On the Front Foot: Lame duck means De Villiers' record run has gone south

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The Independent Online

An ill-advised sashay down the pitch, the ball spinning past the bat, the removal of the bails by the keeper and AB de Villiers' run, so to speak, was over. In his 46th Test and 78th innings, after making 2,958 runs, he had registered his first duck. No player had gone so long from the start of his Test career without being dismissed for nought. At Centurion on Thursday, Bangladesh, through the combination of Shakib Al Hasan and wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim, did what all other eight Test nations had failed to do. The record for making most runs in a Test career without a single duck thus reverts to David Houghton of Zimbabwe, whose tally was 1,464 in 22 Tests and 36 innings. Houghton made one on three occasions. Five other players with 1,000 Test runs have gone through a Test career without a duck. They are Herbie Collins (1,352 runs), Reggie Duff (1,317) and Jimmy Burke (1,280), all of Australia, and the Pakistani duo of Waqar Hassan (1,071) and Yaseer Hameed (1,450), the latter of whom may yet resume his Test career. But De Villiers remains the player to have scored the most runs before his first duck – he overtook Aravinda de Silva of Sri Lanka last year. The record number of runs bet-ween ducks was set by David Gower, who made 5,042 in 136 digs between 1982 and 1990. The Englishman to have played most innings, 41, without being dismissed for nought, although 10 times he's been 0 not out, is Jimmy Anderson.

Every little helps for Tresco

It may be of scant (though deserved) consolation for Marcus Trescothick that his autobiography, 'Coming Back To Me', won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award on Monday. Painstakingly and painfully, it chronicles his disintegration as an international player from the moment he failed to return home from Pakistan, despite the wishes of his wife, after his father-in-law suffered an accident. It is grim but compelling reading and the joy he brought to the game is not often evident. If there is lighter relief it is when Tres relates the rumours attached to his breakdown after he left the England tour of India in 2006. That night in Baroda, a group of cricket writers sat round the dinner table and let imaginations run riot. Most of the tales were fanciful and almost all are unprintable. Among those present were this reporter and the one who became Tres's ghost, shares his authorial glory and has now set the record straight, Peter Hayter.

Counties need their fix

Still no fixtures for the 2009 English season, which makes them easily a month later than usual. Counties cannot plan their away trips or flog their hospitality packages for home matches and the England and Wales Cricket Board are aware of their frustration, which is rapidly becoming anger. The reason is because the first tourists – and whether there will be any – are still unknown. "Challenging times for all," said one official.

Bangers smashed again

Of the 1,895 completed Test matches, 327 have now finished in an innings victory or, of course, defeat. Bangladesh suffered their 33rd such reversal in an abject display on Friday. This is two fewer innings defeats than India, four fewer than Australia and 18 fewer than England but, to lend some perspective, thattrio have played, respectively, 425, 701 and 877 Tests. Bangladesh have played 57. Can this go on, and should it?

s.brenkley@independent.co.uk

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