Test Records: Most runs as a night watchman in an innings

Night Watchman is an important term in the cricket glossary. In this article, we look at the players with the most runs as a night watchman in an innings.

A night watchman is an important figure in test cricket. There have been a few players who have become the designated night watchmen for their teams and some of them have etched their names in history books. Here is a look at 10 players who have scored the most runs as a night watchman in an innings.

Most runs as a night watchman in an innings

Player Runs Opposition Location Match Date
Jason Gillespie (Australia) 201* Bangladesh Chittagong 16th April, 2006
Mark Boucher (South Africa) 125 Zimbabwe Harare 11th November, 1999
Mark Boucher (South Africa) 108 England Durban 26th December, 1999
Tony Mann (Australia) 105 India Perth 16th December, 1997
Syed Kirmani (India) 101* Australia Mumbai 3rd November, 1979
Nasim-ul-Ghani (Pakistan) 101 England Lord’s 21st June, 1962
Alex Tudor (England) 99* New Zealand Birmingham 1st July, 1999
Harold Larwood (England) 98 Australia Sydney 23rd February, 1933
Eddie Hemmings (England) 95 Australia Sydney 2nd January, 1983
Jack Russell (England) 94 Sri Lanka Lord’s 25th August, 1988

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Jason Gillespie (201* runs)

Test Records: Most runs as a night watchman in an innings

Jason Gillespie ranks first on this list with a double-century against Bangladesh. The second test during Australia’s tour of Bangladesh in 2006 was really special for the Australian fast bowler. Bangladesh won the toss and decided to bat first. In the first innings, Bangladesh scored 197 runs with Gillespie taking three wickets.

In the second innings, Gillespie played the historic innings. Australia lost their first wicket in the wee hours of the first day and that’s when Gillespie came to the crease. Gillespie playing his final match scored 201 runs and remained unbeaten. 

Gillespie’s first fifty runs came off 156 balls the next fifty came in 140 balls and after that, he took on the aggressive role. His third fifty came in the next 71 balls and the fourth and final fifty came in just 58 balls. Interestingly, thanks to this knock, Gillespie’s average rose from 15.64 to 18.73.

Mark Boucher (125 runs)

Test Records: Most runs as a night watchman in an innings

Mark Boucher is not a typical tail-ender or a night watchman. The South African wicketkeeper was one of the best behind the wicket and boasted an average of 30.30 with the bat in hand in test cricket. He has donned the role of a night watchman a few times in test cricket. Thanks to his batting prowess he features on this list not once but twice.

South Africa toured Zimbabwe and during the second test at Harare, South Africa won the toss and elected to field first. In the first innings, Zimbabwe were bowled out for 102 runs. In reply, South Africa started brilliantly and scored 205 runs at the loss of the fourth wicket and that’s when Boucher came to the crease in front of regular batters including the likes of Jonty Rhodes and Lance Klusener. Boucher scored 125 runs sharing a crucial 148-run stand with Shaun Pollock for the eighth wicket.

Mark Boucher (108 runs)

Unlike his knock of 125 runs, Boucher’s 108 runs against England did not result in a win but must hold even greater importance. England had toured South Africa in 1999 and during the Boxing Day test, the visitors had taken control of the match after two innings. England won the toss at Durban and decided to bat first. Thanks to an unbeaten century from Nasser Hussain, the visitors scored 366 runs and bowled out the hosts for just 156 runs.

South Africa was asked to follow on and trailed by 210 runs. South Africa lost their first four wickets with a lead of just 34 runs. Boucher then shared a 192-run stand with Gary Kirsten. Boucher scored 108 runs before being dismissed by Chris Adams. Kirsten on the other hand went on to play the second-longest innings in test cricket in terms of time batted. Boucher and Kirsten’s knock played a useful role in South Africa drawing the test match.

Tony Mann (105 runs)

Test Records: Most runs as a night watchman in an innings

Tony Mann ranks fourth with his knock of 105 runs against India in 1977. India won the toss at the WACA in Perth and elected to bat first. India scored 402 runs thanks to Chetan Chauhan scoring 88 runs and Mohinder Amarnath scoring 90 runs. In reply, Australia scored 394 runs with skipper, Bob Simpson scoring 176 runs. Amarnath batted well in the third innings as well for his century and opener, Sunil Gavaskar scored a century as well and India scored 330 giving Australia a target of 339.

Australia in the fourth innings lost the first couple of wickets in a quick flurry. Tony Mann came in as a night watchman at the fall of the first wicket. The leg-spinner shared a 139-run stand with David Ogilvie for the fourth wicket. His century helped Australia defeat India by two wickets.

Syed Kirmani (101* runs)

Syed Kirmani saw Tony Mann score a match-winning century at Perth in 1977 and two years later repeated a similar feat against the same opposition at Wankhede. It was in the first innings that Kirmani scored his century. 

Kirmani entered the crease at the fall of the third wicket ahead of regular batters like Yashpal Sharma, Mohinder Amarnath and Kapil Dev. The Indian wicketkeeper remained unbeaten and scored 101 runs as India declared after reaching 458/8. 

In reply, Australia was bowled out for 160 runs with Dilip Doshi taking five wickets. India asked Australia to follow on and bowled them out for 198 runs in the third innings and lost the match by an innings and 100 runs.

Nasim-ul-Ghani (101 runs)

Test Records: Most runs as a night watchman in an innings

The first Pakistani player to feature on this list is Nasim-ul-Ghani. Ghani was a very versatile player for Pakistan. He bowled left-arm spin as well as left-arm medium pace, he opened the batting for Pakistan as well as batted at number 11. Pakistan toured England in 1962. In the second test match at Lord’s, the visitors won the toss and elected to bat first. Pakistan was bowled out for just 100 runs with Fred Trueman taking six wickets. In reply, England scored 370 runs in the second innings with skipper, Ted Dexter scoring a half-century and Tom Graveney scoring 153 runs.

In the third innings trailing by 270 runs, Pakistan lost their first four wickets in quick succession with just 77 runs on the board. Ghani came in as a night watchman and shared a 197-run stand with skipper, Javed Burki. Both Ghani and Burki scored 101 runs and received very little support from any other batters as Pakistan was bowled out for 355 runs which meant that England won the match in the fourth innings by nine wickets.

Alex Tudor (99* runs)

Test Records: Most runs as a night watchman in an innings

New Zealand toured England in 1999 and the first test at Birmingham ended in just three days. The visitors won the toss and elected to bat first. New Zealand was bowled out for 226 runs. In reply, England was bowled out just just 126 runs with Alex Tudor scoring 32 runs remaining not out. New Zealand was bowled out for 107 runs, giving England a target of 208 runs. 

England in the fourth innings started poorly and lost Alec Stewart with just three runs on the board. Tudor came to the crease as a night watchman at the fall of the first wicket. Tudor then shared a 73-run stand with opener, Mark Butcher. Skipper, Nasser Hussain and Tudor then shared a 98-run stand for the third wicket almost sealing the match for the hosts. Tudor ran out of runs to chase and was left unbeaten with 99 runs.

Harold Larwood (98 runs)

Tudor is followed by three Englishmen on the list first of which is Harold Larwood’s innings of 98 runs from 1933. England (Marylebone Cricket Club) toured Australia and in the fifth test at Sydney Cricket Ground, Australia elected to bat first after winning the toss. Australia scored 435 runs in the first innings thanks to half-centuries Leo O’Brien, Stan McCabe, Len Darling and Bert Oldfield. Larwood was the pick of the bowlers taking four wickets.

In the second innings, England scored 153 runs when the second wicket fell. Larwood, the night watchman joined Wally Hammond in the middle. The duo shared a 98-run stand for the third wicket before Perker Lee dismissed Hammond. Larwood then shared a 65-run stand with Maurice Leyland.

Australia in the third innings was bowled out for 182 runs giving England a target of 164 runs. England went on to win the match by eight wickets.

Eddie Hemmings (95 runs)

Test Records: Most runs as a night watchman in an innings

50 years after Larwood’s innings of 98 runs, fellow Englishman, Eddie Hemmings produced a similar knock at the same ground. Australian skipper, Greg Chappell won the toss and elected to bat first. Allan Border and John Dyson hit half-centuries as Australia posted 314 runs on the board. In reply, England was bowled out for 237 runs with David Gower and Derek Randall scoring 70 runs each. Thanks to a century from Kim Hughes, Australia scored 382 runs giving England a target of 460.

England in pursuit of the target lost their first wicket early in the innings which meant that Eddie Hemmings entered the crease as a night watchman. Hemmings shared crucial 50+ runs stands with Chris Tavaré, Gower and Allan Lamb and in the process made 95 runs before being dismissed by Bruce Yardley. The match was eventually drawn.

Jack Russell (94 runs)

Coincidentally, the first name on this list, Jason Gillespie was playing his last match when he scored 201* while Jack Russell was playing his first match when he scored 94 runs as a night watchman. Sri Lanka toured England and in the only test at Lord’s the hosts won the toss and elected to field first. Sri Lanka was bundled out for just 194 with Ravi Ratnayeke being the sole half-centurion.

In reply, England started on a mixed note with their first wicket falling with just 40 runs on the board. The debutant, Jack Russell went in to bat as the night watchman and scored 94 runs including a century stand with Graham Gooch. England scored 429 runs with Russell being the top-scorer. 

Sri Lanka was dismissed for 331 runs in the third innings which set up a target of just 97 runs for England in the fourth innings. England won the match with ease by 7 wickets.