Derek Randall's 174 at the MCG



'No good hitting me there, mate,' Randall exclaimed while doffing his cap after swaying out of the way of a fearsome Lillee bouncer that reared up off the MCG pitch 'nothing to damage.' After England had limited Australia to 138, Randall and his cheeky response could do nothing to curd the English wickets from falling, all our for just 95.


Thanks to a Marsh century, Australia were well in control, setting England 462 to win with Randall joining Mike Brearley with the score 28-1. What followed was one of the most extraordinarily entertaining innings imaginable. When Randall was eventually out, England needed just 116 runs, unfortunately, the tail failed to wag and England fell short by just 45 runs, ironically the same margin of loss as the first test in 1877.


Going into that 1977 test Randall had yet to make his maiden test century, and despite playing 47 tests for England, he would only make 6 more centuries. His international game was one of false promise, of unfulfilled potential. To walk away with an average of 33.37 is respectable, but that didn't do justice to just how good of a batsman he could be when his eye was in. His fidgety presence at the crease infuriated opponents, with Lillee commenting that It was "hard to hit a moving target".


The innings at the MCG showcased the talent for the world to see. There were straight drives, cover drives, cuts, late cuts, sweeps and a huge amount of heart to grit out a performance. Riled by the first innings cap doffing, Lillee would find his mark in the 2nd inning, hitting Randall square on the head with just a cap for protection. The Nottinghamshire batsman bounced back up and moments later despatched a Chappell bouncer to the boundary with a hook shot that Kim Hughes would have been proud of.


On 161 it looked as though Randall would be heading back to the Pavillion having been given our caught behind. However Australian keeper Marsh believed the ball hadn't carried and so Randall was recalled to continue his inning. After hitting a couple of beautiful cover drives for four, Randall walked after being caught at fine leg by Cosier.


It was commented afterwards that Derek Randall was the batsmen England had been looking for since Ted Dexter. Someone to go in at #3 and take on some of the best attacks in the world. However, unfortunately for Randall and England, he never hit the heights of Ted Dexter, a player who finished his international career with a 47.89 average and over 4,500 runs. Some put that down to England's inability to find a solid batting position for him, over his career he would appear from 1-7, never cementing a firm spot for an extended period of time.


His 177 against Australia came in just his 5th international, 7 years later in 1984, he would play his final game at Edgbaston against the West Indies scoring 0 & 1. However, despite the underwhelming end, he'll always have that centenary test at the MCG.

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