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A list of 11 of the best innings played at Lord’s which are listed on the ground’s famed honours board. Compiled by Arunabha Sengupta.
1. Arthur Shrewsbury 164, England vs Australia, 1886 – At the height of his powers, Arthur Shrewsbury was the best batsman of the world, at a time when WG Grace’s mighty form strode across the cricketing scene. This knock was perhaps his best, essayed with ease, showcasing his mastery over all the varying conditions of Lord’s. England rode on this epic to register an innings win.
2. Clem Hill and Victor Trumper, 135 & 135 not out, England vs Australia, 1899 – On a carefully prepared wicket, the England batting collapsed to 206 all out against the pace of Ernie Jones. Young left-handed Clem Hill came in at 27 for one, and soon it became 28 for two and then 59 for three. The youngster turned the match around with a superb partnership with Monty Noble. At 189 he was joined by another youthful talent by the name of Victor Trumper. The solidity was now sprinkled with sublime brilliance. The pair added 82 following which Trumper proceeded to bat around the tail. Australia won by 10 wickets.
3. Don Bradman 254, England vs Australia, 1930 – This was perhaps Bradman’s most perfect innings in that most exceptional of careers. Every stroke went exactly where intended, every gap was pierced with absolute precision. England had scored 400 on the first day, but were out of the game by the second. The Australian genius was out to the first ball he did not hit along the ground. The visitors triumphed by seven wickets and Neville Cardus remarked that this was a game crafted in the cricketing heaven.
4. Wally Hammond 240, England vs Australia, 1938 – The great Hammond came in with the score on 20 for two, lost Kim Barnett at 31, and proceeded to dazzle the crowd with an exhibition of cover and off driving that has seldom been repeated in the history of the game. It was the first Test match ever shown live on television, and the viewers were provided with material to talk about for years to come. Much of Hammond’s mastery on the first day was watched by His Majesty the King, and 33,800 thronged to see him take the score past 400 the following day.
5. Clyde Walcott 168 not out, England vs West Indies, 1950 – This was the match in which West Indies defeated England in the old country for the first time and the names of Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine became immortalised in Lord Beginner’s Calypso. The song also talked eloquently about Walcott’s 168. The merciless power hitting took the match beyond England before the spin twins drove in the final nails in the English coffin.
6. Vinoo Mankad 184, England vs India, 1952 – One of the sole bright spots of the dreadful summer for India. Mankad had been going through contractual problems surrounding his Lancashire League commitments. As a result, he missed the first Test, in which India were flattened by Fred Trueman. He played in the second Test and within the first hour had lofted Roly Jenkins over the sight screen. He scored 72 in the first innings, bowled 73 overs to take five for 196. And then he batted four and a half hours to score 184 against Alec Bedser, Trueman, Jenkins and Jim Laker. India lost by eight wickets, but it has gone down as Mankad’s match.
7. Colin Cowdrey 152, England vs West Indies, 1957 – The previous match had seen the famed Peter May and Colin Cowdrey resistance at Birmingham which had stalled Ramadhin’s off-breaks after long dominance over Englishmen. The Lord’s innings of Cowdrey was the knock that decided the series. He came in at 34 for three, and played one of the best innings of his career, etched with some wonderful drives through the covers. By the time he left, the score was 379, the lead 252 and the course of the series had been finalised.
8. Garry Sobers 163 not out, England vs West Indies, 1966 – It was a summer which saw the genius of Garfield Sobers soar to heights beyond reach and imagination of mortals. He scored runs, captured wickets and snapped up catches as if there was no tomorrow. England, having lost the Manchester Test, thought they had the visitors on the knees at 95 for five in the second innings, the deficit just about wiped off. But Sobers batted on, with cousin David Holford for company, and they were still together after 318 minutes. By then the match had been saved for long.
9. Greg Chappell 131, England vs Australia, 1972 – In a match remembered for the incredible debut of Bob Massie, the ball swung prodigiously from the word go. In John Snow, John Price, Tony Greig and Basil D’Oliveira, England had plenty of bowlers to take advantage of the conditions. Greg Chappell played perhaps the classiest innings of his glittering career, negotiating the conditions and challenges with grace and flamboyance, scoring an impeccable century of elegance, style and impeccable technique. Australia triumphed by eight wickets.
10. Graham Gooch 333, England vs India, 1990 – Yes, Kiran More dropped him early in his innings. Yes, Mohammad Azharuddin’s 121 was infinitely more dazzling. Yes, lots of men scored centuries in that run feast of a match. However, 333 and 123 in the same match takes some doing. It was the watershed moment of Gooch’s career, when he rose from a tale of partially fulfilled promise and stepped firmly into the realm of legends.
11. Mohammad Yousuf 202, England vs Pakistan, 2006 – With the England total of 528 looming large above them, Pakistan collapsed to 68 for four against some quality pace bowling. And Mohammad Yousuf showed class, technique and tenacity to bat on and on for 12 minutes short of eight hours to score the most splendid of double hundreds. He was the last out for 445 and by then balance was more than restored in the game.
(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry.He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)
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