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The greatest overshadowed innings – Wisden readers have their say

by Wisden Staff 5 minute read

Our memories of a cricket match are often left intertwined with one great innings or bowling performance, leaving us at risk of forgetting other fine individual displays in the same game overshadowed by the main event.

Headingley 2019 may be Ben Stokes’ Test match, but what about Jofra Archer’s 6-45 and Josh Hazlewood’s 5-30 prior to that miraculous fourth day? Marnus Labuschagne made more runs in the match than Stokes did, and Jack Leach won plaudits for his 1*.

We put this question on social media for you to answer: what is the best innings of all time that still wasn’t the best innings in the match it was played in?

Here are some notable responses we received.

Rahul Dravid 180, India v Australia, 2nd Test, March 2001

One that was to be expected. In one of the greatest Test matches of all time, India defeated Australia after being forced to follow on at Eden Gardens. While it is VVS Laxman’s 281 in India’s second innings that stands out, one mustn’t forget Rahul Dravid’s 180 from 353 balls that helped set a target of 384, stunning the mighty Australians as their world-record run of 16 Test wins in a row was put to a halt.

VVS Laxman 178, Australia v India, 4th Test, January 2004

Now, Laxman’s turn to be the bridesmaid. India’s monstrous first-innings total of 705-7 in Adelaide was built upon Sachin Tendulkar’s 241 not out, then the Little Master’s highest Test score. But Laxman, a horrid sight once more for the Australians, cashed in too, striking 178 from 298 balls. It was Laxman’s fourth Test hundred against Australia in eight Tests.

Graham Thorpe 200 not out, New Zealand v England, 1st Test, March 2002

Despite England claiming a 98-run victory, this Test is more fondly remembered for Nathan Astle striking the fastest Test double-century of all time, with his knock of 222 lasting just 168 balls. Nevertheless, despite Astle’s onslaught taking New Zealand to 451 in the final innings, it was Graham Thorpe’s unbeaten double century in England’s second innings that was the match-winning hand.

Ricky Ponting 164, South Africa v Australia, 5th ODI, March 2006

One of the greatest ODI matches of all time saw Herschelle Gibbs’ 175 help South Africa chase down a scarcely believable target of 435; Australia’s 434 was, therefore, the highest ODI total ever for just a few incredulous hours. Ricky Ponting played the leading role in the first innings, cracking 164 from just 105 balls.

Dennis Amiss 203, West Indies v England, 5th Test, August 1976

Sir Viv Richards’ highest Test score of 291 came at The Oval against England, with his 386-ball blitz leading to a first-innings total of 687-8. Resilience from the home ranks came in the form of Dennis Amiss, recalled to face Messrs Roberts, Holding, Holder and Daniel. A new back-and-across technique led to his second double-century against West Indies, but England were to suffer a crushing 231-run defeat.

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