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The Men Who Raised the Bar The evolution of the highest individual score in Test cricket By Chris Waters

Release date: 13th December, 2020
Publisher: Wisden

List Price: £16.99
Our Price: £10.57
You Save: £6.42 (37%)
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If the almost inhumane combination of lockdown, dry January, long dark nights and trash TV have you climbing the wall, then reading Chris Waters’ The Men Who Raised the Bar is likely to make life considerably more enjoyable.

Waters, who wrote the acclaimed biography of Fred Trueman, has conjured a collection of perfectly-weighted essays focusing upon the men (there are only ten of them) who complied what at the time was the highest individual Test score.

The current record of 400 has been held by Brian Lara since 2004; he remains the only man to raise the bar twice after his knock of 375 a decade earlier ensured he assumed the mantle from Sir Garfield Sobers who held the record for 36 years.

The evolution has certainly been slow. It began with Charles Bannerman in the very first Test in 1877 when he rattled up an impressive 165 not out (retired hurt), an innings which contributed to Australia’s 45-run victory over England. Bannerman could have been playing for England; he was born in Woolwich, London, in 1851, but his family emigrated Down Under when he was just two after his father was posted to Australia to work at the Sydney Mint.

Bannerman junior would later work for the Sydney Mint, although he was sacked for being “guilty of insolence to his superior office and for general insubordination”. An Aussie with attitude. Whatever next?

Though photos show a stern, upright individual, Bannerman sounds a bit of a rascal. He left his wife and children for a much younger woman, appearing in court to answer charges of wife desertion. However, Waters’ skilful touch and polished narrative style will have you wondering why a modern biography of Bannerman has yet to be published.

The list of names on Waters’ evolutionary Test score list features several cricketing greats: Bradman, who scored 334; Hammond (336); Hutton (364) and Sobers (365). This means that no man has recorded a higher Test score than Brian Lara for almost 27 years.

Will Lara’s colossal total be surpassed? Perhaps – and probably not by much. Other than a flurry of gradually-increasing scores registered in the 1930s by Messrs Sandham, Bradman, Hatton and Hutton, the bar has been raised only slowly, a comforting thought for cricket fans everywhere.


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