Stonewaller is a batsman who uses defensive tactics aimed primarily at defending the wicket rather than getting many runs. As a rule, a stonewaller’s main goal is to level the score if his team is behind the enemy in the number of runs.
The stonewaller’s performance can be seen primarily at test events, where matches stretch over several days. Batsmen can afford to go into a defense that does not involve running because of the slower pace, which is not typical of the limited-overs format. In general, the stonewaller can be called a rather specific role on the field, because, for the modern viewer accustomed to entertainment, such a tactic looks boring and incomprehensible.
However, the stonewaller’s position is not only not new in itself but also largely underestimated. In the 19th century, the slowness of batsmen did not surprise anyone, so many stonewallers, including William Scotton, Bobby Abel, Dick Barlow and Alec Bannerman, enjoyed well-deserved popularity. For example, in one of his matches, Barlow made only five runs in 87 four-ball overs and lost all partners, who earned a total of 69 outs. Alec Bannerman, nicknamed the Rat, also set a kind of record – 91 runs for 620 balls in a test match, and he reflected 90% of all the balls.
In the twentieth century, stonewaller’s popularity gradually declined. Yet the interwar period gave cricket several notable names, including Ali Khan Pataudi, who was much disliked by Australian fans who considered his game almost provocative. The tradition laid down by the famous Indian was later continued by Trevor Bailey, who once completed only 68 runs for 427 goals in a test match. Trevor’s equanimity quickly became a reason for jokes: in particular, sports journalists entertained themselves by placing bets on how many balls he would need to reflect to perform the next run.
These days, when fast-hitting skills are valued far more than defensively, it’s not often that you see batsmen who play the role of pure stonewallers. That is why cricket commentators pay attention to the temporary change in the role of batsmen who, for one reason or another, are forced to play in this position and have achieved success:
- In the 2015-2016 season, Hashim Amla (South Africa) entered the field when the Indian national team managed to issue two hundred. To win the match, the South Africans had to score 481 runs, and even though the state of the pitch favored not the guests but the hosts. However, Amla held out against several powerful opponents (Ishant, Ashvin, Jadeya, Yadav) with 25 runs for 243 goals. And although the South African national team did not manage to snatch victory, his performance received many rave reviews.
- Pakistani Misbah ul-Haq in the 2011-2012 season showed impressive statistics in a test match against the national team of Sri Lanka. By then, the player had become famous as the author of the fastest 100 in Test history, replaced Younis Khan on the 27th over and made five runs on 69 innings, which effectively helped save the match.
- In the 2010-2011 season, Sachin Tendulkar took part in a difficult test match against the South African national team, in which Jacques Kallis shone with a hundred in two innings. Despite all the efforts of Rahul Dravid and Gautam Gambhir, it was not possible to level the score, and then Tendulkar entered the game, completing only seven runs on 69 opponent’s innings.
- One of the most famous batsmen of the middle of the last century, Englishman Cyril Washbrook, showed outstanding defensive skills in the 1950 season when his team had a hard time in a test match against the West Indians. Alf Valentine and Sonny Ramadhin took 18 wickets for two, significantly increasing the gap in the score, and then Washbrook entered the business, who had managed to score 114 runs by that time. Assessing the situation, he switched to tough defense, reflecting 66 goals before hitting touchdown.
Interestingly, one of the most famous stonewallers of the second half of the twentieth century was Australian Lindsay Hassett, who was spoken as one of the slowest batsmen of all time. In one of the matches attended by his brother, Lindsay approached a hundred (96) for the first time in his career. However, on the same day, his brother had a wedding, so he left the stands for a while, and when he returned, he found that Lindsay had taken only one additional run.