Most sports nuts have a random statistic or factoid that amuses them and can rely on for conversation and pub quizzes alike.
Likewise when it comes to cricket, there’s numbers that are easily recognisable; 99.94, 400*, 19/90.
Or closer to home there’s 302, 237*, and 9/52, and if you give the owner of this website two minutes, he’ll tell you where he was for all three of those.
For me though there’s one quirky number, and it has literally stood the test of time.
Back on 15 March 1877, Australia and England met at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in what became the game’s first Test match. Taking guard that day for the home side after they won the toss and chose to bat was Charles Bannerman, an English-born 25-year old professional cricketer from New South Wales, who would face the first ball and score the first run. And at the conclusion of the days play – a mere five hours later! – he was still there having become not just the first player to pass 50 in an innings but was unbeaten on 126 and scorer of Test cricket’s first century.
He would add a further 39 the next day before being hit on the hand and forced to retire hurt (another first) with a broken finger, and unable to return Australia’s first innings was closed at 245. The next best score was just 18.
165 / 245 = 67.35
After England replied with 196, Bannerman opened in Australia’s second innings but, clearly hampered, managed just four being bowled. Scoring 104, Australia set England 154 to win but dismissed them for 108, winning by 45 runs.
Yet 143 years and nearly 2,500 Test matches since, Bannerman’s mark remains as the highest percentage of his side’s runs in a completed innings.
Obviously, there’s a huge amount of luck and fate involved beyond just one batsman dominating the scoring in an innings while wickets fall at the other end. A case in point is that of the next ‘best’; Michael Slater scored 123 out of 184 in Australia’s second innings in the New Years Ashes Test in 1998/99 and was the eighth wicket to fall at 180. Had the last three – Stuart MacGill, Colin Miller, and Glenn McGrath – not added four more runs between them, that record would be his.
(A full list of all instances over 55% can be found here.)
We’ve been in range here too in recent times. When England were spectacularly bundled out for 58 at Eden Park, 33 of those runs came from a belligerent knock by Craig Overton. And just this past week, Jermaine Blackwood threatened to give it a nudge when he’d scored 69 of the Windies’ 111 runs in their first innings up to the point he was dismissed.
You’ll never say that it will that never be broken, but it is quite something that the Bannerman number endures to this day.
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