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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Timeless Test - a 10 day match and when Ranji Finals entered 6th day !!

A Q for those who have been following Cricket ! – the duration of a match – T20 (20 overs a side); ODI (now 50 overs; first WC 60 and in England it was 55); 3 day matches and 5 days matches (Tests !) – Yes 0r No .... ???

The death of a Cricketer is in news – he died peacefully in the flat where he lived for 60 years.... it is Norman Gordon, a South African cricketer who played in five Tests in the 1938–39.  He is the only male Test cricketer to live beyond 100 years of age. Gordon became the oldest-ever Test cricketer in Mar 2011, when he surpassed New Zealander Eric Tindill, who in Aug 2010 died few months prior to his 100th birthday.  Gordon was  renowned for his fitness and athleticism during his playing days. He bowled 92.2 eight-ball overs during that timeless Test. Like many others, his career too was cut short by WW II – and with him goes all those who played Test Cricket before the war. 

Today, all sports magazines are replete with details of that 5th Test in Mar 1939 – the 5th of the Test Series (Test No. 271) played in March 1939 on 3rd till 14th ........ (yes, so many days) titled as ‘timeless match’.

Batting first SA made 530 aided by centuries by PG Vander Bijl and AD Nourse. England made 316 high scorer being wicketkeeper LEG Ames 84.  With Captain A Melville’s century – SA made 481 and set a target of 696 – England were 654 for t in 218.2 overs – when match was agreed to be a draw.  PA Gibb made 120; WA Edrich 219, WR Hammond 140 were the scorers............ and it was day 10 when the match was finally agreed to be concluded !

Sure it exhibited that there was no limit – not to the probabilities but the for overs and days of play.  Stopped by rain on the tenth day, the longest match ever played produced amazing records and brought personal triumph to Edrich who, after most heartbreaking experiences in Test cricket, established his reputation by hitting a double century at a time when England needed an almost superhuman effort to avoid disaster. It was more a test of endurance rather than runs and when finally conclusion did come, England were only 42 runs short of win.

When heavy rain prevented any more cricket after tea on the tenth day the South African Board of Control and the two captains went into conference before issuing a statement that the game had been abandoned because the England team had to catch the night train from Durban in order to reach Cape Town in time to make the necessary arrangements for their departure – the test could linger on but the date of sailing could not be postponed...... !!  The match aggregate was 1981. So eventually wisdom prevailed and we had Test matches as 5 days affairs ............ perhaps that was not to be followed in domestic Cricket.

In the famed Ranji Trophy, in between it became an unwritten rule that Toss is the most vital. The winner bats first without hesitation, amasses runs - amass runs mostly by staying put, wear down the opponent and  win by First innings lead.   My memory takes back to the finals in 1981/82  at Delhi in March 1982.  Karnataka played first.  Roger Michael H Binny scored 115; Brijesh Patel 124, stylish Sudhakar Rao 71, Kirmani 116, Ranjit Kanwilkar 116 – as they were all out after 255 overs making 705.

Ranjit Kanwilkar,  an all-rounder was only 21 and was considered to be an exciting prospect, sadly died later in an accident when coaches fell into lake Ashtamudi Kayal in July 1988. Delhi bowling was in the hands of Madanlal, Mohinder Amarnath,  Maninder (who went for 204 runs), Shukla and Kirti Azad.  Chasing  706 is certainly daunting – but Delhi had other plans.  Raman Lamba scored 36, Gursharan Singh made 101; Surinder Amarnath fell cheaply.  Kirti Azad,  Surinder Khanna, Madanlal all made useful runs – Mohinder was rock steady and made 185.  At one stage Delhi were 589 for 8 -  116 short……….   Shulka made an unbeaten 69 and Rajesh Peter made 67 in an unbroken stand  as Delhi took the lead.  Hapless  Binny, Khanvilkar, Vijaykrishna, Raghuram Bhat all went for 100+.

As there was no rule for unfinished match, the match went into the sixth day enabling the hosts to gain first innings lead and mercifully stopped at that. .... and in case you want to know the present Ranji champion – in the 79th season (2013-14) held this year,  Karnataka beat Maharashtra int he finals...... this was the season that saw Sachin Tendulkar playing his last match in domestic circuit too.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

3rd Sept. 2014.

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