Hits and misses for members of exclusive 100 Club

Cricket Diary

When they walk out at Old Trafford on Thursday (well, if England field, one of them will shamble and the other will sprint), Michael Atherton and Alec Stewart will become the 22nd and 23rd players to appear in 100 Test matches.

When they walk out at Old Trafford on Thursday (well, if England field, one of them will shamble and the other will sprint), Michael Atherton and Alec Stewart will become the 22nd and 23rd players to appear in 100 Test matches.

It remains a remarkable feat, having been achieved indeed only by slightly above one in 100 Test players.

Here are a few more fascinating but perfectly useless facts about what has happened before in games featuring a player winning his 100th cap. Although the sample may be big enough by now for precedents and patterns to be taken seriously. Or not.

* None of the five England players who preceded the latest pair were on the winning side in their 100th match. Colin Cowdrey (against Australia), Geoff Boycott (Australia) and Ian Botham (New Zealand) drew, David Gower (West Indies) and Graham Gooch (India) lost.

* Three players have made a century in their 100th match. Cowdrey (104) was the first in 1968 and he was followed by Javed Miandad (145) in a drawn match for Pakistan against India. Gordon Greenidge (149) was the only centenarian centurion to have finished on the winning team: West Indies beat England by an innings and 32 runs, which probably makes him the most successful of the 21 so far.

* In addition, three players have scored a half-century and helped their side win - Steve Waugh (85) in Australia's innings-and-21-run victory against South Africa, Desmond Haynes (57 not out in West Indies' nine-wicket win against Australia) and Viv Richards (68) in West Indies' nine-wicket win over Australia.

* Kapil Dev figured in a drawn match for India. But his was perhaps the most impressive overall individual performance. He had the best bowling figures of the 21 (4 for 69 and 3 for 82) and scored 55 in his only innings. The other all-rounder to have appeared, Botham, had 1 for 53, 2 for 22 and scored 15 and one.

* If the whole list is biased against bowlers it is because Walsh is the only out-and-out bowler to have made the three- figure mark. He took fivewickets in the match.

* England, who provided the first player with 100 caps (Cowdrey) will again go to the top of the league table with seven players past the landmark. Australia have six, West Indies five, India three and Pakistan two.

* All the West Indians have appeared on the winning side in their 100th match (Richards, Greenidge, Haynes, Walsh and Clive Lloyd) as well as Steve and Mark Waugh.

* Four players have made a duck in their 100th match. Allan Border, first innings, and Dilip Vengsarkar, second, both of whom lost. Mark Taylor, second, drew. The other was Walsh.

* Seventeen grounds have staged a Test in which a player has been making his 100th appearance. Lahore has been host to three: Sunil Gavaskar, Javed and Salim Malik.

* After Thursday only The Oval of the English Test grounds will not have featured a player in his 100th match.

* Atherton will be the first English centurion to reach that mark in a match on his home ground. Before him, Vengsarkar (Bombay), Salim (Lahore) and the Waughs (Sydney) did so.

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Geoffrey Samme of Maidstone has written to identify "a shameful error" by the Diary elsewhere in the paper. Two weeks ago, reporting on England's match at the Riverside ground, Chester-le-Street, it was stated that it was England's first new home ground since Taunton in 1983.

"I would in fact point out that in last year's World Cup, England played Kenya at the St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury," says Mr Samme. Indeed they did, and Mr Samme might seem to be perfectly correct. Yes and no.

The St Lawrence Ground opened in 1847 and was no stranger to England, as no less an authority than R L Arrowsmith, Charterhouse schoolmaster, cricket buff and author of A History of Kent, wrote in that book: "In 1847, out of seven matches, six were won and three were drawn; England was again beaten three times."

Or, as Wisden of 1877 recorded of Canterbury Week 1876: "The programme for the week was Kent and Gloucestershire v England..." And as W G Grace, by Simon Rae, notes of that week: "On Monday, 7 August, Grace travelled down to Canterbury to continue his festival of high scoring. In the first match, Kent and Gloucestershire v England, he scored exactly 100 runs."

Not perhaps the side as we know them today, but England were not paying their first visit to the St Lawrence in 1999, simply their first for a while and in an international match.

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BOOK MARK

"I LOST the toss and at one stage we had them at 93 for 3, but then the India captain made 180 and from there our fortunes took a disastrous downturn. My personal demeanour was no better... The Calcutta smog is fairly thick and in my present state it was like breathing in metal filings. I spent the whole time inhaling Vick. I felt groggy throughout the match."

Graham Gooch in "Gooch My Autobiography", pointing out that 100th Test matches (his was against India in Calcutta in 1993) are not always happy occasions.

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Man in the middle

The turban and the spectacles grabbed the attention first. Then there were the fingers, so long that they seemed to entwine themselves round the ball twice. This was the left-arm spinner Monty Panesar at Cardiff playing for England under-19 for the first time on Friday. His figures were not spectacular but his 0 for 34 in nine overs bespoke maturity. When he was hit for six he replied with a full-length dot ball. Panesar, 18, known as Monty but with a full name of Mudhsuden Singh, was accurate and calm. From Luton, he is attached to Northants, his hero is Bishen Bedi, another turban-wearing left-arm spinning warrior. He could be a resplendent sight for years.

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