All about 300’s in Test Cricket
A hattrick is rare in Test cricket. However an even more rare feat is scoring a 300. In the over 2000 Test matches played there have been 43 hattricks, but only 30 occasions on which a player has crossed 300. Lets have a look at these rare Knocks and check out some interesting information about them.
The First 300
Andy Sandham’s celebrated opening partner was Jack Hobbs. However Andy has something which even someone as great as Hobbs does not. Sandham was the 1st cricketer to score a test 300. This was versus West Indies in 1930 in a timeless Test in which George Headley had a 200. The Test was called off after 8 days of Play as the England team would have missed their ship back home.
Andy who was 40 played a 10 hour innings in which England piled up 849. In the second innings he was so tired that he went in to bat at number 7 and scored 50 in his last innings in test cricket. He remains till date Test cricket’s oldest triple-centurian.
Players to convert 1st 100 to 300
West Indies Legend Garry Sobers, Aussie Great Bob Simpson and Indian Karun Nair are the only 3 players to convert their 1st 100 into a 300. Sobers hit 365 not out versus Pakistan at Sabina Park in 1958. West Indies scored 790/3 and won the Test handing Pakistan an innings defeat.
Bob Simpson hit a slow 311 in 743 balls versus England at Manchester in 1964. Australia piled up 656, only to see England respond strongly with 611 with Barrington and Dexter scoring 256 and 174 respectively. Simpson’s safety 1st approach was heavily criticised and a prominent English paper called it “the murder of test cricket”. However Simpson was not bothered about the dull draw as he achieved his objective with the Ashes being retained.
Recently, in December 2016, Karun Nair smashed 300 vs England as India piled up 759. Karun faced just 309 balls for his electrifying knock in this Test which India won. Karun also became the 1st player in history to be dropped after scoring a 300, since for India’s next Test, regular Test player and vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane came back.
Country-wise break up
Australia leads the list with 7 and these batsmen are Don Bradman ( twice), Bob Simpson, Bob Cowper, Mark Taylor, Matthew Hayden and Michael Clarke.The 6 West Indians in the list are Sobers, Lawrence Rowe, Lara ( twice) and Gayle (twice). Sandham, Hammond, Hutton, Edrich and Graham Gooch represent England. There are 4 from Pakistan namely Hanif Mohd, Inzamam, Younis Khan and Azhar Ali while India figures in the list thrice with Sehwag (twice) and Kaun Nair doing so.
The 3 great Sri Lankans on the list are Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahela Jayawardhene and Kumara Sangakkara. Brendon Mccullum and Hashim Amla represent New Zealand and South Africa while Zimbabwe and Bangladesh do not have any triple centurians.
More than one Test 300
As one can see above, there are 4 such batsmen , namely Bradman, Sehwag, Lara and Chris Gayle. Bradman and Lara had both their 300’s versus England. Sehwag had one each versus Pakistan and South Africa while Gayle had his versus Sri Lanka and South Africa.
Progression of record for highest score
The record for highest score in Test Cricket has been broken 7 times. Andy Sandham’s record of 325 was broken by Don Bradman who scored 334 versus England at Headingley, Leeds in the 1930 Ashes series. Wally Hammond with his 336 versus New Zealand at Auckland in the 1933 series had the honour of breaking the Don’s record. The great Englishman Len Hutton wrested the record with his 364 versus Australia at the Oval during the 1938 Ashes. This record stayed for 20 years before Sir Gary Sobers broke it with his 365 versus Pakistan at Kingston Park, Jamaica in 1958. Sobers record stayed for 26 years before Brian Lara smashed 375 versus England at St John’s Antigua in 1993. Matthew Hayden took the record with his 380 versus Zimbabwe at WACA, Perth in 2003 before extraordinarily Brian Lara regained it within a year with 400 not out versus England, once again at St John’s Antigua.
Brian Lara thus is the only player to have 2 scores of 350 Plus with his 375 and his 400. He is also the only player to have the highest score record, and to regain it after it was broken by another batsman. That Lara did it 11 years apart from each other is a tribute in itself to his longevity. Its 13 years since Lara set his record and till date he is the only player to score a 400 in Test Cricket.
Only 2 2nd innings 300
Since 28 of the 30 300’S are in the 1st innings of a team, I thought it worthwhile to touch upon the only 2 2nd innings 300 in the list.
The 1st was by Pakistan’s Little master Hanif mohammed who played an extraordinary knock to score 337 for Pakistan to save the Test versus West Indies at Bridgetown in 1958 after being asked to follow on. West Indies with the fiery Roy Gilchrist was expected to win easily.
However Hanif had different ideas. Dispensing with a pep talk with 3 and a 1/2 days remaining of the 6 day Test, Pakistani captain Kardar left a note for Hanif beside his bed “You are our only hope”. Hanif who was 61 not out batted the entire next day to remain not out at 161. Kardar left another note, “You can do it”. The next day too, Hanif batted the entire day to remain 270 not out. Kardar’s note was “If you remain not out till tea, the match will be saved “. Hanif did so and at tea time was 334 not out and was shortly out for 337 after 970 minutes at the crease. Yes, he saved the match for Pakistan. It is Test crickets longest innings till date.
The only other instance of a 2nd innings 300 is by Kiwi Brendon McCullum versus India at Wellington in 2014. India had scored 438 in response to New Zealand’s 192. However in their second innings Brendon scored 302 to ensure New Zealand saved the Test by scoring 680/8 declared. More importantly it ensured they win the series 1 Nil. The likeable McCullum gave an interesting comment “I am almost embarassed to go past Martin Crowe”
Players to just miss 300 ( cut-off 290)
Let me end this piece by mentioning the 7 players who narrowly missed a Test 300. One has to take a cut off somewhere and I have taken 290 as mine. The 7 are Don Bradman and martin Crowe who scored 299, followed by Alastair Cook, Virendra Sehwag, Viv Richards, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Ross Taylor who scored between 290 and 294.