The test match at Edgbaston is bubbling up nicely. If they can snaffle Graham Smith’s wicket England will be favoured to mop up the South African tail and claim a victory that looked unlikely after their careless batting displays. Hurrahs for Paul Collingwood and, with the ball, Freddie Flintoff. UPDATE: OK, so that didn’t work out did it?
But I’d have also been happy to have been at Headingly today where, in his 11th innings after he struck his 99th first-class century, Mark Ramprakash has made it to the top of the mountain. The 100 Century Club has a new member. What’s more, Ramps’ may be the last admitted to that exclusive gathering. Now that there’s much less first class cricket than there used to be, it is hard to imagine many more batsmen having either the longevity or the right level of ability to match Ramprakash’s record. So, oh to have been in Leeds, even if Ramps’ century came on the last afternoon of a dead match against, I rather suspect, some modest, less than hostile bowling… (if memory serves Jack Hobbs’ 100th came in similarly friendly circumstances. Or was it Hammond I’m thinking of?)
The right level of ability is important: you need to be someone who is considered, rightly or wrongly, just below test standard. Or somone like Ramps or Graeme Hick who has failed at test level but is able to reign supreme in county cricket. Alternatively, an Australian such as Darren Lehmann (82 centuries) who played county and Sheffield Shield cricket could conceivably reach the grandest milestone of them all. Perhaps Justin Langer (83 tons) can hang around for long enough to become the 26th member of the club, but the odds must be against that happening.
Consider this: if you have, say, 35 innings a year and score at the healthy rate of a century once every seven innings you will need to keep up this rate of production for 20 years before you reach 100 first class tons. Of course, 30 innings a year is a more likely maximum these days.