Euro 2020 Special
 

The Longest Time to Get Off the Mark in Test Cricket

In February 1999, Geoff Allott of New Zealand, playing against South Africa, spent 101 minutes at the crease and faced 77 balls without scoring a single run. That remains a record, although Jimmy Anderson of England looked like he was threatening it against Sri Lanka in 2014 at Headingly, when he was dismissed for a 55-ball duck.

However, there have been other occasions when batters, after digging in, have finally gotten off the mark, having previously either stoutly defended in the interest of their team, or just been unable to penetrate the field. And, whilst it is normally tail-enders who get themselves in this situation, that is not always the case.

 

Cheteshwar Pujara

53 balls, Johannesburg 2018

Cheteshwar Pujara rarely makes the highlight reels when it comes to attacking cricket (one of the main reasons he does not feature in the Indian T20 league these days). A naturally conservative player, he often has a job to do for India in Test cricket when one or both of the openers have failed and the innings needs to be rebuilt.

However, even he took this to extremes playing against South Africa in Johannesburg in 2018 at the Wanderers ground.

He came to the crease in the fourth over with KL Rahul already back in the pavilion, and with Murali Vijay soon joining him, Pujara immediately adopted a defensive mindset. With most of the South African deliveries pitching outside off stump, he simply allowed them to sail harmlessly by, and, when he did get bat on ball, he was unable to get it past the fielders standing close to the wicket.

When he did finally score his first round after 53 balls, the local crowd cheered wildly and his team-mates clapped enthusiastically on the player’s balcony. Even Pujara saw the funny side and acknowledged the cheers with a smile.

He would go on to make fifty, although it took him 179 balls to do so, having spent 261 minutes in the middle. As India won the match by 65 runs, he can argue that his approach paid dividends.

 

Stuart Broad

63 balls, Auckland 2012

Although Stuart Broad is better known as a bowler and is now the fifth-highest test wicket taker of all time, he is also a useful lower order batter and does have an international Test century to his name.

But, whereas he is primarily regarded as somebody who lays attacking shots, he proved in 2012 against New Zealand at Eden Park in Auckland that he could curb his natural temperament in the interest of the team.

Chasing 481 to win in their second innings, England seemed to be heading for defeat at 237/7 in their second innings when Broad came to the crease. And he simply took anchor, whilst Matt Prior at the other end, took responsibility for scoring the runs.

He only played at balls that were straight or in danger of hitting the stumps, and batted for a total of 103 minutes, having faced 63 balls before he finally troubled the scorers.

He went on to score six in all, and, although England lost one more wicket after his dismissal, he had crucially taken time out of the game, which was saved when Prior blocked the last ball of the match.

 

John Murray

79 balls, Sydney 1963

The only man to beat Broad’s record in terms of number of balls faced – although not time spent at the crease – before scoring was another Englishman, John Murray, 49 years earlier.

Again, he came to the middle with his side on the ropes. Already trailing by 40 runs on first innings, the second time round they were in disarray at 71/6. Murray, though, determined not to give his wicket away, occupied his crease like a limpet and showed not the slightest intention of wanting to score a run.

The Australian bowlers grew increasingly frustrated after trying everything in their powers to dislodge him.  Finally, having faced 79 balls, he found a gap in the field and ambled through for the run.

He would go on to make an undefeated three runs, scored off 100 balls in 100 minutes, and his innings only came to an end because he ran out of partners.

Unfortunately for him and his side, his efforts ultimately proved in vain. Australia still won the match by eight wickets in the end.

 

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