By David Green
Being bowled out for under 100 used to be commonplace back in the time of Queen Victoria, but until recently instances were few and far between in the modern game and normally (although not always) featured Bangladesh.
However, since Pakistan visited England in 2010, it is as if the likes of George Lohmann and the Fred ‘Demon’ Spofforth have been reincarnated. Such is the swiftness at which teams have been bundled out.
In just 18 short months there have been 11 instances of a side being bowled out for less than 100. Pakistan leads the way with four, closely followed by Australia with three and England, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Zimbabwe all with one each.
And with India’s batsmen hardly covering themselves in glory and none of Bangladesh, New Zealand and West Indies having a line-up that would have bowlers quaking in their boots, we seem to be entering a new era (with DRS undoubtedly playing a vital part). And they say cricket is a game for batsmen!
There have, of course, been several instances in the same period of batsmen gorging themselves on impotent bowling attacks. For example, India conceded ten individual scores of 150+ to batsmen in their recent tours of England and Australia and most will recall Alastair Cook’s passable impersonation of the great Jack Hobbs in Australia last winter.
In contrast to the 11 sub-100 scores, there have been two team totals of over 700 (one each for England and India) and another seven above 600.
Test cricket seems to have become a game of extremes and is all the better for it. The leading teams all have their problems: England struggle against spin in Asia, India against seam and swing outside the subcontinent, Australia’s batting is still suspiciously brittle, Sri Lanka are sliding, Pakistan’s strength is its bowling attack and South Africa seem unable to grasp the mettle despite perhaps having the best balanced side. It all makes for appetising viewing for fans.
It all goes to show that despite some opinions to the contrary, Test cricket is and always will be the most exciting and unpredictable form of the game.
(David Green is the brain behind the irreverent The Reverse Sweep blog and also writes for a number of cricket publications and sites such as World Cricket Watch. You can follow him on Twitter also @TheReverseSweep. David was a decent schoolboy and club cricketer (and scored his maiden 100 the same week that Sachin Tendulkar scored his first Test ton) but not good enough to fulfill his childhood dream of emulating Douglas Jardine by winning the Ashes in Australia and annoying the locals into the bargain. He now lives with his wife and two young children in the South of France and will one day write the definitive biography of Hedley Verity)