The 44 Balls that Shook the World



It’s not a pretty place. It’s a place where strange things happen. It is cricket’s Bermuda Triangle.

Former Australian quick Mick Lewis probably shares the same thoughts.

He holds the record for the most runs conceded in an ODI.

It happened in Johannesburg.


He would tell you that for bowlers, Johannesburg is unsafe and that strange things happen there. That was his experience in March 2006.

January 2015 has seen another bowling apocalypse. Same place. Different names. Bigger scale.

Under normal circumstances, Rilee Rossouw making a century would be a headline event.

Before yesterday, 50% of his 10 ODI innings had returned an aggregate of zero runs.

Take a minute to let that sink in. Absorb it.

Under normal circumstances, Hashim Amla posting his highest ever ODI score would also be headline news.

153 (142)*

Under normal circumstances, people drive across continents to watch ‘The Hash’ bat. You would walk across the solar system to see him make 150.

Under normal circumstances, an opening batting partnership of 247 would usually be a talking point. No South African opening pair had ever achieved more.

It is a hard one to break.

But normal is probably a word that needs to be left at the door when AB de Villiers is the topic.

People bemoan the slow death of Test and ODI cricket due to the extremeness of T20.

Those people fail to realise that greatness can redefine, reshape and reset almost anything.

AB de Villiers has done that with the One Day game.

To be more precise, it was achieved in only 44 balls.

The 44 balls that shook the world.

It was carnage. He lobbed a grenade into the West Indian team huddle. It was unfair. They had no warning. They didn’t see it coming. They didn’t even know they were at war.

Those 44 balls that conceded 149 runs.

That’s a strike rate per ball of 3.38. In reality, you can’t hit a 3.38. Cricket is not that precise.

To achieve it, you need to be hitting or clearing the boundary. Continually. Practically every ball.

AB only faced the equivalent of 7.2 overs. He made 149 runs. That’s 20.32 per over.

If you extrapolate that over a full 50 over game, de Villiers was capable of making 1016 runs. Do the boring middle overs exist in this environment?

[Insert Dramatic Hyperbole praising AB de Villiers even further]

The truth of the matter is that those 44 balls are said to have claimed at least 10 world records.

They include the fastest ODI fifty and hundred, the fastest ODI century partnership, the highest strike rate for someone making a fifty or hundred and he is the only person to make an ODI ton when coming in after the 30th over has commenced. In fact, he’s done that one twice.

Why does he come in so late?

Coincidentally, multiple bowling records were also broken during those 44 balls. But they were not the good ones. Mick Lewis can rest easy knowing his 0/113 is still safe.

AB is fallible though.

He unselfishly got himself dismissed for 149.

If that wicket delivery had instead been a single, he would have also claimed the record for the fastest ever 150 in an ODI. It would have beaten the old record by only 37 balls.

That’s only a lazy 6 overs faster than the next best.

Cricket archaeologists will one day sift through the ruins of those 44 balls and discover yet more unrealised treasure. Of this, I am certain.

Under normal circumstances, the 44 balls that shook the world would not exist.

But this is Johannesburg..

Strange things happen in Johannesburg.

‘Normal circumstances’ is a term that never applies to AB de Villiers.

Did that really happen?


Players with high test cricket + one day international cricket batting averages

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Jacques Kallis recently retired from international cricket with a phenomenal record of close to 25,000 runs, almost 600 wickets and 300+ catches on the international stage. He ended up with batting averages of 55.37 in test cricket and 44.36 in one day internationals (ODIs), leading to a sum just shy of 100. In turns out this is the highest sum of averages for any retired player who has played both of these forms of the game, just ahead of Michael Hussey (not counting players with a small number of innings).

The following tables show current and former players with a sum of test and ODI batting average above 90. Sangakkara has improved his numbers in both formats dramatically in recent years while Amla and de Villiers are the only players with sum exceeding 100. Statistics are current to August 30 2014.

Current players

Test cricket One day international cricket
Player Innings Runs Average Innings Runs

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N Srinivasan’s Ten Commandments

BCCI-Srinivasan-Despicable(1)IT’S ALL DONE AND DUSTED. The governing body of the International Cricket Council has passed constitutional changes, altering its structure to make Mr. N. Srinivasan the most powerful man in world cricket. Currently barred from his role as President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India by the Supreme Court of India, it isn’t hard to imagine Mr. Srinivasan’s ‘Ten Commandments’, his first call of order as Chairman of the ICC!

1. Mr. Srinivasan shall only be addressed as ‘His Excellency’.

2. Mr. Giles Clarke and Mr. Wally Edwards shall begin proceedings at every ICC meeting with a traditional South Indian puja, in lungis of their respective national colours.

3. ICC will shift headquarters to Chennai, India. An ICC ‘Cement Throne’ shall be made for His Excellency to conduct every meeting. A statue of Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri and Laxman Sivaramakrishnan shall also be erected in front of the headquarters.

4. At the start of every International Cricket Council (ICC) meeting, each board member must kiss His Excellency’s BCCI emblazoned 24 carat gold ring.

5. Every board member will travel business class, stay in five star hotels, and watch cricket in the best seats, over and above being paid large sums of money to do as your heart desires.

6. Loyalty may be rewarded in the form of a stake in an Indian Premier League team.

7. Mr. Gurunath Meiyappan will head the ICC Anti-­‐Corruption Unit. Mohammed Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja will assist him.

8. It is mandatory for every board member to stand and applaud His Excellency’s immaculate golf swing.

9. ‘Vande Mataram’ by A. R. Rahman is the new ICC anthem, which must be memorized and sung by all board members.

10. Filter coffee and Idlis must be served at every ICC meeting.

With the future of world cricket in apparently ‘safe’ hands, may Sachin bless fans of the gentleman’s game!



The Indian Premier League is about to enter its seventh season, and Friday  was the last day for teams to firm up the core of their side for the next three years.

So why is player retention so crucial? Aside from the obvious reason that it ensures continuity, it prevents your best players from testing the market. Hence, a team can retain a player for a certain cost to their salary cap, even though they might have got more had they been in the auction.

More importantly for the franchise, the amount deducted from their auction purse could well be considerably less than what they might be paying a retained player. For example, the Chennai Super Kings retained Mahendra Singh Dhoni for $1.8 million. Compared to that, the Kolkata Knight Riders paid $2.4 million for Gautam Gambhir in the 2011 auction.

It’s safe to say Dhoni would’ve drawn a far higher price, and may well be paid more than the $1.8 million CSK lost from their salary cap for retaining the Indian captain. That freed up a considerable sum that CSK could use on buying other players in the auction, which they did by outbidding other franchises for players like Mike Hussey, Ravichandran Ashwin and Dwayne Bravo.

It is no coincidence that Chennai and Mumbai Indians, the only teams to retain the full quota of four players, were also the only sides to make the playoffs in each of the three seasons since the retention.

So how have the teams used their options this time? Here’s a look at who the teams have retained, how many more they can retain through their “right to match”, and how much money they’ve left for the IPL auction scheduled to be held next month.


Given that the team composition requires sides to play atleast seven Indian players in the XI, Chennai seem to have done the best business by retaining four Indian players. They might use their right to match on Hussey, who’s having an excellent season with Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash.


Mumbai have retained three Indian players and their two overseas retentions, Kieron Pollard and Lasith Malinga, are among the biggest names in T20 cricket. They had such a strong squad that one can see them use their “right to match” on any one of Mitchell Johnson, Pragyan Ojha, or Dinesh Karthik.


Rajasthan Royals have kept a healthy balance with the players they’ve retained. Australians Shane Watson, James Faulker, and new India recruit Stuart Binny can bowl. They’re also good with the bat, which is what Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Samson have been retained for. Samson also keeps wickets.


Royal Challengers Bangalore are woefully short on Indian players and bowlers, but to be fair to them, none of their bowlers or Indian players are likely to fetch Rs.5.5 crore in the auction, which is what RCB would’ve had to pay to retain a fourth player.


Kolkata Knight Riders have gambled on building a new squad, although they can retain two of their players in addition to captain Gautam Gambhir and ace spinner Sunil Narine. They could’ve considered retaining an uncapped player in the form of Rajat Bhatia, who has been a key performer for them since 2011 and for the Delhi Daredevils before that.


Sunrisers Hyderabad surprisingly chose to not retain Amit Mishra. The leggie has been one of the most consistent players in the IPL and with only two teams retaining a spinner, one can expect a lot of demand for slow bowlers.


While losing Rs.12.5 crore of their salary cap for David Miller might be high, Kings XI Punjab simply couldn’t afford to let teams get into a bidding war over one of the cleanest hitters around. None of their capped Indian players were worth retaining for the cap money they’d have lost. They also gave the biggest surprise of retention day by keeping Manan Vohra. It’s difficult to see how he would’ve fetched a bid of Rs.4 crore, or why they didn’t retain Mandeep Singh for the same amount as he’s rated higher in the domestic circuit.


Delhi have chosen to build from scratch, although they could use their right to match for players like Kevin Pietersen and David Warner. Given that most of their best players are foreigners, it may not be the worst move to wait for the auction and retain them at a lower price.

‘King Kallis’ signs off with a special knock


South Africa’s Jacques Kallis marked his impending retirement by scoring a century in the 166th and final Test of his career, becoming the third highest Test run scorer in the process.

On December 14, 1995 – when Jacques Kallis walked to the crease at Durban, little did the cricket fraternity know, here was a legend who would become one of the finest all-rounders, and possibly, South Africa`s greatest sportsman ever. But when the 38-year-old walked on to the same ground 18 years later, on day four of his final Test match, the crowd gave a rousing reception to the man who many believe is arguably the greatest ever all-rounder to have played the game.

It was a slow start by South Africa on day four of the Durban Test. Amid overcast conditions, Kallis and Steyn came to the crease, so did the crowd anticipating a good knock from their legendary sportsman. Kallis walked to the field unbeaten on 78, and he was 22 runs short of what would be a memorable knock in his last Test innings. Even if he scored 30-40 runs, it wouldn’t have done any damage to his image as a world class player. And honestly, I am sure a big knock wasn’t expected from the 38-year-old, who had witnessed a lean patch in 2013. But all these predictions were put to rest by a nervous but determined Kallis, who scored his 45th Test ton.

While Kallis was often compared with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting, one shouldn’t forget that simultaneously, he was also compared with the mighty Garry Sobers. A single player’s comparison with such legends in itself is a testament of the all-rounder’s unmatchable class.

Kallis couldn’t have asked for a better Test for a farewell. It was a match where he completed 200 Test catches, surpassed Rahul Dravid to become the third highest run-scorer in Tests, and finally did something which the trio of Lara, Ponting and even Tendulkar couldn’t – signing off with a century in his final Test innings.

Sachin Tendulkar tweets : …… It’s been a joy to have played against you. Jacques you are a true Champion. Retired life isn’t so bad :-))

South African time

ImagePietersen left South Africa. Amla stayed, endured dark times and eventually flourished.

It is a warm evening in south London, with just a hint of the hazy stickiness that infuses the capital’s air when the temperature and humidity climb. It is July 2012 and the sunshine comes as welcome relief after weeks of sullen skies and intense rain.

The Oval is tense as Kevin Pietersen searches for the fluency and restless innovation which are the leitmotifs of his best batting. The South African attack is fast, skilful and persistently accurate. On 14, Pietersen is dropped at second slip by Jacques Kallis. It is an illusory release of pressure.

He has added only two runs before his stumps are shattered by Morne Morkel, a gangling young Afrikaner with gentle features which contrast sharply with the coltish aggression of his bowling, where pace and bounce are all. Pietersen, with his proud, upright bearing and composed demeanour, leaves the field. The mood is heavy with the scent of unburdened emotion and thwarted ambition.

One of the South African team is Hashim Mahomed Amla, a 29-year-old from Durban who is now among the world’s greatest batsmen. He has met Pietersen before. In 1999, Amla and Pietersen played for KwaZulu-Natal against England. Pietersen saw himself as a shackled, repressed talent, forced to bowl off-spin while dreaming of a better life abroad; Amla was 16, saturnine and clean-shaven, yet to become the wearer of the second-most-celebrated beard in cricket history.

A few months later, Pietersen left South Africa. Amla stayed, endured dark times and eventually flourished. His batting is a potent amalgam of technical precision, fluid timing and understated power. In 2012, in England, this is as good as the batsman’s art can get.

The history of South African Test cricket is weighed down by unfulfilled expectations and denied promise. Great, great players – Pollock, Procter, Richards, van der Bijl – went to their cricketing graves without an extended opportunity to display their talents on the widest stage. But this is to say nothing of the legions of cricketers who, because of their race, were denied the chance to stand even on the rung below.

Once upon a time, Amla would have been the player required to leave his homeland to realise his potential and live out his dreams. It would have been the destiny of Pietersen, with his expensive Pietermaritzburg education and his apparently inviolable sense of self-certainty, to wear the national cap.

Amla is a modest, reserved, devout man. He wastes little emotion but, as he leaves the field at the close of a day on which he has completed the highest individual score by a South African Test batsman, he exudes calm satisfaction. His place in history is secure.

Cricket is a game of conjunctions, of ironies, of veiled resonances. When Hashim Amla was a boy, his country didn’t have an international team. Now, for him and his nation, the feeling of belonging is sweet.

This is their time.