Cricket Diary: Scott reaches his great landmark

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The Independent Online
FOR Chris Scott a century had ceased to be an ambition. It was a figure over some distant horizon, which in 13 years as professional cricketer he had never approached.

Then, the other day he batted as though he had routinely trodden the path there most weeks of each summer.

''I wasn't nervous in the nineties because I had never been in the nineties before to get nervous about,' he said somewhat perplexingly after his maiden century for Durham. Not just any old hundred either but one against the formidable attack of the Championship leaders, Surrey.

'I was surprised how much easier batting became the longer I was in,' he said. 'I still had to concentrate every ball but it all flowed much more. I couldn't have done it without the lads down the order staying around.'

In terms of innings, the 30-year-old Scott (his previous highest score was 78 against the less formidable Cambridge University in 1983) did not have such a long wait for his first century. He had batted a mere 136 times, so his 108 represented a high rate of return compared, say, with Eddie Hemmings, who has had nearly 700 innings for just one hundred, and that came some 35 visits to the crease ago.

Still, 13 years is an uncommonly long time in any career, though the great left-arm spin bowler Derek Underwood was around 22 years and 618 innings before demonstrating that one hundred was not only the number of wickets he could expect to take in most of his palmy summers.

Scott was quite obviously still elated days after his landmark innings. 'They can never take it away from me,' he said. It also gave him the opportunity to shed some fascinating light on the need for wicketkeepers to contribute runs. 'Maybe it's wrong but I know it's expected,' he said. 'I think I've certainly underachieved as a batsman partly because I've had to work so hard and concentrate on the keeping side of things. I still think I've had a bad day if I get 30 or 40 runs and then drop a couple of catches. I admire so much players like Steve Rhodes, Jack Russell, Simon Marsh and Peter Moores who all do both jobs extremely well.'

Without being asked, Scott mentioned his dropped catch off Warwickshire's Brian Lara at Edgbaston last month. It cost 483 runs and he is aware it is the most expensive miss in cricket history. He is a reserved character but appears to have come to terms with it. 'I know I'll always be the Man Who Dropped Lara, but I've got to get on with things,' he said. 'I'm trying to talk more behind the stumps to lift the rest of the lads. I've been told about it but I'm concentrating so hard on getting the next ball.'

His hundred has perked him up enormously. As others before him have discovered there is something different in the approach to a centurion. In the 58 remaining innings which Derek Underwood played in his career he was doubtless accorded a whole new respect. It might just keep Scott going for another 13 years.

STILL on the subject of wicketkeepers, for they are a sadly neglected breed of men, Adrian Rollins of Derbyshire is a magnificent sight to behold in the position.

He is trying to make his way in the game as a specialist batsman. However, his first-class debut last season was behind the stumps - and his first victim was a stumping - and he has been pressed into service again recently because of an injury to Karl Krikken.

What sets Rollins gigantically apart is his height. He is 6ft 5in and almost capable of looking down on Rob Turner, the 6ft 2in Somerset keeper who was featured here a few weeks back.

Rollins moves swiftly enough but he looks somehow odd, crouching down on his haunches, his long legs, bent at the knee but poking out above his shoulders. He is at least nine inches taller than the the traditionally perfect size and must surely be the tallest wicketkeeper in the history of county cricket.

WHEN the England captain made his hundred in the final Test against New Zealand he became Lancashire's leading Test century maker for England. Mike Atherton now has seven Test hundreds and has overtaken the six scored by Cyril Washbrook. (Washbrook, of course, deserved seven, having perished for 98 on his sensational recall against Australia at Leeds in 1956.)

What is perhaps most surprising about Atherton's feat is that no Lancastrian has scored more centuries. They are deemed to be one of the major counties, yet 13 others had more successful England batsmen.

Durham as yet have no Test century-makers but are still only one behind Derbyshire (Stan Worthington) and two adrift of Glamorgan (Allan Watkins). Lancashire could make headway on the list assuming Atherton remains in form and the selectors get around to picking John Crawley.

DISTAFF supporter of the week: Sally Morris, who arrived at Darlington to discover that her husband, John, a batsman and very occasional medium-pace bowler, had been given a long spell of six overs for Durham for whom he is in his first season. 'I couldn't believe it,' she said. 'I wondered what he put on his cv when he applied for the job.'

TWELFTH MAN

MIKE PROCTER, who was 12th man in the 1971 batting averages, was one of the finest overseas players in county cricket and returned to Gloucestershire with the South Africans last week. He said: 'It's been marvellous to come back and wander around the ground again. People have stopped me and we've remembered old times and old games. I love it here and I love being in England. You've got the most knowledgeable crowds in the world. But none of that will stop us trying to beat you.'

(Photograph omitted)

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