Cricket: Hick's century of centuries

GRAEME HICK yesterday became the 24th batsman to score 100 first- class hundreds when he reached his second century of the match against Sussex at Worcester yesterday.

He left a trail of statistics fluttering in his wake as he became the second youngest player, at 32 years and eight days, to reach the mark after Wally Hammond who was a couple of weeks younger when he managed it in 1935, although the Gloucestershire all-rounder missed two seasons through illness.

It is also the third time that Rhodesia-born Hick (right) has scored three centuries in successive innings. He scored 166 against Middlesex in the previous County Championship match at Uxbridge.

It was the seventh occasion Hick has taken a century off Sussex, who join Gloucestershire and Somerset on that figure; but it is Glamorgan who top his table, having conceded eight to the man dubbed a `flat-track bully' by the New Zealander John Bracewell. It is the second time a Worcestershire player has done so in front of his home crowd, Glenn Turner being the first in 1982.

Only four of his centuries have been scored in Tests - significantly though two have been made against South Africa, and when he was playing for Northern Districts in 1987-88 in New Zealand he also scored a ton against an England XI. There were also four when he turned out for Zimbabwe in the days before they became a Test-playing nation.

It has taken Hick 574 innings to achieve the feat, putting him in at third fastest behind Don Bradman (295) and Denis Compton (552).

The most recent player to reach the mark is Graham Gooch, the former Essex and England captain and now and a national selector who scored his hundredth during the 1992-93 tour of India and before that it was Viv Richards in Australia in 1988-89.

Hick still has some way to go to overtake Yorkshire and England's Geoff Boycott, whose has the best average (56.83) of anyone who has played in the County Championship. Boycott scored a total of 151 centuries amassing 48,426 runs.

Hick's 100th first-class century had the unfortunate side effect of overshadowing Vikram Solanki's first Championship hundred.

The standing ovation which followed Hick's second century of the match was followed by anti-climax as Sussex side made 35 without loss towards their mammoth victory target of 419.

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