Mark Butcher v Australia, 173 not out - 10 Great Innings

By and large we consider bowlers to be the match-winners and batsmen to be no more than impediments. Occasionally, there is such a thing as a match-winning innings.

In the fourth Ashes Test of 2001 at Headingley, Adam Gilchrist, deputising for the injured Steve Waugh, declared Australia's innings closed towards the end of the fourth day, setting England 315 to win. There was very little further play that day, but in time-honoured Ashes tradition, Glenn McGrath got Mike Atherton early on day five. Marcus Trescothick soon followed.

From that point onward, Mark Butcher rose and rose, eventually reaching some sort of cover-driving nirvana. Against the best bowling attack in the world, on an admittedly decent last day pitch, Mark Butcher struck 173 undefeated runs off only 227 balls to take England to an unlikely victory.

More than the fact that he managed it all was the way Mark Butcher set about his task. The scorecard of that match says that he hit 23 fours and a six. If we're not much mistaken, every single one of those fours was fired through the covers off the middle of the bat. McGrath, Gillespie, Warne and Lee pitched the ball outside off-stump, thinking Butcher would edge one sooner or later. 'Ping' said Mark Butcher's bat and the umpires waved their arms once again.


10 Great Innings

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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

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