Monday, 23 July 2012

The Primacy of Amla

On a day when Fantasy Bob scored a memorable 0* (Coming to the crease with both the winning total and his team mate's 50 one stroke away), Hashim Amla scored 311*. Even a dullard at arithmetic can work out the difference. FB understands that Amla was so meticulous in his praise of FB, it is only right that FB is fulsome in his praise of Amla. Facing the best bowling attack in the world, FB's innings is beyond description. By contrast, Amla only had to cope with England's blunted attack and was serene in everything he did. Amla is FB's newest batting hero.

A new hero for FB

FB's worldwide audience will know that prime numbers get FB excited.  He notes that Graeme Smith declared when Amla was on a prime. Supreme captaincy - worthy of FB himself. Smith himself also was dismissed on a prime - 131.  But Kallis' score of 182* is not prime, demonstrating Kallis' continued failure in England.

And Smith must feel frustrated that he couldn't declare with himself, Amla, Kallis and the overall total on a prime number.  The total was 637.  The nearest next prime is 641.  The nearest next prime to Kallis' 182 is 191.  You can see his problem.  No doubt this is what got Steyn and Morkel so fired up in England's second innings.

Only two batsmen have scored higher primes than Amla - Hanif Mohammad's 337 at Bridgetown  in 1958 and Younis Khan's 313 at Karachi in 2009.

Scores of 300 are not frequent - in 2049 Tests they have only happened 26 times.  Six of those have been in England of which Amla's is the second at the Oval.  The previous one was 364 beat by Len Hutton in 1938 when England beat Australia by what is still the record margin of an innings and 579 runs.  England are not going to be on the receiving end of such a thumping in this match, but after all the build up and the pleasure they took in their number one ranking, a defeat will seem even heavier.  Of course they may bat all Monday and save the game.

Just to revert to numbers again - Hutton's record score of 364 was overtaken by Sobers in 1958, the same year as Hanif's score.  It is one of only 3 years in the whole history of the world in which more than one triple century has been scored.  The others are 2004 and 2012.  In addition to Amla's innings, Michael Clarke scored 329* in Sydney against India in January.

By contrast, there are many years in the history of the world when FB has scored 0*.  There are even more years when he has scored just 0.


  1. Anoraks will note that Amla's score equalled that of Bobby Simpson in the Old Trafford Test of 1964. On that occasion England showed rather more resistance, with Ken Barrington and Ted Dexter batting it out to draw the match. None of these had such a splendid beard, however.
    Hashim Amla is almost an anagram of Hamish Imlach, but this is not relevant to any of the above.

    1. Many thanks, like you FB hoped for a rendition of 'The Cod Liver Oil and the Orange Juice' in the post match analysis but Hamish was too modest to oblige.