The first test match at Christchurch between Sri Lanka and New Zealand ended predictably with a win for New Zealand, but not before another controversial run out took place that involved New Zealand wicket keeper Brendon McCullum. The controversial run out occurred on the third day of the test match, which ultimately proved out to be the last day of the test. As Muralitharan walked out of his crease after completing a single that fetched Sangakkara his hundred to congratulate him for completing a well deserved hundred. Though Muralitharan did not show any intention of going for a run, McCullum whipped of the bails after receiving a throw from Martin leaving Muralitharan shocked and run-out. McCullum did exactly what he did last year against the hapless Zimbabweans in the 2nd test at Bulawayo when he ran out their number eleven batsman Chris Mpofu when he stepped out to congratulate his team mate Blessing Mahwire for completing a fifty, thus completing a 46 run innings victory for New Zealand in a bizarre fashion. Mahwire in that test smashed Chris Martin in for 21 runs in the previous over with 2 sixes and 2 fours and duly completed his half century with a single of Vettori’s first ball.
In the end the result of the Christchurch test match would not have been different had McCullum chosen to let the spirit of the game take precedence over the laws of cricket. But the win-at-any-cost modern cricketing battles that are taking place nowadays do not give a choice to cricketers to play the game in its true spirit and incidents like this let us make wonder whether the game is should still carry the tag Gentlemen’s Game or not.
Though McCullum did not do anything wrong as per the laws of cricket it goes to show that the modern cricketers are more concerned about winning the game than the spirit of the game. Incidentally, last year when McCullum ran Mpofu out New Zealand team was the holder of ICC Cricket’s Spirit of the Game title. When I hear about such dismissals, I always remember two incidents one involving Gundappa Viswanath who recalled Bob Taylor in 1979/80 Golden Jubilee Test after he was given out by umpire which in turn cost the match for India and another involving Courtney Walsh in a group match at Lahore during 1987 Reliance World Cup when he warned Abdul Qadir for backing up too far at non-striker’s end instead of running him out. Qadir went on to hit a big six to bring a 1 wicket victory with the final ball of the match. West Indies lost that match and a chance to reach the semi finals. Both Viswanath and Walsh did receive some flak for their actions but after these many years though people do not remember the results of those games but they certainly do remember their actions for upholding the spirit and honor of the game.
Keeping the controversial run-out aside aside lets get to the statistical trivia of this test match. In a stark contrast to prevailing pattern of putting the opposition into bat after winning the toss at this Venue, Sri Lanka’s Captain Mahela Jayewardene opted to bat first and suffered the consequences as his team was bowled out for a paltry total of 157 and went on to lose the test match by five wickets. Only one captain, New Zealand’s Dion Nash in the 2nd test of 1998/99 series against South Africa chose to bat first in the last eleven tests including the recently concluded test played on this ground.
Here are some of the other statistical highlights of this test match that finished in three days:
Kumara Sangakkara while completing his 11th test hundred of his test career has also completed 1000 runs for the calendar year 2006. He becomes the 7th batsman to do so this year. See the list below.
Sangakkara also became one of the twelve cricketers to have registered a test hundred in a team’s completed innings total of less than 200.Here is a list of batsmen who scored a hundred in a completed innings totalling less than 200 runs.
For the sake of record, Charles Bannerman’s 67.35% (165* out of 245 in the first test match ever) is the highest percentage of runs scored in a completed test innings, though strictly speaking , only nine wickets fell in that innings as Bannerman was retired hurt. In Kiwi great Glen Turner holds the record for recording highest percentage of runs in first class cricket. Turner carried his bat through out the innings for scoring 141* in his team‘s total of 169 playing for Worcestershire against Glamargon in 1977. A staggering 83.43% of the innings total. The next highest scored in that innings was Norman Gifford with 7. Truly amazing knock.
Chris Martin after waiting for seven months with a 99 wickets test career aggregate, finally took his hundredth test wicket when he dismissed Prasanna Jayawardene. He now joins Bruce Reid of Australia ( 113 wickets and 93 runs from 27 tests) as the only other player in test history to have gathered fewer than hundred runs (48) and more than hundred wickets (101) in 32 tests. Incidentally, India’s Bhagwat Chandrasekhar ( 82 runs) , Australia’s Glen McGrath ( 67 runs) and Pakistan’s Danish Kaneria (81 runs) have all had fewer than hundred runs when they took their hundredth wicket, Subsequently all of them crossed hundred run mark in their career with only Chandrasekhar not being able to cross the number of wickets mark in his career. Chandrasekhar ended his career with 167 runs and 242 wickets from 58 tests.
Sri Lanka’s Chamara Silva started his test career with a pair and becomes the 36th member of the Pair-on-Test-Debut Club. But Silva can take solace to the fact that one of the leading run scorers for Sri Lanka, Marvan Atapattu, too started his test career with a pair. But he went on to hit six double centuries which puts him in the fourth in the list of batsmen. Atapattu got out for 0 & 1 in his second test when he got a test recall two years later and after thrown into wilderness for two more years he returned to test cricket and registered another pair in his third test and spent three more years without a test appearance before returning back to test cricket in 1996/97 and putting up consistent performances.
Trivial Facts about Pairs:
Tommy Ward’s Pair was achieved on a single day and is a king pair. He was also the third victim of TJ Matthews’ hat-trick in both the innings of the test match.
For CS Wimble, PS Twentyman-Jones, PT Lewis , CD Dixon, CG Rowe, LA Butterfield, RGM Patel and GM Hamilton it was their only test match appearance.
JJ Kotze also holds the record for registering a pair both his first and final test appearances excluding the One Test wonders mentioned above.