Who will be the calendar king for 2012?
South African batsman Hashim Amla looks on after playing a shot during day 1 of the first test match against Australia at the Gabba. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
So far 2012 has been the Year of the Batsmen with Australian captain Michael Clarke hitting an unbeaten triple century and two double centuries, one of them not out.
South Africa’s bearded run-machine Hashim Amla has also hit an unbeaten triple ton this year.
Sri Lanka’s master bat Kumar Sangakkara, with two brilliant centuries including an unbeaten 199, is currently ranked number one Test batsman.
England’s captain Alastair Cook is also scoring runs when most needed, especially in the just concluded Ahmedabad Test against India.
Although Clarke is currently ranked number four behind Sangakkara, Amla and Jacques Kallis, he has every chance to leapfrog them come December 30. Just look at the volume of runs Clarke has accumulated.
In only seven Tests in 2012 he has scored 1041 runs at a Bradmanesque average of 115.66. He has a maximum of eight innings left to play this calendar year in four more Tests; two against South Africa at Adelaide and Perth and two against Sri Lanka in Hobart and Melbourne.
In these Tests Clarke needs 748 runs to become the most prolific run-scorer in a calendar year, a record currently held by Pakistan’s bearded stroke player Mohammad Yousuf. In 2006 he had amassed 1788 runs at 99.33 in 11 Tests, highest score 202.
Yousuf also holds the record of hitting most centuries in a calendar year, nine.
Others to hit 1500 runs in a calendar year are:
Viv Richards (1710 at 90.00 with seven hundreds in 11 Tests for the West Indies in 1976, HS 291).
Graeme Smith (1656 at 72.00, six hundreds in 15 Tests for South Africa in 2008, HS 232).
Sachin Tendulkar (1562 at 78.10, seven hundreds in 14 Tests for India in 2010, HS 214).
Australia’s Ricky Ponting is the only one to score 1500 in a calendar year twice (1544 at 67.13 in 15 Tests in 2005, HS 207; and 1503 at 100.20 in 11 Tests in 2003, HS 257).
Clarke requires 459 additional runs by the end of 2012 to join the above titans.
Cook needs 96 runs to become the second batsman after Clarke to score 1000 runs in 2012. He has three more Tests against India in India to do so.
Clarke’s Test average is 115.66 this calendar year. The record Test average for a calendar year is held by India’s in-form batsman Chetashwar Pujara; 154.33 in 2012 so far. He was adjudged man of the match in the Ahmedabad Test (in which he contributed 206 and 41 runs without getting dismissed), which India won by nine wickets yesterday.
Previously the best batting average record was held by the Windies legend Garry Sobers, 144.33 in eight Tests in 1958 as he had stroked 1299 runs with an unbeaten 365 as his highest score.
A few not out innings in four Tests against South Africa and Sri Lanka this year and Clarke can have a shot at claiming the highest batting average too and deservedly be titled the ‘Calendar King’.
Of course, these approaching milestones must be furthest from his mind as he plans to defeat the number one ranked South Africans in the next two Tests and then the strong Lankans to regain the top Test spot for Australia.
Can he achieve it? The recent Brisbane draw indicates that he can. Now Australia is even money to win the series.
Clarke’s unbeaten double hundred against Steyn, Morkel and Philander has removed the psychological cobwebs from the Aussie psyche.
Tendulkar and Ponting’s magnificent Test careers maybe approaching the end but it is peak time for batsmen Clarke, Amla, Kallis, Sangakkara, Cook and Pujara.
They have injected life in Test cricket in recent months by their classical batting.
Now no one can complain that golden ages are always in the past.
Kersi is an author of 13 cricket books including The Waugh Twins, Cricket's Great All-rounders,Six Appeal and Nervous Nineties. He writes regularly for Inside Cricket and other publications. He has recently finished his new book on Cricket's Conflicts and Controversies, with a foreword by Greg Chappell.