Triple centuries are great for records, but do they help a team win matches? Only sometimes. In 58% of the matches where a batsman has scored a triple century, the game itself has ended in a draw.
Back in 1998, when Australia’s Mark Taylor was unbeaten on an overnight score of 334, at the end of the second day of Test match against Pakistan, he was dealing with a huge dilemma.
Tied with Don Bradman for the highest individual score by an Australian in Test cricket, Taylor who was leading the side could have walked out on day three and bagged the record for himself. He could have also smashed the world record that was only 42 runs away. But that could have come at a cost of Australia’s chances of winning the Test match.
Spending a near sleepless night, Taylor put personal glory aside and decided to declare to give his team every chance of winning the game.
“I spent hours that night contemplating what to do,” Taylor told cricket.com.au.
“I finally got to sleep at about 2 o’clock in the morning. I was thinking about what to do so I certainly didn’t crash as well as I’d hoped.
“I think ideally I would have batted on for 20 minutes just to put their openers out in the field for 20 more minutes before we declared.
“But I thought if I did that I would then end up on 340 not out or something like that and I think people would have assumed that I’d batted on just for my own glory.
“I didn’t want to send that message either so the more I thought about it, I came to the decision that the best thing I can do is declare (and) end up on the same score as Sir Donald, which I’m more than delighted with.”
Australia picked up an early wicket of Aamer Sohail but were thwarted by the brilliance of Saeed Anwar and Mushtaq Ahmed who laid foundations for a strong Pakistan response. On a wicket that favoured the batsmen, Pakistan made 580/9 in reply to Australia’s 599 before declaring. The game eventually ended in a draw, but it was remembered for Taylor’s selfless act.
Australia may not have won the game, but Taylor ensured he put his team’s interests over his own. On another pitch with a little help for bowlers, Taylor might have been rewarded for putting his team over personal accolades.
Apart from showing great leadership, Taylor also displayed great batsmanship following up his triple century with a knock of 92 in the second innings. In total, Taylor hist 43 boundaries and one six in the entire match in what has gone down as one of the finest batting performances in the history of the game.
Even as Matthew Hayden broke Taylor’s joint-record with Bradman a few years later and Lara extended his world record by smashing 400 runs, Taylor’s feat in that 1998 Test against Pakistan at Peshawar stands tall. His innings of 334 will be as memorable for what he achieved during the course of the knock but also after it.
Watch highlights of Mark Taylor’s 334* against Pakistan in 1998