Kemar Roach and Suleiman Benn were used as night-watchmen on consecutive days by West indies against New Zealand © Getty Images & AFP
The 2nd Test against West Indies and New Zealand saw a very curious feat: there were two Night-watchmen in the same innings for only the fourth time in recorded history. Shiamak Unwalla and Bharath Seervi look at each of the four instances.
1. South Africa vs England, Port Elizabeth, 1964/65
Batting first, South Africa amassed an imposing 502 thanks to contributions from almost all their batsmen. Graeme Pollock (137), openers Eddie Barlow (69) and Trevor Goddard (61), and Peter van der Merwe formed the bedrock of the score.
What happened next: In reply, England gave a good account of themselves. England lost their first wicket late on Day Two of the match, and decided to send in all-rounder Fred Titmus to see off the rest of the day. Titmus was a fairly accomplished lower-order batsman, with a Test average of 22 and a top score of 84 not out. The operation was successful, but Titmus was out early the next morning for 12.
After Ken Barrington (72) was dismissed late on Day Three, England skipper Mike Smith decided to promote Ian Thomson ahead of himself to face out the rest of the overs. Unfortunately, his ploy backfired as Geoffrey Boycott (117 off 396) was dismissed soon, and Smith had to come out to bat anyway. Luckily, both men survived to bat the next day. England went on to get 435, and eventually draw the Test.
The Night-Watchmen: Fred Titmus (12) and Ian Thomson (39).
2. India vs West Indies, Mumbai, 1974/75
West Indies had won the first two matches of the five-match series, but the hosts had roared back to win the next two as the teams headed to Mumbai for a virtual tie-breaker. The visitors won the all-important toss and decided to bat first. Batting lynchpin Viv Richards (1) suffered a rare failure, but Roy Fredericks (104), Alvin Kallicharan (98), Deryck Murray (91) and Clive Lloyd (242) more than made up for it as the mighty West Indians smashed their way to 604 for six declared.
What happened next: Sunil Gavaskar (86) was out late in the day, as Erapalli Prasanna — who retired with a highest score of 37 and an average of 11.48 — came out to protect the rest of the batsmen. He did the job, remaining unbeaten along with Eknath Solkar at the end of the day.
Solkar (102) completed his century the next day, but was out soon after. However, Gundappa Vishwanath (95) and Anshuman Gaekwad (51) kept India in the hunt. After Brijesh Patel was dismissed in the dying moments of Day Three, Bishan Bedi — who retired with a Test 50 to his name, but had an average of less than 10 — was sent in to protect captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi. Bedi and Gaekwad saw off the day, but the latter was out early the next morning. Bedi was finally the last man out, as India managed to cross 400 (406 all out).
West Indies got 205 for three in their second innings, as India were set a huge target of 404. The dismissal of Vishwanath on Day Five — Tests weren’t restricted to just Five Days in that era — brought in Prasanna, who became one of the few batsmen to perform the Night-Watchman’s role twice in the same match. India catapulted to 202 all out on Day Six, as West Indies took the series 3-2.
The Night-Watchmen: Erapalli Prasanna (4 and 1) and Bishan Singh Bedi (13).
3. Sri Lanka vs England, Colombo (PSS), 2011/12
Graeme Swann and James Anderson snared seven wickets between them, as Sri Lanka could only manage 275 all out batting first. Mahela Jayawardene (105), Angelo Mathews (57), and Thilan Samaraweera (54) were the only batsmen to get any notable scores. In reply, England hammered 460 all out thanks to Kevin Pietersen (151), Alastair Cook (94), Jonathan Trott (64), and Andrew Strauss (61).
What happened next: Sri Lanka had just one over to play out, and decided not to expose both openers to it. In what was a rather strange twist, they opened the batting with Dhammika Prasad, who has a First Class century and is a fairly accomplished tail ender. He ended up making a good contribution before being dismissed.
At the fall of Thilan Samaraweera’s wicket on Day Four, Lankan skipper Jayawardene decided to protect Angelo Mathews and Prasanna Jayawardene by sending in Suraj Randiv. Unfortunately, Randiv could survive just two balls before falling prey to a rampaging Swann. Sri Lanka put in a spirited performance, but could only get a lead of 94 runs. Cook and Pietersen combined to score 66 in less than 10 overs to pull off the win.
The Night-Watchmen: Dhammika Prasad (34) and Suraj Randiv (0).
4. West Indies vs New Zealand, Port-of-Spain, 2014
After losing the first Test quite comprehensively, the mood in the West Indian dressing camp would have been far from ideal. However, their bowling, led by Jerome Taylor (4 for 34) and Suleiman Benn (3 for 73) made breakthroughs at regular intervals in the first innings of the second Test. It resulted in Kiwis crashing to 221 all out, as the West Indies had their noses firmly ahead.
What happened next: Chris Gayle was dismissed with just four overs left in the day. One of the last-wicket heroes of the previous match — in which Shane Shillingford hit the fastest ever Test 50 by a West Indian batsman, off 25 balls — was sent in to see out the day.
On the next day, Kirk Edwards (55), Kraigg Brathwaite (129) and Darren Bravo (109), stitched together a tremendous score that saw West Indies get into a very good position. After both batsmen were dismissed, Kemar Roach was sent in ahead of the rest to negotiate the end of play. Debutant Jerome Blackwood (63) bolstered the Windies to a huge total of 460 all out on Day Three. New Zealand put in a better performance with the bat the second time around, but with just 93 runs needed on the final day, Chris Gayle invoked his latent T20 abilities to massacre 80 not out off 46 balls as West Indies romped through to the win.
The Night-Watchmen: Suleiman Benn (4) and Kemar Roach (6).
(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)
Bharath Seervi is a cricket statistician who is obsessed with digging numbers, facts and records related to the game. An active member of Society of Cricket Statisticians of India, he blogs atwww.cricketseervistats.blogspot.com. He can be followed on Twitter atwww.twitter.com/SeerviBharath and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SeerviCricket)