About five minutes ago, Michael Clarke became only the 21st cricketer to hit a test 300. And he is still going, and I would not be surprised if he reaches 400, as India has seemingly all but given up on this test, on this series. Clarke has buried them.
Like most Indian supporters and neutrals, I keep waiting for India to spring to life, to take a couple quick wickets, and then maybe bat on for two days and earn a draw and we all go to Perth with a smile. But it’s just not happening.
But back to Clarke’s 300: there have been 25 triple centuries in test cricket in the 134 years of the format’s existence from 21 different batsmen. And just like I always do here, I will try to put this into a bit of context:
The first thing that came to mind was the perfect game in baseball. And, yeah, I know it is apples to oranges, as a baseball game at most lasts three hours, and the pitcher is only out there for half of it, and most perfect games are actually closer to two hours long than three hours. While Chris Gayle, for instance, during his 300 two years ago against Sri Lanka, batted for almost 11 hours, while seeing 437 deliveries.
But, still, the perfect game, like the three hundred, is five parts stamina, three parts mental fortitude, and two parts dumb luck. And they are rare: It has only been accomplished 20 times in the history of the Major League Baseball. And like the 300, it is truly a modern accomplishment, with majority of the perfect games happening in the last two decades.
And considering there have been countless baseball games, while there have only been 2,000+ tests, one could even argue that the perfect game is a rarer accomplishment.
And that, really, is the only comparison I can come up with – in team sports anyway. The 300, to me, is a solitary feat in modern sport, and has no equal anywhere. To stand up, at the crease, in the pressure of a test match, for nine, ten, eleven, twelve hours; to defend, to score, to run between the wickets with the highest degree of skill and intelligence, in a sport where the margin of error is positively razor thin…well, it truly blows me away that it is even possible, much less that it has happened 25 times since 1877.
A couple of other accomplishments I kicked around were Pete Rose’s hitting streak, Cal Ripken’s consecutive games streak, or maybe, a professional cyclist winning a tough mountain stage without the help of teammates. But at this point, we aren’t even talking apples to oranges anymore, we are talking apples to elephants.
The only other event I can think of, other than a perfect game, which even comes close to a triple century in cricket is a really long Grand Slam final in tennis. Like, maybe, the 2008 Wimbledon Final between Nadal and Federer that lasted almost five hours. A close comparison, I think, really.
Of course, Clarke’s 300 today at the SCG is even more impressive than most 300s, because he is the squad’s captain, and when he entered the match his squad was reeling at 37-3, but the captain stood up and batted on and on and on…and now they are 650-4. He did what captains are supposed to do: he put them team on his back and carried them.
Now, truthfully, Dhoni did the same thing for India in their first innings, but unfortunately batting partner after batting partner failed him, while Clarke had the luxury of batting with two fellas that each hit centuries.
Back to the match and Australia are now ahead by 460, and they could probably declare now and still get a day off. And, really, they should be continue and continue to bat at least a little longer to guarantee a win, because despite India’s poor performance with the bat, they are still India, and they still feature Sehwag, and Dravid, and Tendulkar, and Laxman.
Clarke would be a fool to underestimate them.
Meanwhile, in Cape Town, Sri Lanka are steadily chasing down South Africa’s 580 on day three. It has been a fine test match so far at Newlands, always great to see.
That’s it from here. Until next time.