200

Yesterday (or, errrr, today, depending on where you live), Michael Clarke scored a double century for his country. It was the 59th time a captain had scored 200 or more in a Test match.

The last time it happened was on the 24th of January of this year: Michael Clarke against South Africa.

Before that: Michael Clarke against India in Sydney on the 3rd of January, 2012.

You have to go all the way back to July of 2010 to find another captain who scored at least 200 for his country: Kumar Sangakkara against India in Colombo.

Clarke is not the only captain to have scored a double century multiple times however, not even close:

Allan Border – 3
Sir Donald Bradman – 4
Greg Chappell – 3
Stephen Fleming – 3
Javed Miandad – 2
Mahela Jayawardene – 3
Brian Lara – 5
Bob Simpson – 3

Also, interestingly, the captain opposing Clarke for South Africa, Graeme Smith, has done it three times himself: 277 against England in 2003; 259 against England in 259; and 232 against Bangladesh in 2008.

The 200+ score by a captain has happened in the first innings all but six times: Bradman’s 270 against England in 1937; Bradman’s 212 against England in 1937; Martin Crowe’s 299 against Sri Lanka in 1991; Peter May’s 285 against the West Indies in 1957; Nawab of Pataudi’s 203 against England in 1964; and Saleem Malik’s 237 against Australia in 1994.

While a captain has scored 200+ 59 times, the captain’s country went on to win only 26 of those matches…less than half.

However, 57 of the 59 ended in at least a draw. And I am sure those double centuries had a great deal to do with most of those.

A great deal of extra responsibility comes with the Captain’s armband. One of which is to score runs when your teams need them the most. Whether it be 25, 50, or 350. And in the matches above, dollars to doughnuts says the teams needed at least 200 from their captains. And their captains delivered. The list above is a real who’s who of Test cricket captains. Some of the best to ever play, and some of the best to ever lead their countries.

Australia needed that double century from Clarke to save the match. And he delivered. And the fact that he did so put him in rare company.

Note: Only once has a captain scored 200+ in a losing effort: Brian Lara against South Africa in 2003. The West Indies were chasing 360ish and had a day and a half to do it, but Lara, despite his 202 in the first innings, was bowled by Pollock in the second innings for five and his team lost by 189. Of course, the West Indies are not even in the argument without Lara’s first innings knock.

But the match that stuck out to me the most among all 59 innings, was the first Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Karachi in February of 2009: because it featured a double century (plus some) from each team’s captain: Jayawardene’s 240 in the first innings for the guests, and Younis Khan’s 313 for the hosts, also in the first innings.

Sri Lanka had put up a massive score of 644 in their first innings, and so Pakistan desperately needed someone to put a boatload of runs on the board, and Khan obliged, leading his country to a tremendous score of 765, the fifth highest Test match score of all time. The match ended in a draw.

I have written about this match before: two weeks later, in Lahore, the Sri Lankan team bus was attacked by gunmen, and Pakistan has not hosted an international match since.

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This post took an odd turn. Anyway. Congrats to Michael Clarke. Great innings.

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