ENTERTAINMENT  :   Cricketing Gems

Three of the greatest batsmen of the modern era missed out on scoring a century at Lord’s

Saturday , 05 March 2016

Three of the all-time greats, Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting, have featured in a combined total of 12 test matches at Lord’s, but each of them has failed to hit a century at this great cricket ground, which is also considered the home of cricket

Three of the all-time legends, Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting, have featured in a combined total of 12 test matches at Lord’s, but each of them has failed to hit a century at this iconic ground, which is also considered the home of cricket

Last year, while watching the Lord’s test match between Australia and England, I was taken by surprise when Nasser Hussain, the former England captain, pointed out this fact to his co-commentator, Ricky Ponting. Obviously, Nasser first made the reference to Ponting in a lighter vein… but, then, went on to add that the feat hadn’t been achieved by Tendulkar or Lara as well, the other two great batting legends, forming the trio.

I thought it would be a good idea to take a closer look at this rather strange phenomenon and see how these three ‘greats’, who have hit 126 test centuries between them, have actually performed at this famous and historic ground.

Starting with Sachin featuring first, in a test match at Lord’s back in 1990, these three legends have played at Lord’s for almost two decades, but not one of them has been able to hit a ton at this iconic cricket ground. As a matter of fact, the highest individual score recorded here, of the three batsmen, was 54, by Brian Lara in 2004. Let us now take a look, at each of their overall career performances with the bat and how they have fared at the ‘Mecca of Cricket’.

Sachin Tendulkar

In a career spanning just under a quarter of a century, Tendulkar played in 200 test matches for India. During his illustrious career, he amassed 15,921 runs at a brilliant average of 53.78. This also includes the world record of hitting the maximum number of test centuries—51 in total.

However, in the 5 tests that he played at Lord’s, Tendulkar, surprisingly, aggregated only 195 runs, at an almost unbelievably low average of 21.67 per inning. Believe it or not, his highest score at this ground was a mere 37, in the first innings of a test match against England, back in 2007.

Ricky Ponting

Ponting’s record at Lord’s is even worse. Arguably, Australia’s greatest batsman, if we are to exclude Sir Donald Bradman, has belted a total of 41 test centuries and amassed 13,378 runs, at an excellent average of 51.85, in a career spanning 168 test matches.

When it comes to Lord’s, however, he managed only 135 runs in the four test match appearances at this historic ground; the last, being against Pakistan in 2010. His average at Lord’s is even more dismal than that of Tendulkar’s—just 16.87 per innings, against a career average of 51.85.

Brian Lara

The man who holds the twin world records of scoring the highest individual knocks of 400* in test cricket and 501* in first-class cricket, managed to register a modest score of 54, at Lord’s in 2004—the highest of the three modern-era batting legends. It is also important to remember that this great batsman has accumulated 11,953 runs at an impressive average of 52.88 in 131 test appearances for the West Indies. His aggregate at Lord’s in test matches, like Tendulkar’s and Ponting’s, at 136 runs in six innings, is low, and translates into a lamentable average of 22.66 per innings.

Contrast this poor record of the three great batting icons with that of some of their own country’s lesser known batsmen. Sachin Tendulkar’s teammate, Ajit Agarkar, essentially a fast medium pace bowler, batted through his skin in 2002 at Lord’s and was lucky enough to score 109*.

Similarly, a far less accomplished and much lesser known Aussie cricketer Graeme Wood, much like Agarkar, was successful in hitting a ton (112) at Lord’s (in 1980), while a century eluded the great Ricky Ponting, despite his four appearances at the ground.

In the case of Lara, too, the same has been true. Bernard Julien, again, a much lower-rated West Indian batsman, wielded the bat with success at Lord’s, when he scored 121 at the ground in 1973, while his illustrious countryman, Lara, failed to achieve this coveted distinction.

In conclusion, we can safely say that centuries at Lord’s, evading three of the greatest modern-era batsmen, demonstrates that luck sometimes, plays a huge role in this glorious game of cricket. It’s not that Tendulkar, Lara and Ponting, who, between them, have amassed 41,252 test runs, did not have the necessary talent and temperament to score a century at Lord’s… it is just that they were not lucky enough on their given days of play.