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    July 30, 2008

    The best innings this century

    Benedict Bermange, the resident Sky Sports statistician has recently started a column on the ICC website. In the first edition, he takes a shot at identifying the best innings by a batsman since 2000.

    He uses various criteria (runs scored, strength of the opposition bowling, run-scoring in the match and the result of the match) and comes up with a fairly insipid result. Virender Sehwag's two triple hundreds (309 against Pakistan and 319 against South Africa) were rated the two best innings of the century so far.

    The other innings in the top 10 included Younis Khan's 267 against India, Mahela Jayawardene's triple hundred against South Africa, VVS Laxman's one-off torture of Australia, Brian Lara's pyrrhic knock against England and Hayden bullying Zimbabwe.

    If you looked at the list, Sehwag, Jayasuriya & Younis were the only ones to make that big score in an away test. Personally, I'd rate Sehwag's Chennai pretty low on the list because the pitch had absolutely nothing in it for the bowlers. South Africa made 540 & 331/5d while India made 627. Some of the knocks are nowhere near being called 'great'. Yes, they definitely count as milestone knocks. For e.g., Hayden broke the world record score while Lara became the first batsman to score a quadruple hundred in a test. While it is true that it is sometimes unfair to say that a score isn't too good because it was scored against a pathetic opponent, it is also unfair to say that a triple hundred made at home while thrashing Zimbabwe is superior to a double hundred made away in a losing cause against South Africa or Australia.

    Is Sangakkara's 192, cut short by an umpiring howler, against Australia at Hobart inferior to the other knocks listed? He almost single-handedly took Sri Lanka from 290/8 to 410, and gave Australia a real scare. Stephen Fleming scored 274 in Sri Lanka while Dravid made 270 against Pakistan & 233 against Australia. Ponting made 242 against India and then followed it up with 257 a week later. Andy Flower made a second innings double hundred against India while Nathan Astle took everyone's breath away with his 222 against England.

    How do you assess those knocks? I reckon that of the knocks that Benedict has listed, it's very hard to look past Laxman's 281 for the #1 spot taking all the factors that Benedict had mentioned into consideration. The opposition was strong (Australia's bowling lineup was McGrath, Gillespie, Kasprowicz & Warne), the situation was dire & very one-sided, his side was following-on, and his side won.

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 12:31 pm |
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    4 sledge(s):

    Hiya, Benedict here.

    You do make some very valid points but I must confess that all I was doing was reporting the facts as spat out by the Ratings computer. Obviously there are other factors that a viewer takes into account when assessing an innings. You would probably rather watch a Lara century than a Chanderpaul one, but both have their merits.

    By Blogger Benedict (31 Jul 2008, 12:15:00 am)  

    Thanks for commenting, Benedict. I agree that if you just went by the ratings, you're bound to get a table like the one you arrived at.

    But I'd still say that it should be possible to factor in context into such a rating: How many wickets had fallen when the batsman started his innings, was his team in deficit in the game, what was the series score, etc.

    Sometimes the result of the game overshadows the brilliance of the knock. Astle's 222 was, to my mind, infinitely better than Sehwag's 319!

    By Blogger Jagadish (1 Aug 2008, 12:28:00 am)  

    I would also rate laxman's 50 against SA as close to his 281 against Aus if context comes into picture. So, if you have to come up with one such list, it is going to have flaws !

    By Blogger manikandan (4 Aug 2008, 4:15:00 pm)  

    அவனும் அவளும்: Which half-century by VVS are you referring to? The primary factor in Benedict's analysis was the volume of runs made. Surely you can't compare a 50 and a 281, regardless of context.

    By Blogger Jagadish (6 Aug 2008, 7:08:00 pm)  

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