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Detailed scores for all Tests from 1920 to early 1960 have now been posted, covering 352 Tests. Some 248 of these Tests include ball-by-ball coverage; virtually all others offer some degree of extended detail, beyond anything previously made available online. Coverage of series from 1877 to 1914 is under development, and will be posted progressively.
Jerome Taylor's first first-class century was 106 in a Test match. His previous highest score was 40, and his first-class average prior to the century was 12.5. To date he has played over 50 non-Test first-class matches, and has still not made a score over 50. His first-class average outside Tests has dropped to 10.5.
Bruce Taylor of New Zealand scored a century in his first Test innings. It was only his fifth innings in first-class cricket and his previous best was 49.
Ian Healy scored four first-class centuries, all of them in Tests. He is the only player with more than 2, if I have calculated correctly.
At Auckland in 1977, Greg Chappell’s innings of 58 was interrupted when he was menaced by a streaker. Chappell attempted, apparently successfully, to hit the intruder on the backside with his bat. The incident appeared to distract Chappell, as he was run out off the very next ball.
22 August 2017
Dropped Catches Report 2016-17
I have surveyed more ball-by-ball texts for dropped catches and missed stumpings, covering the period Feb 2016 to April 2017. This extends the missed chance data to about 700 Tests going back to year 2000.
There was increase in the percentage of catches dropped in the recent data. The 2016-17 figure was 26.5% chances missed, about two percentage points higher than the average over the previous four years. However, the miss rate was very similar to other years, including 2003 and the four years from 2008 to 2011.
It is not entirely clear why the rate was higher this year. One factor is an increased number of Tests involving Zimbabwe (30% misses) and Bangladesh (32.2% misses) which drags the overall percentage upward. If it is apparent from their match results that Sri Lanka is in decline, this is also borne out in the catch stats; SL’s stats have increased from 25% misses in 2015 to 30% in 2016-17.
Unlike the all-country data, the combined average for Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and England is steady at 23%. South Africa recorded only 18% misses, one of the lowest single-year figures for any country since surveys began in 2000.
The recent figures reverse a slight historical improvement trend seen over the previous decade.
Figures for individual countries in 2016-17 are
On the individual front, Alistair Cook has overtaken MS Dhoni to claim the most career misses of any modern player. He has 70 misses to Dhoni’s 66; the latter is probably a career final, while Cook’s figures do not include the current England season. Rahul Dravid is one recent player who may have dropped more catches than Cook; I only have data for about 70% of his career; from that I would estimate about 75 misses in total.
Most expensive miss of the year occurred when Azhar Ali was 17 against West Indies at Dubai; he was missed by Leon Johnson in the gully, and went on to 302 not out. KK Nair, who against England made one run more, was missed on 34, 217 and 246. Steve Smith was missed four times in his 109 against Sri Lanka; the innings, under difficult conditions, was nevertheless rightly acclaimed.
Kane Williamson had an exceptional year in the field, taking 14 catches and dropping only one. Johnny Bairstow recorded the most misses, 15.
At the time of writing, Jimmy Anderson has probably become the first bowler in this century to have 100 catches dropped. I have 97 for him, but that does not include the current England season. Harbhajan Singh had more than 100, but some of those, an unknown number, occurred before 2000. Stuart Broad is not far behind Anderson. It will take further analysis.
I have posted pdf versions of a couple of articles by me that have appeared online in Cricket Monthly.
2) “End-over” jitters, that is the effect of having to bat in the final overs of the day (very little as it turns out). March 2017.
SOME SNIPPETS FROM THE 1970s…
In the final over of the drawn third Test of 1974-75, bowled by Tony Greig with Australia needing 14 runs to win, umpire Bailhache (officiating at point) called no ball on the grounds of three fielders behind square leg. According to reporters, three previous balls in the over had also been bowled with this (illegal) configuration, but not noticed by the umpires. There were six runs and one wicket off the over, and the match was drawn with Australia finishing on 238 for 8, eight runs short of victory. The penultimate over, bowled by Derek Underwood, had been an eight-ball maiden.
In the Test at Auckland in 1975, England’s Keith Fletcher took five ‘brilliant’ catches at slip according to The Times, but the Manchester Guardian reported that he dropped another five.
In the Christchurch Test that followed, Barry Hadlee (12th man) fielded as a substitute, joining his brothers Dale and Richard on the field, while their father Walter watched from the stands. Barry never played in New Zealand’s first XI in A Test, although he played two ODIs for New Zealand alongside his brothers.
On the first day of the Kanpur Test of 1972-73, two thousand police were assigned to the ground. There were 30,000 spectators. There was supposed to be play on the following day, but it was a public holiday, and the police force could not find enough available officers, so it was declared a rest day.
In the Adelaide Test in 72-73, Talat Ali, on debut, suffered a broken hand in Pakistan’s first innings. He was the first batsman since Charles Bannerman to be listed as retired hurt in his first Test innings. He was not expected to bat again, but came out to bat in the second innings, late in the day, with Pakistan 214 for 9 and on the verge of an innings defeat. Holding the bat with one hand, he faced nine balls and forced play into the fifth day, but only thanks to a dropped catch by Ian Redpath on the very last ball of the fourth day.
What a finish that would have been if it had been a four-day Test!
The hoped-for rain did not arrive, and Talat was out in the second over next morning: 0 off 16 balls. A fourth-day photo shows him batting right-handed, but a report from the fifth day says he switched to left-handed. If so, he was the first known batsman to bat both ways in a Test innings, Salim Malik being the only other known case (see entry for 23 Oct 2016).
On the subject of ‘switch hitting’, one of the claimed inventors of the reverse sweep was Mushtaq Mohammad. Here’s some proof that he used the stroke in Tests – a quote from the Otago Daily Times during the Dunedin Test of 1972-73.
“After tea, both batsmen produced as fine a hitting display as seen on Carisbrook in memory. Off the first four overs, 46 runs came from spinners Pollard and O’Sullivan with Mushtaq showing incredible footwork by switching from right-hand to left-hand during the flight of the ball to sweep boundaries.”
Mushtaq made 201 off 407 balls and his partnership with Asif Iqbal (175 off 299) produced 350 runs off about 575 balls.
The later stages of the partnership included 100 runs in the space of 37 minutes.
11 August 2017
Ashru Mitra has done a nice piece of research on Test umpires who, on their Test debuts, gave a batsman out, or saw a wicket fall, on their very first ball (at the bowler’s end). I had heard of Bill Alley and maybe one other, but I was a little surprised at the number of names that came up. Although, technically, all dismissals require a decision by an umpire, not all of these necessarily required an active decision.
Ashru has kindly allowed me to publish his findings here.
Debutant umpires giving dismissal verdict on the very first ball of the Test: A preparatory list
Umpire Debut: Thomas Burgess and Richard Torrance
Both umpires were making their Test debuts. Which ends they took is not known but wickets fell on the first balls of both the first and second overs.
Batsman dismissed: Herbert Sutcliffe cwk James b Badcock
Batsman dismissed: E Paynter b HD Smith
Australia v. England at Brisbane, 1936-37
Batsman dismissed: Stanley Worthington cwk Oldfield b McCormick
India v West Indies at Calcutta, 1974-75
West Indies v Bangladesh at Gros Islet, 2004
First ball of the second over of the match:
Australia vs England at Melbourne (5th), 1958-59
Umpire Debut: L Townsend (Confirmed: His decision)
Batsman dismissed: TE Bailey c Davidson b Lindwall
The following umpires were making their debuts when a wicket fell first ball, but the decision either fell to the other umpire or is not known:
Australia vs England at Sydney, 1903-04
Umpire Debut: AC Jones (Confirmed: Not his decision)
Batsman dismissed: VT Trumper c Foster b Arnold
South Africa vs England at Cape Town, 1922-23
Umpire Debut: GJ Thompson (No information available)
West Indies v. Pakistan at Port of Spain, 1957-58
New Zealand v Australia at Auckland, 1973-74
Pakistan vs West Indies at Karachi, 1990-91
Umpire Debut: Riazuddin (Confirmed: NOT his decision)
Batsman dismissed: CG Greenidge lbw b Waqar Younis
South Africa v India at Durban, 1992-93
Sri Lanka v West Indies at Pallekele, 2010-11
Umpire Debut: Bruce Oxenford (Confirmed: Not his decision)
Batsman dismissed: Chris Gayle lbw b Lakmal
In Tests, the practice of having another bowler complete an over, when a bowler was injured mid-over, seems to have started in 1981. At Kingston in that year, Graham Dilley was unable to complete an over, and Robin Jackman bowled the last two balls.
I can’t find any earlier cases in ODIs. Perhaps the need never came up.
A questioner on Ask Steven asked if there were completed first-class matches where no one made 50 and no one took five in an innings. I looked at the last few years and found (only) one: Badureliya Sports Club v Bloomfield Cricket and Athletic Club in 2014. The highest score was 45 and the best bowling was 4/17. It was an interesting scorecard: Bloomfield led by 2 runs on first innings and also won by 2 runs when both teams made 175 in the second innings.
The Oval Test of 1905 featured a strange set of high-scoring strokes. Joe Darling hit a six, but that was thanks to overthrows. He also cleared the boundary with another stroke, but that counted only five. Kelly and Hill hit similar strokes. Two batsmen, Hayward and Spooner, hit all-run fives without overthrows (the only Test where this happened twice), while Rhodes hit a five with overthrows.
By this time, Australian (and South African) authorities were being more sensible and awarded six runs to all hits clearing the boundary. This did not come into universal use in England until 1912.
‘Century in a session’ is a familiar record category. How about most runs in two consecutive sessions? Not so familiar, but here is a list. I did this calculation after Shikha Dhawan’s tour de force in Galle.
Most Runs in Two Consecutive Sessions (Test Matches)
Where a player qualifies twice for the same innings, the higher value only is listed. Dhawan’s 190 is the highest innings to be contained entirely within two sessions. His 126 between lunch and tea is a record for the first day, and the third-highest between lunch and tea on any day, after the 173 by Compton and 150 (or 151 or 152) by Hammond.
Of course, the old-timers had the advantage of higher over rates, and so comparisons must be considered with that in mind, but they did also play with much inferior bats and on larger grounds.
Five wickets in fewest balls in an ODI, where known
11 balls J Garner, WI v Eng, Lord’s 23-Jun-1979 (World Cup Final)
11 ACI Lock, Zim v NZ, Napier 3-Feb-1996
11 Shoaib Akhtar, Pak v NZ, Auckland 18-Feb-2001
12 Mohammad Sami, Pak v NZ, Lahore 1-Dec-2003
12 M Morkel, SAf v NZ, Napier 29-Feb-2012
Zahoor Khan took six wickets in 15 balls, Dubai 2-Mar-2017.
KAJ Roach took 5 wickets in 9 balls, over 2 games in 2011.
B Lee took 8 wickets in 27 balls, over 2 games in 2003.
I wrote an article on the statistics of DRS a while back, which was published online by Cricket Monthly. I have posted it in my longer articles section here.
A Note on Score Reconstruction
I have been including, in the database for pre-1915 Tests, ball-by-ball reconstructions for certain innings and/or matches, made in the absence of complete scorebooks. I just wanted to make some points clear about this process, especially as the Database approaches the 1902 Tests played by Australia in England and South Africa.
It is a great misfortune that no scorebooks are known to exist for these matches. However, greater resources are becoming available in terms of match reports in newspapers, to the extent that it is possible to construct over-by-over (sometimes ball-by-ball) versions of some innings, particularly those that involve rapid scoring or frequent falls of wickets. The British Newspaper Archive now boasts dozens of titles, available in full and online, for the year 1902. In addition to this I have accessed, from libraries, copies of other newspapers that are not in this Archive. These reports vary in detail, but when distilled together, and taken with information from other sources (such as a partial score available for the Old Trafford Test), it makes possible a ‘best rendering’ of important innings that in turn allow estimates of balls faced and other important statistics.
This has also been done for the series in South Africa. Although sources are fewer, the South African papers of the time often used a strictly narrative style (old-fashioned at the time) of reporting that mentions almost all scoring shots in sequence. Australian papers prior to 1894 often used the same style; after that, a more interpretive style of reporting came into vogue that makes it much harder to reconstruct innings statistically.
1) Even with combined sources, gaps occur that must be filled using educated interpolation,
2) The sources sometimes conflict.
3) It is not always possible to come up with a sequence of overs that is perfectly consistent with every source.
Generally, however, the broad structure of innings are clear (who was bowling when, and in which overs wickets fell), and many of the scoring details can be accurately placed. It is just certain passages of play that must be filled in. Periods of slow play with occasional singles and maidens are particularly difficult; by the same token, they are often not important. Some other detail from the sources can assist, such as the reporting of the number of ones, twos, threes and fours for major innings, and this can be found in certain sources.
I hope that the reconstructions can be accepted in this spirit; that they are not exact, but offer a useful guide to the progress of certain important innings and matches.
There are more sources out there, unexamined: perhaps others can take up the challenge of tracking more of them down. For instance, Gerald Brodribb gives a ball-by-ball list of Gilbert Jessop’s famous 104 at the Oval, but does not name his (newspaper) source. Having looked at dozens of potential sources, I have yet to find this.
So don’t fret over potential errors: improve on it if you can!
A question on Ask Steven had me looking for bowlers who took wickets with their last two balls in Tests. The only ones that I found were Gerry Hazlitt (Australia) in 1912 and Godfrey Lawrence (South Africa) in 1962. Current players were not considered.
Hazlitt, who only took 23 wickets in Tests, took 5 for 1 off his last 17 balls at the Oval in 1912.
Lawrence took just 28 wickets in Tests. His last two were the 8th and 9th of New Zealand’s second innings at Port Elizabeth in 1961/62. Peter Pollock then took a wicket with the first ball of the next over to finish the innings and complete a rare 'team hat-trick': three wickets in three balls by two different bowlers.
That said, I thought I would re-visit these ‘team hat-tricks’, which I reported on in 2012. The only ones I know of are listed below, followed by a few other cases where three wickets fell in the space of three balls, but no hat-trick occurred. They are rare indeed and getting rarer: it appears that it has never happened in Australia, or India. The most extraordinary thing is that Godfrey Lawrence was involved in two, and in consecutive Tests. This is one of the strangest coincidences that I have seen in cricket statistics.
Three wickets in three balls, by two different bowlers
I have been successfully convalescing after major surgery, and while doing so I have been able to keep up with updates to my Online Database. The data update is now complete for Tests in the 19th Century. Once I finish 1900 to 1914 the database will be complete up to 1960. The next step would be to refine and update some of the Test data from 1920 to 1939.
Slowest 50s in ODIs (balls faced)
50-over matches only
Most ‘Dismissals’ by no balls since 2000 – an updated list (bowlers).
The most runs scored after a no ball 'dismissal', recorded since 2001, is 279 by Kumar Sangakkara (287) in Colombo in 2006. He was bowled by a Dale Steyn no ball on 8. A catch was dropped in the same over. The next wicket fell 603 runs later.
Chris Gayle (333) was caught off a no ball when on 287, at Galle in 2010.
Earlier this year at Galle, Kusal Mendis was caught first ball off a no ball, and went on to make 194.
At Wellington in 2016, Adam Voges, on 7, was bowled by a no ball from Doug Bracewell. Replays showed that the umpire erred, and that the ball was legal. Voges went on to make 239.
The leading beneficiaries among batsmen are Rahul Dravid on 7, with Michael Clarke, Virender Sehwag and Alistair Cook on 5. Although he has benefited only twice, Sangakkara has added the most runs after his ‘dismissals’ with 326, followed by Kevin Pietersen on 323 (three innings) and Michael Clarke on 295.
I recently came across a note, in a linear score, of Len Hutton being caught off a no ball (by Bill O'Reilly) during his 364 at The Oval in 1938. Hutton was on 153 at the time.
This is not really the same thing as modern instances, because under the back-foot rule, the batsman had time to change his shot after the no ball call. Hutton was, in effect, taking a 'free hit' which was caught in the deep. He scored one run.
I have embarked on an effort to expand the Davis Test Match Database Online, to cover Tests from the beginning in 1877, up to 1914 (1920-1960 is already online).
A covering page for the early Test series is here. The match scoresheets have a new feature, in that the fielding locations of nearly all catches are specified, using ‘shorthand’ notation of “sl” (slip), “wk” (wicketkeeper), “mn” (mid-on) etc. Each series cover page has a full key to the notation used.
Ball-by-ball records of Tests have been posted, where possible. In the case of most very early Tests, these are not derived from scorebooks, but are reconstructions based on the very detailed reports in some newspapers of the time, which often mention the events of every over if not quite every ball. As such, there are inevitably some approximations and anomalies, and readers should bear in mind that complete precision is not possible in such cases. Balls faced data from these reconstructions should be regarded as indicative only. I hope that they can be regarded as useful, nevertheless.
In some Tests of the 1890s and later 1880s, I have been able to reconstruct only parts of the matches, but I will post these fragments anyway, since they usually relate to interesting parts of Tests.
I will endeavour to update the Database when I can; however, impending health problems may reduce the rate of updating of the Database, and the blog, for the foreseeable future.
For something completely different, I have started writing reminiscences from some of my travels over the years. The stories are spiced up with photos from those travels. I have posted a story, of a journey from China to Pakistan along the old Silk Road and the Karakoram Highway in 1989, in two parts. Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here. An account of the joys of ‘Hard Seat Class’ on Chinese trains is here.
The first ball faced by Bob Willis in Test cricket was a hat-trick ball (Perth 1971, bowled by John Gleeson). I was surprised to find that this is not particularly uncommon, with a few dozen cases.
The LBW Miser
It’s somewhat notorious but also true: in the six Tests of the 1970-71 Ashes series, not a single Australian batsman was given out leg before wicket. The umpires involved were Lou Rowan and Tom Brooks (five Tests each) and Max O’Connell (two Tests).
These men did see their way clear to give five Englishmen out lbw (itself a very small number) in that series. I have been able to determine which umpires gave the decisions. Three of them were given by Rowan, one by O’Connell, and just the one (in five Tests!) by Brooks. The rather unfortunate batsman was John Hampshire, given out at Adelaide, just before a declaration when England was chasing quick runs.
I do recall my father talking about Tom Brooks. Dad was a first grade umpire in Sydney the 1970s when Brooks was the dominant figure in umpiring there. Brooks, Dad told me, was adamant that the conditions for lbw were extremely hard to satisfy, and that lbw decisions should be rare. I don’t think Dad actually agreed with this, and modern-day DRS data shows conclusively that Brooks’ opinion was incorrect.
Rowan was a police Sergeant. He was, I am told, also a man of unswerving opinions, with great confidence in his own judgement. I suppose that helps if you want to be a top-flight umpire.
With only one lbw decision against them, the Englishmen could hardly accuse Brooks of bias, I suppose. They were troubled, though, by the umpires intervening to apply restrictions on intimidatory bowling, in a way that they saw as being unfair to star fast bowler John Snow.
I happened to be at the SCG on the day that Snow hit Terry Jenner on the head with a bouncer; it is just about my earliest ‘live’ memory of a major event on the cricket field. Jenner retired hurt, although he was able to bat again later. Rowan stepped in and warned Snow about bowling bouncers, arguably unfairly under the guidelines of the time. It was arguable enough for England captain Ray Illingworth to get into a shouting match with Rowan. Shortly afterward, Snow was accosted by a drunken spectator, and England stormed off in protest. With the Ashes at stake, cooler heads prevailed and the match continued. England won the match and the Ashes.
It was a rugged series. Here is a photo of Graham McKenzie’s last ball in Test cricket. Hit on the face by a good length ball from Snow and retired hurt. That was “Blow Number One” as the photo says. Blow Number Two was delivered by the selectors, who obligingly told McKenzie, that very evening while he was convalescing, that he was dropped from the team.
I don’t know if it was a fashion at the time, but there were also only five batsmen given out lbw in the six Tests of the subsequent 1971 season in England. Only two of the five were English. Something seems to have happened between then and the 1972 Ashes series, in which 27 batsmen were given out lbw in five Tests.
Did Brooks relax his views? In the 1974/75 Ashes, he stood in all six Tests. He gave nine batsmen out lbw, six of them Australian, including two ducks for Wally Edwards, who would later become Cricket Australia chairman. The other umpire, Robin Bailhache, gave six lbws, two of them Australian batsmen.
I have notes on 46 instances in Tests of a batsman being run out ‘accidentally’ at the non-strikers end, when a shot ricocheted off the bowler. No batsman has been out this way twice. However, there are two batsmen who, as striker, twice saw their partners run out this way, VVS Laxman and SV Carlisle. In Laxman's case, Harbhajan Singh was run out at Mohali in 2003, and Dravid was run out at Kanpur in 2009. In the Dravid incident, the ricochet was a dropped catch by Herath off Laxman.
In Carlisle's case, the batsmen run out were Ebrahim at Bulawayo in 2001, and Taylor at Harare in 2005.
It is possible, though unlikely, that there are others.
Hugh Tayfield took a catch off the second ball of his debut Test, and Ian Chappell took one off the third ball of his.
A substitute named Chris Sabburg took a catch off his second ball on the field in a Test a few years ago. Sabburg has not yet played first-class cricket, although he has appeared in the BBL.
There has been at least one umpire who was required to give a batsman out caught behind from his first ball in Test cricket (HP Sharma in India in 1974-75, I think).
This was probably exceeded by Hanif in 1958, but there is no data available. Alec Bannerman failed to score off 568 out of 620 balls faced at the SCG in 1891/92. He scored only 91 runs.
The list of non-Test players who scored most first-class runs is dominated by England county cricketers (not all of them English), led by Alan Jones. So I wondered who hit the most f-c runs among those who never played in England. The database came up with Sajid Ali who hit 15,368 f-c runs. Ali played no Tests; however, he did play ODIs for Pakistan. The player with most f-c runs without ever appearing for his country or playing in England appears to be Amol Muzumdar with 11,167 runs in 171 matches.
In the Ranchi Test against Australia, Cheteshwar Pujara became the first Indian batsman to officially face more than 500 balls in a Test innings (202 off 525 balls, batting for 162 overs). As a first, this is actually quite odd, since more than 60 batsmen from other countries have played innings longer than 500 balls.
However, it is likely that Pujara has at least one Indian predecessor. At Port of Spain in 1952, Midhav Apte batted for 200 overs for 163. With half the strike, that would come to 600 balls.
I don’t have a balls faced figure for Apte, but the odds of someone batting for 200 overs but facing less than 500 (or 525) balls are extremely small. The standard deviation for balls faced for an individual batsman over a span of 200 overs is about 25 balls. There is a greater than 99% chance that Apte faced more balls than Pujara.
There is a tenacious myth in Australian cricket: the ‘87 hoodoo’, that holds that a score of 87 is somehow unlucky. Tenacious yet tenuous. The myth has long been debunked – in fact it is the safest score in the 80s for Australian batsmen – but the story still crops up regularly during idle moments in Test matches.
The origins of the myth are somewhat obscure. The most accepted line is that Keith Miller originated it; the story is here. Miller says he formed the idea on seeing Bradman dismissed for 87 in 1929. Personally I have been a bit sceptical. Miller was prone to spinning tall tales, and the claim that he would originate such an idea at age ten sounds fanciful. Note how he glides over the difficulty of Bradman not actually being dismissed for 87 (“the scoreboard was slow”: if you say so, Keith. In fact, Bradman was 85 at lunch and went from 85 to 89 with a four, so it seems unlikely that the scoreboard would ever have read 87).
Anyway, I have come across an item that sheds light on the origins of the hoodoo. From the Sporting Globe in 1950, it is an anecdote from a club match (albeit one involving Test players) and it sets out the superstition as explained by Test spinner Ian Johnson. Johnson said that his 87 anxiety came from the previous season’s Australian tour of South Africa, where, Johnson said, wickets seemed to fall frequently on a score of 87. Curiously, the report applies the hoodoo more to team scores than individual scores.
There are some interesting aspects to the report. For one thing, the reporter hasn’t heard of the hoodoo and has to have it explained to him. This suggests that the hoodoo was a new thing in 1950. For another, Johnson is quite clear about it originating on that tour, and offers the interesting detail about the team avoiding hotel rooms numbered 87. Gideon Haigh, in The Summer Game, has something to add here. Early in the tour, reports Haigh, Bill Johnston was seriously injured in a car accident in Natal: he had been staying in Room 87 in the team’s hotel.
The next morning, on the first day of first-class cricket on the tour, star batsman Neil Harvey was out on a (team) score of 87. [I checked and found that there was nothing ‘unlucky’ about 87 on that 1949-50 tour. Just four wickets fell on 87 in the entire tour, none of them in Tests and only two involving Australian batsmen: by contrast, eight wickets fell on a score of 84, but no one seemed to be worried by that.]
The combination of Johnston’s room number and Harvey’s dismissal may have been just enough to give impetus to the superstition. Since Miller was on the tour, one could imagine him being the instigator, and perhaps reviving an earlier superstition of his. One problem with this, however, is that Miller was not in South Africa at that time: he was only selected as a result Johnston’s injury (a selection saga that is a whole other story) and it took him weeks to travel to South Africa. It certainly seems that the myth took hold without him.
However, Miller, Johnson, and Lyndsay Hassett all played for South Melbourne club (the same club mentioned in the Sporting Globe report) in the late 1930s and just after the war, before Miller moved to New South Wales. An article in The Age in 2007 mentions a South Melbourne connection to the hoodoo, as does the Arunabha Sengupta article linked to earlier. So in spite of my scepticism, signs still might point towards Miller; one hypothesis would be that the myth was just a South Melbourne club ‘thing’ (started by Miller, perhaps in the 1930s), until its elevation to Tests was sparked by the ‘87’ events in Durban (instigated by Johnson and possibly Hassett).
I have found nothing else on the hoodoo in the NLA Trove database from 1945 onwards. Others might like to have a look.
Ken Piesse tells me that Miller told him that the whole thing was “sheer bunkum”; I’m not sure if Miller was talking about the hoodoo itself, or the origin story.
In the past I have heard claims that Ken Mackay originated the belief. Mackay was known for his superstitions, but the 1950 report rules Slasher out. Mackay did write an article on cricket superstitions, published in 1964 in Jack Pollard’s Six and Out; this article discusses the 87 hoodoo in some detail, proving that the idea was widespread in Australia at that time. (Even so, newspaper accounts of Brian Booth’s 87 against South Africa at the SCG in 1964 do not mention any hoodoo.) However, Mackay said he did not know the hoodoo’s origins, and he does not mention Miller in his article.
*Ogdontaeptaphobia is a word I made up using the Greek words for eighty seven.
Postscript: Miller, Johnson, Hassett, Harvey, and Johnston were all from Victoria.
I noticed, from an Aslam Siddiqui post, that Cricinfo was missing a ball-by-ball text of an ODI, Zimbabwe v Afghanistan in 2014. As it happened, Cricbuzz covered this match and a couple of others that Cricinfo missed in 2012. Using those gives complete ball-by-ball for the last 650+ ODIs, since 2011.
However, prior to that, data is not complete. Although Cricinfo started doing ball-by-ball in 1999, more that 15% of ODIs are missing from 1999 to 2011. The great majority of these are what might be called 'minnow matches'; the gaps are bigger in the earlier years.
My collection of ODI scores covers about 50% of ODIs from 1985 to 1999, and a small number of earlier ones. So far, I have re-scored about 300 out the 550 or so obtained from 1985-99. (I do one each day, last thing before I got to bed: most can be done 20-30 minutes.)
There was a curious incident in that Zim/Afg game in 2014: an instance of '6 wides'. No other information is given. However, the batsmen changed ends, so I presume that they ran one and there were four overthrows.
There are no other cases of six wides in my database of ODIs and T20 internationals. There is just one in a Test, which involved a helmet penalty and the batsmen did not change ends.
UPDATE on the history of streaking: Sreeram has now posted an article on the subject with more information. Published on the Cricket Country website.
In an ODI at the MCG in January 1995, Darren Gough opened the bowling for England, but injured himself in the delivery stride of his first ball and did not deliver a ball in the game. Angus Fraser bowled the over and Gough is not listed as a bowler. Gough was taken to hospital with a stress fracture in his foot.
On the subject of unfortunate first overs, at Adelaide in 1969 opening bowler Charlie Griffith conceded 19 runs off his first over. It was an eight-ball over that also contained four no balls. The runs off the bat were all hit by Keith Stackpole. The over was the second of the innings, Sobers having bowled the first. The most runs off the first over of an innings, where known, is 18 hit by Bob Simpson off Wes Hall at the MCG in 1961.
In the final innings of the Bombay Test of 1969, India managed to drop (or miss) five catches off the New Zealand batsmen; in spite of this, all ten wickets fell to catches, and New Zealand, chasing only 188, lost the Test by 60 runs.
In the Galle Test between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Kusal Mendis was caught off a no ball, first ball, and went on to make 194. It is quite unusual for anyone to be 'out' to a no ball when on 0. I know of 14 cases since 1999, but only one batsman went on to make more than 32. That was Hasan Raja (68) at Sharjah in 2002.
Only two previous batsmen were 'out' to a no ball first ball and neither reached double figures.
Data is limited to 1999-2016.
For something completely different…
The origins of ‘streaking’ at sporting events go back to about 1974. According to Wikipedia, instances at US colleges dated back to the 1960s; it became a major fad in colleges in 1973, and began to be seen at major sporting events the following year. Wikipedia puts the first streak at a major sports event at April 1974, but Sreeram has found reports of a streaker on the field at a Test match in March of that year. It was the Auckland Test on 22 March 1974; there was a streaker on the first day, followed by another on the second day. The culprits disappeared into the crowd and are unidentified. The New Zealand Herald mentions them in only a backhanded way, commenting that the final day was “for once streakerless”.
Searching the Canberra Times for the word ‘streaker’ comes up with no real hits before March 1974, but it does mention the first incident in Auckland, in its report from the first day. The same paper appears to have no reports of streakers from the 1973-74 Australian season. The Times also lacks hits until March 1974, and even then it only mentions incidents unrelated to sporting events. The first streak at Lord’s was in 1975.
Nowadays the fad has largely disappeared at cricket grounds, thanks to intense security at sports fields, and (in Australia) massive fines for setting foot on the playing surface.
I noticed something else quite rare about that first Auckland day. Doug Walters scored 104 not out on a day when 18 wickets fell, seven of them ducks. Australia was bowled out for 221 with New Zealand 85 for 8 at stumps. This is the most wickets to fall on a day containing a complete individual century in the last 100 years. Apart from Walters, the batsmen batting that day averaged 10.1.
In my files, I have come across a hand-written note by Colin Clowes on those hat-tricks by Matthews, with some detail that might not have been published before.
The second came in Matthews’ 7th over of the second innings with the score on 70 for 5: W, W, W, 0, 4, 4. The wickets were Taylor, Schwarz and Ward, with the runs scored by Beaumont. Kelleway, bowling at the other end, had taken a wicket in the previous over, and took another wicket (the 9th of the innings) in the next over after the hat-trick (a maiden). Matthews’ 8th and last over was 2, 3, 0, 4, 0, 0, at which point he was taken off. The hat-trick appears to have occurred in the 24th over of the innings. South Africa was out for 95, in 95 minutes, in the 29th over of the innings, Kelleway taking the final wickets. In playing time, the hat-tricks were about 85 minutes apart.
Five wickets fell in three overs; the exact number of balls from first to last is not recorded. I’m not sure what possessed the captain to elevate Ward in the second innings batting order, so as to face another hat-trick ball.
Here is an article by me, just published in the Cricket Monthly, on the “end-over” jitters, that is the effect of having to bat in the final overs of the day (very little as it turns out). There is a curious comment under it by a cricket captain who basically says “I don’t care what the stats say, it feels good so I will keep doing it.” It’s rather difficult to reason with that.
At some stage I will also post the article on my website.
I have completed another stage of a survey of Test match catches, identifying the field locations of as many catches as possible. The years covered in this part of the survey are 1877 to 1970 (670 Tests), with locations identified for more than ten thousand catches. Wicketkeeper and bowlers, of course, are easy, but not so the others. Nevertheless, locations have been found for about 96% of catches in this period. There are only two series for which I have almost no data: MCC in West Indies in 1929-30 and New Zealand in Pakistan in 1969-70.
One complication has been the evolving names for fielding locations, and it is difficult to be certain about some old terminology. For example, ‘cover slip’. According “The Language of Cricket” (Eddowes), this is an old name for third man, but some old reports mention fielders in both positions in describing field settings, suggesting that they were different things.
The term ‘midwicket’ was not encountered until 1931, and did not become used widely for a few years after that. It seems that previously ‘short leg’ was used instead, with other terms for what we would call short leg now. The nomenclature going around the legside field was mid-on, then short leg (midwicket), then square leg, and then long leg. ‘Fine leg’ was mostly a later term.
The term ‘cover’ seems to have originated as a covering or backup fielder for the point fielder. Before 1945, ‘cover point’ was the almost universal term. ‘Cover’ or ‘the covers’ as standalone terms came later.
During the rest day of the Bridgetown Test of 1977, Pakistan players Zaheer Abbas and Wasim Bari were rescued from drowning, by life guard Aldolphus Griffith, while attempting to swim back to their hotel from a raft that had drifted out to sea. Zaheer was not actually playing in the Test, but Bari was. The following day, Bari, batting at #11, scored a match-saving 60 not out, adding 133 for the last wicket with Wasim Raja.
In the second Test of 1953-54 (South Africa v New Zealand), John Reid broke his bat playing a shot and was out caught at short fine leg.
Abdul Azeem, who played first-class cricket in India in the 1980s, had a complete career of 114 innings but made no ducks at all. He did, however, make a couple of ducks in List A cricket.
At Bombay in 1956, Neil Harvey should have been caught on 99, but the fielder failed to move to the ball. Harvey then took another half an hour to reach his century. The number of balls he faced is not recorded.
A piece of umpiring trivia. The first time that Australian umpires were permitted to take the field without coats was the Adelaide Test of 1967-68 (v India). Reason: extremely hot weather. They still had to wear ties.
The Odd Fields of the Early Days
Here is a little bit of data that suggests that the game was played rather differently in the very early days. In the reports in The Times for Tests in 1888 and 1893, there is a listing of the field placings deployed at the beginnings of some innings. There are lists for 14 separate innings/bowlers; all of them apply to the first one or two overs of an innings. While hardly exhaustive, there is enough data to tabulate to give a taste of how fields were set in those days.
Use of field placings: 14 examples 1888-1893. Field place names have been converted into modern parlance where I can be confident of the translation.
The number 14 generally means that the position was used in every case. There are 15 ‘cover’ fieldsmen (always referred to as ‘cover-point’ in those days) because there two cover fielders listed in one innings, and one in all the others.
The most striking thing, though, is the massive concentration of fielders from mid-off to mid-on. Some innings featured two mid-offs, a long-off, a mid-on and a long-on. (In a small number of cases, positions were referred to as ‘short’ mid-off or mid-on). If I have interpreted the accounts correctly, fielders between what we call midwicket to fine leg were, by contrast, extremely sparse. Remember that these are opening bowlers in their first over.
I have illustrated two fields given for the opening overs of Old Trafford 1893. There is a remarkable contrast between field settings for the opening bowlers Arthur Mold and Johnny Briggs.
The Mold field is the only one of the 14 that resembles a modern field setting for an opening bowler; even so, it would be considered somewhat defensive for a modern Test match. It is the only field with a third slip (called ‘cover slip’, while second slip was ‘extra slip’). As for the Briggs field, I can’t say I have personally seen anything quite like it. Long-off, straight hit, and long-on for the opening over, plus mid-off and mid-on? That is what it says in The Times.
There was method in those field settings that suggests that they were set because the range of shots of batsmen was more restricted. I am still preparing data on this, but a lot of batsmen were out caught between mid-off/mid-on in those days.
Note some caveats: the exact positions, or ranges, of ‘point’ and ‘third man’, as used on those days, are possibly open to interpretation. ‘Midwicket’ did not exist as a named position: ‘short leg’ is sometimes used in reports instead, but does not mean a close-in fielder. ‘Gully’ did not exist as a named position; there is a possibility that some point fielders fielded there.
The following players had a six as the first scoring shot of their careers in Tests
EW Freeman Aus v Ind, Brisbane ('Gabba') 1967/68
CA Best WI v Eng, Kingston, Jamaica 1986
KM Dabengwa Zim v NZ, Bulawayo (Queen's) 2005
DM Richards WI v Ban, Arnos Vale, St. Vincent 2009
Jahurul Islam Ban v Eng, Mirpur 2009/10
Shafiul Islam Ban v Ind, Chittagong 2009/10
Al-Amin Hossain Ban v SL, Dhaka (Mirpur) 2013/14
MD Craig WI v NZ, Kingston, Jamaica 2014
DM de Silva SL v Aus, Pallekele 2016
Kamrul Islam Ban v Eng, Dhaka (Mirpur) 2016/17
Craig is the only one to do so first ball; Freemen did so second ball, by hitting the ball out of the ground. The Bangladeshis, apart from Shafiul, did not do this in their first Test innings; all made ducks before hitting their first runs.
The frequency of recent cases shows how debased the hitting aspect of cricket has become, due to smaller grounds and bigger bats.
At Trinidad in 1948, umpire Henderson had to be escorted off the field by police at the end of the third day, after an unpopular decision to give Frank Worrell out caught behind on 97. Journalists in the press box thought the decision a fair one.
The Times reported in 1949 that on the second day of the Test at the Oval, Godfrey Evans hit a five, all run and without overthrows, off GF Creswell. I also came across a report of Graeme Hole hitting such a five, to the long boundary at the Adelaide Oval in 1951, on the day that 22 wickets fell (all the fielders were clustered around the wicket). This brings to 13 the number of known cases, five of them at The Oval and three at Adelaide.
At Lord’s in 1950, Clyde Walcott kept wickets in England’s first innings but opened the bowling in the second innings, with Robert Christiani filling in as glove man.
The batsman who hit the winning run at The Oval in 1936 was Charlie Barnett. This might seem rather trivial - and it is - but it means that I now have a complete set off all batsmen who have hit the winning runs in Tests, and all the bowlers involved.
For the last couple of years, that 1936 match was the last holdout and difficult to research, but I found the information in the Portsmouth Evening News, a newspaper that is now available online, through subscription to the British Newspaper Archive.
Taslim Arif (210*) scored runs off all 11 bowlers at Faisalabad in 1980. In the same innings, Javed Miandad (106*) faced all 11 bowlers, but scored runs off only ten: he did not score from the three balls he faced from Allan Border.
Consecutive runs entirely in boundaries: Test and ODI.
At Bulawayo in 2004, VS Solanki began with 9 fours = 36 runs. (He scored 56 out of his first 58 in boundaries). This is the most known in ODIs since 1999.
In Tests, the most consecutive runs scored entirely in boundaries, where known, is 52 by Shakib Al Hasan (100) against New Zealand at Hamilton in 2009/10. He went from 4 to 56 with two sixes and ten fours.
Jayasuriya played a Test innings of 32 with 8 fours at Colombo 1997 (against India). At Bridgetown in 1978, Bruce Yardley (74) started with 7 fours and a six in his first 34 runs. But this was not even a ground record. The only greater figure I have noted was at the same ground. In the equivalent Test of 1955, The Jamaica Daily Gleaner reported that the then little-known teenager Garfield Sobers started with nine fours in his first 36 runs. He was out for 43 with ten fours.
Just some bits and pieces. Here are some stats on run outs in Tests, presented in a way you may have not seen reported before. They cover Tests in this century up to 2014. The excess of non-strikers being out appears to be related to strike-farming with tail-end batsmen.
Opposing Captains in Most Tests
Batsmen Dismissed Twice in the Same Session
Some notes on the Question by an Ask Steven commenter "Who holds the most records?"
Source: Cricinfo Test records batting section
Qualification: highest position on a high-performance list that has more than one name.
Number of appearances:
DG Bradman 15
BC Lara 7
SR Tendulkar 5
Take out the somewhat artificial ‘milestone’ records (fastest to ‘x’ number of runs etc) and Bradman drops to 10, Lara 6, and Tendulkar 3.
Murali has about a dozen in the bowling, but some of these are really subsets of bigger records (e.g. "most batsmen out caught") and half of them are artificial 'milestone' records ('fastest to x number of wickets')
Bobby Abel spent the first 429 overs on the field in the SCG Test of 1891/92. Several others have exceeded 400. Glenn Turner managed about 420 overs in 1971/72, not at Georgetown but at Kingston. The most for a team batting first is 418 overs by Bert Sutcliffe at Delhi in 1955/56.
Frank Worrell was on the field for the first 385 overs of the five-day Leeds Test of 1957. This may have been matched or exceeded by Glenn Turner at Georgetown in 1972; the precise number is uncertain.
Bob Simpson was on the field for 550 out of 553 overs in the Manchester Test of 1964.
The most overs by a player who spent the entire match on the field is 413 by MS Atapattu at Galle in 2001.
Alastair Cook spent the first 1490 minutes on the field at Abu Dhabi in 2015.
These figures presume that the player was not substituted as a fielder at any stage.
Most centuries in a calendar year: Don Bradman made 22 centuries in first-class cricket in 1938, and Dennis Compton the same in 1947. I don't think these have been surpassed in the era of multiple formats. Martin Crowe holds the records for most total runs (f-c + List A), 5200 in 1987, but he only made 18 centuries, and Jimmy Cook made 17 in 1990.
The most List A centuries in a year is 10 by Saurav Ganguly in 2000, but he made no f-c centuries at all in that year.
With England chasing 234 in an ODI at the SCG in 1987, Allan Lamb reached 59 without hitting a single boundary, but was then faced with the task of 18 runs off the last over. He hit 2,4,6,2,4 off Bruce Reid to win the match with a ball to spare.
I believe that Renshaw is the 20th Australian to bat unbeaten through the first day of a Test, based on a minimum of 450 balls in the day. There have been 36 previous instances, including Justin Langer five times. Renshaw is the youngest, displacing Graeme Wood who was aged 22.
Some cases of players not being present at the start of a Test:
· Everton Weekes was selected to play for West Indies (Kingston 1948), after he was previously told that he had been dropped, but word got to him so late that he couldn't make it to the ground on time, and he actually saw play in progress from the air as he flew in. Weekes scored 141, the first of a still unsurpassed sequence of five consecutive Test centuries.
· Sandeep Patil did not arrive for the Nagpur Test of 1983 until late in the first day. Link: an article by A Mukherhee on the extraordinary circumstances.
· Just before the start of the Leeds Test of 1935, Maurice Leyland pulled out with a back injury. Someone was sent to fetch Arthur ‘Ticker’ Mitchell of Yorkshire; he was found pottering in his garden. Normally an opener, Mitchell batted down the order on the first day.
· At Sheffield in 1902, some odd selector shenanigans led to S.F. Barnes being belatedly informed, by telegram on the first day, that he was to show up and play. He arrived late, but bowled first change and took 6 for 49. Barnes, who for much of his career operated outside the county system (although he was playing for Lancashire at the time), had been a success on the 1901/02 tour of Australia, but this was his first Test in England. He took wickets with the second and third balls he bowled in a Test in England.
There is an increasing availability of old newspapers online, which extends the detail available for old Test matches. One subscription service, the British Newspaper Archive, is particularly helpful for some Tests in England. I used it to get more detail on one of the more intriguing pre-War innings, a score of 56 by Clifford Roach at The Oval in 1933. There is no original surviving score from this match.
Roach scored his runs in 45 minutes, and reached 50 in 33 minutes, making it competitive with the fastest innings of its day (or any day). What the newly-available papers were able to confirm was that Roach reached 50 in the ninth over of the innings. The number of balls he faced is still uncertain, but a reconstruction suggests that the strike favoured Roach, and the 50 came off about 32 balls. This is very similar to a number from a similar reconstruction of John Brown’s 50 in 28 minutes in 1895.
Reaching 50 in the ninth over is extraordinary in any era. Even in these times of Superbats, which dominate this category, Roach’s effort rates very highly…
Earliest to Reach Individual 50 in an innings (total balls bowled)
At Karachi in 1985/86, Mudassar Nazar may have reached 50 in as few as nine overs against Sri Lanka.
*Update 6th January
Ironically, it took Roach two hours elapsed time to reach 50, thanks to a lunch break and some rain. Roach was 24 in five overs at lunch, and reached 50 in the fourth over on resumption. There was one other rare incident: a ball that went for seven leg byes in the third over, when Roach was facing. Had it been called runs off the bat, Roach’s fifty would have come an over earlier. (There is only one other instance of seven leg byes known, in 1989.) Incidentally, I also determined that a pair of ducks in this match, by HC Griffith, was not a king pair; he was out first ball in the first innings, but second ball in the second.
On a similar subject, here are some notes I have made on the claim by Farouk Engineer that he scored a century off 46 (or 48) balls at Chennai in 1966/67. Engineer was 94 not out at lunch on the first day, and claims to have hit a six off the first ball thereafter to reach his century…
I don’t have any scorebook for this Test. However, 46 balls (I have also read 48 balls) is effectively impossible. For one thing, in reality Engineer took 23 minutes and (probably) eight overs after lunch to reach his century against the spin of Sobers and Gibbs. After Gibbs had taken a wicket in each of his first two overs after lunch, there was a maiden by Gibbs to Engineer, and Engineer reached his century with a single to midwicket in Gibbs’ next over. He reached 100 in 143 minutes with 17 fours and was out, for 109, twelve minutes later.
With Hall and Griffith opening, there were only 28 overs bowled before lunch, so scoring 94 off that was a quite remarkable achievement, and 44 overs between lunch and tea with Sobers and Gibbs bowling spin.
The Hindu newspaper records 44 scoring shots in his 109 (18x4, 2x3, 7x2, 17x1), with no sixes. That paper has a detailed account, but mentions no imbalance in the strike, and it would have taken an extreme imbalance to produce a century in less than 50 balls in that time.
An interesting feature of this and other innings at the time is the disparity in over rates depending on the bowling type. In this match, Hall and Griffith bowled only 12 overs in the first hour, but when Sobers and Gibbs were bowling spin, the over rate peaked at 23 overs per hour. The rates in each hour on the first day were 12, 16, 21, 23, 11 (new ball after 75 overs) and 6 in the last half-hour. The Hall/Griffith over rates look slow even by modern standards. I am of the opinion that the overall slowdown in modern over rates is largely due to spinners taking longer to bowl their overs. Constant changing of field settings, and long conferences with captains, are factors.
I don’t yet have a big collection of ODI scores from the 1980s, but I noticed an interesting item in one of that I do have, an England v Australia one-dayer at the WACA in 1986. Record sources list this match as containing a 26-run over, scored by Ian Botham off Simon Davis (4,4,2,4,6,6).
However, the official score is quite clear: the over also contained a wide (4,4,2,4,wd,6,6), making 27 runs. This makes it the most expensive over known up to that time in ODIs (previously, it was equal leader). It was not exceeded until Sanath Jayasuriya hit 30 off an over in Singapore October 1995, and was not exceeded on a major international ground until November 1999, when 28 runs were scored, by Tendulkar (mostly), at Hyderabad.
Since then, tallies like this have become regular occurrences, thanks to the twin evils of boundary ropes and monster bats.
One can distill the progressive record in this category as follows
26 Rod Marsh off BL Cairns, Adelaide 1980/81
27 Ian Botham off SP Davis, Perth 1986/87
30 Sanath Jayasuriya off Aamer Sohail, Singapore 1995/96
36 Herschelle Gibbs off DLS van Bunge, St Kitts, 2007
Off Test-ranked bowling, the records are 32 by Shahid Afridi off CM Bandara in 2007, and 35 by NLTC Perera off RJ Peterson in 2013
The record prior to 1980 is not clear (perhaps readers can help here). The Cricinfo records do not list any overs less than 26 runs. A 1998 book, One-Day International Cricket Lists, also lists overs from 23 to 25 runs (from research by Ross Dundas), but none of those listed occurred before 1980. The most expensive over in the very first ODI was 17 runs off an (8-ball) over by Basil D’Oliveira.
To some extent, this must remain a ‘where known’ record.
UPDATE: Steve Pittard reports a 22-run over at Old Trafford in 1978, bowled by Richard Hadlee to Ian Botham. It was the last over of the 55-over innings, with a sequence 4,4,4,2,2[nb],6. Since the Dundas research found no overs of 23 or above in this period, this should stand as the record at the time.
At Lord’s in 1926, Bert Oldfield was out to a ‘beamer’ from Roy Kilner. One report said the ball was above head height, another said it was shoulder height. Oldfield swung wildly and was caught at fine leg. Kilner was a slow bowler and the ball was accidental.
I have embarked on a little project to record the (descriptive) fielding positions of catches in as many Tests as possible. This is only really possible thanks to the wide collection of scores and reports that I have accumulated over the years. So far I have done 1877 to 1928 and also 1957 to 1967. Also most Tests since 1999, using online records. Generally, about 98 per cent of catches can be located in this way; it is a remarkable thing that I can do most of this sitting in my own office/library. The newspaper reports, rather than the scores, are most useful for this purpose.
I hope this will help with more insights into changes in the game.
Certainly one could say a lot about the results, but one example will suffice. I noticed that 'gully' as a catching position was never recorded before 1924. The first mention in a Test was in England in 1924 where it was spelled "gulley" and inverted commas were used. By 1926 it was being used in Australian papers with the modern spelling and no inverted commas.
Searching the digital Times database, there was an isolated use of "gully" in a report of a Gentlemen v Players match in 1910, again with the inverted commas being used. I didn't find anything similar in the Australian Trove from the time. I don't know the derivation of the term. Perhaps others can speculate.
So what terms were used instead? Sometimes the area was part of the slips, but I also find indications that 'point' and 'third man' were broader terms than today and, depending on the writer, extended to what we call the gully. It might help explain how WG Grace took so many catches at 'point', which doesn't attract so many chances today.
Other little observations:
Pre-1915, references to 'cover' or the 'the covers' were rare, almost non-existent, but 'cover-point' was commonly used.
I found a grand total of two catches at longstop, both of them in the 1878-79 Test.
'Midwicket' had not come into common use by 1928. The area, even out to the boundary, was often referred to, rather confusingly, as "short leg". Other terms were used, although it is difficult to unravel.
I found another case of a team scoring 200 runs in a session. At the Oval in 1928 against the West Indies, on the second day England was 235 for 1 when rain interrupted play before lunch. Play re-started at 2:30 and went to 4:55 when England was all out for 438. The rather irregular session produced 203 runs in 145 minutes.
The Fastest Bowlers in the Game: Big Data
Cricinfo stores quite a lot of bowling speed data in attachments to their scorecards. They don’t list the speed of every ball, but they do give averages and peak speeds for every bowler in every innings, for about 90 per cent of recent Tests, taken from automated speed gun readings. While some Tests are missing, this does give allow us a reasonable comparison of bowlers.
I have downloaded all the Test data since early 2014 and distilled it into averages. I don’t know if anyone at Cricinfo has already done this, but it is the sort of thing they should do! The bowlers with the fastest average speeds, since early 2014, are
Minimum 10 innings. These are not precise averages because no allowance has been made for varying length of innings. Some bowlers are affected more than others by missing data, in Tests in Australia in particular.
It would probably be better to be able to calculate median rather than average speeds, as an indicator of ‘typical’ speed, because fast bowlers who use the slower ball more often would have their averages depressed. However, that isn’t possible with the data in this form.
The fastest balls recorded specifically in this dataset were
This data is presented with the caveat that ‘glitches’ are in evidence. Even though Aaron is a very fast bowler, the 100 mph ball has to be dubious. The source is here. Note that Aaron bowled no balls faster than about 92 mph in that innings except for the one ball at 100. This is most likely a measurement error.
Notice also the evident errors in Karn Sharma’s figures in that innings. This is probably due to misidentification of the bowler. This happens fairly regularly in the data.
Another ‘glitch’ evident in the above table is the ball supposedly bowled by Nathan Lyon at over 95 mph.
I still think that the ‘average’ data is useful, but the ‘fastest recorded’ data should be treated with caution and scepticism. Even if only one ball in a thousand is a serious glitch, if you record hundreds of thousands of balls, eventually most of the most extreme records are likely to be glitches. The other trouble with speed guns is that there is no way of independently confirming a result after the event.
Incidentally, the slowest bowler in the data is Shakib al Hasan at an average of 48.4 mph/ 77.9 kph.
Also incidentally, major league baseball currently has a pitcher, Aroldis Chapman, who can pitch at over 105 mph.
Greg Chappell Reality
I happened to see one of Robert ‘Crash’ Craddock’s TV interviews in his fine ‘Cricket Legends’ series, with Greg Chappell. The conversation turned to Chappell’s Test debut, where he made 108 runs at Perth, after coming in with Australia in trouble. Chappell repeated, with absolute conviction, the folklore that Ian Redpath offered to protect Chappell from the bowling of John Snow. There is a quote at the Cricket Country website:
In those 80 minutes before lunch, Chappell actually faced 71 balls to Redpath’s 56. Snow returned after lunch and had four overs, Redpath facing 18 balls to Chappell’s 14. However, Chappell faced 13 balls to Redpath’s 11 in the first three of those overs, with no evidence of strike-farming.
Later, Snow took the new ball. This time Redpath did get more of the strike, but by this time Chappell was on 47 and had been batting more than three hours. I doubt if there was any deliberate strike-shielding going on by then, because Greg hammered 37 runs from 35 balls with the new ball before Snow was replaced. Chappell went from 50 to 100 off 47 balls. The sixth-wicket partnership was eventually worth 219 off 434 balls.
We don't know what speed fast bowlers bowled in the old days, but occasionally there is a hint that they must have bowled at a reasonable clip. In the first Test of 1899, Ernest Jones hit the middle stump of CB Fry and the ball went to the boundary. However, a no ball had been called and so the call was four no balls. How often do you see a ball go to the boundary after hitting middle stump?
I might add, while reading up on this Test, that WG Grace, on his last day in Test cricket took a great one-handed catch at point "just clear of the grass" to a shot from Hill that was "hard, low and square". It was said that Grace retired because the "ground was getting too far away", but it seems he still had the skill. He still has one of the highest ratios of catches per match of any non-keeper.
Incidentally, there is no hint in the newspaper reports that Grace was playing in his last Test. I can't find any mention in The Times of Grace retiring or being dropped, apart from an announcement of the second Test team a few days prior and a comment that the changes were "radical": five changes were made.
Some statistician colleagues related the following accounts of the end of Grace’s career.
“It was not decided until just before the next Test. Fry and Grace were part of the selection committee. According to CB Fry's version, Fry arrived late for the selection committee meeting. As soon as he arrived, Grace asked him whether Archie MacLaren should be part of the team for the second Test. Fry replied in the affirmative.
Only a little later did Fry realise that Grace was asking him whether he (Grace) should be replaced by Maclaren.
“The version I heard (can't remember where) was that Grace said to Stanley Jackson after the Trent Bridge match "It's over - I shan't play again." Sounds like he made the decision at that point but chose not to announce it publicly (presumably trusting Jackson not to reveal it), and by asking that question he was effectively allowing Fry to confirm it.”
“A book that I now just checked tells both stories and says that it appears that he was ready to play in the second Test before the Fry incident.”
Grace actually played for MCC and Ground versus the Australians in between the two Tests, and scored 50 and 7 and took 3 for 42.
I think it is interesting that just before the second Test, after the teams were selected, it was announced that the hours of play would be extended by 30 minutes per day.
On his Test debut in 1958, Conrad Hunte scored 50 out of the first 55 runs scored in the match. 142 not out overnight, Hunte was out to the first ball of the second day.
In the England/South Africa Test at Lord’s in 1912, there was no play before lunch on the first day, but South Africa was bowled out for 58 before tea. Barnes and Foster took five wickets each, and were also responsible for all three catches.
There is only one other completed Tests innings where just two players were completely responsible for all the wickets, including catches. At Joburg in 1927, South Africa was bowled out for 196, with George Geary and Greville Stevens sharing the wickets, and the two catches were both taken by Geary.
Possibly the only (former) Test player to die while watching a Test match was former captain Bill Murdoch, who passed away while watching a Test at the MCG in February 1911. Murdoch, who was resident in England, was only visiting Melbourne at the time, and his body was embalmed and taken back to London where he was buried.
I am posting a few interesting images that I have come across, or have been sent. I will link to them rather than insert them here, for memory reasons.
In 1979, Cricketer magazine reported a bowler, Mike Walters, taking eight wickets in eight balls in an Army match. A picture of the scorebook was taken. I have heard claims of bowlers taking nine wickets in nine balls, but Walters’ effort does have the advantage of solid documentary evidence, and it was in an adult match. Children’s cricket records, such as the recent claims of a boy in India scoring a thousand on a tiny field, against opposition that basically didn’t know how to play cricket, are best put in a separate category, and at worst, disregarded. I consider the real innings record outside of first-class cricket to be Charles Eady’s 566 in Tasmania in 1902.
Not long ago I posted a wagon wheel for a Victor Trumper century. Here is another, for Trumper’s 113 at the SCG in 1911-12. This is quite different in style to the earlier one, and is obviously the work of Bill Ferguson. As such, it is the earliest Fergie Wagon Wheel known. The report, which was in the Sydney Morning Herald on 18 Dec 1911 (three days after the event), also includes detailed information on balls faced, in unprecedented detail. Unfortunately, this level of reporting was rarely followed up.
Between about 1895 and 1920, the size of some Australian grounds was reduced by the installation of a cycling track around the playing surface. It was in response to the sudden craze for cycling, and due to the fact that no dedicated cycling venues existed with large spectator capacity. Here is a picture of a novelty cycling race at the SCG in 1900, sent to me by Colin Clowes. Colin also noted adverse comments about the track at the time, such as
For the most part, the tracks were not considered part of the cricket field. However, there was a strange exception. At Adelaide Oval in 1902, Clem Hill, on 98, was caught by a fielder on the cycling track. The dismissal was upheld even though the fielder was outside the normal field of play, and the shot would have been called six had it landed. Shots along the ground were called four on reaching the track, so if the shot had bounced, Hill would have reached his century. Apparently the captains had agreed before the game that such catches would count. The dismissal was part of Hill’s unique sequences of scores of 99, 98, and 97.
The tracks had an effect on scoring, and may have contributed to the “Golden Age” of cricket. Here is the ratio of boundary hits at the SCG: before, during, and after the cycling track…
% Runs as fours and sixes at SCG
Poor Norman O’Neill. In 1958, at age 20, he makes one double century, and immediately he is “hailed as the new Bradman” on the front page of newspapers (in this case the Sun-Herald in Sydney, which I believe was Australia’s largest-selling newspaper at the time). It was an impossible standard to live up to, although O’Neill did enjoy a fine career. Other players burdened with the “next Bradman” sobriquet, include Neil Harvey, Ian Craig and Doug Walters. The fashion eventually wore thin.
Here is an article I wrote, a review of the 2015-16 Australian season, which was published a little belatedly in Between Wickets. I have included an image of the first page of the article as published, since it includes an introduction that I swear I did not write.
In a Test at Sharjah, Kraigg Brathwaite (142*, 60*) remained unbeaten through sixteen consecutive partnerships. This is the most by any player in a single Test, but was matched by Victor Trumper across two Tests in 1903-04. In Trumper's case all sixteen batting partners were dismissed, which is not the case for Brathwaite, although he has a chance to extend his run.
When looking at this, I noticed that in 1903-04 Australia had 35 consecutive partnerships that involved either Trumper or Monty Noble (or both).
Highest first-class scores by a batsman who was involved in only one partnership. I have included opening stands but I think the other cases are more remarkable.
324 Waheed Mirza, Karachi Whites v Quetta 1977 (partnership 561 for 1st wicket with Mansoor Akhtar)
319 RR Rossouw, Eagles v Titans 2010 (480 for 2nd wicket with D Elgar)
319 Gul Mohammad, Baroda v Holkar 1947 (577 for 4th wicket with V Hazare)
313 H Sutcliffe, Yorkshire v Essex 1932 (555 for 1st wicket with P Holmes)
300 DCS Compton, MCC v NE Transvaal 1948 (399 for 3rd wicket with RT Simpson)
293 VT Trumper, Australians v Canterbury 1914 (433 for 8th wicket with A Sims)
290 WN Carson, Auckland v Otago 1936 (445 in 268 mins for 3rd wicket with PE Whitelaw)
289 Aamer Sajjad, WPDA v SSGC 2009 (580 for 2nd wicket with Rafatullah Mohmand
Aaron Finch scored 288* for Cricket Australia XI v New Zealanders 2015 in a farcical match that was abandoned after the first wicket fell.
An unusual run out from the distant past: at Cape Town 1891/92, Harry Wood hit a two to go from 98 to 100. They went for a third run and JJ Ferris was run out by ‘Flooi’ Du Toit.
Wood was the first starting wicketkeeper to score a Test century.
At Port of Spain in 2000, Chris Gayle took wickets with the last two balls of Zimbabwe's innings, and in West Indies first over, wickets fell with consecutive balls, including Gayle, out first ball. So that is a strange twist on the concept of a hat-trick. Gayle, as it happened, did not get a bowl in the second innings and so was denied an opportunity for a hat-trick. That, in itself, must be rare.
At the Wanderers in 1966, HR Lance was out hit wicket to Graham McKenzie even though he did not offer a shot – he somehow stepped back onto his stumps.
David Lloyd is the only batsman to start his Test career with three century partnerships. The most in a row by any batsman is five, shared by Mike Denness, Graham Gooch, Ricky Ponting and David Warner; in each case it was across multiple Tests. Warner did it in the first two Tests against New Zealand last season, something I had missed when it happened.
At Madras in 1967, V Subramanya reached 51 with ten fours and a six, in an innings of 61 (11x4, 1x6). While that 46 runs in a half-century has been match or exceeded quite a number of times since, it has only one precedent, that being Reggie Spooner at The Oval in 1905. I will update the relevant section in the Records.
Head to Head Against the Best
Quite a few years ago, on this very blog (which has been running for a disturbingly long time), I remarked that a head-to-head, batsmen v bowler, analysis would be quite interesting if we just looked at superior batsmen; that is, how do the top bowlers compare when they are bowling to the top batsmen, with averages over 45?
Back then, I found that Glenn McGrath was well ahead of any of his contemporaries. Now I have much more data, and we can do some historical comparison.
I simply calculated the head-to-head figures for all bowlers when they were bowling to batsmen whose career averages are over 45. Here is the table
Qualification: 40 dismissals of top-ranked batsmen, or 1500 runs (50 dismissals for current players).
I should explain that entries in italics included some estimated data, because I don’t have all Tests ball-by-ball. This is not as bad as it seems; in most cases where estimates are included, a large majority of the data for that bowler is known exactly, and the estimates form a minority component. There are no pre-1920 bowlers because almost no batsmen averaged over 45 in those days.
Readers may make of this list what they will. Obviously pace bowlers are dominant, with Bill O’Reilly the top-ranked spinner. The truth is that wickets for almost all spinners are weighted towards the tail end, and even the best spinners were often hammered by the best batsmen. Brian Lara averaged over 100 against the combined bowling of Murali, Warne, Danish Kaneria and MacGill, but only 27 off McGrath.
I suppose that pace bowlers have one advantage in that when top-order batsmen fail, it is sometimes before the spinners come on. I wouldn’t think that this was an overwhelming factor though.
The figures do confirm my impression that Glenn McGrath was the most difficult bowler of the modern era. While Shane Warne was acclaimed the “Bowler of the Century” by Wisden, I am not even sure he was the best bowler in his team.
Warne, incidentally, is 33rd of 81 bowlers on the list with an average of 45.3. I won’t dwell on the bottom of the table except to say that John Emburey has the highest average of those that qualify, at 98.0.
It did occur to me that in different eras, bowlers will bowl to different sets of top batsmen. So I normalised the averages so that instead of treating all 45+ batsmen equally, bowlers were rewarded more for dismissing the very best batsmen. (A career batting average of 45 has no adjustment, 50 has some adjustment, while bowling to Bradman gets a big adjustment). The adjusted averages are below; not much different but some changes occur.
This analysis lifts Alec Bedser and Hedley Verity, the reason being that they bowled to Bradman, and enjoy the greatest beneficial adjustment as a result. Verity had the best record of any bowler against Bradman, with eight dismissals and an average of 49.8.
Here's a nice little find that pleases me. I have a section in my records of bowlers who took five wickets in fewest balls, also the subject of a recent question in Ask Steven. The record is 12 balls by Kallis, or, if we ignore Bangladesh, 13 balls by Laker in THAT Test. There was one uncertain one that is a candidate: at Melbourne in 1901/02, Monty Noble took the last five wickets of his 7/17 very rapidly, but I was unable to get an exact number, in spite of checking numerous newspapers.
Anyway, I have found an account in a newspaper called the Port Phillip Herald that settles the matter. Noble took wickets with the last two balls of his sixth over, another in his seventh, then two more in four balls to finish the innings. That is five wickets in twelve balls, a match for Kallis. The sequence was
W, W, 0, 0, 2, W, 0, 0, 0, W, 4, W
Only once has every player in a Test team made more than 20 runs in the match. That was New Zealand at Johannesburg in 1994, where the minimum of 25 runs was shared by the two openers.
The England team at Bombay in 1964 had only 11 fit players available, the other players in the touring team being injured or ill. Shortly after the match began, Micky Stewart also fell ill, leaving the team with ten players. On the first day, AG Kripal Singh of India filled in as a substitute fielder for England; on the second day, Hanumant Singh did the duty. Neither received any chances.
Georgetown 1965: Garry Sobers, batting at #6, gave opener Conrad Hunte a 46-over head start, but overtook Hunte’s score in 10 overs. At that point, Hunte was out for 38 off 160 balls, with Sobers then on 39; Sobers was out shortly afterwards for 42 off 56 balls.
On the second day of the Edgbaston Test of 1965 (Eng v NZ) the maximum temperature in Birmingham was 9° C. Hot drinks were brought out to the players during drinks breaks.
Most wickets in a session for one team: at Manchester in 1888, Australia lost 18 wickets during the third morning session, going from 32/2 to 81 all out, and 70 all out following on. There were about 2 hours of play. The match was over at that point, and I believe there was no lunch break.
In more modern times, Pakistan lost 11 wickets in the final session of the third day at Lord's in 2010. At Mumbai in 2004, there were 14 wickets in a very long final session of the match, four from India, and all 10 from Australia (93 all out).
Update on the subject of teams appealing against too much light (see August 25)…
Sreeram tells me of a case in Women’s Tests, at Collinhgam 1986, where the Indian (fielding) team refused to continue due to light reflecting off car windscreens (which didn’t trouble the batters). In fact, they sat on the pitch until all the cars had been moved. England was chasing a target on the last day, and the over rate from the Indian team seems to have fallen to unprecedented low levels. Reports say that, at one point, seven or eight overs were bowled in an hour. This is slower, by some margin, than any over rate that I have recorded in men’s Tests.
Here’s a link to an article of mine that has been published on the Cricket Monthly website. I will also post it in my Longer Articles page I hope you like it as much as some of the people who posted comments. I certainly enjoyed reading them!
While I have it in mind, I will add the following note:
The overall average ‘cost’ of dropped catches is similar to the overall batting average, at around 33 runs.
I suppose one way to evaluate a keeper in a match is to tally the total number of chances he receives. Then calculate how many of these an ‘average’ keeper would be expected to drop. Take the difference between this and the actual number of drops, multiply by 33, and you have a runs value for the keeper’s catching.
Say that a keeper received 8 catching chances in a match, and catches 5. The average keeper would be expected to drop 15%; that is, 1.2 catches. Our keeper has dropped 3, so he has an excess of 1.8. At 33 runs per drop, our keeper has cost the team about 60 runs.
By the same calculation, a keeper who received 8 chances, and catches them all, has gained his team an advantage of about 40 runs.
Stumpings would be calculated separately. One might also do separate calculations for pace and spin bowling, since these have very different drop rates for keepers. This would require ball-by-ball records.
Of course, you can add in other factors, such as the value of the batsmen dismissed. This can create difficulties, because there are many possible factors. When you use lots of factors, the final result becomes rather arbitrary, depending on the weight you place on each factor.
With the help of Sreeram and others, I have made a list of batsmen who have batted, in effect, with one hand, due a broken bone or other serious injury.
LH Tennyson, Leeds 1921
RT Simpson, Leeds 1953
JT Murray, Sydney 1962-63
MC Cowdrey, Lord's 1963 (did not face)
MD Marshall, Edgbaston 1984
VP Terry, Old Trafford 1984
Salim Malik, Faisalabad 1986-87
A Ranatunga, Rawalpindi 1999-00
GC Smith, Sydney 2008-09
Wahab Riaz, Colombo PSS 2015
UPDATE: J Srinath, Mumbai 2001 (2nd innings) (H/T Abhishek)
Talat Ali, Adelaide 1972-73
The extent to which Simpson was playing one-handed is uncertain. In the same series, there is a picture of Len Hutton hitting a one-handed shot at Lord’s. The puzzle here is that Hutton scored 145, and “gave full rein to his shots” according to The Times, which, although it mentions an injury (suffered while fielding), does not mention Hutton batting one-handed.
Malik batted both left-handed and right-handed during his innings, perhaps the only batsman to do so in Tests. Cowdrey was prepared to do so, but did not face. Terry was probably the most seriously injured of these players; he is the only one on the list to bat with his arm in a sling, in what was his last Test innings.
The fastest century makers. These are the batsmen with fastest average balls faced to 100. (First 100 runs mind you, not whole innings). With a minimum of 10 Test centuries, the Top Five are Gilchrist (107 balls), Warner (116), Sehwag (119), McCullum (122), and Pietersen (139). Jayasuriya and Botham are very close to Pietersen on 139.
They are followed by Dilshan (141), Gayle (143), Clive Lloyd (147), Viv Richards (148) and Lara (150)
At 5-9 centuries there is also Afridi (104), Kapil Dev (108), with Cairns and Prior on 125.
With no minimum, there is Gilbert Jessop, whose only century was reached in 76 balls.
The most runs in a calendar year is 5200 by Martin Crowe in 1987 (first-class + List A). Jimmy Cook scored 14,167 runs in three consecutive years, 1989-1991. It might surprise people to learn that such players were playing more cricket 30 years ago than our supposedly 'overloaded' players do today.
The most in first-class alone is 4962 by Denis Compton in 1947. Compton scored 5476 runs between October 1946 and September 1947.
It will be difficult to exceed these totals because the effect of T20 cricket has been to depress the number of runs scored and wickets taken, not increase them. Last time I checked, the most runs in a year that included T20 games was 3788 by JA Rudolph in 2010, so Kohli may beat that.
Charles Turner took 365 first-class wickets in calendar year 1888. I don’t think this has been surpassed in f-c, or in combined formats.
The highest partnerships equally shared…
At Headingley in 1993,the fifth wicket stand between Steve Waugh and Allan Border added 332 (unbeaten) with each scoring 157 runs. There were 18 sundries.
At Adelaide Oval in 1977, Graham Yallop and Peter Toohey shared a partnership of 120 in which each scored exactly 60 runs, with no sundries.
A One-Day International at the Gabba on 9 Jan 1993 was completed and all over at 12:30 pm. After an unusually early starting time of 9:00 am, Pakistan was bowled out in 116 minutes for 71. The innings break was only 10 minutes and West Indies chased down the runs in 84 minutes (19.2 overs).
Would this be the earliest finish (in time of day) to an international cricket match?
UPDATE: Sreeram reports “The Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe match on December 8, 2001 lasted 108 minutes and was over 'by mid-day'. So it probably ended at 11.48 am.”
At the SCG in 1963, Fred Trueman hit Richie Benaud for six and immediately appealed against the light. The appeal was turned down and Trueman then hit Benaud for two fours (one of which would be a six with modern boundary ropes) to take 14 off the over.
There is an update to the HOT 100 list, the fastest and slowest batsmen in Test cricket. I only update this annually now, since scoring speed is a relatively constant characteristic of batsmen, and less variable than batting average. The lists change only slowly, although David Warner has crept up a place into 5th. Brendon McCullum also moved up, just before his retirement, thanks in part to his extraordinary 145 off 79 balls at Christchurch.
I spent a little time last week in the National Library in Canberra copying some early ODI scores that they have (the Library obtained them from the MCC), including the original ODI in January 1971.
There was a curiosity with that 1971 score. The original team names were given as "An Australian XI" v "M.C.C.". These names had been crossed out and replaced with "Australia" and "England". Next to these changes is a scrawled note which is a little difficult to read…
"(Title of match [revised, or request] by Sir Donald Bradman and Sir Cyril Hawker)"
The match was scored by Geoffrey Saulez and R.W. Bright.
There certainly was some confusion at the time as to the category of the match, and it certainly indicates that the idea of a "One Day International" came later. Initial newspaper reports of the match did not know quite what to call it; the odd phrase "knockout match" was used. Wisden mostly ignored the match, giving it just a two-line potted score and no match report.
One-Day cricket was known in Australia at the time, having started in 1969-70. However, it might have been the first such game for some of the players.
I had to look up who Sir Cyril Hawker was: he was President of the MCC at the time. Although he had played one f-c match, his main background was as a banker (Governor of the bank of England, in fact).
A Trumper Wagon Wheel
I also found a wagon wheel of a major Trumper innings, his 166 in the final Test of 1907-08. I haven’t seen such a thing for a Trumper innings before.
Most striking is the lack of runs through cover and around to third man. Trumper favoured the straight hit or scored on the leg side. I would think that what is called “short leg” includes longer hits to mid-wicket.
There are a few cases of bowlers losing grip and mis-delivering the ball, and the batsmen have claimed right to hit the ball anyway, wherever it ended up. This is no longer allowed – umpires nowadays are directed to call dead ball, although I don’t quite know why that Law is necessary – but it has happened historically. Here are a few examples in Tests, where the ball was hit to the boundary. (Thanks to Brodibb’s Next Man In, Ashru, and others.)
· The winning runs at Lord’s 1921 were hit by Warren Bardsley off Jack Durston, from a ball that stopped halfway up the pitch.
· Delhi 1969: a ball by Sobroto Guha fell from his hand and rolled toward square leg. Encouraged by Bill Lawry, Keith Stackpole walked out and hit it for four.
· Faisalabad 1982: a delivery from Abdul Qadir dropped out of his hand. Greg Ritchie claimed it and hit it for four.
· Old Trafford 1999: A ball from Phil Tufnell bounced away towards square leg. Craig McMillan ran out and hit it to the boundary, but it was called dead ball.
In an ODI at Cuttack in 2003, McMillan tried this again of the bowling of Karthik, but he mishit the ball and was almost run out – or he might have been except that the umpire was calling dead ball.
At Old Trafford 1935, a ball from Vincent rolled to a stop before it reached batsman Hammond. Hammond appeared to want to go out and hit the ball, but with fielders hurrying toward the ball, he retreated to his crease.
In an ODI at Harare in 1992, Ken Rutherford played an innings of 37 that consisted of a six and 31 singles.
Few cricket fans imagine that they could be successful at Test cricket, but there are millions of people out there who see themselves as better at selecting Test teams than the people who have the job. The cutting below shows that this has been the case for many generations. It is from a Test in 1901/02 and mentions the heavy fire that faced selectors who had named Reggie Duff and Warwick Armstrong in the Australian team.
But sometimes it is the selectors who get it right. Duff top-scored in both innings in what was his Test debut, while Armstrong scored 4* and 45*.
I came across this while trying to nail down the number of balls bowled by Monty Noble in taking his last five wickets in the first innings in that Test. The record for fewest balls bowled is 12 by Jacques Kallis, although that was against Bangladesh; in a proper Test match it is 13 balls by Jim Laker. This was probably matched by Noble, but I am still unable to come up with an exact figure. It could be as low as 12, or as high as 14.
No bowler spent more time bowling to the famed ‘Three Ws’ than Jim Laker, whose encounters with the West Indies’ greats spanned almost a decade. The curious thing is that while Weekes and Worrell both tamed Laker’s spin thoroughly, Walcott had nothing but trouble.
The innings count is only those innings in which Laker actually bowled to the batsman. Laker at one stage dismissed Walcott in nine consecutive innings in which he bowled to him (there were one or two other innings in between where Walcott did not face Laker). This is the most for any head-to-head pair in the database.
Most international runs in a 365-day period. Dates are “365 days ending”, not calendar years. Combined totals for Tests, ODIs and T20is.
A curiosity that I came across on the subject of long-distance cricket travel. Garfield Sobers played in a Sheffield Shield match in Adelaide that ended on 13 Feb 1962, but also played in a Test in Trinidad starting on 16 Feb 1962. In between, he made a 55-hour flight on three airlines, covering 12,600 miles and arriving in the middle of the night of the first morning of the Test. Without the time difference, he would not have made it. The final drive to the cricket ground was an additional two hours.
From Adelaide, the West Indies is one of the most distant places to travel to by air. That is true to this day.
Nowadays our ‘overloaded’ players expect longer breaks than this between T20 games at the same ground.
In the two matches, Sobers scored a combined total 293 runs and took 15 wickets. The guy was unbelievable. In the Shield match, he scored 2 and 251, and took 3/51 and 6/72.
Everton Weekes was once selected to play for West Indies (Kingston 1948), after he was previously told he had been dropped, but word got to him so late that he couldn't make it to the ground on time, and actually saw play in progress from the air as he flew in.
Blinded by the Light…The ToSH Facebook group has collected a few cases, in Tests, of play being stopped by excessive light or glare.
· Johannesburg 1896: the final day was interrupted for 30 minutes by "glare from a conservatory”.
· England v New Zealand, Christchurch 1962/3, interrupted by evening sunlight reflecting off a roof. It ended play 11 minutes early on the third day. Barrington appealed against the 'light', literally. "...extraordinary glare of the evening sun on the aluminium roof of the grandstand behind the wicket."
· England vs West Indies, Manchester 1995, first day; the cause of the glare was a row of greenhouses adjacent to the ground. Tea was taken 21 minutes early, but no net time was lost.
· Pakistan v New Zealand, Rawalpindi, 1996-97: the opening day saw several hold-ups. One was caused by sunlight dazzling the batsmen after tea.
UPDATED (see October 24 2016).
A figure for most runs conceded before first wicket in ODIs has become available, thanks to the unearthing (by Ross Dundas) of a scoresheet. Asif Mujtaba took his first ODI wickets (2 for 38) at the MCG in January 1993, in his 18th ODI. The first wicket was taken after he had conceded 17 runs, bringing his total to 292 runs. It was his 291st ball in ODIs, and the 12th time he had bowled.
Ata-ur-Rehman bowled at least 51 overs before his first wicket, which is the probable record in terms of balls bowled. The exact number is still not available.
The project to upload detailed scores of all Tests from the 1950s has been completed, and the database now covers all Tests from 1920 to early 1960. I hope to post more in the future, starting with pre-1920 Tests, but there is no schedule at the moment.
A couple of new discoveries…
I visited Headingley more than a decade ago, and went through all their scorebooks, and copied all the Test matches that I could find. Time was limited, and unfortunately I failed to fully copy the 1912 and 1965 Tests. I was unable to find the 1957 Test and the 1952 Test in the time available.
A problem was that most of the Tests were in scorebooks other than the year in question. This was because the main county scorebook travelled with the Yorkshire team, and Yorkshire played away while Headingley Test matches were on. Most Test scores that I found were either in a Second XI book or in a First XI book for a different year. There was no telling where a Test score would turn up, so I had to leaf through every page of every book to find them.
Since then, the scorebooks have been donated to the West Yorkshire Archive Service. After a bit of correspondence with them, they searched the books again and found all the missing material. Well done! They have supplied me with copies, and I have re-scored them into digital form. The 1952 and 1957 Tests have now been posted in my Online Database.
All Tests ever played at Headingley are now represented by scorebooks or ball-by-ball records, and have been re-scored. Going back to 1899, this is the longest and most complete record for any major Test match ground (although the 1902 match at Sheffield has unfortunately not been found). Lord’s goes back to 1921, and Sydney to 1910; in both cases earlier records exist, but there are gaps. Other major grounds have more recent gaps (Perth is complete, but only started in 1970).
The most recent Test in England that has no scorebook is now The Oval 1951 (v South Africa). The other post-War Tests in England that are missing are The Oval 1946 and 1949, and Trent Bridge 1947.
This is a bit of a departure, but I thought I would post a newspaper article unearthed by John Kobylecky, concerning an extraordinary incident during the M.C.C. tour of Pakistan in 1955-56. This tour, perhaps unfortunately, is not regarded as an official Test tour, although the major matches were very much regarded as Tests in Pakistan itself. The attitude of the M.C.C. to these matches is a strange contrast to the Tests in India of 1951-52, which have official status, even though that M.C.C. team was also far from representative.
In any case, the article describes the mistreatment of one of the umpires, by English players including the captain, on the rest day of the 3rd ‘Test’ in faraway Peshawar in January 1956. Although there was an attempt to excuse the behaviour as university-style ‘ragging’, it sounds awful. It best, gross cultural insensitivity, at worst, inexcusable assault.
The incident was reported in The Times, but only in brief outline. Some readers may already be aware of it, but I had not heard about it before, so it might be new to others.
Andy Roberts bowled three hat-trick balls at Manchester in 1976, one in the first innings and two in the second. He is the only one on record to do so in one Test. A catch was dropped off the third hat-trick ball.
At Ahmedabad in 1996/97, J Srinath took wickets with consecutive balls three times in one innings, but the third instance involved the last two wickets in the match, so he only bowled two hat-trick balls.
Sreeram reports a weird case of three wickets in three balls…
“The Durban 1969/70 Test ended with Procter getting Gleeson and Connolly in consecutive balls. When Test cricket resumed there in 1992/93. Kapil Dev took a wicket with the first ball. This is a weird definition of a hat-trick in a particular ground…?”
The Galle Test saw all 40 wickets fall and finished after 44.1 overs on the third day. This was the earliest finish for a 40-wicket Test in the last 100 years. There are a couple of 40-wicket Tests that had fewer overs overall, but they finished later on the third day.
A few 40-wicket Tests, including the original Ashes Test in 1882, finished in 2 days, but they were very long ago. The last to finish earlier than Galle was the Headingley Test of 1912 (Eng v SA), which finished after 12 overs on day 3.
More recently there was Mumbai 2004/05. The match lasted 202 overs, less than the 215 at Galle, but there were 96 overs on the third day, due to earlier interruptions.
In the Kandy Test, Mitchell Starc took five wickets on the first day and the same again on the second. I don't have this one fully up to date, but the only other instance in the last 100 years that I can find is Mohammad Asif at Kandy in 2006
It’s been reported in many places, but Peter Nevill and Steve O’Keefe, assisted by Josh Hazlewood, smashed all previous records for scorelessness, by stringing together 154 balls without a run in the Kandy Test. While plenty of teams have been in ultra-defensive situations like this before, this was a unique combination of circumstances. There were no specialist batsmen so no attempt to farm the strike. One batsman was injured and so no running was attempted. I think that if there had been a runner for O’Keefe, occasional runs would have been taken, so it is all due in part to the strange rule that disallows use of runners.
Nevill faced 90 balls without scoring, just shy of the 95 by Bruce Mitchell in 1931. The number for Mitchell, unfortunately, is only an estimate; however, I would say that, at the low end, it is a fairly precise estimate, but the exact number is not known (could be a bit higher). It is quite unlikely that Mitchell faced 90 balls or less. However, Nevill batted 108 minutes without scoring, and that is without doubt the longest time without scoring in a Test innings.
In the next Test, at Galle, Nevill was out first ball in the first innings and scored off his second ball when he batted again. This gave him a total of 92 consecutive balls without scoring. So Tony Lock’s record of 115 balls across multiple innings remains safe. O’Keefe, for his part, has an open-ended sequence of 76 balls without scoring to continue. Hope he gets the chance.
The Unusual Records entry has been updated.
Here are the fourth-innings scores at each fall of wicket, closest to the target, by teams losing the Test match.
Most of these records were set in the original Ashes Test of 1882, but Manchester 1902 and a couple of others also turn up
15/1 (70 runs: target 85) Eng v Aus, The Oval 1882
68/2 (56 runs: target 124) Eng v Aus, Manchester 1902
51/3 (34 runs: target 85) Eng v Aus, The Oval 1882
53/4 (32 runs: target 85) Eng v Aus, The Oval 1882
92/4 (32 runs: target 124) Eng v Aus, Manchester 1902
66/5 (19 runs: target 85) Eng v Aus, The Oval 1882
70/6 (15 runs: target 85) Eng v Aus, The Oval 1882
70/7 (15 runs: target 85) Eng v Aus, The Oval 1882
109/7 (15 runs: target 124) Eng v Aus, Manchester 1902
75/8 (10 runs: target 85) Eng v Aus, The Oval 1882
110/9 (7 runs: target 117) Aus v SAf, Sydney (SCG) 1993/94
184/10 (2 runs: target 186) Aus v WI, Adelaide 1992/93
The Tied Test in Brisbane would beat some of these if you want to include it
226/7 (7 runs: target 233) Aus v WI, Brisbane 1960/61
228/8 (5 runs: target 233) Aus v WI, Brisbane 1960/61
232/9 (1 run: target 233) Aus v WI, Brisbane 1960/61
232/10 (1 run: target 233) Aus v WI, Brisbane 1960/61
I have been studying some old ODI scores, and have come up with some interesting material on Simon O’Donnell, one of the more underrated ODI players.
Bowlers taking wickets in five consecutive overs in an ODI (where known)
Also in 1990, O’Donnell played an innings of 74 off 29 balls in an ODI at Sharjah against Sri Lanka. At the time, his 50 off 18 balls was an ODI record. The innings, as recorded on the scoresheet, makes unusual reading
O’Donnell actually scored his 74 runs in the space of 26 balls, without a dot ball. In that innings, runs were scored off the bat by the Australians for 43 consecutive balls, with the exception of the ball that took O’Donnell’s wicket.
Only Sanath Jayasyuriya (76 off 28 in 1996, setting a new record with 50 off 17) and Brendon McCullum (using a super bat) have played higher innings off fewer balls than O’Donnell.
Against Zimbabwe in 2012, McCullum (119) scored off 30 consecutive balls faced, as did Ian Trott (112) against New Zealand in 2013. Neither scored as many runs as O’Donnell without facing a dot ball, but Chris Gayle (215) equalled it with 74, scoring off 23 consecutive balls without a dot ball against Zimbabwe in last year’s World Cup. (For this analysis, sundries are considered dot balls.)
O’Donnell, incidentally, hit the longest six ever accurately recorded at the MCG. It was in a Sheffield Shield match in 1993, off the bowling of Greg Matthews. The shot reached the third level (out of four) of the Great Southern Stand. The location has been marked by a yellow-coloured seat that can even be seen on Google Earth. The distance is equivalent to 122 metres (unimpeded).
Shoaib Mailk scored 53* off 61 balls in 2006, but his first 50 is not recorded.
There have been a few innings of similar length that did not reach 50 runs, the most extreme was Naeem Islam in 2010
Aslam Siddiqui reports:
PN Weekes probably faced more than 60 balls in this match.
There have been a number of innings of similar length in T20 cricket that have not reached 50, including a 35 off 63 balls by Lategan again…
During the record-breaking partnership of May and Cowdrey in 1957 (411 off 1146 balls), the West Indies took a second new ball after 96 overs. It would appear that no further new balls were taken after this, even though the innings lasted 258 overs. The 162 overs would appear to be the most overs without a new ball after a second ball was taken (where known). A list of the longest spells without a new ball is here.
Dropped Catches Report for 2015
I have collated a list of dropped catches in Tests in 2015 (specifically, April 2015 to January 2016, between pauses for World Cup and World T20). This extends my analysis of Cricinfo ball-by-ball texts that started in 2001. For a number of Tests, I backed up the analysis by also checking the texts archived by Cricbuzz. In general, this confirmed the searches of Cricinfo, but a few other missed chances were found. It is also apparent that some dropped catches are a matter of opinion, with the sources coming to conflicting conclusions where ‘technical’ or ‘half’ chances are concerned; also whether or not balls carried or missed the bat. The disputed or uncertain cases might amount to about five to ten per cent of missed chances. As such, most chances are clear-cut, but the totals are a little fuzzy, and should be interpreted with that caveat.
In 45 Tests I found 281 missed chances (including stumpings but not run outs). Taking the successful catches and stumpings into account, the miss rate was 23.8%. Overall, there is a downward trend in this figure over the years, suggesting gradual improvement in catching. However, it is not quite as low as the 23.2% recorded in 2012.
More surprising is the improvement apparent compared to the rate of 27.2% in 2014. Some of the changes can be seen in this summary table
% Missed Chances in Tests
While the incidence of dropped catches appears to be falling, the high figure for 2014 remains a bit odd. Part of this is due to Bangladesh playing more Tests in that year: Bangladesh drops a lot of catches and bumps up the average, but even with them, the rate was still elevated. For reasons unknown, Australia dropped more chances in 2014 than in the previous or following years. I have checked the results with some care, but it seems to be a real result.
The team results for 2015 are as follows
I would disregard Bangladesh in this list, because they played only five Tests and took only 25 catches during the year, a very small sample size. Bangladesh had a drop rate of 34% in the previous year. The most striking result is Sri Lanka, whose catching has improved enormously in the last few years, from 34% dropped in 2013 and 29% in 2014 to 21% last year. I have looked through the Sri Lanka results carefully, using both Cricinfo and Cricbuzz, and the result seems to be genuine.
Adam Voges’ 269* at Hobart appears to have been chanceless. The highest score in 2015 by a batsman dropped was 290 Ross Taylor at Perth, dropped on 137. The most ‘expensive’ drop of the year was 165 runs for Steve Smith at Lord’s, dropped on 50 and went on to make 215. The only batsman dropped on 0 who went on to make a century was Joe Root, dropped second ball in his ashes-critical 134 at Cardiff.
Zulfiqar Babar was the most unfortunate bowler in 2015, with 17 catches missed off his bowling. Azhar Ali dropped nine chances, mostly at the difficult short leg and silly point positions, five of them off Zulfiqar.
The dropped catches report for 2014 is here.
Notes on the earliest international tours to use air transport…
The 1945-46 Australian team flew to New Zealand: "At dawn on 26 February 1946 the team flew from Sydney. The New Zealand Air Force provided a Catalina for the long flight across the Tasman Sea." They returned on the 8th of April, again with the NZ Air Force out of Auckland, but this time in a DC3.
The flight over took eight hours (Catalinas flew at less than 200kph), and the flight back on the (somewhat faster) DC3 was eventful, with the plane turning back to New Zealand after a short time due to an oil pressure problem, but completing the flight successfully later on the same day.
There is an odd aspect to this: regular commercial flights between Sydney and Auckland were available at the time, so why did the team fly on specially organised NZAF planes? At the time, an airline called T.E.A.L., the predecessor of Air New Zealand, had three flights a week on flying boats, and in fact had operated them even during the war.
I wonder if it was at the insistence of the Australian Cricket Board, getting the New Zealanders to pay?
The day they got back also happened to be the day that flights from Australia to Britain via Singapore resumed, using civilian versions of wartime bombers (Liberators and Lancasters). These were the first civilian planes to use the Changi airport that had been built by PoWs. Earlier post-War flights had taken a route via Colombo, which required a very long trans-ocean leg.
The 1946 Indian team to England and the 1947/48 team to Australia both travelled by air. The latter had a rather long and harrowing flight, and decided that the return trip would be by sea.
In 1947/48, Len Hutton flew out to the West Indies as a replacement player for the MCC. It took him 3 days to get from London to Georgetown.
Information from the fascinating "Test Cricket Tours" website.
Ashru Mishra reports that a Lancashire team flew from Cardiff to Southampton in 1935, on a privately organised flight.
The last tour to travel by ship was the 1964 Ashes tour, although the sea leg was limited to Perth-Colombo. The team returned to Australia by air, playing Tests in Pakistan and India.
(Thanks also to Ashru and Sreeram.)
Here is an article of mine that was published in Cricket Monthly, on the subject of the longest sixes:
and here’s an interview I did for Cricket Country, which was actually a written Q&A rather than spoken interview.
In both of the above, the headlines and photo captions were not written by me. Nor was the introductory blurb in the interview, which I do not necessarily agree with. The interviewer seemed to think that I had “proved” that Bradman had averaged 100, but I tried to hose that down in my comments.
Also, there is some doubt about batting orders in many very old games. For example, G Beldam is given 31* out of 63 batting at #11 in 1800, but I doubt if he really batted in that position. I think that some very old scorecards list batsmen in the order they were out, not the order they came in.
Given the age of many of these records, the recent one by Glenn Maxwell is remarkable. He came to the crease at 9 (runs) for 6 (wickets) and scored 127 off 102 balls.
The highest for a #12 batsman is 13 out of 44 by TC Elliot for Hampshire v All England in 1848.
Note also WG in 1876
1 79.2% WG Grace 126 out of 159 United North of England v United South of England, Hull 1876
Here's an odd little stat
Q. In the last one thousand ODIs, how many times has the team batting second hit the last ball of the 50th over for four?
The last one I can find is Zimbabwe v Pakistan at Multan in 2008.
Since then there have been six matches where the second team hit the last ball of the 50th over for six (including the recent tie) and even one case of a five, but no fours.
There was a match where Kevin Pietersen hit the last ball for four, but that was a Duckworth-Lewis match, and not the 50th over.
Another odd fact: add it to the list of records held by the very first Test of 1877.
Other countries, of course, have had wider representation.
Here’s a list of the fastest batsmen to reach major Test milestones. “Fastest” in this context means fewest balls faced, not matches or innings or time. The “Balls Faced” in the table is the exact number when the milestone was reached, in mid-innings. For example, Southee passed one thousand runs during his 61st innings, and finished that innings with 1009 runs off 1180 balls. His one thousandth run came off his 1167th ball.
The leader in each category is quite clear cut, except at 9,000 runs, where Graeme Smith and Brian Lara are extremely close. Tendulkar, of course, is alone in the last two categories.
All these players are relatively recent. Although some data is missing for earlier players, none of them are contenders for a place in this table, so even with complete data this table would not change. Chances are though, that Gilbert Jessop (1899-1912) would be the faster than any modern batsman to 500 runs (about 450 balls), but Jessop never made it to 1000.
After a question on AskSteven, I became curious about the story that Bill Woodfull refused a knighthood offered to him for his contribution to cricket. Being of sceptical mind, I looked into it.
The earliest published source for this seems to be Chris Harte’s History of Australian Cricket (1993, p357). Hart says the offer came on the occasion of Woodfull’s farewell match in November 1934. Harte even quotes (after a fashion) from a “citation”. However, there is no reference offered and no direction to any primary source.
The story is also absent from all other older sources, including Pollard’s books, The Oxford Companion to Australian Cricket and Robinson’s much-admired On Top Down Under, which has a detailed chapter on Woodfull.
Still sceptical, I borrowed a copy of a Woodfull biography by Alan Gregory, published recently (2011). However, Gregory does confirm the story, saying that he checked it with Woodfull’s son and daughter, who had heard it from their mother.
So perhaps we should accept that at face value. Yet it is still a stretch. Gregory also reports that John Dew attempted (“energetically”) to get confirmation from both Buckingham Palace and Government House (Melbourne, the supposed source of the offer), but none was forthcoming. There are therefore still no documents or primary evidence.
Having done some family research in my time, I would certainly say that some stories that get circulated by word of mouth around families, and repeated decades later, are not necessarily true! (No disrespect intended). Others have a kernel of truth, but get exaggerated over the years. Casual chatter at an official function, perhaps?
I still wonder about other factors. In 1934, no senior player, not even WG Grace, had ever been knighted for services to cricket; that fashion lay well into the future. There is another element to the story – that Woodfull responded that he would have instead accepted a knighthood for his teaching – and this also has an odd ring. He was just 37 at the time, he had spent a good part of his adult life playing cricket, and he was not a senior teacher yet; it also doesn’t sound in character. Gregory mentions that no Australian teacher had ever received a knighthood at that time either; I think Woodfull’s claimed statement sounds very unrealistic.
Gregory added that he had asked Harte about the “citation”, but Harte could not recall his source.
Refusing a knighthood would have been a big deal in 1934, especially from Woodfull, who was a great admirer of the Crown, and referred to England in his speeches as the “Mother Country”.
I also think the offer would have been unlikely politically, coming so soon after Bodyline.
Woodfull did have an outstanding teaching career after 1934, and did accept an OBE, for his contribution to teaching, in 1963, after his retirement. He died, on a golf course, in 1965.
In his last Test series, against Bangladesh, Jason Gillespie averaged 231 with the bat and 11.3 (8 wickets) with the ball, as ratio of averages of 20.5. No one who has taken more than 8 wickets has achieved a higher ratio, although Ramnaresh Sarwan also took 8 wickets and had a ratio of 22.9 (301.0 to 13.1), also against Bangladesh, in 2004.
The highest measurable ratio in any series is 42.9 by Steve Waugh against Sri Lanka in 1995/96. Batting average 362.0, bowling average 8.5 (4 wickets).
Most overs bowled before first wicket in ODis is probably Ata-ur-Rehman of Pakistan in 1993. Exact figures are not available, but. Rehman bowled between 51 and 54 overs for his first wicket, probably closer to 51 than 54. The only other bowler in contention is a team mate of Rehman, Asif Mujtaba, who bowled between 45 and 53 overs; again, probably closer to the 45 than 53.
When Mohammad Yousuf scored 202 at Lord’s in 2006, the batsman above him in the order (Faisal Iqbal) and the batsman next in the order (Mohammad Sami) both scored ducks. Yousuf is the only batsman to make a double century in these circumstances.
Adam Voges' 375 runs against the West Indies recently is the most by anyone in a series where he was not dismissed. Previously: 270 runs by Chanderpaul against Bangladesh in 2014.
A little data on appeals in Tests
ML Nkala v New Zealand at Bulawayo in 2000
Danish Kaneria v West Indies, Kingston 2005
MS Panesar v Pakistan at Lord's 2006
The batsmen were PJ Wiseman, S Chanderpaul, and Abdul Razzaq. The Nkala case involved four consecutive balls. The umpires were Harper, Hair and Bucknor.
This is obviously a rather limited survey, and the usual caveats apply. Some appeals have undoubtedly gone unrecorded and many others might be a matter of interpretation.
As a matter of interest, the bowlers with the highest ratio of appeals to wickets are Panesar, Saqlain Mushtaq,Giles and Kaneria. I don't think these names will surprise anyone. The most appeal-prone pace bowler was Zaheer Khan.
How Effective is the (Second) New Ball?
Here are some statistics from the database concerning the effectiveness of the new ball in Tests. The data covers about 280 Tests from 2007 to 2015.
There were 472 innings where the new ball was available. In only 44 was it not taken at all, whereas it was taken in the first five overs (overs 81-85) on 336 occasions. The longest innings without a new ball was 145 overs by West Indies against Australia (439/5) at Bridgetown in 2008; the latest taking of a new ball was 146.1 overs by India at Durban in 2013. There were only 25 cases of no new ball by the 100 over mark.
In innings that lasted at least six overs after the new ball, I compared the number of wickets in the six overs after with the number in the six overs before. There were 405 such innings. I also looked at ‘windows’ of plus or minus four overs and two overs.
A ‘Ratio’ of more than one indicates a benefit to taking the new ball. In the six overs before the new ball, there were wickets in only 87 innings, against 195 innings after the new ball. Overall, there were 2.72 times as many wickets in the six overs after the new ball than in the previous six overs, with even greater benefits with narrower windows.
These numbers suggest that early taking of the new ball is very beneficial, but it would be unwise to read too much into this. The taking of the new ball is not a random event: captains usually choose to do so when wickets are not falling, and they sometimes use part-time bowlers in the overs just before the new ball.
Indeed if you look at the minority of innings where wicket(s) fell in the six overs before a new ball was actually taken (87 cases) the number of wickets falling in the six overs after the new ball is rather reduced – only 63 wickets. In these cases where bowlers are already taking wickets, the new ball has had no beneficial effect.
I also looked at overs numbered 81-86 in all innings of sufficient length, and compared those with the new ball to those without. There were 347 innings with a new ball and 125 without (many of which took the new ball later on). In those without a new ball, the average was 0.68 wickets falling in the six overs, but in innings with a new ball it was only 0.67 wickets. This suggests no benefit to the new ball at all! However, it is not quite so simple, since a significant number of new balls are taken late in the 81-86 over window. If you restrict the comparison to those innings where the new ball was taken in the 81st over” (218 innings), then the return rises to 0.78 wickets in six overs. There is some benefit evident here, but not as much as might be expected.
Overall, I would say that captains do a competent job in choosing when to use the new ball. Mostly. However, the effects of the new ball are sometimes exaggerated, because captains are likely to call for it during a spell without wickets, and particularly by the choice of second-string bowlers just before it becomes available.
Highest averages in a calendar year (Tests beginning in the year in question)
DG Bradman 1932 402.0 (3 inns)
JN Gillespie 2006 231.0 (3)
CP Mead 1921 229.0 (2)
H Sutcliffe 1931 226.0 (2)
MS Sinclair 1999 214.0 (1)
DG Bradman 1946 210.5 (2)
Bradman also made a score of 167 in a Test in 1932, but the Test began in 1931. If the 167 is included in 1932, his average becomes 284.5.
Add this one to the list of unlikely achievements of Jason Gillespie.
Sreeram points out that since Sinclair played only one innings in 1999, that being his 214 on debut, he holds the record for highest average by any batsman in the 20th Century.
Additions to the 1950s database will be suspended shortly. Holidays beckon.
Melbourne 1964: fielding side Pakistan "appealed against the rain" on the final day; successfully, I might add. Australia had been set 166 in 127 minutes, and was 88/2 in 71 minutes, having scored 60 runs in the last six overs, when umpires called a halt. Before the halt, bowler Arif Butt "stopped and then plunged to the turf”, claiming injury. "Shepherd, at the striker's end, looked incredulous and then threw his bat away" (Melbourne Age).
The Pakistanis had earlier been warned for slow play because they were taking five minutes to bowl an eight-ball over, (equivalent to 16 six-ball overs an hour). How times have changed.
In the Eden Gardens (Kolkata) Test of 2011/12, India v West Indies, play commenced at 8:30am local time on the third and fourth days, brought forward after time was lost on the second day. This is the earliest hour for play to start in a Test that I have noted.
Prior to the day/night Test at Adelaide Oval, the latest finishing time that I had recorded was 8:06pm at Wellington in 2001/02 (v Bangladesh). In the day/night Test, close of play was at 9:25pm and 9:18 pm on the first two days respectively.
A little discovery to share.
Clyde Walcott scored a century in a session between lunch and tea, Auckland 1951/52. He went from 12 at lunch to 115 at tea, at which point he was out and the declaration was made, with West Indies at 546/6. I believe that this century in a session has not been previously recognised.
I only just found this while sorting through my notes of that series. One source (found in NZ last November, the Wellington Evening Post) gave Walcott's score at lunch and another source had the score at tea, but no source gave both, or mentioned a century in a session.
Latest introduction of Bowlers, by Bowler Number (Tests)
Fall of the Unconquered
Every significant unbeaten innings leaves open the question of how many runs might have been. Statistically, the answer is, on average, similar to the batsman’s batting average, but in specific innings one can never know. If the next innings by the player is any guide, there have been some major unbeaten innings that are followed up by complete failures. The list that follows shows the largest unbeaten innings where the batsman was out to the next ball he faced. Often this was in a different match; in the case of the leader, Bradman, it was in a different series.
Both Tests, if applicable, are listed in the table. Michael Clarke holds the record for largest not out first innings followed by a golden duck in the same Test.
Large unbeaten innings followed by a golden duck
Highest ratio of Teams’ first innings: first-class matches
The following table shows the most one-sided first innings in first-class matches, led by Pakistan Railways 910/6 decl v Dera Ismail Khan 32 at Lahore in 1964/65
In my opinion, both the leading matches are of dubious first-class status. The first was the only f-c match ever played by the Dera Ismail Khan team, and the only f-c match for most of the players.
Peter Nevill took a catch off his first ball in a T20 international. Nevill, of course has played 12 Test matches, so it wasn't his first international overall.
In Tests, it hasn't happened to a keeper, but two fielders have taken catches off the first possible ball in Test cricket. One was PP Ojha in 2009, although he had previously played in ODIs so it wasn't his first international, and the other was AF Lissette at Dunedin in 1955.
Lee Germon and Luke Ronchi, as keepers, took catches off the first ball of their ODI debut, although Ronchi had previously played T20i cricket.
In t20 internationals, Subash Kakurel of Nepal (a keeper) and Saqlain Haider of UAE (a fielder) took catches off the first ball on debut. Haider had previously played ODIs.
Going Online: the Test Matches of the 1950s
I am embarking on an extension of the Test Match Database Online. The intention is to upload most of what I have on Test matches from the 1950s. It will follow the structure of the 1920s to 1940s material that is already available.
I have started with the 1950 England/West Indies series, and I will proceed gradually through the decade.
The 1950 series was an important series, introducing "Calypso Cricket" to England along with a winning West Indies team. Less well recognised is the establishment, on England's part, of the grindingly slow batting adopted by most teams in the 50s, perhaps in response to the permanent institution of five-day Tests in England. Some slow scoring records were set including (at Lord's) the team record for most consecutive balls without scoring.
Check out Washbrook and Simpson taking 125 overs over a partnership of 212 runs at Trent Bridge. That would take a day and a half at modern over rates, but the slowness was masked somewhat by Ramadhin/Valentine et al getting through up to 140 overs per day.
In those days the consensus was that tight spin bowling could not be scored from without risk.
Dismissed by the only ball faced in Test cricket
In McMaster’s case, it was the only ball he faced in first-class cricket, such was the very dubious status of this series.
An oddly hot topic last week was four bowlers in one T20 innings conceding the same number of runs, with three of them having identical overs, runs and wickets. There wasn’t much in the way of precedent in T20 internationals, but here's a T20 match with four bowlers with identical overs and runs conceded
Here's one with three identical overs, runs, and wickets
Four bowlers conceding the same number of runs was a first for T20 internationals, but it has happened in ODIs
Also in Tests
Bowlers taking last two available wickets in consecutive balls in a Test match; thus deprived of a chance for a hat-trick…
More than 50 other bowlers have done it once.
As far as I can tell, none of these bowlers took a wicket with his first ball of the next match, thus claiming a ‘non-hat-trick’, except for the special case of George Lohmann in 1895/96, who finished the first Test with a hat-trick, then took a wicket with his first ball of the second Tests, thus taking four in four.
So it appears that these ‘non-hat-tricks’ are extremely rare. Hardik Pandya of India recorded one in the past week, playing T20s against Pakistan and then Sri Lanka. Apart from Lohmann, there are no other similar cases at all in my database of Tests, ODIs and T20i. This data is, of course, not complete, but with about 75% of matches available (almost five thousand matches), it gives an idea of how rare this must be.
Waqar Younis took three wickets in four balls across two Tests against West Indies and Sri Lanka in 2002. In Ashes Tests, Jason Gillespie took five wickets in seven balls across two Tests against England that were 2 years apart, starting at Perth in 1998/99. He was dropped from the team between the two Tests, but also played against other countries during those two years.
Here is some complete data placing Adam Voges’ record-breaking sequence of runs without dismissal in context. The “RUNS” section is covered in standard record lists, but the “Balls Faced” and “Minutes Batted” records are more complete than you might find elsewhere.
I will post these lists in the “Unusual Records” section.
The following 6-ball overs had shots off the bat for 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 (not in that order)
West Indies (535) v England Kingston 1935, 117th over. 046123
West Indies v England Antigua 1986, 37th over, during Viv Richards record century. 136240
England (400) v West Indies, Chester-le-Street 2007, 75th over. 263410
Australia (401) v England Brisbane 2013/14, 53rd over. 263401
There are a couple of cases with 12346 (out of order) but no 0s (two singles).
Most remarkable was Mumbai 1951/52, when India hit 4, 0, 1, 2, 3, 8 in the 44th over, 1st innings.
There were no overs found containing shots for 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
In the first T20 against Australia, Hardik Pandya bowled five wides in the first over of his international career, three of them before he could bowl a legal ball.
I can't find any previous instances of five separate wides in any over in T20 internationals. There are a couple of cases of four wides plus one no ball, by Kemar Roach and by Dale Steyn, both in 2010.
This appears to be the most productive ‘youth’ game, in these terms, played to date. It is possible that more players will be selected for internationals from these or other teams so the record could change.
For a change of pace, I thought I’d share what I have decided is one of my favourite cricket photos. It shows Lawrence Rowe being caught by Ian Chappell off Jeff Thomson at the MCG on Boxing Day 1975. Those familiar with Australian cricket photography will not be surprised to learn that it was taken by Patrick Eagar.
The occasion was the morning of one of the first Boxing Day Tests. Some 85,000 people were present, and in those days the MCG stands were physically smaller than now. Such was the crush of spectators that large numbers were sitting even right behind the sight screen.
As you can see, the photo is on the cover of a Bill Frindall book of scores from that time. While it is not a rare book, it is by no means common and so I hope that no one concerned will mind the reproduction. Unfortunately, my copy is worn by use, and so I have photoshopped out some scratches and abrasions.
Why do I like it? Unlike most cricket photography, it presents a dramatic moment in a Test match much as a spectator experiences it, with a wider field of view than normally seen. Many modern telephoto shots, usually taken from the boundary at ground level, are so extreme that they sometimes struggle to get even the batsman’s face and bat into the same frame.
I like the elevated viewpoint and the composition. The participants are placed neatly, and all eyes are on the ball, directing the viewer’s attention to the main action. The power of Thomson is suggested by his position, still in mid-air even though the ball has reached the slip fielder. The catcher’s position is also dynamic, and shows perfect technique. The packed crowd looming at the top of frame increases the sense of drama.
I also really like the lack of intrusive advertising (although I will admit to photoshopping out one small ad).
I did not go to that match, but I did see, with my brother, the equivalent day in the Sydney Test. Even though we got into the ground more than an hour before the start, there were no seats left in the stands (tickets were not numbered or pre-sold) so we sat on the steps of the Sheridan stand, among 53,000 people; the SCG would never see such a crowd again. Jeff Thomson retired hurt three different batsmen that day; for atmosphere and drama, I have not been to a day’s cricket since that quite matched it.
I believe that only fragments of video of these Tests have survived.
An article on the most extreme Test performances of the last 50 years, combining batting and bowling performances on the same scale. This is an extended version of an article written for Cricket Monthly online. It should be stressed that my list is ‘most extreme’, in a statistical sense, rather than ‘greatest’.
Some notes on the question: in 1975, did Denis Amiss break the ODI record score before Glenn Turner?
On 7 June 1975 the ODI record stood at 116 (David Lloyd in 1974). That day, Amiss scored 137 and Glenn Turner 171*. Both opened the batting in World Cup matches, with simultaneous starting times, one at Lord's the other at Edgbaston.
At lunch (1pm), Amiss was 98 in 35 overs and Turner 82 in 40 overs. Amiss reached 100 off 112 balls. None of the reports available say exactly what happened next, but it is very probable that Amiss would have reached 116 first. The partnership between Amiss and Fletcher was very fast in the latter stages and would have reached a crescendo going from 150 to 230 after lunch. Turner, however, also scored extremely quickly after lunch.
Less certain is whether Amiss still held the record when he was out. Again there are no exact figures, but Amiss was out in the 51st over, while I calculate from the later falls of wicket that Turner was about 142 in 54 overs. However, the over rate was higher in Turner's case, so his 54 overs may well have preceded Amiss' 51 overs. Minutes batted data would be useful here but is lacking.
Amiss, who had scored the first two ODI centuries in 1972 and 1973, before ceding the record to Lloyd, had probably retaken the record, but for less than half an hour, and perhaps only for the time equivalent of five or six overs.
Australia has selected a touring team to New Zealand with all six states represented. Using place of birth, all six states were last represented in a Test at Bangalore 2010. (Players born overseas were not counted.)
MJ Clarke NSW
SR Watson QLD
MG Johnson QLD
NM Hauritz QLD
PR George SA
RT Ponting TAS
TD Paine TAS
BW Hilfenhaus TAS
MJ North VIC
SM Katich WA
MEK Hussey WA
At the Oval in 2005 and various earlier Tests, there were players from all six states, plus the Northern Territory (Damien Martyn). There were all six plus ACT in some Tests when Michael Bevan was playing, including Karachi 1994.
Martyn and Bevan never played together in Tests, and there are no cases with all eight states and territories. However, it has happened in ODIs, including a game in Cairns in 2003, and for good measure at that game there was also Andrew Symonds, born in the U.K.
I don't have enough data to answer the question in terms of which teams the players were playing for at the time.
Bowley was an opening batsman in the era of Hobbs and Sutcliffe. At the age of 39, he filled in for Hobbs in a couple of Tests against South Africa in 1929.
Jimmy Cook is the father of Stephen Cook, who has just been selected for South Africa after scoring over 11,000 runs.
Does not include players who played no Tests. Alan Jones (36000+ runs) represented England in matches against Rest of the World in 1970, but Test status for these matches was later withdrawn. Jones scored 17,774 runs before the first Rest of the World match.
Most Test runs in an Australian home season
2003/04 RT Ponting (6 Tests) 965
2003/04 ML Hayden (6) 952
2005/06 ML Hayden (7) 949
2005/06 RT Ponting (7) 944
1928/29 WR Hammond (5) 905
2012/13 MJ Clarke (6) 892
1952/53 RN Harvey (5) 834
2015/16 DA Warner (6) 818
1936/37 DG Bradman (5) 810
The off-season Tests in Cairns and Darwin are excluded, but the World XI Test in 2005/06 is included.
In 2003/04, Ponting scored 1034 runs and Hayden 1013 if you include the off-season Tests against Bangladesh.
Homebodies: FS Jackson (20 Tests) and H Ironmonger (14 Tests) played all their Tests at home. For players who eventually played away, the most home Tests from start of career is 13, by several players including WG Grace, DR Doshi and Eoin Morgan. The Most for an Australian is 11 by Merv Hughes.
AJ Traicos played his first and only away Test 23 years after his debut.
After his 1* in the Melbourne ODI, James Faulkner has now hit the winning run nine times in only 35 ODI innings (25.7%). While he is way behind the likes of Dhoni (24 out of 236 innings) in total number of winners, his percentage is higher than anyone in this century who has played more than five innings, and way ahead of any major player.
Dhoni (10.2%) is the leader among players with at least 50 innings.
Data from 1999 onwards only.
The somewhat maligned Mick Lewis, never seen again after the 870-run slogathon in Johannesburg in 2006, appears to be the only player on record to hit the winning run in his only ODI innings (in matches between Test-playing countries). All possibilities before 1999 have been checked.
Winning All Out
While there were fluctuations in the past, the most recent results show a sudden and significant fall-off.
Some questions from Ask Steven:
In the 2nd ODI between NZL and SL, Sri Lanka spinner Jeffry Vandersay conceded 26 runs in his debut over. (3 sixes and 2 fours).
No one has else has conceded 26 or more runs in an over on debut or during the first ODI in which they bowled. Matthew Hayden conceded 18 runs in his only over in ODIs, and I can't find anyone else since then who has conceded more in their first over.
Dean Elgar and Stiaan Van Zyl were the last two South African bowlers when England was bowled out in the 2nd innings of the 1st test and then they opened the innings for Proteas. Is it a unique event in test cricket when both the opening bowlers were the last two bowlers to finish opponents innings?
It's quite rare, when circumstances are exactly as described. At Chittagong in 2009, Imrul Kayes and Tamim Iqbal bowled the last two overs of an innings against Sri Lanka, and then opened the batting immediately afterwards. However they did not bowl the opposition out; there was a declaration. There are one or two similar cases in the last 20 years, where an innings ended in a declaration. There are one or two other occasions where a pair of opening batsmen bowled the last two overs of an innings, but these were last two overs of a drawn match.
At Rawalpindi in 1994, Taylor and Slater bowled the last two overs in Pakistan's second innings and then opened. In this case, Pakistan was bowled out. I can't find any other cases in the last 30 years and 1200 Test matches.
Slater, who took the last wicket in that innings, bowled only 4.1 overs in his whole Test career.
Longest wait to complete an over in a Test: A couple of extreme cases were very recent. Against Bangladesh last year, Dale Steyn waited 4 days to finish an over. However, he never did finish it as the match was washed out. For bowlers who did eventually complete their over, Josh Hazlewood waited three days in the Sydney Test just a couple of weeks ago. Hazlewood's over was interrupted at about 1:40 pm, so he had to wait about 2 hours short of a full three days. Chris Martin also waited until the third day at Johannesburg in 2000, but his over was interrupted at 6:26 pm and restarted at 10:45.
Tony MacGibbon waited 4 days, including a rest day, at Dunedin in 1955, but when play restarted, England declared, so he didn't complete the over.
CA Roach WI v Eng, Georgetown, Guyana 1930
DG Bradman Aus v Ind, Adelaide Oval 1947/48
DCS Compton Eng v Pak, Nottingham (Trent Bridge) 1954
NJ Astle NZ v Eng, Christchurch 2001/02
MS Dhoni Ind v Aus, Chennai (Chepauk) 2012/13
BA Stokes SAf v Eng, Cape Town 2015/16
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