Over five days, in Adelaide, Peter Siddle steamed in at South African batsmen a remarkable 381 times. While no where near the record for a pace bowler, much less one of the slower variety, it really is an amazing feat.
I know it is apples to oranges, but considering my strong familiarity with baseball, it is impossible for me to not compare the two in this situation.
For all intents and purposes, Siddle threw 381 pitches in five days. That’s over 76 a day – just 24 shy of the pitch count maximum for whole heaps of major league pitchers out there today – and they get four days off between starts!
And I know the comparison is really unfair in so many ways, but like the human eye finding patterns in the wallpaper, my mind instantly goes to baseball as a benchmark for comparison, and in doing so makes the feat even more amazing.
Meanwhile, speaking of stamina, Faf du Plessis faced an equally remarkable number of deliveries from Siddle and his bowling partners. 671 to be exact. And in doing so, he won the stand off, as South Africa’s rear guard held on for a draw in what was easily one of the most thrilling and fascinating and awe inspiring Test matches I have ever experienced.
It was a treat and an honor to take it all in, fellas. Thank you.
For those curious, the highest number of deliveries from a pace bowler in a Test match belongs to Norman Gordon for South Africa against England at Kingsmead in 1939.
Gordon threw 92.2 eight ball overs for a total delivery count of 737.
That match is worth a look if you are not familiar with it.
It was a timeless Test that lasted from third of March until the fourteenth of march – ten total days of play with rest days.
The match ended in a draw, by agreement, thanks in large part to bad light and rain, and saw greats like Hedley Verity and Wally Hammond in action.
Verity himself, who I have written about several times before, while not a pace bowler, completed 766 deliveries. And the entire match saw a jawdropping 5,463 total balls bowled. Great stuff. The Wisden report is worth a read, and there is a brilliant photo gallery on Cricinfo
At the other end, the most balls faced by a batsman in a Test match is harder to get to, because it was not a stat recorded for every Test.
Statsguru however spits up none other than the aforementioned Wally Hammond who faced 977 balls against Australia at Adelaide (hey!) in February of 1929 – a full decade earlier than the match above – on his way to scores of 119 in the first innings and 177 in the second. Strike rates of 31.81 and 29.35 – that is some patient and productive batting right there; though it must be said that patience produced more rewards in the days of the Timeless test, which this match was, as well. It lasted from the 1st of February through the 8th, and England won by 12 runs – and so Hammond’s knock was in a lot of ways a match-winner.
Also, in discussing this match, one cannot overlook English slow bowler Jack “Farmer” White’s contribution: A five-fer in the first innings and an eight-fer in the second – 13 total wickets. Great stuff. And easily the highlight of Mr. White’s Test career.
Nothing impresses me in cricket like the stamina of its superstars. Nothing. South Africa’s rearguard had stamina in spades: along with patience, heart, and courage – more virtues that I admire.
But at the end of the day, I have to give Peter Siddle the deepest bow: steaming in again, and again, and again, on that absolute road of a pitch. Desperate for a wicket, desperate for a win, desperate to the point where he could barely walk after his last over. Whether it was in vain or not is meaningless, that kind of effort deserves the deepest admiration. Congrats, Peter. Now rest up, you have four days before you have to do it all over again.
Cricinfo borrowed a note from my post about pure moments in their recap of Faf due Plessis’s innings:
“Most notable was the fact that du Plessis did not become overawed by the situation. He spent an eternity in the nineties but was not flustered, the team goal of survival overshadowing his own ambitions. When he eventually pushed two runs through cover off Ben Hilfenhaus and became the fourth South African to score a century on Test debut, after Andrew Hudson, Jacques Rudolph and Alviro Petersen, he acknowledged the applause and then settled straight back down to continue his job.”
Exactly. Great accomplishment. Now back to work.
Also, with regard to my post linked to above, I in no way whatsoever meant it to sound like sports were more important than life. In no way to I want to give the impression that Arshavin’s goal against Barcelona was more inspiring than having children. It just provided a certain type of moment that cannot be replicated in the real world. That’s all. Don’t worry, my priorities while out of whack, are not THAT out of whack.