As Pakistan’s Test skipper Misbah-ul-Haq enters the Guinness Book of World Records for being the ‘oldest’ cricketer to have scored the fastest ever Test century (in terms of deliveries), one cannot help but wonder as to whether it really is the best ever?
Misbah scored a quick-fire 57-ball 101 in the 2014-15 Abu Dhabi Test against Australia which Pakistan eventually won by a huge 356-run margin.
That effort eclipsed the original record held by West Indian legend Sir Vivian Richards who scored a blistering 56-ball century in that famous five-nil ‘Black wash’ of England at Antigua in 1985-86.
Why, even Australia’s very own smasher Adam Gilchrist etched his name in that exclusive list during the 2006-07 Ashes against England (a 5-0 whitewash for the Poms this time around!) thanks to a fiery 59-ball unbeaten 102 at Perth which had Andrew Flintoff’s men running all around the WACA.
Of course the first ever player to have achieved this enviable feat was England’s GL Jessop – famously known as the ‘Croucher’ – to have scored a cracking 76-ball ton against the Aussies in the Oval Test of 1902.
But then that was a completely different cricketing era and who knows what may have transpired if Jessop were to be alive to face bowlers of this generation!
To add more spice to this list is Australia’s Jack Gregory who has to his credit the fastest ever Test century in terms of minutes (70 to be precise) thanks to a superb 67-ball effort which surprised South Africa at Johannesburg in 1921-22.
The quirkiest part of both Jessop and Gregory’s feats is that of them being fearsome pacers with batting being only an additional appendage to their massive skill-sets.
So coming back to Misbah and despite the skipper doing a superb job in that game against the Aussies it definitely cannot be compared amongst the other four efforts thanks to the many factors involved.
Firstly, Misbah’s effort came in an absolute dust bowl of a track against a toothless Australian attack in a yawn inducing series which saw tons of runs being scored bereft of viewership.
Secondly, where the other four stand out is thanks to the quality of bowling and the wickets not exactly being batsmen oriented.
Take Richards’ effort for an instance.
Agreed that though Richards and company made David Gower’s side ‘grovel’ throughout that famous series, still the opposition had Ian Botham and John Emburey, bowlers of the highest caliber.
Also the century coming on a grass-wicket purely assisting bowlers only adds value to Richard’s achievement.
Even Gilchrist’s effort was against a top-class bowling consisting of Matthew Hoggard, Flintoff and Steve Harmison, bowlers who had not very long ago skittered out the Aussies with prodigious swing in the now famous Ashes series of 2005.
Looking at the fact that Jessop and Gregory were not quality batsmen by any standards then Misbah’s effort definitely loses much of its luster.
But again, credit must be given to Misbah for not everyone has etched their way in Guinness Book history and this achievement may only spur him to give his best during the twilight of his cricketing career.
With records tumbling in Test cricket faster than ever, is it really safe to brand that the longer version of the game is being morphed into a much more dynamic version of its original self?
Though only time will prove whether Test cricket will evolve into a speedier and faster version of itself or whether it will roll back to the old ages of batsmen stonewalling bowlers throughout the day, Misbah’s feat is one to be venerated and held in the highest regard.
A Guinness for T20 or ODI players anyone?