Tuesday, November 10, 2015

cook slowly for 14 hours

The recently-concluded Pakistan-England series in the United Arab Emirates yielded up, as well as some exciting cricket and a feeling that England acquitted themselves pretty well and probably should have done better than to lose 2-0, a few statistical nuggets that should probably be listed here since they follow on from some previous posts.

Firstly, Alastair Cook's 263 in the first Test, in addition to being the third-longest individual innings in Test history, was also the first score of 263 ever made in a Test match. Not only that, but Shoaib Malik's 245 in Pakistan's first innings was the first score of 245 ever made in a Test match. Those two innings wiped the 3rd and 5th lowest scores never made in a Test off the list, which can be found here. The top five now reads as follows: 229, 238, 252, 264, 265.

Cook's innings also added him to the select list of players who have made scores of 250 or more more than once in Test matches. That list now comprises 16 players, as follows:
  • Don Bradman (1930)
  • Walter Hammond (1933)
  • Javed Miandad (1987)
  • Brian Lara (1994)
  • Graeme Smith (2003)
  • Sanath Jayasuriya (2004)
  • Virender Sehwag (2006)
  • Kumar Sangakkara (2006)
  • Stephen Fleming (2006)
  • Younis Khan (2009)
  • Ramnaresh Sarwan (2009)
  • Mahela Jayawardene (2009)
  • Chris Gayle (2010)
  • Hashim Amla (2012)
  • Michael Clarke (2012)
  • Alastair Cook (2015)
Bradman leads the way with five such scores, Sehwag has four, Lara, Sangakkara and Miandad have three, and the rest two each. Split it by country and West Indies and Sri Lanka lead the way with three players each. Cook is the second Englishman on the list, after Walter Hammond 82 years ago.

Speaking of Virender Sehwag, there was much tribute paid a few weeks back when he announced his retirement from international cricket. In truth this was a bit of a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, as he hadn't played a Test since March 2013, and was unlikely to be in line for a recall, but it provided a good opportunity to reflect on his achievements, the signature one being maintaining a Test average in excess of 50 from his 21st match to his 102nd, while also maintaining a strike rate (runs per 100 balls) in excess of 80, previously unheard of for a top-flight batsman, let alone an opener, traditionally the guys who'd weather the early storm and wear out the bowlers for the dashing stroke-players in the middle order. It's instructive to compare his stats with those of a man to whom he was regularly compared, Viv Richards - almost identical run aggregates and average, but Richards' strike rate, for all his legendary aggression, and despite owning the joint-fastest Test hundred ever made, was a touch under 70. Sehwag's opening contemporaries Chris Gayle and Matthew Hayden, both considered pretty aggressive and quick-scoring batsmen, had strike rates of around 60.

With a batsman like Sehwag you never knew what you were going to get, but the chances were it'd be worth watching. The last time I saw him bat, when he'd been recalled, after an injury and far from fully fit, to the team for the tail-end of the series against England in 2011, he promptly bagged a king pair. So it goes.

One last thing: Alastair Cook also took his 123rd catch during the Pakistan series, to move ahead of his old opening partner (and predecessor as captain) Andrew Strauss as England record-holder. The overall record holder (for a non-wicketkeeper) remains Rahul Dravid with 210.

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