What a funny old week the last seven days of May proved to be from a statistical point of view. For a start, in the Parks in Oxford, two Sussex batsmen – Ben Brown and Joe Gatting – each scored centuries before lunch on the opening day of their county’s match against Oxford MCCU.
As commendable as these batting performances were against the undergraduate attack, the week’s most remarkable batting performance came from Glamorgan’s Alviro Petersen on May 24 in their LV= County Championship match against Surrey at The Oval as the South African posted his maiden double century and the first at the South London ground for the Welsh county since Majid Khan scored 204 back in 1972.
What made Petersen’s double-century most interesting for statisticians was the fact that during his first century the South African’s scoring sequence included a five, a six and a seven to go with his ones, twos, threes and fours. Indeed, during the morning session on the first day, Petersen scored seven after playing a shot for three runs, but the return from Tom Maynard missed Steve Davies, the Surrey wicketkeeper, and sped away for four overthrows.
Later in the afternoon session, the South African reached his hundred courtesy of a five as another overthrow, this time by Gareth Batty, from a quickly run single saw the ball head to the ropes, allowing the Glamorgan captain to become the club’s first-ever player to have a century containing a complete set of scoring strokes from one to seven!
Very few county batsmen of modern times have posted such a sequence following the introduction of fixed boundaries. In the past, such a sequence was possible with WG Grace scoring an all-run seven, besides an all-run six in his hundred for the Gentlemen against the Players at Lord’s in 1876.
Indeed, boundaries were not mentioned in the Laws of Cricket until 1884, and it was not until 1910 that the awarding of six runs for a hit over the boundary line became common practice. However, Petersen’s seven and five were each the result of fielding lapses, and while the legislation has seen the introduction of fixed boundaries for fours and sixes, no legislation has been amended to allow for misfields.