Test cricket is no exception to this rule. Hard fought for five days, a captain can never relax until the last ball is bowled or the last wicket falls. This article celebrates and acknowledges the highest run scorers in the 4th innings. Though going back in time to an era most of us not know properly, this article touches upon some vintage displays of sheer grit and fight back.
01. George Headley 223 vs. England 1930.
Known popularly as the ‘Black Bradman’ George Headley was the first of the great black batsmen to emerge from the West Indies. Often the West Indian innings would revolve around him scoring runs. An elegant player, his strokes matched perfection, timing and precision. In 1930 during the era of the timeless, infinite test match Headley scored 223 runs in the 4th innings against England. Set a mammoth 836 runs to victory England felt that the Windies players would crumble. But Headley had other plans. In a stellar batting performance he took to task the English bowlers. Batting throughout the 8th day, Headley tried to achieve the impossible. However on the 9th after his dismissal and a long drawn fight back both the teams decided to call it a draw.
02. Nathan Astle 222 vs. England 2002
This laid back New Zealander scripted history when he challenged the English domination in his home. Though New Zealand lost the match but his fight was commended even by the established greats of world cricket. England set 550 to New Zealand to chase down in the 4th innings. The steep target stymied the islanders with 2 wickets in quick succession. However Stephen Fleming steadied the ship. However the charge came with the onset of Nathan Astle. During the final day of the first Test match, Astle hit the fastest double century in test cricket off just 153 balls in 217 minutes. Astle, also by hitting 11 sixes set a new record of most sixes in an innings for New Zealand.
03. Sunil Gavaskar 221 vs. England 1979
The 3rd spot in the list is occupied by Sunil Gavaskar. His heroics saw one of the most gripping closing overs in a home Test for England. England were in despair as Gavaskar let loose some fine stroke play from the beginning of the 4th innings as he masterminded India close to victory. His innings of 221 saw 21 boundaries. England’s only hope was to slow down the game, which they did. In an effort to speed up Gavaskar hit a mistimed shot to mid-on after drinks. The match however went neither way as England’s slow down tactics made them unable to take much advantage after Gavaskar’s exit.
04. William Edrich vs. South Africa 1939
In another timeless match Bill Edrich did for England what George Headley had done for West Indies. He scored a double century in the 4th innings. His 219 consisted of 25 boundaries and led the match down to the wire. Despite the match going on to 10 days, Edrich did not show any fatigue and went on to display some quality footwork and stroke play as he hammered the South African bowlers all over the park. The match was however drawn after mutual consent with England needing just 42 runs to win.
05. Gordon Greenidge 214* vs. England 1984
England was either level or on top until the last four hours of the match. West Indies then strolled nonchalantly to victory, making the fifth highest score to win a Test and it was powered by a Gordon Greenide knock. It was Greenidge’s day, the innings of his life, and his ruthless batting probably made the bowling look worse that it was. He was dropped by an inattentive Botham, the sole slip, off Willis, when he was 110, but by then a West Indies win was certain. His innings saw 29 fours and 2 sixes.