball century, which very narrowly missed erasing Sir Vivian Richards’ name from record books for the fastest century in test cricket in terms of number of balls taken.

During his fast and furious knock Gilchrist also scored his 1000th run against England and became the 100th cricketer to do so. He is the 48th Australian to aggregate 1000 career runs against England along with 10 Indians, 4 New Zealanders, 7 Pakistanis, 12 South Africans, 18 West Indians and One Sri Lankan. Gilchrist came into bat after tea on day three at the end of 92nd over of Aussie innings. He was at the crease for just 103 minutes and 20 overs and completed his century in a single session providing 14th instance of a batsman scoring a hundred between tea and close of play. In all there are 43 occassions during which a batsman scored 100 or more runs in a single session (4 times before lunch on first day of a test match, 12 times before lunch on any other day of a test match, 13 times between lunch and tea).

Gilchrist’s 102* in the second innings was preceded by a duck in the first thus providing 125th instance of a batsman making a duck and a century in the same test. His century in the second innings makes him 53rd cricketer to have followed a first innings duck with a second innings century.

Michael Hussey with his second innings century (103) recorded his sixth consecutive fifty in test cricket and joins 18 other cricketers to have done so. Andy Flower of Zimbabwe and Everton Weeks of West Indies are the only cricketers to have done it in seven successive innings. Jack Ryder, Doug Walters, Greg Chappell, Alan Border and Mark Taylor are the only Aussies to have recorder this feat before him. If Hussey continues his phenomenal run which fetched him 1554 runs from 14 tests at an incredible average of 86.33 since his debut, he might set up a new record by the end of this series for most consecutive fifties.

Thanks to Gilchrist’s quick fire innings and also centuries from Mike Hussey and Michael Clarke’s Australia amassed more than 400 runs on the fourth day of the test providing 47th such instance of a team compiling 400 or more runs in a single innings on a single day.

England’s Geraint Jones got dismissed for a duck for the first time in his career when he failed to keep the ball down and spooned a catch to gully in the first innings. He made it a pair in the second innings when he got confused over an lbw appeal and did not put his foot back into the crease after missing a slog sweep and the Aussie skipper fielding at silly point gleefully hit the stumps to run him out. He thus loses his record of having a test career without ducks. He hands back the record he took from Australia’s Jim Burke earlier this year as the batsman to have played most innings in an entire career without registering a duck. His pair is 443 in test cricket, 78th by an Englishman and 76th in Ashes.

Australia’s Matthew Hayden recorded his 7th score in nervous nineties. Steve Waugh with 10 (twice not out), Rahul Dravid with 9 (once not out), Michael Slater with 9, Alvin Kallicharan with 8 (once not out) and Inzamam ul Haq with 7 are the only other players to have registered 7 or more scores in nineties.

Monty Panesar recorded a 5-for in his first test innings of an Ashes test on a ground which traditionally helped pace bowlers. Panesar’s 5-for is only the 6th occasion a spinner has claimed 5 or more wickets on WACA in its 33 year old history. The best that Shane Warne has managed is 4 for 83 against New Zealand in 1997-98.

In England’s first innings all the wickets have fallen to the same type of dismissal, they were all caught. This provides 50th such instance and 11th by England.

Shane Warne also took his tally of wickets to 500 in the test matches won by Australia. It’s a remarkable performance that more than 70% (71.67) of his victims were claimed in the test matches won by his country, which goes on to show what a match-winning bowler he is.

Test #1822 Sri Lanka in New Zealand 2006/07 (2nd Test) at Basin Reserve, Wellington.

For the fifth time in his last six test appearances, Muralitharan accounted for ten or more wickets in a test match and ended the current year as the highest wicket taker with 90 wickets. His 57th 5-for and 19th 10-for hauls resulted in a series squaring victory for Sri Lanka.

Following are some of the other statistical highlights of this test match:

Kumara Sangakkara during his first innings knock of 156* completed 5000 runs in test cricket and becomes 47th cricketer in test history and 6th Sri Lankan to aggregate 5000 runs in a test career.
Sangakkara also made his 156* out of a Sri Lankan total of 269 , thus making 58.21% of his side’s score. Having made 58.82% his side’s total in his previous test innings he now becomes the first batsman in test history to account for more than 50% of his team’s total in two consecutive innings . Only three batsmen before Sangakkara scored more than 50% of their side’s total two consecutive test matches but none in two consecutive innings.

Sangakkara also climbs up in batting averages and after 4 ½ years he again took his batting avearge hovering aaround 50.He now has 5064 runs from 64 tests @ 50.64 with 12 hundreds and 22 fifties.

Chamra Silva who started his test career with a pair in the first test hit 61 & 152* in his second test thus becoming the first cricketer to have made his debut with a pair and followed it up with a fity in the next innings. He went one step ahead by scoring a century in the second innings. As such there are only six cricketers GS Ramchand of India, Graham Gooch of england, Ken Rutherford and James Franklin of New Zeland, Marvin Atapattu of Sri Lanka, Saeed Anwar of Pakistan who could register a century at some point of their career after registering a pair on ther debut, but none of them could do it as early as the second test of their career.

Chamira Silva’s century in this test preceded by a pair is only 14th occasion of a batsman hitting a century after recording a pair in his previous test match. Following is the list of batsmen who have scored a century and were dismissed for a 'pair' in successive Test matches:

Dilip Vengsarkar and CA Roach are the only players in test history to have preceded and succeeded a pair with a test match century. There are 10 other occasions of a batsman registering a pair after hitting a century in the previous test.

Muralitharan with his first 10-for against New Zealand now holds the record being the only bowler in test history to have taken a 10-for every test playing nation. This is his 19th ten wicket haul in a match and his second innings 6 for 87 is his 57th 5-wkt haul in an innings.
Though he took 10 wickets in the match Muralitharan could not open his account while batting in either of the innings that achieving a dubious distinction of getting dismissed for a pair and taking a 10-for in the same match. Here is a list of Test matches in which a bowler took at least 10 wickets and was dismissed for a 'pair'.

***Valentine was making his Test debut.

Daniel Vettori of New Zealand too has taken a 10-for in this match, but unlike Muralitharan, he also hit the top score for his side. Both Vettori and Murali provide the 19th occasion of bowlers from each side claiming 10 or more wickets in the same test. Here is a list of all instances where the bowling from each side took ten wickets in the Test match.

Daniel Vettori also joined Ian Botham of England as the second all-rounder in test history to have made the only 50 of the match for his side and have also claimed 10 wickets in the same match. Obviously he was the top scorer for his side and there are only two more occasions when the same player made the top score of the match for his side and took a 10-for in the same test.

Botham’s record is unique as he was the only batsman in that match to have crossed the 50-run mark.

Test #1823 India in South Africa 2006/07 (1st Test) at New Wanderers, Johannesburg.

Though Sreesanth’s bat and hip swinging antics after hoisting Andre Nel’s delivery over long on for a six in response Nel’s sledging will be the most remembered moment of this test match for quite a while, in the long run India’s memorable first ever test victory in South Africa after 14years and in their 10th attempt will be the one that will be going into the record books. Including the 1st test at Johannesburg India played 10 tests losing four and drawing one.

Following are some of the other statistical highlights of this test match:

When Shaun Pollock dismissed Rahul Dravid for 1 in India’s second innings, he took his test wickets tally to 400. He thus becomes the 10th bowler and first Soutin African in cricket history to have taken 400 or more test wickets.

Having already scored 3000+ runs in his career, Shaun Pollock also becomes only the fourth player in test history to have scored 3000 or more runs and have claimed 400 or more wickets.

Herchell Gibbs registered his first pair in test cricket in his 80th test. He provided 36th instance of South African batsman losing his wicket for a duck in each innings.

Sreesanth’s 5 for 40 in South Africa’s first innings is his first 5-wkt haul in an innings in test cricket. It is India’s 12th against South Africa and 7th in South Africa.

South Africa’s first innings collapse for 84 runs represents their new lowest total in innings against India eclipsing their previous lowest of 105 in the second innings of the first test of 1996/97 series played at Ahmedabad(GS).

South Africa’s Innings which lasted for just 25.1 overs and 131 minutes is now the new record for Indian bowling attack in terms of both number of balls and minutes taken to bowl out the opposition.

Though South Africa recorded the highest total of the test match in fourth innings of this test, they still lost the test thus providing only 9th such occasion. Incidentally the previous instance was India’s last test match in West Indies when West Indies in spite of registering the highest total of the test match in their fourth innings they still lost the test by 49 runs.

India provides the first instance of a team inflicting a defeat on their opponents in two consecutive tests even though they did not make the highest total of the test match.

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