Club Cricket Conference

Tuesday, 25th February 2020

Atherton's name is raised on high while Tendulkar stays outside

By Charles Randall

1 March 2019

Mike Atherton will be pleased that women's centuries and five-wicket returns in international matches are to be recorded on the honours boards at Lord's, as announced by the MCC.

That means that one-day matches will count retrospectively for men and women when previously only Test matches qualified. That in turn means that Atherton's name will no longer be missing from the wall after being sensationally run out on 99 in the 1993 Ashes series. Other eminent cricketers such as Ricky Ponting and Muttiah Muralitharan are also reprieved by their ODI feats at Lord's, leaving Sachin Tendulkar still missing.

For all Tendulkar's phenomenal career and talent, the Indian maestro never hit an international century at Lord's in any form of cricket. Several relatively obscure batsmen, such as Chris Woakes in 2018, at least managed that - sometimes the only hundred of their careers  - so that Tendulkar's 100 international centuries counted as nothing in this context.

The club cricketers of Richmondshire CC will be able to visit these boards when they play MCC at Lord's on April 24 as a reward for winning the Royal London Club Championship in 2018. It would have perhaps been fitting if the beaten finalists Stanmore had prevailed  because their new chairman Angus Fraser, director of cricket at Middlesex, would have felt very much at home.

Fraser appears twice on the boards as a bowler, the first time for his 5-104 against India in 1990, a game better known for Graham Gooch's 333, but his five wickets in 1995 set up England's first victory against West Indies at headquarters since 1957.

The victory was memorable for Atherton as captain, though there was no sign of that Lord's century. Two years previously, against Mervyn Hughes and company, he had been cruising towards batting posterity when, on 97, he  clipped a shot to deep midwicket. He seemed certain to make the three runs needed, but Mike Gatting sent him back on the third, causing Atherton to slip, floundering agonisingly close to safety. So none of his 16 Test centuries would be made at Lord's.

As a contrast to Tendulkar, the India seam bowler Ajit Agarkar hit his only Test century at Lord's in 2002. He finished his career with seven consecutive ducks, the first four being first-ballers, but the 'Bombay Duck' at least could claim superiority on the board.

Percy Sherwell is an obscure name, appearing in 1907 after his sole Test century for South Africa.  As wicketkeeper, he played as captain in all his 13 matches, which must be unusual if not unprecedented.

Harry Graham hit 107 at Lord's on debut for Australia in 1893. Known as  'the little dasher' he was regarded as the most exciting fielder and batsman of his day. He hit one more Test century, but touring exhausted him and he had problems earning a living. He died an alcoholic in new Zealand at the age of 40.

Maurice Tate's sole Test century went on the board in 1929 for his 100 not out against South Africa at the age of 34. Though previously a pillar of Sussex's batting for many years, his form had tailed off  by then as he morphed into  the finest of seam-bowlers. Tate only started bowling seam at the age of 27 before forcing his way into Test cricket two years later.

Rob Key's only Test century proved to be his  221 against West Indies in 2004 for the board at Lord's, an honour for Kent and Beckenham CC.  Another sole centurion was leg-spinner David Holford. His 105 not out in 1966 saved the West Indies from a probable defeat in a sixth-wicket stand of 274 with his cousin Gary Sobers. Spectators and players alike would recall the utter frustration for England as the hours passed.

The players with most Test hundreds at Lord's? Michael Vaughan and Graham Gooch hit six each.  Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss made five.