Thursday, March 06, 2008

stand by for a stat attack

What with the New Zealand v England test series kicking off this week, I think a cricket-related post may be in order. Particularly as this series marks the end of the career of one of New Zealand's finest cricketers, Stephen Fleming. Holder of most of the major batting records for his country - most runs (after his 41 in the first innings at Hamilton, another 84 will see him into the company of the 31 other men to reach 7000 Test runs), most appearances (111 if he plays in all three tests) and most catches - 167 after the first innings at Hamilton, which puts him second on the all-time list after Mark Waugh, and second in terms of catches per innings after Bob Simpson. The only batting record Fleming doesn't hold is the most centuries, where his nine lags well behind Martin Crowe's 17. In fact no other batsman to pass 7000 runs has scored less than 15 Test hundreds; this poor conversion rate probably holds Fleming back from being rated in the top rank of batsmen. As a captain, though, generally having to marshal some fairly thin resources, his reputation is pretty much assured.

Also recently retired is Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist. No reservations here about his place among the greats - most dismissals by a wicketkeeper (a record he's been swapping with South Africa's Mark Boucher regularly recently), most centuries by a wicketkeeper (17), most sixes (exactly 100) and smashing the second-fastest century in Test history against England in the last Ashes series. It's worth pointing out, in fairness, that Viv Richards 56-ball century against England in 1986 was made on the small and cosy St. John's ground in Antigua, whereas Gilchrist's 57-ball effort was made on the vast wastes of the WACA in Perth, where the boundaries are somewhat longer.

Speaking of quick-scoring batsmen, it's good to see Virender Sehwag back in the Indian team; he's far too good a player not to be India's regular test opener. His performance in the final test of the recent Australian series in Adelaide, where he scored 63 and 151, should keep him in the side for a while. Sehwag holds two of the top seven spots on the list of fastest double-centuries in Tests; the second of these set him on the way to one of Test cricket's more esoteric records: the highest score ever made at more than a run a ball (254 off 247 balls).

Finally, one of Test cricket's more venerable records bit the dust this week when Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie put on 415 for the first wicket against Bangladesh, beating Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy's 413 for India against New Zealand back in 1956. This means that 6 of the 10 major Test partnership records have been equalled or broken within the last 12 years - the oldest remaining one is Jack Fingleton and Don Bradman's 6th-wicket record of 346 made just over 71 years ago. What price that one making a century?

No comments: