With the scoreboard reading 198/8 and the bowlers on song, one might anticipate that the bowling side might be itching to rush to the pavilion and put those batting pads on to start a new innings. The large faithful would think like that and I suppose there’s no mistake in thinking so. Hardly do we expect any wonders from the No. 10 and No. 11 with a bat in cricket. But that was not the case in a match at the Sheik Abu Naser stadium, Khulna, Bangladesh yesterday.
Let me put it this way. The No. 10 has got quite a bit of prominence in sports. In the case of football, the number is assigned to the premium strikers. In cricket it indicates yet another striker (batsman) coming to bat after 8 wickets have fallen. Usually in cricket, the No. 10 player will be the team’s prime bowler. Neither the team nor the aficionados expect any heroics from that batting tailender. And the expectations will be even lower if he happens to be a debutant.
Predominantly, the world of cricket reminisces the number 10 for a few strange reasons. If the deeds of a Jim Laker at Old Trafford in 1956 and that of Anil Kumble at Delhi in 1999 are memorable, then those of R A Duff and Abu Hasan are surrealistic.
Hang on! Where did R A Duff and Abu Hasan come from?
Well, these are not household names either. Ironically, they happen to be tailenders like the above but struck glory with their bat. Yes. It was way back in 1902 when Reginald Alexander Duff of Australia scored a 104 against England on debut at Melbourne after coming to bat at No. 10, a record which was intact until Abu Hasan of Bangladesh scored 106 against a touring West Indies side yesterday. In the former’s case, R A Duff was an opening batsman, but sent down the order due to the pitch conditions that day.
These are the only two players in the 135-year history of cricket to score a hundred after having come in to bat at No. 10. Isn’t this single moment enough to get unprecedented fame, keep the media busy and make the writers run out of adjectives? This rare spectacle happened when Hasan turned a Sunil Narine delivery to the onside, only to realize there was enough time to come back for a second. He was then seen celebrating with pride and a huge laugh on his face, pointing his bat to the pavilion who were giving a standing ovation.
Moments such as these don’t happen very often, and Hasan rightly attained admiration from everyone in the stadium. The eyes glued to television sets around the world, on the other hand, read about the 108-year record of the highest score ever by a number 10 batsman and gasped in disbelief.
Yes, a sport does behave insanely at times, reinforcing the fact that records are only set to be broken!