A Test match 300 is a Mount Everest climbed by only 26 batsmen. Even all time Greats like Richards, Tendulkar, Dravid and Ponting do not have it. While this does not mean that the one who has a 300 is superior, it does indicate how difficult a mark it is to reach.
If one has nervous 90’s, does one have nervous 290’s? Almost certainly Yes. How many have just missed 300. Taking 290 as the cut off one can see that only 7 men have scored between 290 and 299 in Test cricket.
Lets have a look at them and if possible the circumstances in which the 300 was missed.
The universally accepted greatest batsman of all time Don Bradman scored 299 not out versus South Africa at the Adelaide Oval in the 1932 series. It is tragi-comic that Pud Thurlow, the batsman who got run out was out for 0, and he did not take a single wicket or catch in his only test match.
His contribution to cricket was leaving Bradman stranded at 299 not out.
This Test which Australia won by ten wickets also saw an useful contribution from Clarrie Grimmett, the bowler credited with discovering the flipper.
The great New Zealand batsman Martin Crowe too scored 299. This was versus Sri Lanka at Basin Reserve on 31st January 1991. Batting 1st, NZ Collapsed for 174 and Sri Lanka then piled up 497 mainly due to a superb 267 by Aravinda de Silva. 186 by Andrew Jones and 299 by Martin Crowe with a 467 run partnership (erasing record of Bradman and Ponsford) took them to safety.
Ranatunga who had only 16 Test wickets in his 93 tests got Crowe out for 299 with just 3 balls left in the match. As Crowe himself says”after ten hours of concentration, a sudden thought came that wow i will be the first of my country to get a 300 and i lost focus”.
Crowe goes on to say that the ball was a blur and he hardly saw it. He flashed at it to be caught by Tillekaratne in the slips. Crowe stormed off in shock thinking he had blown the very moment he had waited for in his whole cricketing life ( his own words). In his anger at himself he smashed the boundary fence with his bat and once he reached the dressing room hurled it against the wall.
Next to the 299’s of Bradman and Crowe is Alastair Cook’s 294 at Edgbaston versus India in the 2011 series. Cook played a monumental 545 ball knock for his 294 which was higher than the entire Indian team’s score in both innings ( 224 and 244). Cook was full of concentration until with just 6 runs left he tried to hit Ishant Sharma but only found Suresh Raina at deep point.
Cook philosophocally said later that “while there is a tinge of disappointment, I would like to think about the 294 I got rather than the 6 I did not get.”
Along with Bradman he is the only batsman to have 2 300’s and a 290’s. At Brabourne stadium versus Sri Lanka in 2009, Sehwag’s blistering knock of 263 was off only 254 balls He had as many as 40 4’s and 7 huge 6’s.
Sehwag was overnight not out on 284 and at 293 was out caught and bowled to the wily Murali. At that point of time India was 458/2 and it seemed that he could have gone on to have the highest test score of all time.
Sehwag being Sehwag was nonchalent about it saying he was proud about what he has achieved as not many people have 2 300’s and a 293.
Well , he sure has good company with only Bradman alongside him
King Viv already had scores of 232, 63, 135 and 66 in this 1976 away series. However this knock of 291 at Kensignton Oval was even more brilliant not just for the amount of runs but the way he pulverised an already demoralised English team. He scored it off just 386 balls and such fast scoring was unheard of in 1976. He was bowled off an inside edge off Tony Greig and when he was out at 524/3 it had seemed that the 365 of Gary Sobers was under threat.
The other highlight of this Test was Holding’s 14 wickets in a breathtakingly thrilling exhibition of fast bowling.
In a high scoring dull draw between England and West Indies at Bridgetown, Barbados, Man of the match and series Ramnaresh Sarwan hit 291 to help West Indies reach 749 in response to a huge 600/6. This knock helped get a draw and win the series 1 Nil.
A tired Sarwan got out trying a lofted shot to the on side but Ryan Sidebottom with the 3rd new ball uprooted his off stump.
The 254 by Sobers, the 277 by Lara and the 290 of Ross Taylor are probably the top 3 test innings played by visiting batsmen in Australia. Taylot scored his at the WACA Perth versus Australia in the 2015 series, breaking a 111 year record for the highest score by a visitor in Australia.
Taylor had a chance to score 300 but he was the last Black Cap batsman to be out when Lyon took his wicket. He later said that while he was disappointed at missing the 300 he would take 290 any day and that Boult was more nervous than him as he did not want to be out and leave Taylor stranded.
This match was also important for 2 other reasons- It saw the emergence of Kane Williamson as a world class batsman and it was also the last Test match for Mitch Johnson who would have liked to sign off with a win but could not due to Taylors match saving Knock.