Cricket Diary: Close of play so a hearty here's to you, Mr Robinson

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The Independent Online
TIME THEN for the valedictions. By this time next week, the usual late September crop will have left big cricket forever. As usual, they will range from the great and the good to the whatever did anybody see in him? Now is hardly the moment to pass comment on that.

Here then is a small selection of those who will be seen in the first- class game no more in the new millennium...

Tim Robinson - An opening batsman of high concentration who knew all about hitting the bad ball, he played 29 Tests for England and scored four centuries, the lowest of which was 148. Has scored more than 27,000 first-class runs, led Nottinghamshire to their B & H Cup triumph in 1989 when he was man of the match. Finest achievements were probably in his second Test in India, when he made 160 over eight hours, and the following summer when England hammered Australia to regain the Ashes. Robinson scored two hundreds in the series and averaged 61.25.

Kevan James - As a journeyman all-rounder he produced inspired pieces of cricket when least expected. The highest of his 10 hundreds was the 162 he took off Glamorgan in 1989, at Basingstoke in 1997 he took 13 for 93 including 8 for 49 in the second innings as Hampshire beat Somerset by nine runs. But he had secured his place in the game's history the summer before at Southampton when on 29 June he took four Indian wickets in consecutive balls (Rathore, Tendulkar, Dravid and Manjrekar) and the following day scored 103. He is the only player to have taken four in four and made a hundred in the same match. "James solves England's all-rounder problem," said the headlines.

David Boon - England should probably be glad to be seeing the back of an Australian who constantly helped to undermine the Ashes cause. This was no more so than in 1983 when he made three hundreds in consecutive matches, fully compensating for his failure to register one in England before. Remorseless was the word most often used to describe him. Perhaps, in the end, the English should be indebted to him. He came to Durham three seasons ago and if he does not succeed in taking them to the first division he has given them something almost as valuable which they lacked utterly - respectability.

Tim Tweats - Never made his mark in the game as he might have done. But it seemed he had cracked the secret when he scored two successive hundreds - albeit one was in his final innings of the 1997 season and the other in his first of 1998. They were both large, 189 and 161, but could not help his career average above 30.

Nigel Plews - The last umpire on the list never to have played first- class cricket and the only one, as we were constantly reminded, who had been a Fraud Squad detective. Stood in 11 Tests, making his international debut at Trent Bridge in 1988 when West Indies won by an innings and 156 runs. But he might have saved the best until nearly the last. At Old Trafford on Friday he had to call off play for the day because of sunshine.

PRECISELY 98 years ago today the great C B Fry scored his sixth successive hundred. The feat has been equalled twice in the years since (by Donald Bradman, of course, and Mike Procter) but never beaten.

Fry's sixth hundred came for the Rest of England against Yorkshire at Lord's but his 105, as the champion county were beaten by an innings and 115 runs, was somewhat overshadowed at the time by Gilbert Jessop's 233, struck in two and a half hours.

The match raised pounds 350 for the family of William Yardley, the former cricketer (the first man to make a hundred in the University Match) and comedy playwright who had died a year earlier. Fry's previous quintet of centuries had been made for Sussex, of which the highest was 209 at Hove, also against Yorkshire. This run was also part of eight consecutive fifties for Fry. He had preceded it with 88 and ended it at the start of the 1902 season with 82.

NOBODY, it turned out, had a great enough sense of history to make 99 on the ninth of the ninth 99. The closest seems to have been Ricky Ponting who made 96 for Australia in the First Test against Sri Lanka, though another Australian was 24 hours early. Andrew Symonds scored 99 for Kent on 8/9/99 which does not, of course, have quite the same resonance.

BOOK MARK

"Hurrah! Hurrah! The task is done! Shout lads both loud and hearty! The famous fight is fought and won. Let's toast the winning party. Here's to Surrey's famous team. Cheer them Saints and Sinners! Let us all take up the theme, Give credit to the Winners."

Yes, well, that is by way of honouring the county Champions, from Well Done Surrey, penned by one Albert Craig, the self-styled Cricket Rhymester in 1887.

DON'T STOP THE CARNIVAL

Well, Australia have been given a hearty trouncing by Sri Lanka (wipe your eyes, please) first in the one-day series final and then in the First Test. For them the carnival might at last be over. But, what was that? Remember Shane Warne, who was finished, a broken-shouldered leg-spinner barely a year ago. He made his point when it mattered in the World Cup, in semi-final and final, and on Friday when he took over as captain and took 5 for 52. The trouble with Australians is they never know when to stop partying.

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