Tino Best joins the best of No 11s in Test history with a record 95

West Indies pacer Tino Best made 95, the highest score by a No 11 batsman in a Test match on day four if the third Test against England © Getty Images

Tino Best has recorded the highest score at number eleven as his knock of 95 rattled England. Nishad Pai Vaidya looks at the other instances where number elevens scored fifties and frustrated the oppositions.

 

 

A major irritant for any fielding side is a tailender fighting it out with the bat. Nevertheless, it is one of the most entertaining events on the cricket field as the strokeplay can be unorthodox, even comical at times, but it can demoralise the opposition and change the course of a game.

 

Tino Best’s astonishing knock of 95 against England at Edgbaston rewrote the record books. Not only did he record the highest score for a No 11, but his efforts resurrected the West Indies and took them to a good score. It was a dramatic day as Denesh Ramdhin’s gestures on reaching his hundred attracted attention and the ire of those at the receiving end. Through all that, Best did his bit as he plundered the England attack and thrilled the cricket fans.

 

Best became the 13th man in the history of Test cricket to score a fifty at No 11. In fact, he had the opportunity to become the first man to score a hundred at that position. The previous best was 75 by Zaheer Khan, which was against Bangladesh in 2004. Had Best been a little more patient, his name would have become immortal in cricketing history.

 

Players who scored a fifty at No 11:

 

Player

Team

Score

Opposition

Year

Tino Best

West Indies

95

England

2012

Zaheer Khan

India

75

Bangladesh

2004

Richard Collinge

New Zealand

68*

Pakistan

1973

Bert Vogler

South Africa

62*

England

1906

Glenn McGrath

Australia

61

New Zealand

2004

Wasim Bari

Pakistan

60*

West Indies

1977

John Snow

England

59*

West Indies

1966

Mushtaq Ahmed

Pakistan

59

South Africa

1997

Pat Symcox

South Africa

54

Australia

1998

Rodney Hogg

Australia

52

West Indies

1984

Wes Hall

West Indies

50*

India

1962

Fred Spofforth

Australia

50

England

1885

Ghulam Ahmed

India

50

Pakistan

1952

 

Zaheer’s vigil creates history

 

Zaheer’s 75 came against the minnows Bangladesh as Sachin Tendulkar helped himself to his 34th Test hundred, thereby equalling Sunil Gavaskar’s record. It was Zaheer’s vigil that allowed Tendulkar to reach his double hundred and record his highest score in Test cricket. Zaheer entered the field of play when Tendulkar was on 191 and supported him to take India well past 500.

 

Collinge’s memorable effort 

 

Richard Collinge’s scored 68 not out in company of Brian Hastings as they constructed a record partnership of 151 runs against Pakistan in 1973. The New Zealand top order had laid a solid foundation, but they collapsed to 251 for nine. The Hastings-Collinge partnership then took them to 402 – a score that looked unlikely after the collapse. Interestingly, this partnership is a record for the eleventh wicket even today. However, it was equalled by Azhar Mahmood and Mushtaq Ahmed in 1997. Mushtaq’s knock of 59 features in the table above.

 

The quintessential tailender defying the odds

 

Probably the most memorable fifty by a number eleven in recent years was Glenn McGrath’s 61 against New Zealand in 2004. The Australian paceman’s batting skills – or the lack of it – is part of cricketing folklore and a topic of a number of jokes. That knock against New Zealand shattered those notions for the time-being and had a number of people in splits. Here was a man who wasn’t expected to last long enough managed a fifty against all odds. He also managed to hit five fours and a six – a number that may have given the New Zealand bowlers nightmares.

 

Scoring fifties against the fearsome West Indian fast bowlers

 

John Snow, Wasim Bari and Rodney Hogg managed to do the unthinkable – score a fifty at No 11 against the fearsome West Indian pace battery. Bari faced Joel Garner, Colin Croft, Vanburn Holder and Andy Roberts when Pakistan took on West Indies in 1977. Snow had to contend with the pace of Charlie Griffith and Wes Hall, and the guile of Sir Garry Sobers and Lance Gibbs. On the other hand Hogg’s knock came against Joel Garner, Wayne Daniel and Winston David – the latter two aren’t as well-known as some of their teammates, but were a threatening proposition.

 

Other interesting facts on the members of this elite club

 

1.  Pat Symcox is the only member of this club who has scored a Test hundred. He scored his only Test ton against Pakistan in 1998 while batting at No 10.

 

2. Wasim Bari has the most fifties with six to his name. The Pakistani stumper recorded six fifties in 81 Test matches. Interestingly, he is the only wicket-keeper to score a fifty while batting at No 11.

 

3. Eight off the 13 men were involved in hundred partnerships for the last wicket during their memorable essays.

 

4. Bert Vogler held the record for the highest score at number eleven for the maximum number of years – 67. His record of 62 not out was broken by Collinge in 1973. Collinge then held the record for 31 years until Zaheer scored 75 against Bangladesh in 2004.

 

5. England and West Indies have conceded fifties to number elevens the most number of times i.e. three. Australian number 11s have scored fifties three times – the most for any nation.

 

6. None of the said fifties have come in the fourth innings of a Test match. Bari’s knock is the only one that came in the third innings, while the others were in the first two essays. Steve Harmison holds the record for the highest score by a number eleven in the fourth innings. He scored 42 against South Africa at Cape Town in early 2005.

 

Best’s latest effort and the other 12 instances prove that cricket is an unpredictable game and the bowling side cannot rest until they tackle the last man.

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a club-level cricketer with an analytic mind and a sharp eye. It was this sharpness which spotted a wrong replay in IPL4 resulting in Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal. Some of his analytical pieces have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. Nishad can also be followed on Twitter)