Australia’s best individual innings since 1980 (part I)

Glenn Mitchell Columnist

By Glenn Mitchell, Glenn Mitchell is a Roar Expert

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    Former Australian cricketer Matthew Hayden - had a summer to remember against India. September 20, 2012.AFP PHOTO / Saeed KHAN / FILES

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    Continuing a recent theme, I’ve decided to don the flak jacket once again, this time as I produce my top 10 Australian Test innings since 1980.

    Since the start of the qualifying period Australia has played 353 Tests – winning 178, losing 83, drawing 91 and recording one tie.

    In that time, Australian cricket has experienced peaks and troughs, from the dark days of the mid-80s to the glory days in the 2000s when Australia twice won 16 consecutive Tests.

    Choosing the top-10 individual batting performances since 1980 is very much a subjective task.

    I am sure all you Roarers will have your own thoughts on my list and that’s the way we like it.

    So here we go, here is my countdown from 10 to 6, with numbers five to one to be published on Thursday.

    10 – Adam Gilchrist, 102no v England at Perth 2006-07

    At his best, Gilchrist was nearly impossible to bowl to. England found that out first hand during the third Test of the 2006-07 Ashes series.

    After posting a slender 29-run lead on the first innings the home side was keen to bat England out of the game in its second dig.

    The Australians scored at a rollicking rate, racking up a total of 5-527 declared off 112 overs. Matthew Hayden (92), Michael Hussey (103) and Michael Clarke (135no) all joined the party. But it was Gilchrist who well and truly iced the cake.

    He strode to the middle at 5-365, facing the possible ignominy of a pair. He edged the fourth ball, from Andy Flintoff, to third man for a boundary, but soon settled into a rhythm. On 49, he faced Monty Panesar, finishing the over with 6, 4, 6 and 6 to race to 73 off 44 balls.

    Minds hastily started to turn to Viv Richards’ world record 56-ball century.

    Gilchrist was starved of the strike by Clarke for the next 11 deliveries before hooking Matthew Hoggard for six. He then struck three boundaries in the next over from Steve Harmison – 96 not out from 53 balls at over’s end.

    Facing Hoggard next over, he started with a single to long-on. Back on strike for the fifth ball he let a wide one pass. The last ball he drove to cover for a single – 98no from 56 balls and thus denied of the record.

    The next ball, from Harmison, he drove for two to long-on as the crowd erupted and stood as one – 100no from 57 balls with 12 fours and four sixes in 103 minutes. Two further singles in the over and the innings was declared. A second standing ovation for Gilchrist who had singlehandedly demolished the England attack.

    Australia won the match by 206 runs and with it regained the Ashes. Gilchrist’s innings was the most ferocious I had the pleasure of broadcasting and will always live long in the memory.

    9 – Matthew Hayden, 119 v Pakistan at Sharjah 2002-03

    With 9/11 still fresh in the memory banks, Pakistan ‘hosted’ this series on foreign soil – the first Test in Colombo and the last two in Sharjah.

    Unfortunately for all concerned the matches in the Emirates were played in some of the most oppressive conditions in the history of the game, certainly the hottest I have ever encountered at a cricket match.

    Having won the first encounter in Sri Lanka by 41 runs, Australia was keen to take the series in the second Test.

    Match referee, Clive Lloyd took the unusual step of allowing eight-minute drinks break twice a session with the mercury soaring to nearly 50 degrees. The players actually left the field of play and took their refreshments in the narrow slither of shade between the boundary line and the fence.

    Pakistan was bowled out for 59 in its first innings – its lowest Test score. In reply, Australia managed 310, with Hayden surviving the heat for over seven hours in compiling 119 off 255 balls. When Ricky Ponting fell for 44, the second highest innings in the match, he looked completely spent as he slowly sidled off the ground.

    Hayden’s innings was one of amazing concentration and resolve with his hundred celebrated with a six off Danesh Kaneria. In its second innings Pakistan reached an even greater nadir – all out for 53, as Australia won by an innings and 198 runs.

    8 – Michael Slater, 123 v England at Sydney 1998-99

    Remarkably, the man who took strike to the first ball in Test cricket, Australia’s Charlie Bannerman, still holds the longest held record in the game – the greatest percentage of runs by one player in a single completed innings. His mark stands at 67.34%, 165 retired hurt in a team total of 245.

    In the final Test of the 1998-99 Ashes series, Michael Slater got the closest of any batsman to Bannerman’s record.

    Australia led on the first innings by 102 runs but already the pitch was already crumbling badly. As a result the home side’s second innings lasted just 64.5 overs with it being dismissed for 184. Only two players reached double figures – Mark Waugh (24) and Slater.

    The latter actually reached triple figures – 123 off 189 balls with 11 fours and three sixes. He fell just shy of Bannerman’s 121-year old record, scoring 66.84% of the team’s total. Slater was circumspect early on before opening his shoulders upon the fall of the sixth wicket.

    With Stuart MacGill claiming 7/50 in the second innings and 12 for the match, Australia won by 98 runs. Had it not been for Slater’s knock it would have been far tighter affair.

    7 – Steve Waugh, 200 v West Indies at Kingston 1994-95

    Australia entered the fourth and final Test of the series all-square at 1-1. To that point no player had scored a century. Windies skipper Richie Richardson, unusually opening the batting, brought up the first in his team’s first innings with an even 100 in a total of 265. The pitch was essentially rolled mud that gave off a noticeable sheen.

    Australia wobbled early in its reply slumping to 3-73. From that point however the match turned heavily in favour of the tourists with Steve Waugh joining twin Mark at the crease, the pair adding 231 runs for the fourth wicket with Mark eventually out for 126.

    Steve continued to soldier on, weathering a pace barrage led by Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh. He was peppered with short balls but refused to yield, taking several on the body. Eventually he was last man out, posting his highest Test score, exactly 200. His innings lasted 9-and-a-quarter hours, during which he faced 425 balls.

    It was during Waugh’s marathon innings that he had the infamous mid-pitch confrontation with Ambrose which was defused by Richardson intervening, grabbing the shirt sleeve of his irate fast bowler and dragging him away.

    6 – Adam Gilchrist, 149no v Pakistan at Hobart, 1999-2000

    Gilchrist came into Test cricket as a somewhat controversial replacement for Ian Healy. The Queensland world-record holding ‘keeper wanted to play one final Test before his home crowd at the Gabba after he was told by the selectors that his career was over following the dual tours of Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe in late-1999.

    His replacement therefore carried additional pressure into his Test debut against Pakistan. It certainly didn’t affect him as he peeled off a rapid-fire 81 and claimed six dismissals. From Brisbane he headed south to Hobart where he was to write himself into the history books.

    Batting last, Australia had been set 369 runs to win, a target that would represent the third-highest successful run chase in Test history if it was achieved.

    It wasn’t long however before victory seemed an impossible task as Australia, against an attack that boasted Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar and Saqlain Musthaq, who had claimed 6/46 in the first innings, was reduced to 5/126.

    The bookmakers at the time had adjusted the odds of an Australian win to 9-1 against. Enter Gilchrist, who came out to partner Justin Langer. The pair proceeded to turn the match on its ear and by the time their partnership was terminated at fall of Langer’s wicket (127) the victory total was just five runs away.

    Their partnership of 238 was posted in just 59 overs. While Langer was the anchor, Gilchrist was the destroyer. He raced to his maiden century off just 110 balls with his last 50 taking just 38 deliveries as he feasted on anything remotely loose.

    Fittingly, it was Gilchrist who struck the winning runs, finishing unbeaten on 149 from 163 balls. It was the start of a career that would rewrite the role of the ‘keeper-batsman at Test level.

    So there it is, the bottom half of my top-10.

    Part two will appear on Thursday.

    Glenn Mitchell
    Glenn Mitchell

    After 21 years as a sports broadcaster with the ABC, since mid-2011 Glenn Mitchell has been freelancing in the electronic and written media. He is an ambassador for mental health in Australia, and tweets from @mitchellglenn.

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    The Crowd Says (69)

    • February 5th 2013 @ 8:04am
      pope paul v11 said | February 5th 2013 @ 8:04am | ! Report

      Tim May 42* vs West Indies Adelaide 92/93

    • February 5th 2013 @ 8:35am
      SpearTackle said | February 5th 2013 @ 8:35am | ! Report

      Jason Gillespie 201* vs Bangladesh 2006

    • February 5th 2013 @ 8:48am
      jamesb said | February 5th 2013 @ 8:48am | ! Report

      Steve Waugh 63* vs West Indies Port of Spain Trinidad 1995

      Australia were bowled out for 128. Only Steve Waugh stood tall and also had a tango with Curtly.

      • Roar Guru

        February 5th 2013 @ 9:11am
        JGK said | February 5th 2013 @ 9:11am | ! Report

        Pretty sure that Waugh’s 200 in that series should have been nearer the top.

        Gilly’s 102 v England is a bit of an indulgence by Glenn. Still, it was fun. Gilly got a bit ripped off as well. That wide one from Hoggard should have been called a wide and then Gilly would have equalled Viv.

      • February 5th 2013 @ 10:38am
        Pope Paul VII said | February 5th 2013 @ 10:38am | ! Report

        What a classic on a diabolical pitch. I also thought this was the one where Ambrose wanted to clock Waugh but maybe there was more than one occassion?

        Waughy had his probs against the mighty Windies at times but he peeled off some gems and such a attitude!. His back to back 90 and 91 at Brissie and Perth against them in 88/89 where great acts of defiance and class. Also his bowling to Richards at Perth was hilarious. Richards was not impressed. Unlucky not to get him.

        • Roar Guru

          February 5th 2013 @ 10:40am
          JGK said | February 5th 2013 @ 10:40am | ! Report

          Yep. Can you imagine anyone in the team today playing an innings remotely like that?

          • February 5th 2013 @ 3:06pm
            Rob from Brumby Country said | February 5th 2013 @ 3:06pm | ! Report

            Michael Clarke, Newlands, November 2011?

            • February 5th 2013 @ 3:45pm
              matt h said | February 5th 2013 @ 3:45pm | ! Report

              Agreed, that should be up there, although typically the one’s selected will be in games we won (or tied)

        • February 5th 2013 @ 10:49am
          Pope Paul VII said | February 5th 2013 @ 10:49am | ! Report

          Oops it looks like I’m talking about Waugh’s epic 200, actually referring to Jamesb’s noting of his fiesty 63.

    • February 5th 2013 @ 9:15am
      Mango Jack said | February 5th 2013 @ 9:15am | ! Report

      #1 has to be Dean Jones, 210 vs India in Madras (Chennai), 1986.

      • February 5th 2013 @ 11:00am
        rl said | February 5th 2013 @ 11:00am | ! Report

        I reckon its an absolute certainty for the top 5 Jack.

    • Roar Guru

      February 5th 2013 @ 9:26am
      JGK said | February 5th 2013 @ 9:26am | ! Report

      Its a bit hard to comment on the first. When you dont know whats in the top 5. Speculating what might be in the top 5:

      Hughes 100* v Windies on Boxing Day1981

      Deano’s tied test double which you might have heard him mention once or twice

      Mark Waugh’s match winning 4th innings ton v South Africa at Port Elizabeth

      ABs 100* on top of his 98* v Windies in 1984.

      Ponting’s match saving 169 in the 2005 Ashes series.

      Steve Waugh’s pair of tons at Edgbaston 1997

      Ponting’s last day to at the SCG v South Africa in his100th test

      Clarke’s 329 maybe

      Hussey’s somewhat tainted ton v Pakistan

      Kim Hughes’s series saving ton in the 82/3 Ashes at the scg

      Gilly’s 122 in India in 2001

      Gilly’s 204* v South Africa

      Lots to choose from Glenn!

      • February 5th 2013 @ 10:10am
        Nick Inatey said | February 5th 2013 @ 10:10am | ! Report

        I’m very glad that no-one has suggested Hayden’s 380. Though I hate to jinx it.

        • Roar Guru

          February 5th 2013 @ 10:39am
          JGK said | February 5th 2013 @ 10:39am | ! Report

          Tubby’s 334* might get a mention but it was made on an highway.

      • February 5th 2013 @ 10:10am
        Nick Inatey said | February 5th 2013 @ 10:10am | ! Report

        I’m very glad that no-one has suggested Hayden’s 380. Though I hate to jinx it.

        • February 5th 2013 @ 1:35pm
          JohnB said | February 5th 2013 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

          While I don’t disagree with you re the 380, the rating of Hayden’s 119 v Pakistan seems low. Doesn’t happen very often that someone outscores the other team’s total for the match.

      • February 5th 2013 @ 2:49pm
        matt h said | February 5th 2013 @ 2:49pm | ! Report

        Hughes 100* was a cracker.
        Any of Hayden’s hundreds in India in 2001
        I would rate either of Clarke’s double centuries against South Africa higher than his 329 vs India
        I can;t remember the exact match, but Hussey’s hundred early in his career when he put on a bunch with McGrath was special.

        And what about Watto’s first century when he did eveything possible to get out in the 90’s 🙂

    • February 5th 2013 @ 10:10am
      Johnno said | February 5th 2013 @ 10:10am | ! Report

      Kepler Wessels century on debut for Australia was an awsome innings.

      David Hookes first class century on debut of 34 balls. And David Hookes 56 in the centenery test, hitting Tony Greig for 5 consecutive boundaries.

      Justin Langer’s 50 vs the west Indies Adelaide oval 1992/3 like Tim May a big innings at a big time

      Greg Blewett century on debut

      Mark Waugh century on debut with the pressure, of coming in for his dropped twin brother for him, it must of been a surreal moment for the Waugh family, with lots of mixed emotions for the whole family including Mark.

      P.S and on a side note I used to love it when Mark Waugh used to run out steve always funny, especially with Steve in the 90’s.

      Warney’s 90 odd at the WACA was entertaining

      Ian Healy’s century at the GABBA in 1996/97, when his spot was on the line with a young Gilchrist breathing down his neck, he got 140 odd vs Ambrose and Walsh, to set up the aussy summer for Australia.

      • February 5th 2013 @ 9:01pm
        Bayman said | February 5th 2013 @ 9:01pm | ! Report


        Hookes’ 100 in 34 balls was well after his debut. My son was born in 1978 and was five when that innings was played. I was there, with my son, and he started getting a bit bored and restless. So at tea I took him home and missed the great innings. Timing is everything. I did, however, see a replay of it when CH9 showed it on tv later (it fitted nicely into an hour with ads).

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