The first impression a No.11 batsman conjures up is that of a batting bunny. A player who is incapable to hold the willow, a person who gifts his wicket away, gives support to a superior batsman when he is nearing a milestone and a personal favorite for bowlers to accumulate wickets.
New Zealand were gifted a rare tail-ender in the form of Chris Martin, who was dismissed for 36 ducks in 71 Tests, putting him second in the all-time list of Duck Masters, behind West Indies bowler Courtney Walsh’s mark of 43 in 132 Tests.
However, in the same New Zealand in 2017, there has been a moment which has redefined the dynamics of No.11 batting. In a representational cricket match between Northern Districts and Bay of Plenty, a No.11 batsman has shown others how to bat.
Playing for Northern Districts, Freddy Walker has created a bit of history. With his team reeling at 189/9, Walker came in at No.11 with established batsman Anish Desai at the crease. Walker changed the course of the game as he blasted 23 fours and one six to end up with an unbeaten 150. He shared a partnership of 220 for the 10th wicket with Desai as Northern Districts declared on 409/9! Desai remained unbeaten on 165.
To put it in perspective, Walker’s six previous innings had fetched him a total of just 54 runs.
A century from a No.11 is indeed rare. The highest individual score at No.11 in Tests is by Australia’s Ashton Agar, who smashed 98 in the 2013 Ashes Test against England in Trent Bridge. In first-class cricket, the highest individual score by a No.11 is 163 by Peter Smith for Essex against Derbyshire in 1947.
Although the 220-run stand for the final wicket is huge, it is not the record. The record is 307 for the 10th wicket, achieved in the Sheffield Shield game between Victoria and New South Wales at the MCG in 1928/29 by Alan Kippax and Hal Hooker.