Sir Neville Cardus once said, “There ought to be some other means of reckoning quality in this the best and loveliest of games; the scoreboard is an ass.” However, a discussion about cricket is always incomplete without taking resort to the statistics and quite more than often, the statistics present to us a few astounding facts that may only be described by one word – ‘bizarre’. So, we are going to start our new series ‘Cricket Bizarre’ with an aim to find out some of the interesting statistics that may stun you in no time.
Only a couple of days ago, Indian batsman Rohit Sharma hit his second one-day international double hundred and recorded a new individual highest score of 264. But, have you ever wondered that there may exist a batsman with lot more one-day international runs and a much better average who have never got the opportunity to raise his bat on scoring a ton? Well, he is none other than Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq. And along with him, there are a few more notable batsmen who could never score a century but have amassed lots of international runs in their lives. In this article, we are going to look at those who hold this unique feat in tests and in one-day internationals.
As we have already mentioned, Misbah sits at the top of this list. He has been playing for 12 years and in his 138 innings, has scored 4609 runs but his highest score till now is 96 not out. In his second international match (1 September, 2002) against Kenya, he scored a half-century and started showing promises to become a dependable middle-order batsman. For the last 12 years, Misbah has kept that promise and has hit as many as 37 fifties so far but failed to convert a single one to hundred. But should he be blamed for that? Before rushing to a conclusion, let us look at the match where he managed to score his career-best 96.
It was a Champions Trophy match between West Indies and Pakistan in 2013. West Indian captain Dwayne Bravo won the toss and sent Pakistan to bat first to get full advantage of the conditions in The Oval and in the very first over, Kemar Roach drew the first blood when he got Imran Farhat out. Bravo’s decision proved to be extremely useful as within 7 overs, thanks to a devastating Roach, Pakistan were reeling at 15 for 3. But, then came Misbah, the skipper. Along with Nasir Jamshed, he started rebuilding the innings and the duo added 90 valuable runs in the fourth wicket stand before Sunil Narine removed the opener and once again, wickets started falling at random, owing to some rash shots and two careless run-outs. Within a span of 11 overs, Pakistan lost 6 quick wickets and could score only 33 runs. As the last man Mohammad Irfan came to the crease, the score was 138 for 9 and the captain was at 67. In the next eight overs, Irfan did the only rational thing by not giving up the wicket and Misbah, on the other end, kept on scoring as many as he could. He added 29 more runs before a hapless Irfan fell victim to a Rampaul delivery and the unfortunate skipper remained unbeaten at 96, four runs short of his first ton.
Quite clearly, the team-mates could have showed some resilience and Misbah could have reached his first one-day hundred. As Andrew Fidel mentioned, “his team-mates abandoned him one after another, like an incompetent conga line, stumbling over every piece of furniture in the room.”
However, this was not the first time he was unfortunate. At Napier, in the fourth match of the Pakistan-New Zealand bilateral series in 2011, the home team set a target of 263. Pakistan started in a not-so-bad way and they already managed 84 runs when Misbah came to the crease. In the next overs, Younis Khan and Misbah played steadily before the former got out when the team was at 173. And then, wickets started falling in regular interval but Misbah kept one end tight. As the eighth wicket fell, Misbah was at 93 not out and Pakistan needed 13 runs from 13 balls. Anyone would think that as a perfect stage for someone to score a hundred and win the match for his country. But Sohail Tanveer thought otherwise. He played the 49th over, hit three boundaries and scored 14 runs in the process to take the match away from the Kiwis and the century away from Misbah.
It is worth mention that Misbah was unbeaten in all of his five highest one-day scores. So, it seems that misfortune is all that Misbah can put the blame on. However, he is not the only one in this list. Michael Vaughan, Ian Botham, Graham Thorpe are some of the famous names who could not ever reach the magic figure.
Not surprisingly enough, this list is headed by a bowler who could bat when needed and he is the Australian legend Shane Warne. In his illustrious career of 145 matches, he had to take his stance in 199 innings and he scored 3154 runs with 12 half-centuries but he never got to three figures.
Shane Warne’s highest ever test score came in Perth when New Zealand visited Australia for a three-match test series in 2001. Chasing a first innings total of 534, Australia lost 6 wickets at the score of 192 and Warne joined Damien Martyn at the crease. He dodged the most threatening bullet when Astle was deceived at second slip by the speed of a ball that looped to him from the back of the bat as a Bond delivery was defended. Afterwards, he survived once again while at 16 as a Lou Vincent throw marginally went past the stumps with Warne struggling to complete a run. Unlike Misbah, Warne’s innings was full of lucky escapes as another life was granted to him by Cairns when he grassed a caught and bowled chance. To add icing on the cake, when he was at 80, umpire Ian Robinson denied a beseeching appeal off a luckless Chris Martin delivery.
Fortunate Warne managed to take on the bowlers with cuts and pulls and amassed 78 runs in the partnership with Martyn and then scored another 72 with Brett Lee. Eventually, he skied a shot off a Daniel Vettori delivery and Richardson took the catch, to get Warne out at 99, thereby denying him a century for merely one run.
Thus ended the best chance of him to get to a hundred and he remains at the top of the list till now. Warne’s second best score of 90 came in 2005 against England and it was a much more matured innings but he could not convert it to a century once again. Shane Warne had an overall batting average of 17.32 in tests. However, there were some other batsmen who had an average of more than 30 but never could score a century. Deryck Murray, Chetan Chauhan, Bruce Laird and Ken Mackay are a few names among them.
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