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Charles Davis: Statistician of the Year (Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians)
a list of “Unusual Dismissals” in Test matches
some remarkable first-class innings, re-scored.
Detailed scores for all Tests from 1877 to the1990s have now been posted. Almost three-quarters of Tests include ball-by-ball coverage; virtually all others offer some degree of extended detail, beyond anything previously made available online.
After Pat Cummins declared in Sydney when Leach took wickets with consecutive balls, I looked for earlier Tests where a declaration was made with a bowler on a hat-trick...
Eng v WI (1), Bridgetown, Barbados 1935
SAf v WI (3), Bridgetown, Barbados 2001
Aus v WI (3), Bridgetown, Barbados 2003
Aus v SAf (2), Melbourne (MCG) 2005/06
Most bowlers faced by a batsman in Tests. Tendulkar faced about 300 bowlers, and Murali bowled to about 390 batsmen. In both cases, there are maybe 10 opponents included, but for whom data is uncertain.
Batting through a day most times…
If you exclude days with less than 50 overs (300 balls) and exclude the final days of Tests with a definite result, then the leaders are
AN Cook 15
G Boycott 11
KC Sangakkara 9
L Hutton 9
MA Atherton 9
This stat favours openers, partly because openers are the only batsmen who can bat through Day 1 of a Test.
After a bit more research into 12th men, I have found that Upul Chandana of Sri Lanka has passed Andy Bichel and now leads 20 to 19. There are also several other Tests played by Sri Lanka around that time where Chandana may have carried the drinks, but no 12th man names can be found.
Official Australian scores still usually have names for 12th man in them, but for most teams the idea has become obsolete.
From 2013 to 2015, Australian teams had eight players born in NSW in a number of Tests. There are also a number of earlier instances.
At Perth in 2002, Australia had 5 from (born in) NSW and one each from Qld, Vic, SA, WA, Tas and Northern Territory.
That is from a file I made in 2016, which I have not updated.
12 January 2022
Scott Boland’s Flying Start
Scott Boland must think this Test cricket game is a bit of a lark. So much for taking several years to adapt to the highest level of the game.
I have made several list showing some of Boland’s noteworthy achievements already, including a list of bowlers who were fastest to take their first 10 Test wickets, in terms of balls bowled.
Fewest balls for first 10 Test wickets
I don't have Hirwani's Test ball-by-ball, but I figure that after taking 8 in his first innings in 18.3 overs, he took wickets in each of his first two overs in the second innings, leading to the estimate of 120 balls. Perhaps readers have more info on that.
I'll admit that I hadn't heard of Sipamla. The 239 balls comprise his entire career to date.
I expect that the data is largely complete. If anyone can think of candidates for the Top 10 who are not there, let me know.
Fewest balls to reach six wickets in an innings, after first coming on to bowl.
Boland also equalled the record for fewest balls to reach five wickets in an innings, after first coming on to bowl - 19 balls. Shared with Toshack 1947-48 and Broad in 2015.
Six wickets in (the space of) fewest balls
Appropriate updates have been made to the Unusual Records section.
The First Boundary Hits
I mentioned last month the matter of the introduction of boundary fours in first-class cricket, an innovation that predates Test cricket. There is also the related concept of five runs or six runs for hits over the boundary. Here are some notes on this subject: some of this information has been provided by Shane Hicks.
The notes are by no means a full study, but are presented as is. It is not a particularly easy area to research, but it does seem that, while some very early examples have been found, it has been hard to find more. So it seems that the awarding of five or six for big hits in the 1860s was unusual.
· In the 1860s, boundary fours began to be recorded at larger grounds (with defined boundaries) in England. A curious exception was Trent Bridge, where most boundaries were awarded 3 runs and the batsmen changed ends.
· There is an interesting phrase in a report of an 1865 match at the MCG, saying that Ned Gregory's hits to the fence scored "four, as per agreement". The use of that phrase suggests that it was a novel idea.
· There is a reference in the Nottinghamshire Guardian in 1865 to Richard Daft hitting a six out of the Trent Bridge ground. Daft also hit boundary threes and boundary fours in the same innings.
· A batsman named Coates was awarded six for a “brilliant hit outside the fence beyond long off” in an intercolonial match at the MCG in 1868-69.
· At an intercolonial match between Victoria and New South Wales at the MCG in early 1870, a report makes reference to hits to the "pavilion fence" counting 3 and the "ring fence" counting 4.
· There is a reference to Charles Bannerman hitting a ball over the chains for five in an intercolonial match in 1874-75 (MCG). I haven’t found any earlier references to such fives in Australia. In this case, the captains agreed before play started that hits over the fence would count for five; this suggests that it was not standard practice. I noted two hits for five at the MCG in 1870 by Wardill, but it appears that both were all-run.
Alan Davidson is one of quite a number of bowlers who took a wicket with their last ball in Test cricket. But Davidson also took a wicket with his last ball in a non-Test first-class match, and it was Garfield Sobers out bowled in a Sheffield Shield match. I reckon that such a double (Test and non-Test f-c) must be very unusual.
That final Test was a few weeks after the Shield match.
When wicketkeeper Ridley Jacobs was injured in mid-over at Antigua in 1999, the bowler, Jimmy Adams, donned the pads and took over. This meant that he could not finish the over, so Carl Hooper finished it for him.
In the Old Trafford Test of 1999, every player for New Zealand went into the Test with a first-class century to his name.
The Australian tour of England in 1884 was so lucrative that each player made 900 pounds clear profit from the tour. This was at a time when £50 per year was a very good salary and many in the working class could earn less than £10 per year. The Governor of the Bank of England had an annual salary of £400 in 1880.
The tourists in 1882 – the year of the original Ashes Test – made between 600 and 700 pounds per man.
At Chittagong in 2008, Daniel Vettori had New Zealand’s best bowling in both innings, top scored with 55 in the first innings and was 3 runs off top score in the second innings (76 to Redmond's 79).
When did the concept of four runs for a boundary begin? My impression is that the idea of a boundary hit began in the 1860s. WG Grace said that in his earliest years all hits had to be run, and that around 1860 he once hit a six and a seven, all run, in the first over of a match.
By 1865 boundary hits were scoring four in Australia. There is an interesting phrase in a report of an 1865 match at the MCG, saying that Ned Gregory's hits to the fence scored "four, as per agreement". The use of that phrase suggests that it was a novel idea.
I would be interested if readers have any other information on this question.
Most bowlers go from "x99" to "x(+1)00" wickets in the same match. At about 326 days, Nathan Lyon took far longer than anyone to go from 399 to 400, previously Chris Broad with 76 days.
Most for other milestones...
99-100 W Rhodes 548 days.
199-200 CS Martin 288 days
299-300 RJ Hadlee 79 days
Historically, there are more than 40
cases in Tests of a batsman facing a hat-trick ball as the first ball of his
career, as Alex Carey did in the Gabba Test. At
least three were out to their first ball, thus completing the hat-trick (TA
Ward, FT Badcock and WW Wade). Ward also faced a
hat-trick ball as his second ball in Tests and was out again, completing TJ
Matthews’ second hat-trick at Old Trafford in 1912.
From 2013 to 2015, several Australian teams had eight players born in NSW. There are a number of earlier instances.
At Perth in 2002, Australia had 5 from (born in) NSW and one each from Qld, Vic, SA, WA, Tas and Northern Territory.
Since 2017, when India started using DRS, Virat Kohli has been out LBW 17 times. One of those came via a successful bowling review. Of the other 16, Kohli reviewed 14 unsuccessfully. He chose not to review the other two; ironically one of them would have been given not out (he was on 204 at the time).
He has also made two successful batting reviews, where the initial LBW decision was overturned.
The 14:2 batting LBW review ratio is the worst among batsmen with 10 or more LBW reviews. David Warner is 8:1.
Mayank Agarwal’s 150 in the Mumbai Test against New Zealand is the highest score ever achieved in the face of a bowler taking all ten wickets (Ajaz Patel 10 for 119) in all first-class cricket. Previously 149 by Les Ames in 1934, when W Jupp took all ten in a county game.
Bangladesh lost a Test against Pakistan in Dhaka even though they did not commence the first innings until after lunch on the fourth day. This is the latest ever start for a first innings in a completed Test.
15 December 2021
The Curious Case of Frank Irving.
You don’t often come across someone like Frank Irving, a man who, despite playing a role in four Australian cricket tours to England, has virtually disappeared from the annals of Australian cricket.
They were historic tours too – the first four Test tours by Australian teams, in 1880, 1882, 1884 and 1886. So what role did Irving play? Until recently, no one has identified names for scorers for these touring teams: it appears that no official scorers were appointed. But now some detective work by various people on an ACS (Statisticians) chat page has produced convincing, if sometimes circumstantial, evidence that Frank Irving was involved in these tours as a scorer.
Irving was a newspaperman (specifically, a compositor) with an apparent penchant for long sea voyages; he travelled to England five times in his short life, and can be placed in England during all four tours. He acted as a reporter on those tours for the Advertiser in Adelaide, even though he was and is largely unknown for such work in Australia. Nor is his name found in connection with scoring in Australia. Yet it seems that, after faithfully following the teams around in England, he came to act as scorer in some historic matches, including the original Ashes Test in 1882.
I asked some of the luminaries of Australian and South Australian cricket history; they were unfamiliar with Irving. His name does not appear to be mentioned in the 1882 Ashes Tour book by Charles Pardon or Clarence Moody’s 1898 history of South Australian cricket, and eluded Michael Ronayne in his detailed tour summaries covering that period. The Trove newspaper archive does record his name, but only fleeting references have been found so far; likewise the British Newspaper Archive.
Currently it appears that Irving was not appointed to tour with the team in an official capacity, and he did not actually sail with any of the teams. He seems to have settled into the scorer duties rather unofficially.
Note that players George Bonnor and Jack Blackham are the only others known to have been involved in all four tours.
I would like to add some evidence from my score collection that links two of the tours. I have copies of scores from the 1882 and 1884 Tests from the respective Australian tour scorebooks, and I am convinced that they were written by the same person. Examples of the writing are shown below. (The 1880 and 1886 Australian tour books cannot be located; the surviving 1880 score is from the Surrey CCC and is in a different hand, presumably that of the local scorer.)
The styles of numerals are also identical in the two scores. I would add that the method of recording bowling figures, in both cases, is unusual. In the box for each over, the four balls are arranged in a square pattern, with the first ball of the over in the bottom line, like so…
whereas scores made by others from the period are what I would call more conventional…
This helps tie together the scorers for 1882 and 1884. The evidence is also clear that he was scorer in 1886 (see below). The evidence from 1880 is less clear, but he definitely accompanied the team.
While the Manchester and Oval Test scores from 1884 are complete, it may well be that Irving did not actually score the second Test at Lord’s. The Lord’s score is in the same hand as the other Tests but it is incomplete, lacking detail in the bowling section. It is probably a re-copy made by Irving.
There is another Test in the back of the 1884 scorebook – the first Test of 1884-85 at Adelaide. It was played in December by the 1884 tourists, who were still together, against the English team that had just arrived in Australia. This score is not in the same hand as the Tests in England. This suggests rather strongly that Irving did not accompany the Australian team on their return voyage. Indeed, passenger manifests show that Irving did not return to Adelaide until late December, after the Adelaide Test match.
The following compiles information available about Irving, as gathered by various ACS members.
The critical observation that got this investigation going was by Harry Watton when he picked up the reference to Irving in the December 1902 Cricket magazine.
Frank (Francis) Irving
Born 1855 Adelaide
Joined Advertiser in 1876.
March 1879: Identified as a printer who was going to England via New Zealand and USA as a journalist for the Advertiser. His activities in 1879 are unclear; there is no direct evidence that he was a scorer in 1880, but he certainly accompanied the team.
Returned from Plymouth to Adelaide departing 2 October 1880.
Listed as a passenger on the steamer POTOSI sailing from Adelaide bound for London on 13 March 1882, departing three days before the Australian team sailed from Melbourne. (South Australian Register 14 Mar 1882).
Identified as Australian scorer against Cambridge P&P at Portsmouth (Hampshire Telegraph 19 Aug 1882), a week before the ‘Ashes’ Test.
Frank Irving age 26, listed arriving in Adelaide in Dec 1882 from England on the HAUROTO. This was not with the team, which had returned via America in November.
In a 1902 interview in Cricket magazine, Surrey scorer Fred Boyington said that Irving was his co-scorer in the 1884 Oval Test.
A Mr F. Irving, age ~30, is listed as a passenger on the AUSTRAL departing London on 11 Nov 1884, bound for Adelaide (and on to Melbourne and Sydney). He is the only F. Irving listed travelling to Adelaide in the years 1883 thru 1885. Newspapers have him disembarking in Adelaide on Dec 24.
Irving was a press representative on the tour (as he had been in 1884), the Adelaide Express reporting on 19 April 1886 that Frank Irving is ‘about to visit England [to] represent the Advertiser in connection with the Australian Eleven’. He is reported in the South Australian Chronicle of the same day to have made three previous visits in that capacity (i.e., 1880, 1882 and 1884).
A column in the London Evening News of 17 July 1886 refers to ‘[m]y old friend Mr. Frank Irving, the Australian scorer’, and reports an anecdote of Irving’s from the recent match between Yorkshire and the Australians on 12-14 July, when the ball had whistled past the scorebox.
F. Irving age ~31, occupation compositor, arrived back in Adelaide from England aboard IBERIA on 7 Jan 1887.
1887: captain of Advertiser cricket team.
No known connection with the touring team, or evidence of travel.
Leaves for England again 11 Nov 1889?
Died (intestate) 6 May 1890 Carlisle, Cumberland, England, just prior to a planned return to Australia. He is listed in a ship manifest departing London on 9 May but his name is crossed out.
Irving’s ancestors and relatives hailed from Dumfries Scotland and the surrounding area, just over the border a few miles from Carlisle.
21 June 1890: a short obituary appeared in South Australian Chronicle (“four trips to England since first journey with the Australian eleven”)
ACS members who gathered the above information include Harry Watton, Neville Flood and Sreeram Iyer.
The Test Match Database has now reached the 21st Century. It is now well and truly overlapping with other online ball-by-ball records, but I will continue with it for now. For some Tests, there is material in my scores (for example, session scores) that would be rather hard to extract from other online sources. I don’t know how much further I will take it; who knows what 2022 will bring?
I came across a 1982 newspaper article by Bill O’Reilly. He was talking about his early recollections of cricket broadcasting on television, which he had first seen in 1938 in England. The match was Middlesex v Australians on 30th May 1938 (O’Reilly says it was the 28th, but that day was rained out). This is before the Tests that year, and must represent one of the very first cricket TV broadcasts.
The television set (super-expensive in those days) was on loan to the hotel where the Australians were staying. Most curiously, O’Reilly said he was in the team playing that day, but he had stayed behind in the hotel to deal with some correspondence! He had expected the team to bat all day, but they started losing wickets. O’Reilly could see from the broadcast that the pitch was dodgy, so he hurried down to the ground, and was just in time to bat and make a duck.
I took a look at the question of a bowler taking a wicket with his last ball of a Test and first ball of his next, and found only 25 cases (from the database covering about 85% of Tests). Waqar Younis and Richard Hadlee did it twice.
The low number might seem surprising when you consider that there are well over one thousand cases of wickets with consecutive balls in general play, but remember that there is never more than one opportunity per Test match for a bowler to do take two in two in different Tests (and usually no chance at all), whereas the same bowler may well have multiple opportunities for two wickets in two balls during the course of a Test match.
There are no known cases of three in three across two Tests (a quasi-hat-trick) except for the extraordinary case of George Lohmann, who took a hat-trick to finish a match in 1895-96, and then a wicket with his first ball of the next Test, to secure four wickets in four balls (he made it five in six two balls later).
Overall, the chances of taking a wicket with a hat-trick ball are only 1 in 30, so, given the low incidence of two in two balls across two matches, it is not surprising that three in three is so rare.
There is an interesting case of Mervyn Dillon, whose last two balls at Port of Spain in 2002 were a run out and a wicket (in two different overs), followed by a wicket with his next ball at Bridgetown.
Waqar Younis extended one of his wicket pairs to three wickets in four balls; Rashid Khan of Afghanistan has done the same, and that was across his first two Test matches (9 months apart).
1 November 2021
The Test Match Database Online has reached a crossover point with the Cricinfo Ball-by-Ball Archive texts. Beginning with the 1998-99 India v Pakistan series in January 1999, Cricinfo began to archive their bbb logs. I am fairly certain, from memory, that they were doing some ball-by-ball descriptions of internationals before that – the earliest record goes back to the 1996 World Cup final – but for some reason they never preserved them (sad emoji). If I have checked correctly, the only Test that we have from Cricinfo, from that period, is a single day from the 1997 India series in West Indies.
The early Cricinfo texts were typed commentaries and were not designed as rigorous scores; there are gaps and anomalies. Where necessary (and possible) these have been adjusted with reference to surviving scores or other published information. In a few cases, such as the final day of the Asian Test Championship Final in Dhaka 1999, the gaps and problems are substantial, and there is no detailed backup. In such cases, I have ‘recreated’ a bbb version that is consistent with surviving scores and reports. These cases are few and I hope I will be forgiven for doing this for the sake of completeness.
There are actually six Tests from the early period that are missing entirely from Cricinfo, five of them from New Zealand; I have managed to obtain alternative scores for all of these and so maintain continuity of the ball-by-ball record.
I have also obtained alternative scores for a significant number of other 21st Century Tests, but this collection is not comprehensive. Of the first 100 Tests from the ‘Cricinfo era’ starting in 1999, there are 36 Tests where I rely entirely on Cricinfo for bbb records.
The archived Cricinfo texts gradually improved in detail and reliability, especially after 2002.
It would be wonderful if someone at Cricinfo could unearth some ancient backup tapes from 1997 and 1998 and find some more bbb logs. 1998 is not so essential as I have all the Test matches from that year already (some ODIs are missing), but there are considerable gaps in my data for 1997. I understand that there has been a search of this kind, sadly without success.
I am not sure how far into this new era that my online work will go. But I have been at this for nine years now and I don’t really know how to stop.
The Kolkata Test of February 1999 at Eden Gardens is one of only seven Tests that Pakistan has played at that cavernous venue. The match quite possibly attracted the highest attendance of any Test match; however, the numbers were never accurately counted. I am told that the ground had 90,462 seats at the time, so any numbers in excess of that must have been standing room only. The available numbers are estimates, and it must be said that the estimates vary widely.
I have collected (with assistance from others) some mentions of crowd numbers from reports at the time, illustrating the variations in estimates…
Ironically, the last overs of the match were bowled in a virtually empty stadium, following a roughhouse clearing out of the final day crowd by police, in response to serious unrest that suspended play for three hours and 20 minutes. There had also been serious unrest on Day 4.
Even though it appeared in Wisden, I consider the estimate of 465,000 to be highly improbable. A figure around 400,000 seems a reasonable compromise from the conflicting numbers. This number is in the same ballpark (if I may use the expression) as the estimate of 395,000 for the Test against Australia at the same Ground in 2001, and the 390,000 estimate from 1981-82. I don’t have figures for Tests at Eden Gardens after 2002, but it has been apparent that Test attendances have been declining in India, even though interest remains substantial. At the same time, Indian authorities have been distributing Test matches among a wider range of smaller venues, and Kolkata has hosted only 12 Tests in 22 years since the match in question.
The largest accurately measured total attendance for a Test remains the 350,534 over six days at the MCG back in 1937. The most for a five-day Test is 271,854 for the MCG Boxing Day Test in 2013-14 (including a ground-high 91,062 on the first day), and the highest average daily attendance is 81,450 for the equivalent match in 2006-07, which only lasted three days.
16 October 2021
I don’t think I have discussed before, on this blog, the origins of the early Test match “canon”, that is, the list of matches regarded as official Tests.
It is widely held that the originator of the list was a South Australian journalist named Clarence P. Moody. Beyond that, it remains a bit of a mystery how Moody’s list, drawn up in the 1890s, became accepted as gospel. With limited debate, and no input from English sources, it has become set in stone, so to speak. Moody was something of a cricket statistician. He was also a friend of George Giffen, who may well have suggested the creation of the list. However, there was never any official imprimatur on Moody’s work.
I went looking for Moody’s original list. Various printed sources and online articles said that it came from Moody’s 1898 book on South Australian Cricket. I managed to borrow, from Roger Page, a facsimile copy of this book (originals are rare and valuable) and was rather surprised to find that it contained no such list. However, an Introduction to that facsimile edition pointed me to an earlier (1894) Moody work, Australian Cricketers 1856-1893-94. Fortunately, the Trove Archive has this book online, and there can be found the original list, on pages 80 and 81.
Clarence Moody’s 1894 list of Test matches
One noteworthy aspect is that Moody restricted himself to England v Australia Test matches. In that respect, the list is indeed identical to the accepted canon, but there are several other matches, played in South Africa in 1888-89 and 1891-92, that are not included. So how did those Tests get into official lists? I don’t know but I would like to find out. (I am told that the South Africa matches were listed as Tests by Ashley-Cooper in a Cricketer Annual in 1930-31, but I don’t know if there are earlier references.)
I do know that there has been plenty of doubt and dispute over the Test status of some matches, and also some matches that did not make the list but might have. In the case of 1888-89, even the first-class status can be questioned, since there was no first-class cricket in South Africa at the time, and a number of the Englishmen were themselves not first-class cricketers. (A favourite stat: JEP McMaster played Test cricket, but was out to the only ball he ever faced in first-class cricket.) In his 1951 collection of Test match scores (The Playfair Book of Test Cricket), Roy Webber certainly expressed a sceptical view, but he also said that “little purpose seems to be served by omitting ‘doubtful’ matches”. I agree, but I think that caveats need always to be expressed when records from those matches crop up (such as Briggs 15 wickets for 28 at Cape Town, 14 of them clean bowled).
A comment from the Sydney Sportsman in 1901 seems pertinent here…
It should be said that Moody’s list did not require deep scholarship. Once the matches of 1877 are accepted into Test cricket, most of the rest falls into place. However, the fact that the list came to be used as a reference, in the face of the disagreements expressed above, makes it important.
I won’t go into the detail of the claims of certain matches for Test status. But here are a couple of observations:
- The touring English team in 1884-85 did not regard the first two matches, now regarded as Tests, as authentic. As far as they were concerned there were three Tests in the series. The canon lists five.
- The 1887-88 match was by no means regarded as a proper Test match even in Sydney. The Sydney Morning Herald described the Australians as the "non-representative Australian XI".
An Earlier Wagon Wheel
I have written (somewhere) that the first known batting Wagon Wheels were found in Test match reports in the Daily Express in 1905. Sreeram has now pushed the date back a little further, finding similar diagrams in Manchester Guardian reports for the first Test of that series (innings by Hill and Tyldesley). Unfortunately, the Guardian reports do not say how the diagrams were made or by whom, although they do claim copyright. The Express does suggest that theirs were drawn up in the newspaper office, based on information telegraphed or telephoned from the ground.
It has been claimed/reported that Wagon Wheels were invented by Bill Ferguson, who in 1905 was the Australian scorer, making his first of many tours. However, the diagrams in the British papers are different in style to Ferguson’s, with concentric circles for each run value. No actual Ferguson-style Wagon Wheels earlier than 1911 have been sighted.
In his autobiography, Ferguson provides a whole range of examples of his Wagon Wheels, but he is curiously vague about their development. The earliest diagram in that book is from 1912 (he didn’t call them “Wagon Wheels” by the way; I wonder when the term originated).
Sreeram has added further evidence by finding another 1905 Guardian Wagon Wheel, this time from a county match, Lancashire v Yorkshire in June (Tyldesley 134). It even names the bowlers for each shot.
at this time was elsewhere scoring for the Australian team, so he could not
have contributed to this. I think that it is now fair to say that Ferguson
adopted, rather than invented, the idea of a Wagon Wheel.
In the Test match at The Oval, Rohit Sharma (127) was dismissed by the first ball with the new ball, after a partnership of 153 with Pujara. This is the second highest partnership ended by a brand new ball, after a partnership of 172 between Mark Richardson and Stephen Fleming at Colombo PSS in 2003.(where known)
Something curious about cricket watching in Sri Lanka…during England’s Test match in Colombo in 1992-93, the attendance on the Saturday was only about 1,000. On the same weekend, two interschool matches in Colombo attracted crowds of over 10,000.
(source: Sunday Times)
is a neat little stat. When West Australian Des Hoare batted for the first
time on debut at Adelaide in 1961, his first ball was from Lance Gibbs, who
had just completed the hat-trick.
As far as I can see, Hoare is the only batsman in Test history whose first ball in Tests was the first ball after a hat-trick (the double hat-trick ball). Others on debut have come in after a hat-trick, but it was either the second innings, or they didn't face the double hat-trick ball. One case was CA Absolom in 1878-79, who came in after Spofforth took a hat-trick, but the hat-trick came off the last three balls of an over, and Absolom faced a ball in the next over, before Spofforth bowled again.
Longest sequence of missed chances off a bowler without a catch being taken (data since 2003)...
In 2019, Joe Root had a sequence of seven chances missed off his bowling, without any catches being taken, spread over three Tests. Same thing happened to Nathan Hauritz in 2010, again over multiple Tests.
It hadn't occurred to me until a question on Ask Steven, but I found that never before had a team, behind on first innings, declared its second innings after lunch on the 5th day, and won. This is what India did to England at Lord's.
The most threes in a Test career were hit by Steve Waugh (397) and Ricky Ponting (381). The top six positions are held by Australians who were active (at least in part) during the 1990s, before the much-lamented ‘shrinking’ of the grounds and the advent of Super Bats. Mark Taylor hit 354 threes or 14.1% of his runs; this is the highest percentage of any major batsman.
Threes have always been more common on the larger Australian grounds. The top 13 positions are held by Australian or English batsmen.
16 September 2021
I have been working on a list of “Unusual Dismissals” in Test matches. This is largely drawn from notes that I have made over the years in my study of Test matches and scorebooks, rather than specific research. Some of the instances have been thanks to suggestions by others.
The stimulus to finally put this together was the dismissal of Nauman Ali at Harare earlier this year, stumped by Chakabva off a wide. As far as I know, this was unprecedented in Test matches, although it happens from time to time in limited overs games.
Any suggestions for additions would be welcome. The general criteria include: a dismissal must have occurred, and there must have been something very unusual about the dismissal itself, not just the situation (for instance, run out for 99 is not included unless there was something strange about the dismissal). Also excluded is where one fielder drops a catch and deflects to another: there are actually many examples of this in Tests. Bowlers deflecting a shot to effect a run out is also excluded, unless it was a dropped catch.
While checking through the list of most overs in a day by individual bowlers, I noticed again the absence of any modern names. The list is effectively set in stone, and is dominated by Tests where over rates were high and days lasted six hours. Most instances came from the 1940s and early 1950s, when some captains, rather lacking in imagination, would put spin bowlers on and just keep them bowling. This certainly applied to John Goddard of the West Indies.
So I have prepared a separate list for Tests since 1998.
Most Overs in a Day: individual bowlers since 1998.
Incomplete overs counted as one
There are ten cases of 39 overs. Even in this list, the near absence of instances in the last ten years is notable, with just one appearance, by Jadeja. There are only three instances from the last ten years in the Top 30. By contrast, Muralitharan appears ten times in the Top 30, and even then his Tests before 1998 are not included.
There are worrying signs that over rates are on the way down again. It has become unusual for teams get through 90 overs in the allotted six hours, often not even in the allowed extension to 6.5 hours. The great majority of innings in Tests this year have recorded over rates of 80 balls per hour or less (40 out of the last 46 innings). In the 1960s, rates of more than 100 balls per hour were commonplace; in the 1940s and earlier, it was 120 balls per hour or more.
Fielding sides are mostly to blame, but not entirely. Batsmen nowadays often go through elaborate preparations and are quite frequently not ready to face when a bowler is trying to get through an over more quickly than usual.
There has been a general checking and updating of various records in the “Unusual Records” section. Not everything has been checked, but those sections that have been checked have been appropriately labelled with a date.
A scoring curiosity: in the second Test between Zimbabwe and New Zealand at Harare in 1997-98, it appears that when no balls were scored from, an extra run was added (for example, a no ball hit for four added five runs to the total). This was not the established protocol at the time: the practice came into general use about a year later. There were no instances in the first Test of that series (none of the no balls were scored from), but there were several instances in the second Test.
The change became permanent in Test #1424, Pakistan v Aus, Oct 1998.
In the Zim Test, it is particularly interesting in that the match was very close. In the final innings, the 8th wicket fell with 4 balls left and 11 to win. At that point the tailenders decided not to go for victory and played out the four balls. But if the scoring protocol had been normal for that time, the target would actually have been 8 runs (and 7 to tie), not 11. I wonder: perhaps they would have had a go at that.
From time to time a batsman scores a century on the first day of a Test even though his team batted second. Bowlers have also been known to take five or more wickets on the first day, bowling second, but it has become rather rare in these days of covered wickets and slow over rates. The most recent case is Glenn McGrath at Lord’s in 2005. After Australia was out for 190, McGrath took five wickets for two runs from his 4th to 9th overs, immediately following tea. He finished the day with 5 for 21.
Fred Price was a wicketkeeper from Middlesex who played one Test in 1938. He played 402 first-class matches without ever bowling, the all-time record for a complete career.
Kumar Sangakkara played 529 List A games (and also 267 T20) without bowling. However, he bowled in f-c cricket.
T20: Eoin Morgan has played 333 T20s to date without bowling.
Combined totals: Steven Davies, who has played for England and various counties, has played 581 games (240 f-c, 188 List A, and 153 T20) without bowling. He bowled one over in an Under-19 Test. He is still active.
17 August 2021
In response to an enquiry, I put together a list of bowlers who have bowled underarm in Tests.
Gerald Brodribb actually wrote a book on underarm bowling. I don’t have a copy, but there is a surprising amount of stuff on ‘lob’ bowling on the internet (Cricket Country and elsewhere) that is probably derived from Brodribb, at least in part. I have scoured this and come up with the following (some is from notes in my database). Most of these were bowling lobs, and the underarm part is presumed. Hornby is an exception, bowling "grubbers".
Underarm bowlers in Tests
T Armitage Eng v Aus (1), Melbourne (MCG) 1876/77
AN Hornby Eng v Aus (1), Melbourne (MCG) 1878/79
WW Read Eng v Aus (1), Melbourne (MCG) 1882/83
WW Read Eng v Aus (3), The Oval 1884
A Lyttleton Aus v Eng (3), The Oval 1884
G Ulyett Eng v Aus (2), Melbourne (MCG) 1884/85 one ball only
AE Stoddart Eng v Aus (4), Melbourne (MCG) 1897/98
GHT Simpson-Hayward Eng v SAf 1909/10 Five Tests
Simpson-Hayward is regarded as the last of the regular lob bowlers.
Test players recorded as bowling underarm in first-class cricket but not in Tests
For the most part, these players did so only once, or on rare occasions.
Yuvraj of Patiala
Dilip Vengsarkar is said to have bowled an over of lobs for West Zone against the MCC in 1984-85. However, these appear to have been ‘donkey drops’, not underarm.
I read also the Hornby was also ambidextrous with regard to bowling. Apart from him, I have not seen any references to bowling ‘grubbers’ (as opposed to lobs) in Tests.
Dismissal Frequency by Ball of Over
Is there any pattern to dismissals according to which ball of an over is being bowled? I decided to have another look at this. For all dismissals in Tests from 2003 to 2020, the numbers are
This distribution is largely random. There is a slight shortage of dismissals on Ball #1, which seems to be associated with a pattern in tail-end dismissals. There is an excess of 8th-10th wicket dismissals toward the end of an over, perhaps because of failed strike-farming attempts.
For the first seven wickets, where the innings continued after the dismissal, the numbers are
This is a fairly random set of numbers. None of these numbers is even 1 percentage point away from the mean of 16.67%.
13 July 2021
I have updated the Hot 100 list – the fastest-scoring Test batsmen. It’s been a couple of years since the last update.
Most batsmen tend to score at a characteristic rate which varies less, over time, than batting average. The upshot is that the list changes only gradually, apart from new players making an appearance, so it doesn’t matter too much if updates are infrequent.
It is interesting though that David Warner, still very prominent in the list, has been ‘calming down’ to some extent in recent years. He sometimes plays defensively now (only sometimes). His career scoring rate as of 2019 was 74.5; this has now dropped to 72.7. His scoring rate in the interim has been 62.5 runs per 100 balls, and that includes his triple-century against Pakistan.
The full lists are at the usual link. I have also prepared the list below, restricted to fully-recognised batsmen, just to see how the list looks without the lower-middle-order all-rounders and wicketkeepers who are prominent on the full list. The list is filtered simply by restricting to batsmen with an average batting position of less than 6.1. (All innings for such batsmen were included, even below #6 position, as long as the career average position was 6.1). The runs qualification has been raised to 2000 career runs for modern batsmen, although it remains at 1000 runs for earlier times.
Given these qualifications, Virender Sehwag’s lead becomes very striking indeed. Shahid Afridi was faster still as a top-order player, but his Test record is rather patchy and he never reached 2000 runs.
Fastest-scoring Test batsmen: ‘recognised’ batsmen
A modified version of this list, with adjustment for changes in runs-scoring standards over time, is available at the link. This particular list has not been updated since 2019.
During a tour of Sri Lanka in 1996, Alistair Campbell and Henry Olonga of Zimbabwe were swept out to sea while swimming, and had to be rescued by lifeguards. The incident was reminiscent of a rescue during the rest day of the Bridgetown Test of 1977, when Pakistan players Zaheer Abbas and Wasim Bari were rescued from drowning while attempting to swim back to their hotel from a raft that had drifted out to sea.
21 June 2021
Well it’s been a while since anything was posted. Put that down to other work coming in (non-cricket) and general lassitude. It might not be a reasonable response, but the effect of all these crushing lockdowns has been to discourage rather than encourage me.
Nevertheless, Test matches are still being posted in my database – well into 1996 now. I have been making minor (but painstaking) corrections to some older data too, mostly in the session-by-session and ball-by-ball files, which did not always line up precisely, particularly for inter-War Tests. Thanks to Glenn Timmins for pointing out the problems.
Anyway. Here are a few items…
Players making the greatest number of different scores, from 0 to 100, in all Internationals combined. It is not surprising that Tendulkar leads here, but he never made scores of 58 or 75. A pity then that he was out for 74 in his last Test; he had already made that score three times. He also made two 76s late in his career.
Tendulkar did make scores of 58 and 75 in first-class cricket, although he never made 99 or 102, and a few other scores below 90, including 87. He did make those scores in List A. If my search is correct, the lowest score (f-c and List A combined) that Tendulkar never made is 129, followed closely by 130.
Batsmen who faced 100 balls in a Test innings – highest career percentages.
H Sutcliffe 58.3% of innings
B Mitchell 52.5%
WM Woodfull 51.9%
DG Bradman 50.0%
IR Redpath 50.0%
L Hutton 50.0%
KF Barrington 49.2%
EAB Rowan 48.0%
G Boycott 45.6%
GM Turner 45.2%
RS Dravid 45.1%
(minimum 50 innings; some estimates – a limited number – are necessary for older data)
Some stats on 20 (+) run overs in Tests.
There have been 178 known instances of which 27 were in 8-ball overs.
Of the 178, 96 occurred in this century.
Of the 178, 118 included an individual batsman making 20 or more runs. In the others the runs were shared or there were extras to make up the 20.
Bowlers conceding 20 in an over... four times for JR Thomson and MJ Hoggard. Two of Thomson's were 8-ball overs. Three times by Swann, M Morkel, Boje, Willis and Sobers (Willis and Sobers include 8-ball overs)
Batsmen hitting 20 runs in an over: Gilchrist 6 times, Lara and Botham 3. Thirteen batsmen have done it twice. Botham and Lara were also in one additional over each worth 20 or more runs, although they did not themselves score 20. David Warner has batted in four 20+ overs, although he has scored 20 runs only once himself.
Here are some percentages for 'No Play' days in Tests, by country. Days can be lost for a variety of reasons but mostly weather. Abandoned matches not included, but all other Tests are.
Ireland 20.0% (1 match only)
New Zealand 4.8%
Sri Lanka 3.0%
South Africa 2.7%
West Indies 1.9%
UAE 0.6% (1 day lost, following death of PJ Hughes)
Although he was selected as an opening batsman, Roger Twose did not get to bat until the fifth day of his second Test match. His debut at Chennai in 1995 was washed out with only 2 sessions of play, and New Zealand did not bat. The following Test at Cuttack was similarly afflicted, and New Zealand did not bat until the morning of the fifth day.
have mentioned before that when Garry Sobers hit the
28 April 2021
I had an unusual 'cricket' experience recently. I went to a concert by a classical trio (piano, violin, cello) who call themselves the Benaud trio. They played a new piece by David Lang called "The Tied Test". As a musical concept, it is possibly unique.
It was literally a Test match (the Brisbane Tied Test in 1960) set to music. It had four movements, one for each innings, with each over of the match corresponding to one bar of music. Moreover, each of the 22 players was represented by a small motif which was played while they were bowling (piano) or batting (violin, cello). The players explained a few of these motifs before the performance; they were linked to the players’ names, so “Richie Benaud” had four notes and “Alan Davidson” five, with rhythms similar to the spoken name. “Wes Hall” had just two notes, but played heavily to suit a fast bowler. I could not make out all 22 motifs, of course, but I am sure I heard “Norm O’Neill” frequently during the second movement. O’Neill of course scored 181 in the corresponding innings.
I had made a small contribution to this. David Lang contacted me a few months ago about his idea, and I supplied with all the statistical information I had on the Tied Test.
I regarded the music as a great success. It had a calypso flavour, and was much more accessible than typical modern music.
It was the first concert I have been to in 18 months, so was particularly memorable. It was a small venue, perhaps 100 seats, but was sold out. There was no social distancing. Masks were encouraged but not mandatory; about 20% of patrons wore them.
I must find out how the Benaud Trio got its name. The name is serious; the group has been around for 15 years and has won various chamber music competitions and awards.
There is a clip of the composer explaining the music at the link (I get a mention)
I did an interview last week with Jack Snape of the ABC, discussing aspects of the history of cricket scoring. We covered a range of subjects and it was quite enjoyable. It is a bit unfortunate, though, that they focussed on that old Bradman four runs thing, an article that I wrote 13 years ago, and is old news.
For the record, I still stand by the analysis of Bradman. However, moving the mystery four runs (in the final Test of 1928-29) into the Bradman column is only one of a number of possible resolutions for the anomaly in the surviving scorebook, and I would concede it is not the most likely. It is still an open question, though.
333 with no 3s
It’s a rather large and fiddly table, but for anyone interested here is a complete breakdown of scoring strokes for all Test triple (or should that be treble?) centuries. It’s fair to say that all such innings benefit from benign batting conditions, but how could it be any other way? If a batsman could score a triple under difficult conditions, what should he be capable of when the going is good?
is quite a lot of variability in the composition of the strokes. This can
reflect the speed of the outfield or the batting style, or both. It can be
hard to unravel these factors. Undoubtedly, Chris Gayle benefited from a
small ground and fast outfield when he hit 333 at
There is a quite a remarkable difference between the triples by Edrich and Cowper, made within months of one another. Edrich hit 57 boundaries and 3 threes, while Cowper hit 20 boundaries and 26 threes. Cowper’s 307 was scored on a large ground with extremely slow outfield: his fours included several that were all-run. One can speculate that Cowper’s innings might have been worth an extra 50 runs under the conditions enjoyed by Edrich.
†Hammond’s official score is, of course, 336 not out, but re-scoring the scorebook gives him 337 not out. I have used the latter so that the strokes add up.
Incidentally, the highest innings for which I do not have a full stroke breakdown is the next on the list – Bradman’s 299* at Adelaide in 1931-32.
26 March 2021
A Lost Century?
In the previous post I mentioned the discovery of scores from the 1909-10 M.C.C. tour of South Africa. I have now rescored these matches into ball-by-ball form and they have been posted in my online database here.
Robin Isherwood has provided more information on the source. The scorebook was the work of one Bernard de Rockstro Malraison (1844-1930), a long-time scorer in Transvaal. He had stood as an umpire in a match involving Major Warton’s team in 1888-89, but not in the Tests. He is not to be confused with his son W. de R. Malraison (1876-1916) who played for Transvaal a couple of times. The younger Malraison died fighting in the Great War, not in Europe but in East Africa, where there was considerable conflict between British and German colonials.
In the scorebook, the first three Tests are in the same hand, almost certainly Malraison himself. The scores are accurate and re-scoring was straightforward. The fourth and fifth Test scores, played in Cape Town, are in a different hand. The scorers are identified as W.W.A. Colson (1884-1941) and T.H.G. Lancellas (1874-1934). These later scores contain problems. They are almost certainly re-copies, and errors have crept in, some of them significant. For instance, in South Africa’s 103 in the final Test, there are 33 extras recorded. These extras, however, apply to England’s first innings of 417.
An unusual feature of newspaper reports of the final Test include statements that there was an error in the scoring of Aubrey Faulkner’s 99 in the second innings, and that he actually scored 100; it was said that one run had been mistakenly credited to Sinclair (37). And indeed, the re-score does give Faulkner an exact 100 and Sinclair 36. Unfortunately, it is not clear-cut. There are several anomalies that occur in the score during the innings; for example, Faulkner’s scoring stroke order in the batting score does not match the bowlers’ rescore analysis. So, uncertainty must remain; I would say, though, that when I tried a few possible changes to the bowling (which itself creates new anomalies), Faulkner still gets his 100.
Robin Isherwood also sent me a photo of Malraison with his scorebook, taken when he was 84 years old. It is rather charming and I will post it here…
A New Look at the ‘Slowest’ and ‘Quickest’ Bowlers
I have done a little exercise to look for the current bowlers who are fastest and slowest in getting through their overs. I was able to do this thanks to Benedict Bermange, who has over the years sent me quite a number of his linear Test scores with clock times at the start of every over. I have entered this data onto a spreadsheet for 22 recent Tests (since 2019, more than 7000 overs). Benedict only scores Tests involving England, but the 22 Tests involve all the major Test countries. Bowlers who did not play against England in this period are not covered.
I was inspired to do this by a comment from Benedict that Ishant Sharma seems to take an inordinate time to get through his overs. And sure enough, guess who tops the list of 67 'slowest' bowlers, and by a significant margin?
Bowler minutes per over
I Sharma 5.56
ST Gabriel 5.07
MA Starc 5.03
JL Pattinson 4.98
JJ Bumrah 4.90
AA Nortje 4.85
MA Wood 4.83
PJ Cummins 4.80
JR Hazlewood 4.69
Shaheen Shah Afridi 4.65
Times are given in fractions of minutes, not minutes:seconds.
The calculation only considers what I call 'standard' overs, or complete overs without interruptions. (Standard overs comprise about 82% of all overs.) Overs with wickets, reviews, drinks break, injuries etc are filtered out. Leaving them in doesn't affect the order much.
The bowlers who get through their over the quickest, based once again on uninterrupted overs, are
NM Lyon 3.50
S Nadeem 3.45
RL Chase 3.41
Yasir Shah 3.39
RRS Cornwall 3.34
JE Root 3.34
KA Maharaj 3.31
R Ashwin 3.23
JL Denly 3.21
AR Patel 3.17
Although Akshar Patel has the fastest standard over, he ranks only about 10th on an 'every-over' basis. This reflects the very high frequency of wickets that he has taken to date, which increase over times by about 1.5 minutes each time there is an interruption.
The qualification is minimum 25 'standard' overs. Benedict's clock times only go to the nearest minute, but when averaged out, more precision is possible.
I also looked at the effect of interruptions of various kinds on minutes taken to bowl an over.
Most runs off 6 consecutive balls in Tests…
record for a single over is 28, but three batsman have scored 29 off six consecutive
balls spread across multiple overs:
Adam Gilchrist 664616 during his famous Perth century;
Blignaut 646661 at Cape Town in 2005.
player involved in run outs most times in ODIs is Mohammad Yousuf 79 times (run out 38 times, partners 41). Steve
Waugh is on 78 (27+51) and on 76 there is Inzamam
(40+36) and Sachin Tendulkar (34+42). Run out most times is Marvan Atapattu on 41 (+24
partners),while for partner run outs the record is
Waugh (51, above).
is uncertainty in some of the above figures for partners. I suspect that
there are errors in fall-of-wicket batsman identifications in older matches.
I have never checked the 'official' identifications in ODIs but I believe
that some of them are guesswork. I have surveyed the equivalent data in Tests
and found more than 400 errors in the 'official' online scores.
13 March 2021
Falling at the Last
Here is a list of batsmen who batted all day only to be out to the last ball of the day. I prepared this when I noticed that this fate had recently befallen two English batsmen in the space of only a few Tests. Almost 200 Tests had passed since the previous instance in 2016.
Batsman (final score)...number of runs, day, Test
H Sutcliffe(161)…141, day 3, Eng v Aus (5), The Oval 1926
CA Roach(209)…209, day 1, WI v Eng (3), Georgetown, Guyana 1930
Pankaj Roy(140)…140, day 1, Ind v Eng (2), Mumbai (Brabourne) 1951/52
Pankaj Roy(150)…120, day 5, Ind v WI (5), Kingston, Jamaica 1953
Waqar Hassan(189)…154, day 3, Pak v NZ (2), Lahore (Jinnah) 1955/56
Khalid Ibadulla(166)…166, day 1, Pak v Aus (1), Karachi (National) 1964/65
ED Solkar(67)…67, day 3, Ind v Eng (1), Lord's 1971
GM Wood(126)…126, day 4, Aus v WI (3), Georgetown, Guyana 1978
SM Gavaskar(115)…115, day 1, Ind v Aus (4), Delhi (FSK) 1979/80
MD Crowe(137)…123, day 3, NZ v Aus (2), Christchurch 1985/86
MH Richardson(99)…99, day 1, NZ v Zim (2), Harare 2000/01
MP Vaughan(177)…177, day 1, Eng v Aus (2), Adelaide Oval 2002/03
AN Cook(105)…105, day 1, Eng v WI (3), Bridgetown, Barbados 2015
TWM Latham(136)…136, day 1, NZ v Zim (2), Bulawayo (Queen's) 2016
JE Root(186)…119, day 3, Eng v SL (2), Galle 2020/21
DP Sibley(87)…87, day 1, Eng v Ind (1), Chennai (Chepauk) 2020/21
Qualifications: more than 50 overs in the day and the match had to continue next day after the batsman was out.
In the Solkar and Crowe cases, the team was all out, so it is very likely that the day’s play would have continued if the wicket had not fallen.
Of the above, only Waqar, Ibadulla, Gavaskar and Taslim were out to the last ball of an over, so presumably these are the only ones who knew they were facing the last ball of the day. This is not absolutely certain, since there could have been another over if they hadn't been out. However, in the Ibadulla and Gavaskar cases, it is known that no further overs could have been bowled.
Here are lists of the fastest and slowest Test partnerships, in terms of speed for the first 100 runs. The data is drawn from the ball-by-ball database, supplemented, where ball-by-ball data is absent, by research into original reports. Overall, time or balls faced information was found for the first 100 runs for about 95 % of century partnerships. Generally speaking, where data is absent, the partnerships were not remarkable in terms of speed (or lack of it).
In some cases, conversions had to be made between minutes and ball bowled, using over rates for the relevant innings. This creates a little uncertainty in the exact rankings in the following tables, particularly the first table where changes of only a couple of minutes could affect results.
The fastest times in minutes (and the slowest in balls bowled) are mostly from older Tests, played in the days of high over rates. By contrast, when it comes to fast partnerships in balls bowled, recent Tests dominate.
Fastest Test Century partnerships (1st 100 runs, minutes)
Slowest Test Century partnerships (1st 100 runs, minutes)
Fastest Test Century partnerships (1st 100 runs, balls)
Slowest Test Century partnerships (1st 100 runs, balls)
None of the partnerships in the final category would rival the partnership of 98 by Sardesai and Manjrekar at Bridgetown in 1962, which occupied close to 590 balls and 248 minutes.
I may add these lists to the Unusual Records section.
Andrew Samson has come up with some ‘new’ Test match scores, found at the Johannesburg Wanderers ground. They are from a handwritten scorebook, by a gentleman named Malraison, that has somehow survived the years. It contains, among other things, full scores for all five Tests of the 1909-10 M.C.C. tour of South Africa, Tests that were previously lost.
Breakthroughs like this have become rare, made even more difficult by the restrictions related to the Covid virus. So this is a great find, and Andrew has kindly already supplied me with copies. I will re-score it into ball-by-ball form in due course.
Credit to Robin Isherwood, who alerted me to the existence of this book, and the possibility of it containing Test match scores, 15 months ago. It took a sustained effort by Andrew to get access to the book.
The responsibility for calling no balls in internationals has now been fully handed over to the third umpire. The change was introduced when Test matches re-commenced in England last July. In 18 Tests since then, there have been 199 no balls called. In the previous 18 Tests, when the calls were left to on-field umpires or referrals, there were only 77 no balls.
This is quite a significant change!
Most runs by a batsman off a single bowler in an ODI… at the SCG in the 2015 World Cup, AB de Villiers (162*) scored 76 runs off JO Holder. Note: this was NOT de Villiers' record-breaking 100 in 31 balls innings.
Hooper took 568 balls to progress from 99 Test wickets to 100, spanning three
Tests in 2001.
(As of end of January) In the last 19 Tests, only one has been won by the team winning the toss. Three draws and 15 losses. In the sole victory (NZ v Pak at Christchurch) the team winning the toss (NZ) chose to bowl. It certainly does fluctuate. In the previous 19 Tests, there were 11 wins to the team winning the toss, and 5 losses. Back in 2018 there was a sequence of 13 consecutive wins to teams winning the toss.
How did underarm bowling really work?...
Before about 1750 cricket bowling was literally bowling, that is all along the ground. Lumpy Stevens, it is said, invented ‘length’ bowling.
I don't really know about the specific actions, but according to Barclay's World of Cricket A-Z, most bowling before 1800 was "medium to fast". A bowler named Lamborn was the first off-spinner. From 1777, a bowler named Noah Mann was "giving a curve to the ball the whole way".
About 50 years ago my club played a game against a team of blind cricketers (legally blind, but most could see a bit). The ball was made of wicker with a bell in it, and the bowlers bowled underarm. You had to pitch the ball in the first half of the pitch, and the ball, ringing, would bounce several times. The bowlers had a run up and sent the ball down surprisingly fast. The stumps were bright orange (for those who could see a bit) and had a bell attached which the keeper would ring to orient the bowler and assist returns from the fielders. We did sometimes help fielders who couldn't find the ball when it stopped moving.
They absolutely thrashed us, as I recall. Certainly the most memorable cricket match of my youth.
Australia/India series really went down to the wire, with the series result
very much in the balance going into the last hour of the last Test. I
couldn't find any precedents in series of 4 or more Tests, where the final
Test produced a result.
It has happened occasionally with 3-Test series. In 2013-14 in South Africa, Australia won the final Test with 6.4 overs left, to take the series 2-1.
In West Indies in the same season, New Zealand won the final Test with 13.4 overs left, to take the series 2-1.
Highest innings in Tests that were both unbeaten and completely chanceless…
Lara's 400* contained 'technical', 'half-' or 'possible' chances only.
Warner's 335* against Pakistan last year was chanceless but there was one DRS and he was caught off a no ball on 236.
In the DRS era, Adam Voges 269* against West Indies was chanceless and there were no reviews or run out attempts.
Javed Miandad's 280* against India in 1982-83 was chanceless. All other unbeaten innings higher than this prior to 2000 are known to have included chances of some description.
Usman Shinwari of Pakistan has played in 17 ODIs but has faced only seven balls in his four innings. His one and only scoring shot was a first-ball six off Marcus Stoinis in 2019. He was out next ball.
7 February 2021
Dropped Catches Report 2019-2020
I have updated the survey of dropped catches in Test matches to include matches up to the end of 2020. As I have reported in the past, the list is created by searching Cricinfo’s (vast) ball-by-ball texts for mentions of missed chances, searching for up to 40 terms (or euphemisms) that are used to indicate chances. This usually whittles the texts down to about 100 ‘hits’ per Test, which I then read through to identify real chances.
The continuous survey goes back to late 2001, plus some Tests from the previous 12 months. The first two or three years have gaps, in that the texts sometimes lacked the necessary detail. (I also have very patchy data on Tests from the 1920s to 1990s from other sources, which I have reported on elsewhere.)
I have combined the data from 2020 with 2019 since the number of matches in 2020 was so limited. Overall, 24.1% of chances were missed in this period, including missed stumpings but not missed run outs (run outs are not searched). This represents 6.26 missed chances per Test. Since 2002, the average rate has been 25.6%, so 24.1% represents a better than average year from the fielders’ perspective; However, the rate was higher than 2018’s 22.6%, which was the lowest recorded.
Overall the rate from 2002 to 2010 was 26.0%; from 2011 to 2020 it was 24.9%. This indicates a gradual, if slight, improvement in catching. This appears to be an extension of a long-term trend; data from earlier decades, where available, indicated rates of 27-30%.
The data breakdown for the various countries is shown in the table. Overall, South Africa has had the best catching record, although there are signs of decline in the most recent data. For some years, South Africa had Boucher keeping wickets and Graeme Smith at slip; both of these players had outstanding catching records, as did AB de Villiers.
Recent improvement in catching by Pakistan is quite striking and appears to be sustained. Is it something to do with the UAE grounds?
The usual caveats apply to this data. Chances described as “half”, “technical” and “academic” are included. Whether or not an incident counts as a missed chance can be a matter of opinion; I do think, however, that up to 90 per cent of chances would be agreed by nearly all observers. The data also depends on the completeness of the Cricinfo texts and the efficiency of the search. It would be nice if the Cricinfo commentators would use a single indicator phrase to flag misses; they often use DROPPED in upper case, but there are many exceptions that have to be uncovered by deeper searching.
As for bowlers who have suffered the most, it is a two-horse race. Jimmy Anderson is currently on 122 and Stuart Broad 120, well ahead of Harbhajan Singh on 99. Note that Tests this year have not been covered. Spare a thought for Pakistan spinners Danish Kaneria and Saeed Ajmal, who have suffered drop rates of 39 and 40 per cent respectively off their bowling. Spinners often have higher rates because many of their chances are caught and bowled or short leg, or ‘reaction’ wicketkeeper catches.
Alastair Cook completed his career with 78 missed chances off his batting, a number that will take some beating. Sangakkara and Sehwag are next on 67; Sehwag’s miss rate as batsman of 37 per cent is the highest among major batsmen.
Cook is also the ‘leading’ fielder, missing 81 chances, or 32 per cent. He spent a lot of time fielding at short leg, where catching is difficult and often a matter of luck.
A more detailed article on this subject from 2016 is here.
Did Bradman know he needed just four runs in his last Test, to average 100?
Bradman said he didn’t, in unambiguous terms:
But did anyone else know in advance? There is no apparent evidence.
Looking at Trove, I could not find any mention of Bradman needing four runs to average 100 in any of the match previews just before the Test. Some previews mention him needing 83 runs to reach 2000 for the English season, and 674 (on the rest of the tour) to reach 10,000 career f-c runs in England.
Bradman's 6996 runs, and his average as it stood of 101.39, can be found in isolated reviews of the fourth Test in the Newcastle Morning Herald and in the Melbourne Herald. Even this doesn't seem to have been widely noticed, and the implications for the final Test were not discussed. It’s worth noting that anyone pondering the question in advance would have presumed that The Don would be batting twice at The Oval, in which case he would have needed 104 runs (if he was out twice).
By the end of the fifth Test, Bradman’s shortfall had been noticed in multiple publications. Even before the final day, an article in the Brisbane Courier-Mail remarked that Bradman was four runs short. It was evident at that point that Bradman was not going to bat again, as England was going to lose by an innings and plenty.
It is interesting that some sources at the time were reporting Bradman's career average as 89.7. That was his average against England. There was still widespread opinion in those days that the only 'real' Tests were Ashes Tests.
Here is some data concerning the percentage of batsmen out ‘clean’ bowled versus 'played on'. I have conducted a little survey of the last 100 Tests, to come up with some figures.
(Caveats: this depends on the accuracy of the Cricinfo texts and my ability to interpret them.)
Total out bowled: 554
Hit bat first: 121
Hit pad/body first : 24
Some (not quantified) hit both the bat and the pad.
Batsmen bowled offering no stroke = 26. This includes some cases where the batsmen tried to withdraw the stroke but the ball hit the bat anyway.
It would also be interesting to know how many batsmen are playing on to balls that would not have hit the stumps, but that is not feasible with text data.
Bowlers on debut whose first two balls were hit for four, a very short list…
Roy Gilchrist 1957
Dinusha Fernando 2003-04
Navdeep Saini, SCG 2021
I was surprised that I couldn’t find any more cases than this in the database.
9 January 2021
A few notes on the origins of ‘hat-trick’…
I was looking at various sources that discuss the origin of the term. They have a tendency to either repeat one another, or sometimes contradict one another without explanation. I decided to look to see if there are some truly original sources to be found.
The concept of a hat-trick is said to have its origins when HH Stephenson took three wickets in three balls in a match in 1858, and was presented with a new hat for his troubles. However, the term ‘hat-trick’ (or ‘hat trick’) doesn’t seem to appear in print in newspapers until 1865, in the Chelmsford Chronicle in Essex.
This reference is mentioned in Wikipedia. I did my own search of the British Newspaper Archive, and found this independently; it was earliest reference that I found.
The Stephenson 1858 link to hat-tricks has been reported many times. I was curious about sources, and tracked down the actual origin match, an Eleven of All England v Twenty-Two of Hallam and Staveley at Hyde-park, Sheffield on 6, 7 and 8 September 1858. The Eleven was a team of professionals touring around England; the inimitable Julius Caesar was in the team. Stephenson’s triple hit occurred on the last day, as recorded in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph.
There are a couple of interesting elements to this original report. Firstly, that the presentation of a hat was already a “custom” in this team, as long as the three wickets occurred in the same (four-ball) over, and secondly, that Stephenson was not actually presented with a hat after all! His trick was spread over two overs, and so did not qualify for a hat, but it was sufficiently noteworthy for the team to present him with a guinea (21 shillings) presumably after a whip-round. It is not clear how many, if any, hats had previously been awarded through this ‘custom’. Hat-tricks were uncommon even then, and we are talking about just one team.
But as we have seen, the actual term ‘hat-trick’ was not yet in use. We can see where the ‘hat’ comes from, but why ‘trick’? Searches show that the term was already in use in reference to magicians and magic shows, and this may have rubbed off on cricket.
A search of Trove in Australia turns up quite a few occurrences of the term in the early to mid 1870s, but always in relation to magic. The first Australian cricketing reference is found in December 1877. The hat-trickster was Harry Boyle, and he was indeed presented with a new hat! This took place during an early match on the epic 1877-1878 tour by the Australian XI, playing against 22 of Newcastle in New South Wales.
Perhaps the term, and the custom of presenting a hat, was brought to Australia by Shaw’s team earlier that year. However, it doesn’t seem to have been applied during Shaw’s matches: perhaps there were no actual hat-tricks. There are a few occurrences in 1876-77 for phrases like “three wickets in three balls”, but all are in minor matches not involving the tourists, with no mention of hats.
Note the UPDATE below on the subject of international cricket broadcasts.