The last 10 days of October were witness to events in Test Cricket which were not previously gauged as the most probable of eventualities. While some of these contingencies had to defy a wait of nearly a decade’s time, others spanned across for as much as 44 years. The recently concluded(drawn) Test series between Bangladesh & England, and a couple of ongoing Test series between Pakistan-West Indies and Zimbabwe-Sri Lanka are testimony to these events.
20th October, 2016:
England’s 39-year-old off-spinner, Gareth Batty had played the last of his 7 Test matches way back in 2005 against Bangladesh at Chester-le-Street. 20th October, 2016- the 1st test between England and Bangladesh at Chittagong, marked his comeback after 11 years of being away from Test Cricket. England played as many as 142 tests in that interim- that’s the longest gap in Test appearances, going past Martin Bicknell’s 114(1993-2003). On the 2nd day of the Chittagong Test a very ‘nervous’ Batty bagged the wicket of Bangladesh’s opener Tamim Iqbal, his first Test scalp in 11 years. Mohammad Ashraful’s was the last of his first 11 Test wickets until he claimed the wicket of Iqbal. Batty went on to take 3 more wickets in the match in which England finally emerged victorious. Quite surprisingly, Batty was rested for the 2nd Test match while spin-bowling all-rounder Zafar Ansari made his test debut.[Scorecard of the Chittagong Test]
21st October, 2003 – Dhaka hosted the first Test match between Bangladesh and England wherein the home team had been defeated by a margin of 7 wickets. 13 years and 9 clashes hence, the youngest test nation recorded their first ever Test victory over England. Series debutant, Mehedi Hasan Miraz claimed 12 wickets in his 2nd Test at Dhaka and 19 scalps(three 6-fers), overall, in the 2-match Test series. The off-spinner was adjudged the Player of the match, as well as the Player of the series.
30th October 2016:
The first of the two-match test series between Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka commenced on 29th October, 2016. Upul Tharanga’s unbeaten ton helped Sri Lanka accumulate 537 runs on the board. The remarkable part about his ton, which was also his second test century, was the gap between his two test centuries. 3888 days of gap between two successive centuries is the highest for any player since the Second World War. Upul Tharanga had scored his first test century way back in March 2006, in a match against Bangladesh. The record was previously held by Hamilton Masakadza of Zimbabwe, a gap spanning over 3660 days(July 2001- August 2011).
31st October, 2016:
Pakistan’s tainted fast bowler made his comeback into International Cricket this year after a 6-year hiatus. He played his first test match in 6 years on 14th July against England at Lord’s. Since then, he has played 6 test matches( including the on-going test against West Indies) which makes it a total 20 Test appearances. Amir made his Test Debut in the year 2009 and it took him 7 years to finally claim his first catch in Test Cricket which occurred on the 2nd day of the under way test match at Sharjah. Darren Bravo, the batsmen, tried to go over mid-off but the ball took direction towards the cover and Amir dived to catch it. While Amir was still soaring at some height he didn’t lose grip of the ball. After all it was the first catch in his entire test career and what a way to get hold of it! Much like the scorecard says – ‘Bravo (caught)Amir!’
31st October 2016:
The current match between Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka is Zimbabwe’s 100th Test match. The team which had started it’s Test Cricket journey in the year 1992, reached the 3 figures mark on 29th October with the test match at Harare under captain Graeme Cremer. After Sri Lanka had put up a fairly enormous total of 537, Zimbabwe fought back with wicketkeeper Peter Moor and skipper Cremer scoring a half-century(79) and a century(102*), respectively. It took Cremer, who made his test debut in the year 2005, 11 years & 10 months to finally score his first test century. With that he became the second captain to score a century in the team’s 100th test. The only other captain to share the same record is New Zealand’s Bevan Congdon whose 126 came against WI in March 1972, which was New Zealand’s 100th test match.