Nightwatchmen: The unexpected heros

After Steven Finn’s heroics with his (un-sponsored) bat last week in Dunedin, I put my thoughts back to the best nightwatchman innings of all time, I’m sure you all know who I am talking about. As well as how disappointed thankful James Anderson will be at relinquishing the post.

'Oh look, a bird!' Steven Finn was the face of concentration in his new batting role (PC: The Mirror)

Oh look, a bird!’ Steven Finn was the face of concentration in his new batting role (PC: The Mirror)

Finn, the 6″8 Middlesex bowler, held out for 286 minutes after Captain Cook was removed late on the 4th day. He stood by his partner, the centurion Compton, all night and until tea the next day. It was in fact Compton who was dismissed before the giant bowler, Compton lasted just 45 minutes into the final day before being judged LBW, bringing to an end his maiden Test century. I expect none were happier for Finn than Jimmy Anderson, the previous England nightwatchman who held the post since 2007. Luckily for Finn, his tall frame means evasive action may be less needed than it was for Anderson, who surely got complaints from his helmet provider after asking for a new one per match due to breakage. It will be interesting to see how Finn holds up on the bouncy pitches of Australia with Aussie blood-thirsty pace bowlers running in.

Still cool, calm and composed after 9 and a half hours, Dizzy raises his bat while walking off the pitch, barely left himself enough time to warm-up for bowling with these celebrations! (PC: The Tribune)

Still cool, calm and composed after 9 and a half hours, Dizzy raises his bat while walking off the pitch, barely left himself enough time to warm-up for bowling with these celebrations! (PC: The Tribune)

Jason Gillespie – For a nightwatchman to score a 50 is a ‘I was there’ moment, seen as heroic, as Finn did. For them to score a hundred is nearly unheard of, with only fellow Aussie Tony Mann having reached this feat in 1977 (not including Nasim-ul-Ghani in 1962 as he was batting at number 6). But when they hit a double-century, then they are on this well conditioned Aussie’s level. Lacking his signature long locks, in 2006 Gillespie strode out to the wicket against Bangladesh, after removing Bangladesh’s top three that very same day, he surely expected holding the fort for the night, returning at the morning session, a few bludgeons of the ball and a relaxing 3 days while Ponting, Hussey and co. knocked the ball around Chittagong. Instead 3 days later, he was close to a milestone that eluded his previous Australian captain and cricketing legend,  Mark Waugh. Two sixes and 26 fours were struck from Gillespie’s awkward yet straight bat. A declaration on the stroke of his 201* drew the curtain on a 425 ball innings, spanning over nine and a half hours and even overshadowing Mike Hussey’s highest ever Test match score of 187. None were more surprised than Gillespie, who could only manage the celebration of a sarcastic 10-year-old, with a out-stuck tongue, a few expletives and a slow raise of the bat towards the Australian dressing room. His double-hundred celebration was slightly more enthusiastic. Sprinting towards the Australian dressing room waving his bat and jumping in the air. He completed his festivities by walking back to the wicket saluting around the ground, before realising Ponting had declared and took the plaudits on his return to the dressing room. Now forever in cricketing history as the greatest nightwatchman of all time, good old Dizzy.

Please leave your opinion on the best nightwatchman innings ever, it would be great to see if I missed anyone out!

 

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2 thoughts on “Nightwatchmen: The unexpected heros

  1. Hmm, not a nightwatchman as such, but an unexpected hero for sure. New Zealand were 12 short of reaching the follow on against the mighty South Africa, and there was only one batsman left. The Phantom himself, Chris Martin. Mark Gillespie was at the other end, hardly noted for his batting prowess though able to thump a few when feeling lucky. On just his 4th ball at the crease (he gets his eye in early) Martin showed his class by elegantly stroking the ball for two. Over the next two overs he faced two balls in each, ducking, blocking, even attempting expansive cut shots. The crowd gave him a standing ovation for every ball he survived. He held it together long enough for Gillespie to take two horrendous swings at the ball that somehow connected, a top edge over slip and a french cut, and the follow on was avoided. Job done, Gillespie got himself out trying another next ball. Chris Martin left the field with a fantastic 2*, unbeaten, unbowed and the man of the moment. New Zealand went on to draw the match.

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