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100 great matches of the century
The CricInfo Top 10

We asked a group of CricInfo staffers and friends to supply their top 10 lists, as a basis for making the final choice of the CricInfo top-ten of the century. all have a comprehensive knowledge of cricket, many making their living through covering it for the media. Our most experienced correspondent was probably Trevor Chesterfield who writes "As I managed to see the first bowled in a Test after World War 2, at the Basin (1945/46) NZ v Aus (Ray Lindwall) and the last ball of the Century with about 120 Tests in between, I guess I can make a few presumptions!". We managed a wide representation of nationalities, with submissions from Australia, Canada, USA, England, South Africa, New Zealand, Pakistan, India, and Zimbabwe. We applied no constraints to our correspondents, and some wished to restrict themselves to matches they had seen themselves, or chose not to rank them from 1-10, or refused to consider limited overs matches. We don't claim that this is a fully representative grouping, and there is little doubt that bias, unconcious or otherwise, exists.

The panel consisted of:-

Some of our contributors chose to explain their choices in more detail, and these are listed below.

Mike Whitaker - my top 10

I guess what binds this selection of games together is not only the quality, but the memories associated with watching each of them. I very rarely get to see live cricket, so my cricket enjoyment is largely provided by TV, radio, IRC and the web.

10: Match 2: Derbyshire v Hampshire County Ground, Derby 15,16,17,18 September 1999

Perhaps the worst covered match of the lot. Sky guessed wrong, and picked David Boon's farewell game at Durham for their county game to end the 1999 season. They did, though, have a camera at the ground, and so highlights were available, but for the most part I and many others watched the drama unfold on the web, teletext and IRC. Derby looked buried at 163/7, but Defreitas clawed them back to less than 20 runs short of safety, with three wickets in hand, before ex- Yorkshireman Hartley and Mascarenhas wrapped it up and gauranteed Hnats a place in Division 1.

9: Match 66: 5th TEST: England v Australia at The Oval, 22-27 Aug 1968

Would that I'd been there. All that survives, or at least, is commonly shown, is the scenes of the crowd helping dry the outfield (for which I also have the first hand memories of a CricInfo colleague) and grainy black and white film of Deadly Derek Underwood bowling into the midst of a cluster of eight or nine close fielders, working magic with the ball off an uncovered pitch. A spinner at his best.

8: Match 7: 4th Test: England v Australia at Melbourne, 26-30 Dec 1998

I hate Ashes series Down Under, mostly because a day job prevents me watching the games live. As was my habit on this series, I staggered downstairs around 7am, to find not only that Australia hadn't clobbered England again, but they were in deep trouble and... the match was still going. To Sky TV's credit, they stayed with the game all the way through the marathon final session, Headley ripping the heart out of Australia with 6 for 60, and the irrepressible (but exhausted) Darren Gough coming up with the goods one final time to remove the tail.

7: Match 12: 6th TEST: England v Australia at The Oval, 21-23 Aug 1997

I doubt this will feature that highly in the final results, but I'm a huge Phil Tufnell fan, and had spent the entire series bemoaning his lack of inclusion. And then, as if to prove my point, he and Caddick rip Australia apart in a low scoring match where three bowlers took seven-for's. A game where I was Supposed To Be Doing Something Else, with friends, and we kept turning the game on on TV, finding out the score, and turning off again: the intervals became shorter, and the amount of time we spent watching grew, progressively, over that final day.

6: Match 14: 3rd Test: England v South Africa at Manchester, 2-6 July 1998

Thank you CricInfo! Like many people with daytime jobs, I'd never have experienced the tension of this one without the Internet scorecard and commentary. To this day, I haven't seen any extended TV highlights of that nailbiting final session, but I suffered through every ball of Fraser's gutsy 13-ball nought not out, and those last two overs.

5: Match 3: 2nd Semi-Final: Australia v South Africa at Birmingham, 17 Jun 1999

This will probably rate quite highly in the final top 10, I suspect. Not just for that gripping final over, and the sheer farce of that final run out, but for Warne's quite unbelievable bowling, mesmerising and cleaning up the South African top order in a way which quite clearly sent shock waves through their final opponents, Pakistan. As far as coverage goes, this is probably the only game of my top ten that I actually watched on TV from start to finish!

4: Match 13: 1st TEST: Zimbabwe v England at Bulawayo (QSC), 18-22 Dec 1996

Without Test Match Special, where would we be? My parents don't have Sky, and we drove back from Sunday lunch out with the radio on, listening to Knight and Stewart tear along at almost one-day rates towards the target, before we got home and clustered round the radio to hear Blowers describe the finish. So close.

3: Match 43: 4th TEST: England v Australia at Birmingham, 30 Jul-2 Aug 1981

Fuel to the Botham legend. In a Test match where no batsman made fifty, it's inevitable that the bowlers will dominate. And yet Botham apparently didn't want to bowl, at the death, but Brearley coaxed him into it. 4.4 overs, and 5 wickets for one run later, the rest is history. This was another of those games we walked away from, and figured we'd check on later, to see how badly England had been beaten. Six people, clustered round a car radio, in Didcot station carpark, listening to TMS describe that spell with mixed delight and disbelief.

2: Match 19: Pakistan v Sri Lanka at Nairobi Gymkhana, 4 Oct 1996

Afridi's game. And also, for me, CricInfo's. I can't do justice to this in its entirety without completely recapping a piece I've already written for CricInfo, so the best I can do is refer you to that. In essence, this was both a day when cricket was the winner, and a day when it was a real pleasure to be a part of CricInfo in action.

1: Match 44: 3rd TEST: England v Australia at Leeds, 16-21 Jul 1981

I never saw a ball of Botham's 149 live. Nor Willis' 8-43. The Botham assault was featured on news bulletins all Sunday, as a measure of light in the gloom that was the series to date. And I was in school, after the end of term, to use the computers. My maths teacher was a cricket fan, and didn't object to the radio I had with me. Neither did he object to the resulting mayhem wreaked by a totally focussed Bob WIllis, all the way to that final searing middle stump yorker to eliminate the luckless Ray Bright with the score on Nelson. My father wouldn't believe the result when he picked me up from school, until he'd turned the news on in the car.

And the game I'd ask to include? The Warwickshire/Sussex NatWest final from 1993. The archived match report on CricInfo tells a better story than I can, but in summary - Sussex set a record target, and Warwicks, in the person of Asif Din and Dermot Reeve, set about chasing it, until Reeve and Roger Twose managed the desired 14 off the final over in what seemed like pitch darkness.

Jeff Green

This was never going to be easy! For a start 100 great matches was far too few and some of my own top 10 never made it into the 100 -see the reader's suggestions!

Now down to the CricInfo list. For me, great cricket matches have quite a few elements, and I think my eclectic selection will illustrate this. They need heros and sometimes villains, ups and downs, ebbs and flows. They need to interest me - that means that Surrey and England will feature unjustifiably high in the list. However all great cricket interests me so there are others too.

  1. #44 on the list. 1st is "Botham's match" Leeds 1981 and the most outlandish reversal of fortunes in Test history, Botham as captain had had no form with bat or ball and was lucky to be playing in the game. In the first 2 and a half innings England were getting thrashed and then...
  2. #66 is second almost solely because I will never get another chance to help England win the Ashes, I was a spectator!
  3. #70 is third, heroes were first on my list and Cowdrey with his arm in plaster was certainly a hero!
  4. #75 - Heroes again and there are still several questions to answer, how could Australia play so badly? How could Lock get only 1 wicket? And how could it last almost to the end of the 5th day?
  5. #71 - the tied test, well only the first one but it has been "the tied test" for most of my life! It had everything, and I would have given anything to be there, though at 3 I doubt I would have appreciated it!
  6. #78 - With a little help from 2 friends of mine Ramadin and Valentine and yes if pushed I can do the whole song! Wouldn't it be nice to see West Indies with 3 great batsmen and 2 great spinners again?
  7. #83 - well I wanted 82 or 83 but Bradman's end swung it, the end of the greatest of all batting careers was worth a game in itself, but it was also the end of the tour for perhaps the best of all Test teams, and was quite a match too!
  8. #99 - Jessop's match. Wouldn't we all have liked to see Jessop bat?
  9. #93 (Hobbs, the subject of intense media interest, equals Grace's record of 126 centuries, and then passes it in the 2nd innings.) - well Hobbs is my hero.
  10. #90 or 92?.The start of Bradman's career swings it as I also have the end
  11. tenth unless I have miscounted is #3 [Jeff miscounted]. There aren't many great ODIs, there are many even good ones but every now and then...
With great reluctance I will stop there but before I do I need to mention that game in ... and there was .... and then again... and what about... and I hated discarding ... You get the idea, it would be a different list tomorrow

David Dyte

  1. 71. 1st TEST: Australia v W.Indies at Brisbane, 9-14 Dec 1960 Nothing more need be said of the greatest game ever played, possibly in any sport.
  2. NA. Australia v England, MCG, 1982-83 Border and Thomson's astonishing 10th wicket stand brings 10,000 to the ground for the last day, even when the match could end after one ball. With the Aussies still 3 runs short of a tie, Botham finds the edge of Thommo's bat - Tavare drops the catch, but Miller swoops to win the game.
  3. NA. South Africa v Australia, Port Elizabeth, 1996-97 Collapses, comebacks, a match that swung every which way, and won with a six! Oh my.
  4. 82. 4th TEST: England v Australia at Leeds, 22-27 Jul 1948 This had everything. A pretty good English team against the greatest Australia ever saw.
  5. 91. Victoria v New South Wales at Melbourne, 24-27 Dec 1926 I'm Victorian.
  6. 95. Warwickshire v Hampshire at Birmingham, 14-16 Jun 1922 This is simply the best cricket anecdote ever told. The fact that it's true makes it even better.
  7. NA. Zimbabwe v England, Harare, 1996-97 Alistair Campbell's big hitting takes Zimbabwe to 249 in their quest to complete a rare ODI series sweep of England. When Eddo Brandes, an erratic performer at best, destroys England's top order with the hat-trick of Knight, Crawley and Hussain, victory seems assured. A tight spell from Paul Strang makes certain, and Eddo becomes a national hero.
  8. 55. 3rd TEST: West Indies v India at Port-of-Spain, 7-12 Apr 1976 Indian cricket's finest moment? Perhaps. Any team that can chase down 400 in a test match has performed a mighty feat indeed.
  9. 52. CENTENARY TEST: Australia v England at Melbourne, 12-17 Mar 1977 McCosker batting while swathed in bandages, heroics from Hookes, Lillee, Walker, Randall, Knott, sportsmanship from Marsh, the same result as the first test. And all while I stayed at home and delayed my first ever test match for a year because I wanted a birthday party. I have never forgiven my 8 year old self for this.
  10. 22. 4th TEST: Australia v West Indies at Adelaide, 23-26 Jan 1993 Why does this keep happening to Australia? I don't know, but it certainly makes for entertaining viewing.
Dave Liverman

Any selection is biased by the selector's memory, interests and experience. As background, I saw my first Test in 1964, but grew up in a house filled with cricket books. I thus have always loved to read cricket history, and certainly some of these selections were coloured by the purple prose of Arlott, Cardus and others. I also believe that cricket is played with two innings/side, with the end of the innings being a declaration or when 10 wickets have fallen. The other game that resembles cricket, where innings are closed after a fixed number of overs, can be entertaining, and a diversion, but does not compare to the real thing. Of the list, the first 5 were certainties. The last 5 were picked from at least 20, and on another day I'd come up with a totally different selection - what a fine game cricket is!

  1. 1st TEST: Australia v W.Indies at Brisbane, 9-14 Dec 1960. Many things make a close game - a tight finish, great individual performances, historic significance. This one had it all. A century from the great Sir Gary, topped by the elegant Norman O'Neill, the two finest post-war captains battling it out, the glorious fast bowling of Wes Hall, the most enthralling finish possible, and the first tie in Tests. There can be no other choice of the greatest match of the century.
  2. 2nd TEST: England v West Indies at Lord's, 20-25 Jun 1963 Draws are boring, right? Not this one. I can remember listening to the closing overs on the radio, and assuming the match was lost when the 9th wicket fell.
  3. 5th TEST: England v Australia at The Oval, 11-13 Aug 1902 This is the stuff of legends. Known as Jessop's match yet look at Hirst's performance. Hard for us to know just what Jessop's innings was like, especially as few of us have seen what top-class bowling on a wet wicket can do. Jessop, Trumble, Trumper, Rhodes, Hirst, Jackson, MacLaren, Armstrong, Gregory, Hayward - the golden age of cricket.
  4. Match 44: 3rd TEST: England v Australia at Leeds, 16-21 Jul 1981 I saw little of this game - I did not have a TV! I listened to Botham's innings on the radio, and saw the start of the final assault by Willis through the window of a local TV shop. An astonishing turn-around, and England's finest hour in some ways, although the Australian batting line up was by no means its strongest.
  5. Warwickshire v Hampshire at Birmingham, 14-16 Jun 1922 You wouldn't believe it if it were written in a novel. The ultimate turn-around of fortunes, and a lesson to us all - never give up!
  6. CENTENARY TEST: Australia v England at Melbourne, 12-17 Mar 1977 A wonderful match to mark a wonderful event, and the marvellous coincidence of the result. I vividly recall staying up most of the night listening to England's valiant attempt to reach a huge 4th innings target, led by Randall's wonderful innings.
  7. 5th TEST: England v Australia at The Oval, 14-18 Aug 1926 A personal favourite - some wonderful players, and a masterpiece of wet-wicket batting from Hobbs and Sutcliffe.
  8. FINAL: India v West Indies at Lord's, 25 Jun 1983 Well I had to include one one day match, and this one is picked because of the occassion, and because I always cheer for the underdog. India only barely made it to the final - they were on their way out of the competition before Kapil's 175 against Zimbabwe, and no-one thought they'd beat the mighty West Indies. As well look who took the wickets- a wonderful team effort and a triumph for the medium pacer!
  9. 1st TEST: South Africa v England at Durban, 16-20 Dec 1948 - a somewhat forgotten match, decided off the last possible ball. I have a tape of Arlott's commentary of the final overs - great stuff!
  10. 3rd TEST: West Indies v India at Port-of-Spain, 7-12 Apr 1976. A successful chase of 404 in the fourth innings, Viv and Vishy, Bedi, Venkat and Chandra, Gavaskar and Holding - a classic.

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