Monday 18 August 2014 

The Myth Of The Number 11 Batsman

Ashton Agar's 98 at Trent Bridge in last summer's Ashes was a world record score for a number 11 in Tests
Ashton Agar's 98 at Trent Bridge in last summer's Ashes was a world record score for a number 11 in Tests
© REUTERS / Action Images
 

In sport everyone loves to stereotype; in football people portray a defender to be useless in front of goal yet Gerard Pique of Barcelona has shattered that illusion, and indeed the Barca man has gained a reputation of being very handy in the opposition penalty box.

Cricket is no different, forever attached to the ‘number 11s can’t bat’ stereotype. But is it about time that cricket shakes off this stereotype?

If the recent England-India Test series is anything to go by, then I think the 'number 11s can't bat' myth is just that - a myth.

From Devon Malcolm to Courtney Walsh and Glenn McGrath, teams of yesteryear would be licking their lips of the prospect of getting a team nine wickets down, which would lead to the number 11 taking to the crease.

It's fair to say that those aforementioned number 11s were in the team for their bowling.

Potentially such condemnation is harsh, but cricket is a team game and the nature of cricket is that the best sides in the world have batsmen right down their batting order.

The England team batted right down to number 10 and had a couple of handy contributions from number 11 James Anderson including a career-best 81 at Trent Bridge, showing again that number 11s not being able to bat is just maybe a little bit of an old stereotype.

McGrath and Mohammed Shami of India can boast 50s to their name as well, so maybe the bad stigma of number 11s not being able to bat is unjustified, if these two contributions are anything to go by.

What inspired me to write this article was the excellent 98 that Ashton Agar made on debut against England last year. The massive irony was that this young shad a bigger impact with the bat than he did with the ball.

I know what many readers might be thinking now: it’s time to promote some of these players up the order, but I wouldn't go that far.

The players that have been mentioned in here, such as James Anderson and Mohammed Shami, for example, still have a low overall batting average, and we wouldn't recmomend you pin your hopes on a number 11 to save a Test match or win another match - your faith would be better placed elsewhere.

A number 11's batting ability always has a negative view attached to it no matter what, and therefore, I feel this is something which cricket will never be able to truly shake off.

© Cricket World 2014