Welcome to the latest instalment of our most recent blog series Top Tens, which is posting roughly every Sunday, Australian time. Last week we talked about our top 10 original Christmas melodies, and over the next few weeks, we’ll be delving into my favourite sport- cricket!
Cricket is a pretty complicated game, of skill, determination, pure talent, tact, heart and comradery. If you know the rules of baseball, then cricket is similar (bit a bit different too), and I’ll just quickly talk about the rules a bit (if you wants extensive rules, check out the Wikipedia page here!)
Basically, you have 2 teams of 11 players each. One team bats and one team fields. The batting team has two players out in the middle of the pitch (one batsman facing the ball and the other a non striker), and the fielding team has all 11 players on the field. In a game of cricket, the objective for the batting team is to score as many runs as possible, then try to defend that score after that allotted time is over. The fielding team’s objective is the reverse- to limit the opposition to a lower total, and chase down the score without all of their batters being dismissed.
There are 3 versions of the fascinating game. A test cricket match lasts for 5 days, and there are 90 overs each day (where 2 innings of each team are allotted in- each team bats twice!), whereas One Day Internationals (ODI’s) are 50 overs per team. T20’s, a more recent development, lasts 20 overs per team. Oh, and an over is 6 legitimate balls (not including wides and no balls). Plus, there are many ways for a batsman to be out- bowled, LBW, run out, caught, hit wicket, obstructing the field…are you all confused yet? How about the highlights reel of a recent game? Maybe that will pique your interest.
Are you familiar with the rules of the game? Do you now know that game by the back of your hand? If yes, then you can carry on reading. If no, then you can still keep on reading, if you want to. Cause this week I’m going to delve into my top 10 favourite batting performances of Australians in test cricket matches over the past 10 years. And the next 5 weeks of ‘top tens’ will be cricket-related as well as I mention about top 10 test fielding performances by Australians, then the same (batting and fielding) for ODI’s and T20 Internationals’!
So without any further ado, I will dive in, and talk briefly why I love these performances and can watch them again and again! They’re in no particular order by the way!
Aston Agar’s 98 on debut at no.11; v England– Coming in at 9/117 on the second day of the first Ashes Test against England at Nottingham in the 2013 series, I was astounded as Agar joined Phillip Hughes in a fast paced rescue mission (a partnership worth 163 runs) that defied logic, in response to England’s 215. Agar broke all sorts of records on his way to the top score by a no. 11 batsman ever, and to this day remains one of the most remarkable ‘get out of jail free cards’ the Aussies have had for a while, and it’s all because of Agar’s fearlessness!
Johnson’s Century; v South Africa– one of the scariest and lethal fast bowlers currently, Johnson hit his purple patch in early 2009. In that series against South Africa, he dominated with bat and ball, with the series culminating in a rapid fire century (123*), albeit in a losing cause. One of the innings that will be remembered, by Johnson and the world as a reminder that he could be a genuine allrounder in the future; this innings makes me smile, at the sheer brute force that Johnson exhibited!
Hussey and McGrath partnership v South Africa– Australia were on the ropes at 9/248 at the end of the first day in one of the tests against South Africa in 2005 (I think it was the first home test at the Gabba!). Australia managed to plunder 355 from that position though, and it was all thanks to Michael Hussey and Glenn McGrath! McGrath only managed 11 runs, although his role at defending was crucial in Australia winning the match!
Clarke’s 329*; v India– Michael Clarke accepted captaincy of the test team from Ricky Ponting in 2011, and since then has gone from strength to strength. One of the most prolific and most majestic innings I have seen ever, Clarke’s score of 329 not out, in a total of 4/659 declared is all the more important and meaningful, considering that we were 3/37 early on in our innings. Hussey and Ponting also scored magnificent and big hundreds as well!
Gillespie and McGrath’s partnership; v New Zealand– It’s not often that you see the no 10 and 11 batsmen scoring freely and succeeding, but that’s what Jason Gillespie and Glenn McGrath did in 2004, when they both scored fifties at high strike rates, against New Zealand no less (not by any means a lowly ranked team!). Australia won the game by the way as well!
Gilchrist 100 off 57 balls; v England– what could rub salt into the wound of an English team on the verge of losing the Ashes? A Gilchrist hundred of course! The WACA test in December 2006 was the deciding test of the 06/07 Ashes series, and Australia already were in a commanding position, with Matthew Hayden, Clarke and Hussey amongst the runs. Gilchrist then freed his arms and then went berserk after a while, ending up with his hundred, scored from 57 balls, the second fastest in test cricket! We regained the Ashes the very next day!
Bailey 28 off an over; v England– Test cricket has always been a period where on average 3-4 runs were scored every over. However in 2013, something magical happened. Yep, Australia won the Ashes 5-0, but in one of the tests, George Bailey hit pace bowler James Anderson for 28 runs off an over. Yep, 28 off 6 balls! You would have thought you were watching a T20 match! Bailey hit 4, 6, 2, 4, 6, 6; in an over of carnage. I find myself hitting replay again and again!
Warner 180; v India– David Warner, known early on as a T20 slogger, was picked in 2009 with the intention of only being a specialist T20 player. Butt in 2011 he soon made his way onto the Test scene, and in 2012, he crafted, and also bludgeoned his way to a quickfire century off only 69 balls. What do you think of the highlights?
Watson- 4th Test Century; v England– Shane Watson is Australia’s best allrounder currently, and he has proved that time and time again, with brutal hitting and timely placement in each of his 4 centuries so far. One of which is a certain favourite innings of mine, as he smashed the English attack all over the ground. In the same game when George Bailey hit 28 off Anderson, here Watson hits 4’s and 6’s at will! Hopefully Watson will stay on in the Aussie side for many more years, and show us many more centuries!
Chris Rogers’ 1st Test century; v England– Chris Rogers can probably count himself unlucky to grow up in a time where Hayden, Langer, Martyn, Ponting, Hussey, Clarke, Symonds and Watson were all powerfully striking fours and sixes, and keeping others out of the team. One of today’s hardest working cricketers, Chris finally gained an extended spot in the team from 2013 onwards. He scored his first century last year as well, and what a century it was! Chris now has 4 centuries in 14 matches, and will hopefully capitalise on his bright start this year and next year!
So there you have it, my top ten favourite Australian batting performances in Test Cricket. So, what are yours? Let me know so that we can compare and have a healthy discussion!
Next week we’ll be talking about bowling and fielding performances!