Monday, July 17, 2006

Inzamam puts Bradman in perspective

As it turns out, the Pakistan 2nd XI (with Shoaib Akhtar, Shoaib Malik, Younis Khan, Mohammad Asif and Rana Naved absent injured) comfortably played out a draw with the England 2nd XI (with Andrew Flintoff, Michael Vaughan, Simon Jones, Ashley Giles absent injured and Mark Ramprakash not selected).

The surprise to all observers would no doubt have been Inzamam ul Haq's unbeaten half-century, his 9th in successive innings (two of them centuries, and a 97 for good measure) against England. His record against England is in fact quite stunning overall. His first tour, in '92, was a disaster, as he amassed just 66 runs in seven languid efforts at the crease.

Since then, in 21 innings, he has scored 1411 runs at an average of nearly 75. That spans tours to England in '96, '01 and now '06, and home series in '00 and '05. No wonder then, that the media wax lyrical about his performance, and the accolades are undoubtedly merited.

What all of this really serves to do, however, is give us an idea of just how good The Don really must have been. After all, England were his bogey team - he only averaged 90 against them, a full 10% off from his overall numbers.

And as far as stunning sequences go, have a look at this one.

270, 26, 212, 169, 51, 144*, 18, 102*, 103, 16, 187, 234, 79, 49, 56*

That's not a bad 15 inning run to begin with. Now throw in the fact that between the 16 and the 187, there was the trifling matter of a World War, which meant that Bradman hardly picked up a bat in the intervening 8 year period before resuming his Test career at the age of 38. Then add to that the small matter of his poor health, which had been bad enough on a prior tour of England that his wife was informed that he had passed away. And then consider that an entire nation expected, nay, demanded, that he lead his country out of wartime.

We shall never truly understand just how good he really was.

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