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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Final Wicket ~ nay not the last test of Chris Rogers, Michael Clarke or Kumar Sangakkara

In Nov. 2013,   he walked back to that 22 yard – bowed down, touched the pitch and paid reverence showing the regard he has had for the game and the way he played it ~ the final game and retirement of the Great Sachin Tendulkar was so well planned to end where it all started in 1988 with a century in debut in Ranji- 34357 International runs; 201 wickets and 256 catches – he  excelled in every possible manner …that was a great way to retire.

In Test No. 1799 at Chittagong stadium in April 2006 – Australia won by an innings and 80 runs.  Jason Gillespie walked in as a nightwatchman at 120/2 – scored unbeaten at 201, taking the total to 581/4.... he thus has the unique distinction of the  first  (and only one thus far) nightwatchman to score a double-century. Bangladesh made 197 and 304.  He also had figures of 3/11 & 0/14 – won the Man of the match as also the Player of the Series….after that series he went in to oblivion and never played for Australia again is the irony !!!
So what would the ‘Final innings ‘!

The 5th Test at  Kennington Oval is on now – Australia is batting.  After this test, Chris Rogers is set to retire.Despite being Australia's leading run-scorer in the series to date, the 37-year-old has informed coach Darren Lehmann, outgoing captain Michael Clarke and his team-mates that this  Test at The Oval will be his last.Rogers has had an eventful Ashes series - it started with 95 in the opening Test in Cardiff and 173 at Lord's before he retired with a sudden bout of dizziness having earlier been struck on the head by a James Anderson bouncer on the second day.He  fell for a duck in the first innings at Trent Bridge as the tourists again capitulated and despite another score of 52, he was unable to avert another heavy loss and the surrender of the Ashes Urn.Rogers will therefore play his 25th and final Test in London from Thursday. He has so far scored 437 runs in the series at an average of 62.42.His retirement will be overshadowed by that of his Captain Michael Clarke who has in 114 tests scored 8628 runs and 7981 one day runs in 245 matches.  The string of defeats will perhaps be held against him always.

Nearer home, there is another great player retiring -  Kumar Sangakkara himself will prefer to retire as a match-winner, holding the trophy aloft.The signs towards that are strong. 

The P Sara Oval is a result-oriented venue - only four of the 18 matches played have been drawn - and Sri Lanka have won eight of them, including their last match here at the ground when they bundled Pakistan out for 138 in the first innings. Not many players enjoy as much of a surge as Sangakkara has had in the final few years of his career.

        In 2014, at the age of 36, he scored the most runs he has ever made in a calendar year. In 2015, he scored his 11th double-century.

Away from all the statistics and live happening – is a poignant tale portrayed in a new book that tells the story of the 275 professional cricketers who were killed in the First World War.  What follows is extracted from MailOnline - The appalling roll call of cricketers killed in the carnage of the First World War has been laid bare in a new book which tells the stories of the brave casualties.A total of 275 cricket players died during the four-year conflict, swapping their whites for uniform and travelling to the Western Front in defence of Britain.Among those who were killed in the war were the bowler who inspired Wodehouse's Jeeves, and the batsman who as a schoolboy made the highest score in the history of the game.

And while the fierce Ashes rivalry between England and Australia was already in full swing, during the war former enemies fought on the same side because the two countries were both part of the British Empire.Details of the lives and deaths of the cricketers are revealed in Final Wicket: Test and First-Class Cricketers Killed in The Great War, by historian Nigel McCrery.

One of the best-known was Percy Jeeves, a Warwickshire fast bowler who died aged 28 during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.Comic author P.G. Wodehouse named his best-loved character, Jeeves the hyper-intelligent valet, after the cricketer because he had once seen him play.Another victim of the fighting was A.E.J. Collins, who despite never playing first-class cricket has a permanent place in the history books due to his feats as a schoolboy.Aged just 13, in 1899 he scored 628 not out in a house match at Clifton College - the highest score by a batsman ever recorded at any level of cricket.He followed up the record innings by taking 11 wickets in the match which was spread over seven afternoons.Collins was killed at Ypres in November 1914, just a few months after the outbreak of the war, at the age of 29.

The stories have come to light in Final Wicket, a new book by Nigel McCrery.  Two of the cricketers were Ashes rivals - Kenneth Lotherington Hutchings, a fine all-rounder who played for England and Kent, and Albert 'Tibby' Cotter, an Australian fast bowler.In Hutchings' last ever game for his country, he was out when his shot was caught by Cotter - the only Australian international to die in the First World War.Ten other England Test players, including William Booth, Leonard Moon and Colin Blythe, were killed on the Western Front.Other notable cricketing casualties were William O'Dell, who twice bowled out W.G. Grace as well as playing against Arthur Conan Doyle. He won the Military Cross before he was killed at Passchendaele in October 1917.His sergeant, Fred Greaves, was so incensed at seeing him killed he single-handedly took out a German pillbox, an act which won him the Victora Cross.

Mr McCrery's book features a moving extract from a letter written by Second Lieutenant Frederick Bertram Key, of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, to his parents before he died at the Somme.He wrote: 'If you receive this you will know that I have unfortunately been bowled out middle peg, but you may be sure that I batted well.'McCrery added : 'It is important to remember many of those who served in the First World War were people who achieved so many things in their lives despite them being cut short.

'After the war started the MCC wanted cricket to carry on but it was suspended in 1914 when the likes of WG Grace said they shouldn't be playing when so many people were dying.'

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

20th Aug 2015.

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