Home > Features > Moments in history >

Clem Hill scores 99, 98 and 97 in successive Test innings

Believe it or not! A batsman did score 99, 98 and 97 in three successive Test innings!

Clem Hill’s sequence of 99, 98 and 97 has often been jokingly referred to as a gradual loss of form! © Getty Images

Having been dismissed for 99 and 98 in his two previous innings, Clem Hill was dismissed for 97 on January 22, 1902 at Adelaide. Abhishek Mukherjee looks back an agonising run of scores by one of the legends of the sport.

Playing at Headingley in 1926, Jack Hobbs reached the coveted figure of 60 and raised the bat towards the enclosure that consisted of players’ wives and ex-cricketers. A confused Clem Hill enquired Mrs Hobbs of the reason. A bemused Ada Hobbs responded that Hobbs had just gone past Hill’s record of most Ashes runs.

Hill was a man like that. There have been cricketers – even legends of the sport who were not really keen on records – but Hill’s indifference towards them was on another plane. Lesser batsmen would have blamed fate about the distressing sequence of scores in the Australian summer of 1901-02. Not Hill.

On a wet pitch in the second Test at Melbourne, Hill, coming out at 48 for 5, scored a crucial 99 (the first-ever in the history of the sport) in the third innings of the match before Reggie Duff and Warwick Armstrong famously added 120 for the last wicket, thereby resulting in an Australian win to square the series.

Archie MacLaren won the toss in the crucial third Test at Adelaide. After a 149-run opening stand between MacLaren and Tom Hayward there was a slight collapsed as both openers were run out, and England quickly collapsed to 186 for 5. However, they recovered through Willie Quaife and Len Braund, and batted well into the second day, Braund scoring an unbeaten hundred while Hugh Trumble and Monty Noble shared three scalps each. England finished with 388.

Australia responded well. Victor Trumper added 137 for the second wicket with Hill; Hill followed his 99 with a 98. Hel was caught by Johnny Tyldesley on the bicycle track surrounding Adelaide Oval. Tyldesley tried to recall Hill, but he refused, citing that both captains had agreed to that the fence would be the boundary; he might have got a six today. John Gunn ran through the tail, eventually taking five wickets while Braund, opening bowling after his unbeaten hundred, picked up three.  Between them, they made up for the injury of Syd Barnes. England had an important lead of 67 when they began their second innings on day three.

It was all Trumble from then. Attritional batting meant that England inched towards a target beyond Australia’s reach. However, Trumble kept on pegging away at the wickets, and eventually picked up six of the nine wickets to fall (Barnes did not bat). Not a single batsman crossed fifty, and when Duff and Trumper came out to open batting for Australia at 2.20 pm on Day Five, they needed to score 315 to secure a victory.

Duff began cheerfully, glancing Gunn for a boundary, but then trod on to the stumps while trying to play back. This was when Hill joined Trumper. They steadied the ship, and were generous with their strokeplay. Hill opened up in the company of Trumper. He cut Gunn so hard that his bat was broken and had to be replaced. He soon hit Braund out of the park and took 10 off the over. When on 19, Hill gave a stumping chance off the same bowler, but Dick Lilley muffled it.

Syd Gregory joined Hill as Trumper fell to Gunn for 25 with the score on 50. Hill did not lose the momentum; he hit Gunn straight past him for a four, and then repeated the stroke for an all-run five. He followed that with another boundary. Gregory joined in the fun, and accelerated before he edged one off Gunn to the slips after he survived a loud appeal in the previous over.

The Australian captain Joe Darling walked out with the score on 98 for 3, and in a fix of sorts. It was then that Hill took over. The 100 came up in 95 minutes. Hill played with caution, getting back to Colin Blythe and coming forward to Gunn – taking each ball on its merit. Eventually Hill saw Gunn off. He was replaced by Hayward, but not before the score reached 138 for 3. The batsmen ran hard, resulting in fielders of the stature of Gilbert Jessop overthrowing. Hill was 78 and Darling 22 when Australia reached 152.

Hill eventually glanced Hayward for an all-run four to reach 90 amidst a huge cheer from the crowd. He followed that with a two and a single, and the pent-up excitement in the ground was unbearable. After his 99 and 98, could he finally score that elusive hundred? Darling walked up to Hill and had a chat.

Hill reached 96, and MacLaren spread out the field to stop the boundary. Hill hit one hard off Braund, but the defensive field meant that he had to be content with a single. Gilbert Jessop was brought on from the other end. He bowled at a brisk pace, and managed to hit Hill’s pad. There was a ferocious appeal, but Bob Crockett seemed unperturbed, resulting in a tremendous applause.

Jessop ran in again to bowl the next ball. The illustrious left-hander stood up, if somewhat tensed, to face him. He played it well, but to his horror, the ball rolled in a sickeningly slow trickle towards the stumps. He tried to stop the ball with his bat – making that one last attempt – but the ball won the race. It hit the stumps, and the bails were dislodged. Hill had managed to follow his 99 and 98 with a 97.

Australia ended the day on 201 for 4, and Darling and Trumble batted splendidly to see them to a four-wicket victory. They won the next two Tests as well to clinch the series 4-1.

Hill’s sequence of 99, 98 and 97 has often been jokingly referred to as a “gradual loss of form”. However, the English author Simon Wilde had the final say on this: he called the run an “unparalleled spell of nonagenarian’s neurosis”. Hill went on to score 3,412 runs at a commendable 39.21 from 49 Tests, and despite scoring three more 90s, finished with seven hundreds in an era when runs were not easy to come by. He held the record for most Test runs for 22 years, and was inducted into Australian Cricket’s Hall of Fame in 2005.

Brief scores: England 388 (Len Braund 103 not out, Tom Hayward 90, Willie Quaife 68, Archie MacLaren 67) and 247 (Tom Hayward 47, Archie MacLaren 44, Willie Quaife 44, Hugh Trumble 6 for 74) lost to Australia 321 (Clem Hill 98, Victor Trumper 65, Syd Gregory 55, Reggie Duff 43; John Gunn 5 for 76) and 315 for 6 (Clem Hill 97, Joe Darling 69, Hugh Trumble 62 not out) by 4 wickets.

(A hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobiac by his own admission, Abhishek Mukherjee is a statistical analyst based in Kolkata, India. He typically looks upon life as a journey involving two components – cricket and literature – not necessarily as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the game with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a rather steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers the sport has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks and googlies in street cricket, and blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in)

World T20 League 2014

Sep 30, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Bengaluru

World T20 League 2014

Sep 30, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Bengaluru

World T20 League 2014

Oct 2, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

World T20 League 2014

Oct 2, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

West Indies tour of India 2014, Practice match

Oct 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Mumbai

More

World T20 League 2014

Sep 29, 2014  at Hyderabad

Kolkata Knight Riders won by 36 runs

World T20 League 2014

Sep 28, 2014  at Mohali

Kings XI Punjab won by 7 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 28, 2014  at Mohali

Hobart Hurricanes won by 6 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 27, 2014  at Bengaluru

Chennai Super Kings won by 13 runs

World T20 League 2014

Sep 27, 2014  at Bengaluru

Lahore Lions won by 16 runs

Photos

Cricket on Mt. Kilimanjaro

Videos

Brian Lara speaks on the art of batting

Live Cricket Score Lahore Lions vs Perth Scorchers CLT20 2014 Match 19: Lahore lose 4 wickets upfront

CLT20 2014: Lahore Lions vs Perth Scorchers Match 19 — Key Battles

Consecutive century opening partnerships in ODIs for each team

Have Manish Pandey’s T20 performances eclipsed his impressive First-Class record?

Perth Scorchers vs Lahore Lions, CLT20 2014 Match 19 at Bangalore: Perth Scorchers’ likely XI

Asian Games Asian Games 2014 Barbados Tridents Cape Cobras Champions League T20 2014 CLT20 CLT20 2014 Dolphins Incheon Asian Games 2014 India at Asian Games 2014 Kings XI Punjab Perth Scorchers

Lahore Lions vs Perth Scorchers CLT20 2014 Match 19 at Bangalore: Mitchell Marsh, Joel Paris leave Lions reeling

Lahore Lions vs Perth Scorchers CLT20 2014 Match 19 at Bangalore: Rain plays spoilsport

Mashrafe Mortaza replaces Mushfiqur Rahim as Bangladesh ODI captain

Waqar Younis not impressed on ICC’s timing of suspect bowling action

James Taylor eyeing England Test recall

Gautam Gambhir becomes second player after MS Dhoni to captain in 100 T20 matches

Lahore Lions vs Perth Scorchers Match 19 CLT20 2014: Lahore likely XI

CLT20 2014: Lahore Lions vs Perth Scorchers Match 19 — Key Battles

Consecutive century opening partnerships in ODIs for each team

Players scoring 50-plus in both innings of a Test match most number of times

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

671 Posts | 6 Fans

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Kings XI Punjab- Final Match Highlights from IPL 2014

Adding olive oil to diet may repair failing hearts

Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime with 5-megapixel selfie camera launched in India, priced at Rs 15,499

Asian Games 2014 Medal Table: Vikas Gowda wins 8th silver for India, India 10th in the Medal Tally

Scientists unveil novel 3D printing method

Asian Games 2014 Live Updates: Vikas Gowda settles for silver medal in Men’s Discus Throw

Shah Rukh Khan shows off 8-pack abs at Google event, Salman Khan confesses he has none!

Samantha plays Good Samaritan!

Hrithik Roshan dares Salman Khan, will he accept it?

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here