"Good time to be a batsman," said Shane Warne in the commentary box today, as Australia reached 4/583 at lunch on the second day of the first Test against the West Indies in Hobart.
He's right. All kinds of records were dispatched into the Derwent River and the dustbin of history in this morning's pre-lunch session, including:
- the highest ever fourth wicket Test partnership of 449, which beat Sri Lanka's stand of 437 against Pakistan in 2008
- the sixth highest Test partnership of all time
- highest individual Australian score against the West Indies, which had been held by Doug Walters with 242
- Shaun Marsh's highest Test score of 182, eclipsing his previous best of 148.
- the highest individual score in Hobart, which made the local crowd unsure whether to cheer or boo as it displaced local favourite Ricky Ponting.
Not to take anything away from Adam Voges, whose impressive, assured innings reached 269 not out at lunch, but it's amazing how common Test double centuries have become lately.
The is the 347th time that a batsman has reached 200 or more in Test cricket. Yet in a remarkable statistical anomaly, more than half of those innings have come after 1995.
That stat one more time for emphasis. Test cricket has been played in the current format for 137 years. But in the last 20 years, we've seen more double centuries than in the previous 117 years dating back to 1877.
The question is why. Well, more Test matches are played these days, so that's part of the reason. But only a third of all Tests have been played in the last two decades compared to more than half of all double centuries (or higher).
Stronger bats, better-prepared pitches, smaller fields (because of ropes) are just some of the reasons associated with higher scoring, which you can read about here.
But none of this should detract from Adam Voges' innings, which as we wrote yesterday, has been fluent yet calm. That seems like a contradictory pair of adjectives, but Voges looks as comfortable at the crease as a man in his living room with a stubbie in his hand. Now imagine that same man swatting flies. Now imagine his fly swatter is a bat. That's Adam Voges.
Voges now averages a whopping 76 in Test cricket. That's not hugely meaningful as he's only 11 matches into his late-blooming career, but it gives you an indication. Even Shaun Marsh has pulled his lowly average up to 37 after his innings of 182 ended just before lunch.
"Men against boys," is how recently retired opener Chris Rogers described the Aussie batting against the limp West Indian attack.
But as the stats reveal, all batsmen dominate the game more these days. What would make a really nice surprise now is if the West Indies could mount a decent run chase. On form, that looks less likely than snow in the Aussie summer.