Bowlers prove their value with the bat

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    When Ryan Harris made a crucial 68 not out in Australia’s first Test against West Indies, he continued a great tradition of lower-order Australian batsmen who have scored half centuries.

    “It was about time,” was how Harris described his innings when receiving the man-of-the-match award from Tony Cozier.

    For Harris this was his first Test fifty, after his 10 Tests to date had yielded just 127 runs.

    For many of Harris’ predecessors, scoring a 50 has often been a one-off occasion.

    Tracing back to 1962-63, when Graeme McKenzie made 76 at the SCG against South Africa batting at number eight, there have been at least 16 other batsmen in the bottom four who have had at least one great day in the sun with the bat.

    Who could forget well-known ‘bunny’ Glenn McGrath’s 61 against New Zealand in 2004, made during a career when he struggled to average just over seven in 138 innings?

    Merv Hughes was ecstatic when he scored his first run in Test cricket, but he made two scores in the 70s in 1989, which seemed completely improbable earlier in his career.

    After McKenzie, Eric Freeman had a top score of 76, which was joined by other lower batsmen such as the late Terry Jenner, whose 74 was the top score in Australia’s total of 304 against England in 1974-75.

    The great Dennis Lillee (73 not out), Max Walker (78 not out), current Test selector Andy Bichel (71) and the rejuvenated Brad Hogg (79) also have just one score over 50.

    They are joined by others, for whom the 70s seemed to have been the equivalent of nervous nineties.

    Commentator Geoff Lawson (74), Bruce Yardley (74), umpire Paul Reiffel (79 not out), Nathan Hauritz (75) and Damien “the bowlologist” Fleming (71 not out) all failed to reach 80.

    Although these five had more than one half century they could not break the 80 barrier. Indeed another commentator Kerry O’Keeffe appears to be the only one who has made it to the 80s, when he scored 85.

    Others who have had just one real day of success with the bat include commentators Brendan Julian (an undefeated 56) and Gavin Robertson (57). Ben Hilfenhaus (56 not out ) is also in that club, which includes ’70s cricketer Dave Colley (54).

    Brett Lee top scored with 64 among his five Test half centuries and, of course, the great Shane Warne was dismissed for 99 as his best innings from 12 post-50 scores.

    While there is a great story behind all of these they are all surpassed by Jason Gillespie’s unbelievable 201 not out against the Bangladeshis.

    While he scored two other Test half centuries, he showed all of those bowlers what was needed to get to three figures twice in the same innings!

    This is a fine overall record, which says something about the steel of the Aussie tail in recent years.

    Is it because more emphasis has been put on practising their batting?

    Are some of Australia’s tail-enders almost in the all-rounder category despite their position in the batting order?

    Or is it simply that these bowlers are taking great delight in showing everyone that they can actually bat?

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    The Crowd Says (5)

    • April 13th 2012 @ 2:50pm
      sheek said | April 13th 2012 @ 2:50pm | ! Report

      Good stuff Pat,

      Enjoyed reading what was an article which is a bit different from the norm.

      Coming into the game in around 1967/68, Garth McKenzie was one of my early heroes, along with Chappelli, Freddie (Walters) & the studnet prince (Sheahan).

      Garth’s 76 was before my time, but he also hit 59 against the Windies in 1968/69. McKenzie actually was a reasonable bat, but the word is he was bowled into the ground by Simpson & Lawry (he was afterall, the team’s only great bowler in the mid/late 60s) & often had little energy for batting.

      Some great tailender efforts failed to reach 50. In that same series of 1968/69, Gleeson & Connolly put on a good 10th wicket stand in the 5th test with 45no & 42 respectively. Bob Massie & one test wonder Johnny Watkins almost certainly saved Australia from defeat against Pakistan in 1972/73 scoring 42 & 36 respectively. Both tests were played in Sydney.

      I remember Lillee’s 73no at Lords in 1975. He helped Ross Edwards to 99, then held the tail together. If it hadn’t been for Edwards & Lillee, Australia might have lost that test. In the series prior at home Walker had a tremendous series without hitting a 50. He had a run of good scores – 41no, 41, 30 & 30.

      Anyway, good read…..

      • April 18th 2012 @ 12:37pm
        Bayman said | April 18th 2012 @ 12:37pm | ! Report


        You’re right about McKenzie. When he first made the WA side he actually batted up the order and did ok. He even opened once or twice. In England in 1961 it was McKenzie’s tenth wicket 98 partnership with Davidson which got Australia over the line at Old Trafford. Benaud, with his 6/70, got the kudos but without that partnership the skipper would have had no target at all to set England.

        Davidson, of course, could bat with several first class hundreds to his name. Freeman had a couple of Test fifties with several more at first class level (including a hundred on the 1968 tour).

        Gillespie also completed the set by scoring centuries at Test, Sheffield Shield and County Championship level. Former NSW and WA fast bowler Matt Nicholson (one Test) was also a good enough bat to score three first class hundreds.

        I love it when the tail gets some runs. That famous Hughes 70 odd not out in Adelaide against the Windies prompted yet another great Bradman story. When the great man was introduced to Patrick Patterson he was told that if he was playing today he’d be in all sorts of strife because of his small stature. Bradman, so it goes, listened and smiled and said, “I don’t think so, Patrick, you couldn’t even get Merv Hughes out!

    • April 15th 2012 @ 2:28am
      Lolly said | April 15th 2012 @ 2:28am | ! Report

      Mitchell Johnson could have been in the all-rounder category if he’s had more.. I’m not sure what but he’s one of the great ‘coulda’ players.

    • April 16th 2012 @ 8:43am
      Talisman said | April 16th 2012 @ 8:43am | ! Report

      So, after that effort they drop Harris to ‘rest’ him? WTF?

    • February 6th 2013 @ 11:35pm
      Lroy said | February 6th 2013 @ 11:35pm | ! Report

      Mate, Tony Mann, West Aussie leggie, came in as a night watchman during the 78-79 series against India and ended up scoring a century.. first nightwatchman to achieve the feat.

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