“Numbers don’t lie” is what the statisticians would say, to which the analysts would reply (on occasions) “Numbers don’t speak the real truth”. Both are correct in their own ways, but the eventual result is always decided by numbers, not opinions. Cricket definitely witnessed some outstanding numbers over the years, some of which cannot be forgotten for eternity.
If amassing big numbers is an art, then Sir Jack Hobbs was the master of it in the early 20th century. Sir Donald Bradman then took over the mantle in the next generation and went on to achieve records which will continue to drop jaws as long as the game survives. Sachin Tendulkar did quite a bit during his tenure and the likes of Virat Kohli, Steve Smith and Rohit Sharma are carrying the torch forward.
Here is a tribute to some of those numbers, which might live on for a very long time in International cricket:
1. “The untouchable 99.94” – Sir Donald Bradman
Don Bradman. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Imperfection is so underrated. Not everything has to be spot-on in life to sing its praises, something which applies perfectly for the one and only Sir Donald Bradman. Getting out for a duck in his career’s final knock finished his runs tally at 6,996, which meant his average remained at 99.94, literally a whisker short of what could’ve been an outstanding 100.
Eric Hollies remained in history books for dismissing him on a second-ball duck, but that took nothing away from the great man. The rate at which he scored runs is a phenomenon unmatched and the chances of someone surpassing are way too remote, especially with the game evolving so much.
Sir Don was the game’s most prodigious batting talent, one who topped every possible challenge Test cricket threw at him. His batting average of 95.14, unsurprisingly, is the highest in the First-class history and adds another feather to a cap of astonishing records he owned.
2. A ton of tons – Sachin Tendulkar
Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar. (Photo credit Manjunath Kiran/AFP/GettyImages)
A 17-year-old kid drove the ball towards mid-off at the Old Trafford in 1990 against England to score his first international hundred. Little did anyone know that the boy would go on to become the greatest cricketer of their generation and in February 2013, he tapped the ball towards mid-wicket against Bangladesh to complete 100 centuries in International cricket.
Ricky Ponting, his nearest competitor, amassed runs for fun and during his glorious career. Yet, he remained second best to Tendulkar’s International centuries tally and remained quite a distance away. His 71 International centuries will perhaps become third on the list in a few months time with Virat Kohli inching ever so close to his mark.
The difference between the first and the second signifies what Tendulkar had achieved. Among the many International records he held, this is one the which could possibly remain unbroken and with all due respect to the current Indian skipper, I would be surprised if he goes on to break this (I would love to see him do so).
3. The marathon man of the longest format – Brian Lara
Brian Lara. (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)
Sir Gary Sobers held the record for the highest individual score in Tests (365*) for a very long time, nearly 36 years. It took the grit of a sensational young talent from Trinidad named Brian Lara to surpass it, who scored a sensational 375 against England at Antigua. It took nine years for someone to come remotely close to it and when Matthew Hayden did get there, he broke the record and registered a brilliant 380.
Even for Brian Lara‘s standards, many felt Hayden’s 380 will remain in history books as the highest for a fairly long time. But it took just six odd months for the classy left-handed batsman to surpass that mark, this time achieving the unthinkable quadruple ton against the same team who suffered at his hands in 1994.
Lara was known for these marathon knocks and another interesting fact is that he also holds the record for the highest individual score in First-class cricket (501). Never expect Lara to get tired of batting, he is someone who will make the bowlers plead for mercy.
4. Wizard of the Emerald Isle – Muttiah Muralitharan
Muttiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka. (Photo by Tom Shaw / Getty Images)
A wizard who spun magic without a wand in hand, Muttiah Muralitharan‘s exploits at the International level will never ever be forgotten. The champion bowler from Sri Lanka went on to become the first cricketer ever to pick 1000 wickets in International cricket and only one person named Shane Warne emulated that feat at this level.
Muralitharan picked up 534 ODI wickets and a staggering 800 wickets in the longest format, which takes his International wickets tally to an astounding 1347 (Including 13 wickets in T20Is). The second best, despite all his unbelievable hardwork, could just surpass the 1000 mark and it would probably be impossible for any other cricketer to get close to this record.
Muralitharan was also known for his sportsmanship and is one of those cricketers who is universally admired. Despite all the adversities he faced because of his action, he ensured his performances did the talking and boy, they delivered quite a staggering output.
5. 19/20 – Jim Laker
Jim Laker. (Photo by S&G/PA Images via Getty Images)
Need I say more? 19/20 is arguably one of the most iconic statistics in the history of cricket. One of the stalwarts of the 40s and 50s in English cricket, off-spinner Jim Laker delivered a performance of a lifetime at the Old Trafford in the 4th Ashes Test, 1956. David Sheppard and Peter Richardson scored tons for England batting first, which helped them amass 459 runs on the board.
Jim Laker picked up nine wickets in Australia’s first innings, which saw them getting bowled out for a paltry 84 runs and a follow-on was enforced. Just when people thought he couldn’t have bettered his first innings performance, the man actually did it and picked up a perfect 10 for the first time in International cricket.
Australia were bowled for 205 runs in the second innings and England won the game by an innings and 170 runs. His 19/20 made people call this game the Laker’s Test and he ended up picking 46 wickets in this series, the second-highest tally for a bowler in a Test series till date, bettered only by Sydney Barnes’ 49-wicket tally in 1913/14 in England’s tour of South Africa.
6. A decade like no other – Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Virat “The King” Kohli literally scaled a mountain in the last 10 years and to signify that, here’s a statistic which separates him from many other legends of the game. He recently became the first-ever cricketer to score more than 20,000 International runs in a calendar decade, a feat even the likes of Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar or Ricky Ponting couldn’t achieve.
Ricky Ponting had scored 18,962 runs from 2000-2009, which was the previous highest. Incidentally, Kohli still has a few months left to strengthen this statistic further. Kohli scored 20,512 runs in International cricket thus far, out of which 20,018 runs came beginning from 2010.
Kohli also became the fastest player to get to 20,000-run mark in International cricket, surpassing the likes of Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar. The run machine of Indian cricket continues to torment the existing records and in the coming years, he will be breaking a lot more of these.
7. Climbs an Everest, but falls a foot short – Mark Boucher
Mark Boucher of South Africa in action behind the stumps. (Photo by Duif du Toit / Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Talk about the greatest wicket keepers of all time, one name that definitely will be highlighted and written in golden letters is Mark Boucher. The South African legend went on to scale many heights during his illustrious career behind the sticks and there were many moments where he singlehandedly won games via his exploits with the gloves.
Boucher followed the footsteps of Adam Gilchrist in revolutionizing the role of a wicketkeeper in International cricket. While Gilchrist laid the foundation stones, Boucher built a castle out of it. He was a more than useful batsman down the order for the Proteas for over a decade, amassing more than 10,000 runs in International cricket.
His tally of 999 International dismissals is one record which could perhaps remain at the top for as long as the game survives. Unfortunately for the great man, he couldn’t reach the elusive 1000 mark as his career was cut short but due to an injury while keeping in County cricket against his national teammate Imran Tahir.
8. Hitman’s irrepressible party – Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Rohit Sharma was in the ground which he loved the most on 13th November 2014. Fortune favoured him a little as well, with an absolute sitter going down at third man when he was batting on 4. Sri Lankan bowlers tried their best to dismiss him, but he got to a 100 slowly yet at a very steady rate. What happened later was absolute carnage, something not many can ever imagine doing again.
Almost every ball which was being bowled was travelling long distances. He also created the record for the most fours hit a match by an individual player. With a drive towards long-off, he completed his second ODI double ton against all the odds and expectations. That carnage didn’t end there and hit another high gear.
He surpassed Virender Sehwag’s record of the highest individual score in ODIs (219) and then became the first player to touch the 250-mark in this format. Although he was dismissed off the final ball, he registered a mind-boggling 264 and even the whole Sri Lankan team couldn’t tally up with his individual score that day. Such was the hitman’s dominance, which scripted an unforgettable chapter in cricket history.
Note: The aforementioned were the choices of the author upon intense scrutinization and some other great achievements had to be kept aside. Come up with your own list and mention it in the comments.
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