Super test: Ian Chappell attempts to hook Andy Roberts during a WSC Test at the Sydney Showground in 1977.If World Series Cricket Supertest statistics were included in a player’s overall career figures, Greg Chappell would have equalled Don Bradman’s record for the most centuries by an Australian batsman, Dennis Lillee would have joined the 400-wicket club and Bruce Laird, denied a Test century because of a poor umpiring decision, would have three hundreds to his name.
Cricket Australia announced this month the statistical records of players from World Series Cricket would be recognised in an official category, something both Ian and Greg Chappell said they were pleased to see.
“I’ve always thought they should appear somewhere,” Ian Chappell said. “I’ve never thought they should be in the official Test record, so I’m delighted that CA has seen fit to do it.”
Fairfax Media has sifted through statistics from every Supertest between 1977 and 1979 and fused them with official Test records to see how players compared with one another.
Australia’s Rod Marsh and Ray Bright were the only two players to feature in 15 Supertests, while Greg Chappell scored the most runs (1415), Barry Richards had the best average (79.14), and Lillee took the most wickets (67).
With these figures in mind, where players finished their careers on all-time lists and against their peers would have changed significantly and it is worth acknowledging their standing in history.
It would be no different to taking half a dozen Tests off Shane Warne’s Test career, meaning he never would have passed 700 wickets.
Here are some headlines we might have seen if Supertest stats were included in a player’s overall Test numbers.
Greg Chappell draws level with the Don
Chappell scored five centuries and four fifties in WSC, meaning he would have made 29 hundreds – the same number as the game’s finest batsmen in Don Bradman.
By the time Chappell retired in January 1984, only Sunil Gavaskar would have had more hundreds (30), but hypothetically, Chappell finished with more runs (8525) than any batsman at the time.
Asked about what such numbers meant to him, Chappell said: “It’s all they are, just numbers.”
“I think statistically it’s nice, but that’s not the reason you play the game,” he said. “You play the game because you enjoy it – to test yourself against the best players to go around. It was some of the toughest cricket I played. It’s right that it’s recognised.”
Dennis Lillee joins the 400 club
If you include DK Lillee’s 67 WSC wickets, the Australian legend snared 422 wickets at 24.39, slightly higher than his Test-only average of 23.92.
Lillee, who like Chappell retired in the same New Year’s Test of 1984, would have had more wickets than any other bowler in the world. Even now, that revised figure of 422 puts him ninth on the all-time list between James Anderson (426) and Shaun Pollock (421).
“He was bowling to some pretty good batsmen then,” said Laird, who played alongside Lillee.
Bruce Laird scores third Test century
A former Australian opening batsman, Bruce Laird did not even know Cricket Australia had decided to recognise WSC stats when contacted in Perth, but if there was one person who deserved the recognition, it is him.
Laird scored three hundreds in WSC but none in Test cricket as his highest score of 92 ended in controversial circumstances.
“I didn’t hit it,” said Laird of being given out caught behind for 92 on his Test debut against West Indies in Brisbane. “I’d been batting all day…[Joel] Garner bowled one and I played inside it and it clipped my thigh pad. At the time I thought: ‘Oh, I’ll get one next time’. I got close a few times but never got there.”
He made a brilliant century at Trinidad against the Windies in WSC in 1979 – a dig that Ian Chappell remembers fondly.
“That hundred he got in Trinidad, I haven’t seen many better,” Chappell said. “Not from an aesthetic point of view, just the situation and everything it took for him to get that hundred. For somebody who didn’t make a Test century, to get that recognition is terrific and that’s probably the most important aspect of that recognition for Bruce in particular.”
Adam Gilchrist edges ahead of Rod Marsh for most Test dismissals
The record books say Ian Healy has more Test dismissals, but if you include Marsh’s 52 catches in WSC, he would have finished on 407 dismissals ahead of Healy (395) but still trailing Gilchrist (416) and Mark Boucher (555).
In the runs department, Healy would still be in the lead with 4356 runs at 27.40 compared to Marsh’s 4164 at 25.39.
Viv Richards falls just short of 10,000 Test runs
In a hypothetical world, Richards needed another 179 runs to become the second man behind Gavaskar to reach 10,000 Test runs.
Laird reckons even if the figures are not included in his Test column, they should be formalised as first-class numbers.
“It would be nice to think they might be first-class cricket considering what other things they call first-class cricket around the world,” Laird said.
As for Ian Chappell, he does need a tweak to his overall statistics to make him feel better about what he achieved.
“You know what you did and you don’t need to see it in a record book,” he said. “Other people like to look at those things and worry, but as far as I’m concerned, I know what I did.”
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