28 October 2016Last updated

Features | People

A legendary cricketing record has now been erased

As teenage Indian cricket sensation Pranav Dhanawade scores 1009 runs in a single innings, beINSports’ Angus Scott remembers his own school cricket pitch where the old record was set 117 years ago…

By Angus Scott
10 Jan 2016 | 04:43 pm
  • Angus goes over the wicket.

    Source:Supplied Image 1 of 3
  • Angus Scott wields the willow…

    Source:Supplied Image 2 of 3
  • Pranav Dhanawade.

    Source:PTI Image 3 of 3

There was a plaque at my old school that stood screwed to an old air raid shelter at the side of a rather nondescript playing field.

When you read it, it seemed as fanciful as it was ridiculous.

Weather beaten and marked by verdigris, it rather modestly stated, “Upon this ground AEJ Collins in a junior House Match in June 1899 scored 628 not out - the innings is the highest recorded in the history of cricket.”

628? Not out? Someone made that up.

As a raw 13 year-old, the same age as Collins when he achieved immortality, I could barely muster 28, let alone 628 - and I was captain of the team, and a batsmen as well.

In the shade of Emanuel Court, a Victorian church tower, and a lusty blow away from the local zoo, Collins had combined his own rather other worldliness with his animalistic prowess, to leave his indelible mark on the game.

The window of my English class looked over this historic patch of grass - and as the summers got warmer, and the skies bluer, my mind would often drift from The Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare, to the Taming of the North Town House opening bowlers by Collins.

Not the poetry of iambic pentametre read by my monotonous English teacher, but the mellifluous Hampshire burr of commentator John Arlott innocently describing the joy of Collins sending his teenage adversaries to all sides of the ground.

So it was when I came to don my pads and stride to that very same crease at Clifton College in Bristol, England, where 80 years earlier Collins had rewritten cricketing history, I eyed that plaque on the wall - the large figures of 6-2-8 beaming rather unbelievably at me.

How could anyone contemplate matching, or even getting near such an unlikely target? West Indian Brian Lara, who had more batting talent bestowed on him than seemed humanly possible, could only muster a meagre 501 after all!

Surveying the field around me I imagined how Collins must have felt as he prepared to face his first ball, in the last few moments before tea.

For both Collins and me, a morning of double maths and chemistry had been replaced by glistening whites and the sound of leather on willow.

Or at least I wish that was what I heard, as the opposition fast bowler came hurtling towards me, delivering an exceptional off cutter.

Instead it was the clattering of timber as my off stump went cartwheeling out of the ground.

Collins record was safely in tact, and as I trudged back to the boundary, I reassuringly convinced myself that every other cricketer who ever played the game would have numerically played second fiddle to Collins.

That was until last week, when another Indian teenager (Collins was English but born in India) Pranav Dhanawade, surpassed the great AEJ feat.

In fact he didn’t just pass it, he annihilated it, scoring an extraordinary 381 runs more than Collins, in a phenomenal individual total of 1009 runs.

They’ll have to change that battered plaque in Bristol now. The legacy passes over to the son of a Mumbai rickshaw driver.

Maybe they’ll put a plaque by the window of my English classroom instead. “Out of this window, during a double English lesson in 1984, Angus Scott jumped - one of the stupidest things recorded in history”. But that’s another story. 

By Angus Scott

By Angus Scott