Alastair Cook breaks 45-year record for a batsman carrying his bat through a Test innings
Alastair Cook has come back to form with a mammoth 244* against Australia at Melbourne. In his last five Tests and ten innings, he had managed to score only 144 runs at an average of 14.4 .
Cook has broken or equalled a few records en route to this huge unbeaten score. He has now scored a century in all five major Australian venues. He scored a hundred at Perth during England's horrendous tour of Australia in 2005-06. Then, he led England to a memorable Ashes glory in 2010-11 by scoring centuries at Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney. This time he has ticked the box beside Melbourne as well. Among non-Australians, only Sunil Gavaskar had done this before.
Now, by remaining unbeaten on 244 as the England innings closed at 491, he has scored the most runs by anyone who has carried his bat in a Test innings. The earlier record belonged to New Zealand opening batsman Glenn Turner who had scored 223* while carrying his bat against the West Indies at Kingston in 1972.
Let's take a look at how this record changed hands over the last 128 years:
Bernard Tancred was the first man to carry his bat in a Test match. It was a horrendous one for the South African team who managed to score only 90 runs in the match. In their first innings, only Tancred, opening the batting, reached double figures and remained not out as they were all out for 47.
Jack Barrett was a doctor who played cricket occasionally. He toured England with the Australian team in 1890 and scored well in many of the matches. Barrett batted at number four in the first innings but when got promoted to bat at the top of the order in the second innings, he proved to be immovable. He batted for 280 minutes and, from the non-striker's end, witnessed the fall of all 10 Australian wickets.
Bobby Abel was a stonewaller who had carried his bat eight times in first-class cricket. In fact, he had the record for most runs scored (357*) while carrying the bat in a first class innings for 117 years until Gujarat's Samit Gohel (359*) went past him in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals last year. Abel took the record for Barrett in January 1892 when he fought a lone hand against the Aussies at Sydney. Pelham Warner too carried his bat scoring 132* against South Africa at Johannesburg in 1899.
Three and half years later, at the same venue, Warwick Armstrong scored more than half his team's runs while opening the batting and remained not out, against the South Africans.
Another 23 years, including a horrendous war, passed by before someone could better Armstrong's score. Then, a 43-year old Warren Bardsley opened the batting and scored a fairytale unbeaten century at Lord's against the Englishmen in the 1926 Ashes series.
When the likes of Wally Hammond and Don Bradman scored centuries, it was inevitable that other big scores would get overshadowed. That is exactly what happened at Lord's in 1938. But that in no way undermines Bill Brown's herculian effort during the Australian first innings in that match. Brown became the first man to score a double century while carrying his bat.
The Kingston Test of 1972 is famous for the record-breaking debut of Lawrence Rowe who scored a double century and a century in that match. Fewer people took notice of the fact that Glenn Turner had broken a 33-year old world record by carrying his bat in New Zealand's first innings.
And now, after another 45 years, 'Captain Cook', while playing a career -saving innings in an Ashes Test against the old enemy, has broken that record.
Among all the names who had held this record in the past, only Arrmstrong's efforts led to a victory for his team. Let's see if Cook can join him.