For comments, or to contact Z-score (Charles Davis) email
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Pilot Test Program: The Davis Test Match Database Online.
I am working on a set of Test pages that may in the future lead to a large project. I have created some extended statistics for Test from a selected period (the 1940s) to see how they look. Having almost no skill in these matters, I don’t know how it will come out. Any feedback will be welcome.
The series I have selected for this pilot program is England v South Africa in 1947. If this is developed further, it will be extended first to other series from the 1940s, then further still. The starting page is here. An information page describing the innovation in this database is here.
Anyway, have at it. Modifications will occur, so be patient as it is developed. You will find that the ball-by-ball pages do not work yet. I need to work out how to present the data without using huge amounts of memory.
UPDATE: I have added number of other series from the 1940s. The latest set of pages of the 1948 Ashes series include ball-by-ball files. These have been designed to take up less space than most linear scores. By putting two overs to a line, Test files can be kept well below 10 pages. Maybe it is not the easiest thing to read, but such stuff is for more dedicated fans.
14 May 2013
Recently I have done a compilation of batsmen retiring hurt in Test matches. I found 306 cases up to now, 195 of whom later returned to the crease. This statistic has varied quite a lot over the years, rising to 25 cases per 100 Tests in the 1970s and 80s, but falling again as protective equipment improved, levelling out in the last 20 years at 10-12 cases per 100 Tests. Batting is now, if anything, less dangerous than bowling: the rate of bowlers retiring injured in mid-over is now about the same as for batsmen, and it is more likely that an injured bowler will not bowl again in the innings.
The compilation allows some statistics, although they are limited by the comparative rarity of the incidents. The batsman with the most retired hurts is DB Vengsarkar with six, a tally now threatened by Chris Gayle with five. A more novel aspect is the identification of bowlers who ‘retired’ batsmen. Here is a list of the bowlers most responsible.
Hadlee was not really regarded as a particularly dangerous bowler, but the figures suggest he was worthy of respect in this area as well. Hall’s reputation is confirmed, and the above figures do not include incidents such as Hall cracking Colin McDonald’s ribs in the Tied Test (McDonald continued batting). One bowler, not on the list, had a rate similar to Hall: Colin Croft, who was perhaps the most feared of the 80s Windies pacemen, retired four batsmen in a short 27-Test career.
Note that there are qualifications to this data. Some batsmen retire hurt (or ill) for reasons other than the bowler. I have tried to winnow these out of the data (indeed, ‘pulled muscle’ is a leading cause of retirement) but some may remain. There are maybe a dozen cases where the bowler, if one was responsible, has not been identified, most of these before 1980.
Sachin Tendulkar, incidentally, has never retired hurt in a Test match.
Meanwhile, in the Rest of the World
Speaking of feared fast bowling, I found in an old Australian Cricket magazine an analysis of Dennis Lillee’s 8 for 29 at Perth against “Rest of the World” in 1971/72. Now, this wasn’t a Test match, but it was certainly the next best thing, and the list of victims include some very big names: Gavaskar, Greig, Sobers, Lloyd (if this was not like “real Test cricket”, as some said, then the same surely applies to many actual Test matches, then and now). Anyway, Lillee’s analysis is intriguing in that it includes sequences of wickets that are unmatched in Test cricket. This includes five wickets for no runs in nine balls, and six wickets for no runs in 15. It is said that when Sobers came out to bat, he had never seen slips (five slips and two leg slips) and keeper standing so deep, and asked why. “You’ll find out” answered Rod Marsh, who caught Sobers two balls later off a particularly fierce length ball.
The full analysis is worth recording (I presume for the first time online). Lillee bowled 7.1 eight-ball overs
0 0 0 W 0 0 0 2 (Gavaskar c Marsh wk)
4 2 0 4 W 0 4 0 (Engineer c & b)
0 4 0 0 0 1 0 4
0 4 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 W 0 W 0 W 0 (Greig c Stackpole 3rd slip, Sobers c Marsh wk, Hutton c McKenzie leg slip)
W 0 W 0 0 0 0 0 (Intikhab c Sheahan cover, Cunis c Stackpole 3rd slip)
W (Lloyd c Marsh wk)
Here are some snippets recently gathered. Some of these were published on the Ask Steven Facebook page…
Tests won in the last possible over are very few. I count only four (plus two Tied Tests) and that includes the Cronje Test and one won by the bowling side (Port-of-Spain 1935). Port-of-Spain 1968 finished at 5:27 and almost certainly had time for one more over.
Of the few, England hit 8 runs in the last over to win at Durban in 1948/49, an eight ball over. Only three came off the last six balls. At Kingston 1983, WI needed five off the last over and hit 1+6 off the first two balls.
Precursor: Nathan Astle is famous for doing an ‘Alletson’ in a Test match, when he scored 222 off 168 balls at Christchurch in 2002. Here is an earlier Astle special: at Bridgetown in 1996, Astle outscored JTC Vaughan 102 to 24 in a fifth wicket stand of 144. Astle hit 17 fours and 2 sixes during the partnership, while Vaughan hit no boundaries at all.
Alan Border once had a sequence of 51 innings (Sydney 1989 to Colombo 1992) where he did not hit a century, yet averaged 50.8. Border is certainly the only batsman to average over 50 for 50 innings in a row without hitting a century.
At Hamilton in 2010, Martin Guptill became the only Test batsman to hit a Test half century that included sixes but no fours.
Colin Cowdrey played 246 dot balls from Sonny Ramadhin in his 154 at
Edgbaston 1957. Bob Simpson played 203 from TW Cartwright when he made 311 in
There are about 107 instances of a batsman reaching a Test century during a 10th wicket partnership. Among the century-makers the lowest scores at the fall of the ninth wicket were
13 : P Willey(100*) Eng v WI, The Oval 1980
16 : NJ Astle(102*) NZ v Eng, Auckland 1996/97
27 : JM Taylor(108) Aus v Eng, Sydney (SCG) 1924/25
27 : MEK Hussey(122) Aus v SAf, Melbourne (MCG) 2005/06
29 : RA Duff(104) Aus v Eng, Melbourne (MCG) 1901/02
31 : BF Hastings(110) NZ v Pak, Auckland 1972/73
32 : Harbhajan Singh(111*) Ind v NZ, Hyderabad (Uppal) 2010/11
I wonder how often a disparity like this happens. At Karachi in 1997/98, Mushtaq Ahmed and Saqlain Mushtaq were bowling in tandem to Carl Hooper and Brian Lara. They bowled seven overs each; Mushtaq took 0 for 67, while Saqlain at the other end took 1 for 5, finishing with the wicket of Lara. Hooper made 50 runs in these overs, and 47 of them came off Mushtaq; Hooper went on to a century off 80 balls. Mushtaq was spelled, but the run flow continued off Azhar Mahmood for a couple of overs. Between them, Mushtaq and Azhar conceded 87 runs at the Pavilion end, while Saqlain was conceding seven runs at the University Road end.
When Mahela Jayawardene made 99 against West Indies at Galle in 2001/02, not only was he run out going for his 100th run, but earlier in the innings he appears to have been docked a run for ‘one short’. He was batting with Kumar Sangakkara at the time, but it is not recorded which of the batsman was called for the short run. Sri Lanka made 590 in that innings, including a partnership of 154 for the sixth wicket between Tillakeratne and Samaraweera that included only two boundaries, and a spell of 215 balls without a boundary. Maybe the “Super Bats” hadn’t made it to Sri Lanka at that time.
Strangely enough, on the same day, DA Marillier made 38 runs in a row entirely in singles, during his 52 against Bangladesh at Chittagong.
9 April 2013
The Man Who Faced 115 Balls for 0
Looking around for long spells of Test batsmen failing to score, I came across Tony Lock, who in the West Indies in 1954, faced 115 balls in a row without scoring, spread across three Tests. At Kingston, Lock’s last 18 balls were scoreless; at Bridgetown, he scored 0 off 45 and 0 off 22; at Georgetown, he finally broke this ultimate of ducks when he hit Alf Valentine for two off his 32nd ball.
I have made a list of known cases of extreme scorelessness including those spread over multiple innings
Price is an intriguing case. After starting his career with a solid 32 in India, he scored only two runs in his next ten Tests, including none at all in South Africa in 1964/65. He wasn’t completely without opportunity, as the number of balls faced shows, but his 5* at Lord’s in 1971 represented his first Test runs since 1964.
I have posted an article on run outs in Test matches, as published in the Cricket Statistician in 2012. Find it here.
GM Turner (101) spent 36 balls on 99,
I can find only two cases of a bowler taking wickets with consecutive balls but against different countries. Geoff Miller (v Pakistan, Australia 1982), and Monty Panesar (Australia, West Indies 2007). Neither got three in three.
Brian Lara scored 30 runs in the first four overs of the West Indies first innings at Headingley in 1995, even though he batted at #3.
Four New Balls in one innings: There are a handful of recorded cases from days when new ball intervals were shorter, although data is incomplete. It happened twice in one match at Leeds in 1951. More recent was Port-of-Spain 1954, not West Indies 681 but England's reply of 537. Those Tests in the WI back then were 6 days, but only 5 hours per day. Note that the new ball rules have varied a lot over the years.
In a three-Test series in India in 1992/93, Graham Hick had most runs, best batting average, most wickets, best bowling average, highest score, best match bowling, and most catches for England. This was not necessarily a good sign; England was thrashed.
There are 12 cases of same player having most match runs and most match wickets for a team in a Test, some of them washed out draws, but none where that applies to all four innings. At Johannesburg 1957/58, Richie Benaud top scored in 1st innings and had best bowling in both innings, but Australia needed only one run to win in the second innings. At Christchurch 1977/78, Botham 'top scored' in both innings (second was incomplete), and had best match bowling, but Bob Willis took more wickets in the second innings.
11 March 2013
End of Days Myth?
Michael Clarke at Hyderabad became the first Test captain to declare an innings closed, and then lose by an innings. That much was noted widely, but I thought I would look into the reason for the declaration, which was to give India a ‘difficult’ short session of batting at the end of the first day. Do batsmen really struggle in that situation, or is it another cricketing myth?
I took 95 cases of teams batting six overs or less at the end of a day of more than 80 overs, on days 1, 2 and 3, since 1998. I compared them to the results for all teams in innings 2 or 3 (over 1300 innings). I subdivided the results into teams batting 1 to 2 over, 2 to 3 overs, 3 to 4 etc. The table compares the average number of wickets falling under the two scenarios: end of day start versus normal start.
Average number of wickets falling in early overs.
There is a slightly elevated chance of getting a wicket if you leave a team four overs or less to bat at the end of the day. However, this advantage is reversed for teams given five or six overs. Overall, the effect is weak, and the fluctuations are probably due to chance and the somewhat restricted sample size. Overall, it is very hard to see any significant advantage to putting a team in to bat for the last few overs of the day.
Still, the perception of advantage must be strong: it is still tried regularly. It could be because of the natural insecurities of batsmen. They feel that they have a lot to lose and little to gain when asked to bat for just a few overs; in reality, they generally cope well.
A Very Short History of Matting Wickets in Tests
All Tests in Australia and England have been on turf. I have notes on 59 Tests elsewhere that were on matting, mostly in Pakistan and South Africa. All Tests in South Africa before 1930 were on matting, the last being Johannesburg 1931 (thanks to Robin Isherwood for the intel). The situation in the West Indies is less clear. The only pre-War Tests in the Caribbean known to be on matting were at Port-of-Spain, but there may have been others. Bridgetown and Kingston 1934/35 appear to have been on turf. The last Test on matting in West Indies was Port-of-Spain 1954.
Only two matting Tests are known in India, Lucknow 1952/53 and Kanpur 1958/59. The odd thing about the latter is that an earlier Test in Kanpur was on turf. It appears that all Tests in Pakistan before 1960, except at Lahore and Peshawar, were on matting wickets. The last matting Test ever played was Pakistan against Australia at Karachi in 1959.
You might be surprised at how at much work is required to produce prosaic research like this.
Some more comments that I placed on the Ask Steven Facebook page follow.
Taking of new ball has varied quite a bit in the past, and was as early as 55 overs in the 1940s. The lowest score for a second new ball that I know of is 80/3 for West Indies bowling against England at Bridgetown in 1954. It was taken in the 73rd over, so England were scoring at barely one run per over. The lowest known score for a new ball after 80 overs or more is 103/6 in the 81st over, England bowling against New Zealand at Leeds in 1958.
At Joburg in 1938, Hedley Verity conceded his first boundary with his 478th ball of the match. He was then taken off, much too expensive I suppose.
Spanning multiple matches, Alan Davidson bowled 522 balls in a row without being hit for four, in South Africa in 1957/58. The sequence spanned three matches.
Only one Test batsman has ever scored a half-century without having batted in the first innings. Richard Hutton, son of Sir Len, made 58* in the second innings for England v Pakistan at Lord’s 1971. The match was largely a washout: England had declared the first innings at 241/2 to try to precipitate a result, but there was no real chance. Hutton was given a chance to play his first Test innings on the final afternoon. [I have excluded the ‘Cronje’ Test in 2000 from this analysis.]
UPDATE: Days after I wrote this, after Hutton’s record had stood for more than 40 years, Kithuruwan Vithanage of Sri Lanka scored 59 against Bangladesh without having batted in the first innings.
A question arose about bowler’s switching arms and bowling with opposite to normal hand. Gerald Brodribb's Next Man In it provides six or seven instances of bowlers doing that in fc cricket, but is not specific about Tests: CEM Wilson, J Harry, RG Marlar, Hanif Mohammad (1954 & 1967 tours of England), H Jarman, J Whitehouse, V Marks and 'occasionally' Peter Bowler, and GA Gooch. It turns out that the right-handed Hanif tried this at an important juncture in Test history. Here is an eyewitness account from the Barbados Advocate from 2 Mar 1958:
"Hanif appeared at the northern end as a relief bowler. Walcott singled off his second ball and Sobers now faced Hanif, who changed to round the wicket and bowled left hand slows. Sobers pushed him to long off for a single to tie Hutton's 364 and Walcott hit the next ball for a mighty six..."
"Facing Fazal next over his first was a wide, the next ball rapped Sobers on the pads and Fazal roared a leg before appeal to umpire Ewart who turned it down. Fazal blared [sic] at the umpire and delivered the next ball without his run. Sobers pushed to cover for a single and bedlam broke loose..."
A Pakistan contact, Shahzad, tells me that Hanif’s one Test wicket was bowling conventionally. (Source: Hanif himself). The only other note I have of a Test bowler switching arms is Graham Gooch in his last over of the drawn Test at Calcutta in 1981/82.
Bradman, of course, gathered his 6996 runs in only 80 innings. To find an innings sequence with more than 6996 runs, you have to go to Ricky Ponting, 7026 in 116 innings, finishing with 123 in Test #1887, which was his 200th innings.
13 February 2013
Some of these remarks are ones I made on the ‘Ask Steven’ Facebook page.
Most One-on-One Dismissals in First-Class Cricket
The answers are a bit strange. Against Bradman, no one did better than Grimmett, with 10 dismissals, which is a little odd considering they played for the same teams far more often than they were opposed. In all FC cricket, the answers go WAY back. This is because in the days before county Championship, there were fewer players and teams, but they played one another very often. William Hillyer dismissed James Dean 59 times, and Alfred Mynn had similar success against Thomas Box. Most of this happened in the 1840s. Hillyer dismissed Box 56 times. The most I can find in modern cricket (all forms) is 29 by Marshall against Gooch.
If my calculations are correct (not guaranteed), Hillyer played against Box 140 times and against Dean exactly the same number. Mynn played 129 against Box, and 99 against Dean. These are remarkable numbers considering that none of them played more than 300 fc matches. I should add that the Hillyer/Box 140 and other totals would include matches where they played on the same side.
Personally, I am dubious about many matches of this era that have been granted fc status, but that is another issue.
The Slowest Sessions: A More Complete List
I have revised some earlier work on the lowest-scoring sessions (12 Dec 2011), to take account of the fact that there are generally a lot fewer overs being bowled in a session than once was the case. I have also discovered new candidates for the slowest two-hour session. On the final day of a Test in Colombo in 1983, New Zealand ‘advanced’ from 50/3 to 76/3 in the post-lunch session, producing just 21 runs off the bat. This was the innings where Martin Crowe, suffering from a fractured thumb and food poisoning, took two hours to reach five and 156 balls to get to double figures. Crowe hit just four runs off 90 balls in the session in question, the fewest known for any individual (and even that included a single off the first ball of the session). This is one fewer that Arshad Khan scored in a session at the same ground in 2000; Khan was supporting Wasim Akram, who scored 63 at the other end.
The fewest runs table has been divided into two: the first lists sessions of thirty overs or more, the nominal minimum nowadays. The second shows complete sessions that saw only 24-30 overs. Once again, it is a New Zealand team in Sri Lanka currently in the ‘yellow jersey’ (Morutawa 1992). In this session Lankan spinner Warnaweera returned figures of 13-11-5-0, one of the runs being a no ball. New Zealand was happy to draw the match, which was their first after their hotel in Colombo had been hit by a big terrorist bomb. I hadn’t realised before that they had not called off that tour.
Fewest Runs in a Full Two-Hour Session (where known)
Minimum 30 six-ball overs. Does not include weather-interrupted sessions, or those with change of innings.
Sessions that fell a few minutes short of two hours have been included, but not 60- and 90-minute sessions, which were commonplace in some countries before 1980. At Brisbane 1958/59, England scored 19 off 168 balls in 90 minutes before lunch on the fourth day. England scored only 27 in 39 overs before lunch on the third day at Bridgetown in 1954, but it was still only a 90 minute session(!).
At Trent Bridge 1934, England scored 26 off 232 balls in the final session of the match before being all out.
Fewest Runs in a Full Two-Hour Session (24-30 overs)
†17-minute injury break
At Edgbaston in 1999, Alex Tudor and Nasser Hussain hit 22 boundaries in a partnership of 98. There were four sundries. I would be very surprised if any partnership of less than 100 would have more boundaries. Tudor hit 21 in his score of 99*, the most boundaries by anyone not making a century, and Hussain 10 fours in 44 is the most known in a score of less than 45. Sobers hit 10 boundaries in 43 at Bridgetown in 1955.
The partnership scoring strokes (leaving out sundries) were 44144444444444414414344444.
Shane Warne saw 750 wickets (including run outs) fall at the other end after he bowled the previous over. Warne took 708 wickets plus 20 run outs during his overs, so it is quite interesting that his bowling partners took more wickets than he did. His main bowling partner was Glenn McGrath. McGrath took 563 wickets (plus 15 run outs while he was bowling), but saw 533 wickets from his bowling partners including run outs. I have 528 for Murali, but Sri Lanka data is incomplete before 1998; he is very unlikely to exceed Warne. The numbers above are not absolutely guaranteed.
Laker took 18 of his wickets at Old Trafford after Lock had bowled the previous over, (interesting in that Laker bowled quite a few overs in tandem with other bowlers as well). For Laker's other wicket, Lock came on to bowl in the next over.
At the end of the SCG Test in 1946, the Australian team had a combined batting average of 80.02 (career runs by the team members, divided by dismissals). Highest for modern teams is 50.75 for India at Colombo in 2010, fractionally ahead of Australia at the SCG in 2008/09, at 50.74.
Most Runs in First-Class Cricket by non-Test Players
16 January 2013
Five Wickets in Seven Balls in Test Cricket
Never been done? Depends how wide you cast the net. No bowler has taken five wickets in fewer than 13 balls in all Tests, as far as I know, but if you look at just Ashes Tests, there is one strange case. Jason Gillespie took five wickets in seven consecutive balls against England. How could such a thing have gone unnoticed? Here’s how…
At Perth in 1998/99, Gillespie took three wickets with the last four balls of his 15th over, and added another (Alan Mullally) with the second ball of his next over, finishing off England’s second innings. Four wickets in six balls is rare enough, and was noticed at the time (William Bates at the MCG way back in 1883 is the only other case I know of in Ashes Tests). However, in spite of his match figures of 7 for 111, Gillespie was bumped to twelfth man for the next Test in Adelaide, and was injured (or perhaps ignored) for the final two Tests of the series. He played eleven Tests against other countries before his next appearance in the Ashes at Edgbaston in 2001. With his first ball of that series, he dismissed Marcus Trescothick. Hence five in seven, albeit spanning more than two years. I wonder if there are other cases involving different pairs of countries. I would be surprised to find anything so extreme.
Earthquake Stops Play
There is a curious little note in the official scorebook for the Wellington Test of 1991/92 (NZ v Eng). In New Zealand’s first innings, listed among the interruptions, is “4 mins/ earthquake”. Unfortunately it does not say exactly when this happened, or even which day. The innings stretched over 3 playing days; the earthquake probably happened on the Saturday while Wright was batting. None of the usual sources mention the event; I checked the New Zealand Herald but no mention (although the Sunday edition was not on the microfilm). A contact in Wellington was also unaware; he went to the match but was not there every day. He did say he remembered the England fast bowler David Lawrence’s career-ending breakdown on the fifth day when his kneecap broke in two; the ‘snap’ was audible all round the ground.
The Basin Reserve is no stranger to earthquakes, and the ground actually owes its existence to one. When Wellington was first settled, the Basin area was a shallow lagoon. There were plans afoot to dredge it into a harbour in 1855 when a huge earthquake raised the land level almost 2 metres and turned the lagoon into a swamp. Once they had dusted themselves off, the resourceful locals changed their plans, drained the swamp, and made a cricket ground. The 1855 earthquake was probably much bigger than the 2011 quake that devastated Christchurch.
The Worst Bowling Average
The recent appearance at the Sydney Test of Sri Lanka’s Nuwan Pradeep (given the confusing name of ANPR Fernando at CricketArchive) raised a question about the worst bowling averages. Pradeep went into the match with a Test batting average of 0.5 and a bowling average of 345.0, surely an unprecedented combination. Pradeep scored 26 runs and took 2 for 114 in the Test, which represents something of a breakthrough, relatively speaking. By conceding 58 runs before his first wicket, Pradeep’s bowling average briefly topped 400, peaking at 403 before he dismissed Mitchell Johnson. Only a few bowlers have ever suffered such an average. Rawl Lewis of West Indies reached 414 in 2008. Indian bowler Rusi Surti had an average of 458 at one stage in 1962, but that was topped by Khaled Mahmud of Bangladesh whose average peaked at 480 in 2003. There is one other bowler whose exact worst average is not determined, the West Indian all-rounder and slow bowler Frank ‘Freddie’ Martin.
Martin went into the Adelaide Test of 1930/31 with a bowling average of 417 and took 3/91, finally breaking his drought with the wicket of Don Bradman, no less. Australia scored 42 runs after Bradman was out for 152, so at an absolute minimum, Martin’s average reached 466. However, of the 42 runs, press reports mention 13 runs specifically hit off other bowlers and eight off Martin (who bowled throughout); the other runs were not reported. This gives Martin a minimum of 479 and a likely range of 485 to 495 runs conceded before he got Bradman. Martin almost certainly is the record-holder.
Martin rather redeemed himself in the final Test of that series by scoring a century (123* off 364 balls) and dismissing Bradman for 43 at a crucial stage of the match. West Indies won the match in probably the biggest Test upset ever.
I came across an unusual and unsung achievement in a Test in 1992. In New Zealand’s first Test in Zimbabwe, Mark Greatbatch scored 88 and 87 in dashing style, facing only 187 balls. He reached 50 off 39 balls in the first innings and off 48 in the second. It is remarkably rare to reach two fifties in a Test at faster than a run per ball. The only other certain cases I know of are Nathan Astle at Bridgetown in 1996 (45 & 45 balls) and Tillekeratne Dilshan at Galle against New Zealand in 2009 (30 and 35). A number of players have come very close, the most notable being Sehwag, also at Galle, with fifties off 50 and 49 balls.
Jack Hobbs may have done it at Durban way back in 1910, but we can only estimate balls faced for that Test. There are no other likely candidates from the old days.
27 December 2012
Wagon Wheel History Lesson
A recent article by Ashley Mallett looked at some of the origins of the now-familiar ‘wagon wheel’ cricket chart and Bill Ferguson’s role in making them well known. However, it overstates Ferguson’s primacy in inventing the wheels. There are a couple of earlier examples.
As Mallett says, the first wagon wheel presented in Fergie’s autobiography dates from 1912. Fergie doesn’t actually say exactly when he first used them. It may have been in 1912, or in 1909, when he was apparently already using linear scoring. Fergie first toured as a scorer in 1905, but I don’t think, based on the style of that scorebook, that he had started using the linear method then. (The 1909 book is the first to list balls faced for batsmen.)
Inventions can be tricky to fully track down. It is commonplace for inventions to be made completely independently by two or more people who are unaware of the other’s work. But the first real wagon wheel I have seen came from the Daily Express in England in 1907 (inventor not named). It was reproduced in Brodribb’s The Croucher, and shows Gilbert Jessop’s hectic 93 off 63 balls at Lord’s. I have posted a scan here (sorry I can’t seem to insert pictures on this blog). This is to all intents and purposes a wagon wheel, although it does not show the exact distance that each shot travelled.
A few months later something similar appeared in the Melbourne Argus. There were a couple of these charts, the first featuring an innings of 48 by Monty Noble at the MCG in 1907/08. These did not show every stroke but they did show how many runs were made in each direction. Most noteworthy is the fact that the creator has combined the two ends into one, so that the array of strokes is less visually confusing. This was a feature that Fergie did not use, and I believe it only came into use again in the Channel Nine TV era, with the assistance of computers.
Like the Jessop wheel, the creator the 1908 charts is not named. I have only seen them reported in this one Test match (what a shame it did not catch on!). Whoever made them, and the text that accompanied them, must have been using advanced scoring of some type. Was it Fergie himelf? Probably not: he lived in Sydney, and that Test is not listed among the ones that he covered.
Situation Vacant: Great Batsman Needed for Prime Batting Position
Batting at number three was traditionally regarded as the place for the best batsman in the team. That was some time ago. It is now 30 innings since the last century by a #3 batsman for Australia, and there has been only one century in the last 50 innings.
Australian Runs by Batting Positions from Aug 2010 to 20 Dec 2012
In the 1990s Australia’s #3 batsmen averaged 40.1.
Here's some stuff, written for someone else, on #3 for Australia…
· Ricky Ponting scored 9912 runs at 56 at Number 3 for Australia, almost 20% of all the runs scored for Australia from that position.
· Historically, Australian #3s average 45.2, but the last 50 innings by our #3s have averaged only 25 with only one century (by Sean Marsh)
· Rod Quiney was only the fourth Australian to bag a pair of ducks batting #3; the list includes Dean Jones in 1988.
· Australians who prospered at #3 include Bradman (avge 103.6), Ponting, Ian Chappell, and Charlie Macartney. Their averages were higher at #3 than elsewhere in the order. Greg Chappell, Greg Blewitt and Kim Hughes did not do so well.
· Ian Chappell scored 80% of his career runs at #3. He averaged 50 at #3 and only 25 elsewhere in the order.
· Sean Marsh is the only player of significance to score all his runs for Australia batting at #3.
Good trivia question: Who is the only batsman to score a Test double-century the only time he batted at #3?
A: Jason Gillespie.
Interesting facts: in 317 Test innings, Sachin Tendulkar has never batted at #3. Not even once. Only 92 of his 18,426 ODI runs, or 0.5%, have come from the #3 position.
At the Ground Stats: Boxing Day
Enjoyed absolute prime seats at the Melbourne Test yesterday, courtesy of tickets kindly provided by Ken Piesse. It was good to see over 67,000 people there, which I daresay was the biggest Test crowd that Sri Lanka have ever played to (there were 72,000 for an ODI World Series Final in 1995/96 at the MCG, and the 1996 World Cup semi-final at Eden Gardens was much bigger again). One strange change from the old days is the number of people on the ground at any one time: in addition to the players and umpires, I counted 52 people – all men, I think – hanging around, in various roles, between the rope and the boundary fence.
I don’t know if I have noted this down before, but during various days of cricket I have estimated the effect of the boundary rope on scoring, threes being turned into fours etc. One has to be at the ground to do this. I have come up with an increase of 3-5 per cent of runs scored. Ricky Ponting made his debut 96 in the last year before boundary ropes were widely used in Australia – he may well have got his century on debut if he had made that debut in the following year.
A couple of years ago, during duller moments, I tried to estimate the number of advertisements that were visible from my seat at the MCG. I stopped counting at one thousand.
7 December 2012
I came across an extraordinary run of wickets in the Faisalabad Test of 1990/91, Pakistan v West Indies. It was a low-scoring series in general, but Pakistan’s second innings really stood out, with the last six wickets falling in 25 deliveries. Make that 7 wickets in 26 deliveries, as Haynes was out from the first ball when West Indies batted again. The Pakistan innings included a very unusual ‘team hat-trick’. In consecutive deliveries, Imran was out to Marshall, Wasim Akram was run out, and Javed Miandad was out to Ambrose.
I set out to find cases of three wickets in three balls that did not involve a hat-trick. (Many hat-tricks are carried out across two or even three overs, and so do not represent three in three balls, but the majority are within the same over.) There seem to be remarkably few of these team hat-tricks.
There is one case of four wickets in four balls at Headingley in 1957, including a Peter Loader hat-trick, which appears to be unique. The cases of three in three found so far are…
Three wickets in three balls, but no hat-trick
It is strange that none can be found in 600 Tests since 1998. Stranger still is finding cases in two consecutive Tests in 1961/62. One bowler, GB Lawrence, was involved in both, and GA Bartlett was the second man out on both occasions.
There was another massive collapse in that 1990/91 series, when Wasim Akram took those four wickets in five balls at Lahore (see previous entry). The scorebook also records that the single that interrupted Wasim’s sequence, scored by Bishop, was a dropped catch (Wisden says it was out of reach). Wasim’s final wicket ended the innings, and when Pakistan batted again, Aamer Malik was out second ball (not first ball), making it five wickets in 7 balls.
Wasim Akram and Chris Old are the only bowlers to bowl to five different batsmen in the same over.
That Rare Adelaide Epic
Much could be said about South Africa’s defensive epic in the Adelaide Test where they played out five sessions to draw the Test. Personally I found it more interesting, even exciting, than a century off 50 balls, which are a dime a dozen in T20 cricket nowadays. AB de Villers scored 33 off 220 balls, rivalling the extremes of Bailey and McGlew in the 1950s, but then scored 169 off 184 in the next Test. I wonder if a batsman has hit such contrasting innings in consecutive matches. The experience of Nathan Lyon is emblematic of the struggles for spinners nowadays. His 50 overs for 49 runs at Adelaide showed that it was possible to match the economy of the spinners of the 50s and 60s, but in the Perth second innings, Lyon conceded almost six runs per over, and de Villiers went from 88 to 101 in three balls with reverse sweeps off the same bowler. It was the sort of problem that earlier generations of spinners never had to face.
One indication of the where the Adelaide epic ranks is in this table of the longest partnerships that produced fewer than 100 runs…
Longest Partnerships < 100 Runs
The Sardesai/Manjrekar stand of almost 100 overs remains on top. It came during India’s unique innings of 187 off 185.3 overs. It was described on my blog on 17 June 2008 and elsewhere. When it was finally broken, Lance Gibbs took eight wickets for six runs.
Shahzad informs me that South Africa reached 200 off 187 balls on the way to 569 in the Perth Test. This is the fastest known first 200 for any Test innings, and beats a long-standing record set by the West Indies on the same ground in 1975/76. The relevant section of the “Unusual Records” have been updated.
Following an idea on the Ask Steven blog, I thought it would be fun to present the second innings scorecard from the Perth Test as it would appear if scores followed the Australian penchant for diminutive forms of first names.
12 November 2012
Here’s an example of the troubles with some Test match scores. The 1000th Test match, played between Pakistan and New Zealand at Hyderabad in 1984, is represented by two archived scores, one in New Zealand, the other in Pakistan. (Having two surviving scores is in itself a bit unusual.) Problems arose when I tried to re-score the New Zealand version; it just did not seem to fit together. Shahzad Khan came to the rescue by supplying the Pakistan score: this was a full linear score which was completely consistent internally.
Comparing the two scores was illuminating. In the first innings of the match, there were 12 overs that varied between the two scores. Five of these were substantive variations, in that the number of runs or the scoring strokes within the over varied between the two versions; the other variations involved placement of dot balls. More importantly, in addition to the 12 variations, ten overs by Azeem Hafeez are absent from the New Zealand score altogether.
It is clear that the New Zealand score is not an original as recorded by scorers watching the match. It is surely a re-copy, and inaccuracies and omissions have crept in.
One feature of this is that there are large anomalies in the balls faced recorded by the batsmen. According to the NZ score, John Reid (106) faced 325 balls, a figure that made its way to the ‘official’ record, presumably via the New Zealand Cricket Almanac. The Pakistan score gives Reid 272 balls, a striking difference. Most of the balls faced figures in the NZ score are questionable…
Balls faced differences: Hyderabad 1984, NZ 1st innings
* absent from NZ score, found in NZ Cricket Almanac.
Note that the NZ version adds up to 674 balls, whereas there were only 652 balls in the innings (including no balls). The balls faced figures for JJ Crowe, Gray, and Stirling are not given in the NZ score, but they turn up in the NZCA, and curiously these are the only figures therein that are correct.
Most of the runs totals, however, are correct. The exception is Boock, who appears to have scored 13 runs, not 12. Iqbal Qasim conceded 81 not 80. Reid’s strokes add up to 107 in the NZ score, but the 106 appears to be the correct figure.
This is more evidence that balls faced figures prior to the computer scoring era contain uncertainties, sometimes significant uncertainties. There are other problems with the scores for this series (at least for the last two Tests), but the above examples are the most striking.
Here is a complete, if short, list of the bowlers who have taken four wickets in an over in Test matches. The cases of four from five balls are in the record book, but I have not seen a list in this form. Strange that five of the six cases are by English bowlers.
Four Wickets in an Over
This year there have been three examples of batsmen dominating for an extraordinary length of time. Australia did it at the ’Gabba, and against the South Africans of all people. On the third day, the only wicket to fall was Ed Cowan for 136, and that only came about through an accidental run out. South Africa bowled through a seven-hour day without the bowlers taking a wicket, something that has never happened on such an extended day before (I think). Ultimately the South Africans toiled for over nine hours, and 487 runs, without a bowling success. Here is a list of the most consecutive runs scored without any bowler taking a wicket.
Most Runs Without a Wicket Falling to Bowlers
The Gabba Test was just the 9th occasion where double-century partnerships were registered for consecutive wickets. The strangest thing is that seven of those nine have occurred in the last five years.
17 October 2012
A batting Record for Murali?
Just for fun I searched the Test database for innings where batsmen hit their first ball for six. I’m sure this is commonplace in T20, but a fairly rare event in Tests, especially before superbats came to the fore in about 2001. The list follows
Innings where a batsman hit his first ball for six (where known)
The list is drawn mostly from the database rather than other research. Overall, this probably represents about three-quarters of all cases, perhaps more. The database covers only 70% of Tests before 1998, with particular gaps in the 1990s, so there may be some more to find (I do have 190 Tests from the 1990s complete, but there were no cases, apart from Chris Cairns, a few days before the turn of the century). The search looked for sixes; it is possible (just barely) that one or more of the above cases involved overthrows rather than boundary hits*. Only one case was found of a batsman hitting a five off his first ball (Ray Lindwall), although there is also George Ulyett, who earned only five for his over-the-boundary hit in 1881/82.
Remarkably, Ulyett remains (probably) the only player to do it in Australia (the 1990s data is complete for Australia). There are only two Australians on the list, so Mutiah Muralitharan’s record of three appearances is quite remarkable. Only one of the above cases involved the first ball of a team innings: Graeme Smith. [UPDATE: Reader Benedict informs me of a second example: Aravinda de Silva at Colombo SSC in 1985/86. Sreeram pointed out the Gus Logie case.]
*Postscript: I was surprised to read in an Ask Steven Facebook entry that Neil Harvey hit only one six in his Test career of over 6000 runs. I checked the database and found two, but one of those turned out to include overthrows, so the single six figure is correct.
UPDATE: Chris Gayle’s latest has been added to the list.
Sri Lanka’s role in the Decline of Over Rates
Currently surveying the Tests of the 1980s, I was struck by the time taken to get through overs in many matches. Not all teams indulged in bowling crawls, but until minimum overs were mandated for all Tests in about 1987, there were some occasions when over rates dropped to extraordinarily low levels. It is probably not well known that the ‘leading’ team in this regard was Sri Lanka. In their very first Tests from 1981, Sri Lanka bowled at a reasonable rate, 85-90 balls per hour, but in the mid-1980s, their bowling rate plummeted whenever the situation turned defensive (which was quite often), to rates not seen in Test cricket before. This was commented upon in reports from the time, although the captain always denied a deliberate policy.
The tactic, if that is what it was, reached its ultimate expression at Kandy in 1985/86 when India scored 325/6 declared in the second innings. It took 474 minutes for Sri Lanka to bowl 84 overs (504 balls); the rate of 63.8 balls per hour remains the slowest for any Test innings of this size. One report says that Sri Lanka bowled only 8.5 overs in the last hour, which may be an all-time low. (UPDATE: West Indies reportedly bowled only eight overs in an hour when England were chasing a target in the final session of the Trinidad Test of 1990. There were only 57 balls per hour in England’s innings of 120 for 5.)
Some allowance should be made for the Sri Lankan climate, but even so, it must have made for tiresome viewing. Over rates in the mid-80s were slower for Sri Lanka than any other country…
Team Over Rates from 1983/84 to 1986/87
The Sri Lankan bowling was dominated by medium to fast-medium bowling, but there was more bowling by spinners (~30%) than the West Indies (<20%), which of course was dominated by genuine pace bowlers with long run ups. When over minimums were mandated, Sri Lanka’s rate rose immediately, and averaged over 85 balls per hour from 1988 to 1992. This change coincided with the end of the captaincy of LRD Mendis; on the other hand, few Tests were played in Sri Lanka in this period, due to civil unrest, and that may have been a factor.
A New Look at the Longest Innings
It only recently occurred to me that one way to dodge the old problem of lack of balls faced for historic innings is use to number of overs as a measure. Of course, this measure is often incomplete, too, but it turns out that for the very longest innings, quite exact figures can be obtained. The following list of the longest innings, by this measure, can be regarded as complete…
Longest Test innings by number of overs batted
Eight-ball overs converted to six-ball equivalent. Incomplete overs counted as one.
There is come uncertainty over a few figures. I am confident about Hanif’s figure, but it might be plus or minus one or two. Turner’s figure is a bit more uncertain, but not so much that it would change his place in the list. A striking feature is the range of scores represented, Alec Bannerman’s unique 91 ranks above Lara’s 400. Only seven out of the 26 Test triple-centuries make it into this top 20. It shows that the net must be cast wide when looking for records like these.
One can see that some innings rank above others that may have had more balls faced. This is indicative of variations in strike.
26 September 2012
Hot 100 Updated
The latest tables of the fastest and slowest batsmen of Test history have been posted here. There is one change to the setup. The qualification for recent careers has been raised from 1000 runs to 1500 runs. There seemed to be too many second-string recent batsmen (Swann, Sammy, Umar Akmal) muscling in to the top 10 or 20.
It has been noted before that the rankings change only slowly. However, Virender Sehwag has made another impressive gain, to 82.2 runs per 100 balls, and has passed Adam Gilchrist to claim second spot behind Shahid Afridi. Sehwag has risen, incrementally, from fifth spot in 2005.
Sehwag has done this in spite of an indifferent run of form. He has not scored a century in his last 30 innings, nor has he reached 70 in his last 26 outings. Yet he has scored at over 83 runs/100b in those 30 innings, faster than his whole career speed. Perhaps it is time to dial it back a little.
There is a notable collection of current England middle/lower order batsmen in the top 20: Prior (12), Broad (13) and Pietersen (16) are there, and Graeme Swann (not yet qualified, as mentioned earlier), has hit his 1078 runs at 79.7 runs/100 balls. The fact that all of these have scored faster than, say, Ian Botham, suggests that fast scoring is easier than ever.
The Disappearing Threes
Here is another item I wrote for Australia: Story of a Cricket Country last year. It did not actually appear in this form in the book, but people might find it interesting as is. In spite of the title, it is mainly about Bob Cowper’s strangely unique triple-century at the MCG in 1966, and other big innings.
7 September 2012
A Brief History of the New Ball
The use of new balls in Test matches has a somewhat confusing history. In response to a question from Sreeram, here is an attempt to gather a few facts.
The very early Tests seem to have used a single ball for each innings regardless of length. Brodribb in Next Man In (1952) records that in Australia the idea of taking a new ball when 200 runs had been scored was introduced in 1901. England followed in 1907. The 200-run trigger appears to have been kept in use until 1945.
It wasn’t entirely satisfactory. Sometimes teams reduced scoring before 200 runs were up, to avoid a new ball. In 1946, the MCC introduced an over limit. Strangely, they settled on 55 overs, an extremely low number that favoured pace bowlers. In Australia, the 200-run limit remained in place in 1946/47, but was switched to 42 (eight-ball) overs in 1947/48. This was of no help to the touring Indian side facing Lindwall and Miller.
In 1949 some common sense returned and the trigger was lifted to 65 six-ball overs or 50 eight-ball overs for the next few years. By 1954/55 this had been abandoned in Australia and the 200-run trigger returned. All the recorded new balls of the 1954 and 1955 series in England were taken over 200 runs, but an over limit seems to have been reintroduced soon after; 75 in combination with 200 runs, whichever came first. By 1962 new balls in England were being taken at 200 runs or 85 overs. There is also some confusion about this period in other countries. In the West Indies, 75 overs seems to have been used when the MCC toured in 1960, but 200 runs when India toured in 1962. The known record for use of an old ball is 185 overs at Bridgetown in 1962, but since India scored only 187 runs in that innings, the use of the old ball was probably not a matter of choice. Some other Tests may have used a combination of runs or overs, whichever came first. In the Australian tour of West Indies in 1965, some new balls came at 200 runs and others at 75 overs, but when England toured in 1968 no new balls were taken before 75 overs, even when the score was over 200.
In India, all the new balls I have recorded up to 1965 came after 200 runs. The switch, probably in 1965, was to 75 overs.
In 1965, the runs scored standard in England and Australia fades away and the MCC established a standard in England of 85 overs, or 65 eight-ball overs in Australia. This remained in use for many years in these countries, but again other countries had local variations. New Zealand and South Africa followed the MCC standard, but 75 overs seems to have been the norm in the West Indies and the subcontinent.
Finally in 1995, all countries lined up with the same standard, with the new ball available after 80 overs; this remains in place.
2 September 2012
Cricket’s First Mexican Wave?
I came across an odd little note in Bill Frindall’s linear score of the Headingley Test of 1986 (England v India). In over 14 of India’s second innings, Frindall records a delay caused by “mass sectional crowd waving”. Sounds a bit like a Mexican Wave, I thought, though Frindall would not have known it by that name at the time. I recalled that the Mexican Wave had become internationally known when it became popular at the 1986 football World Cup in Mexico. I checked, and wouldn’t you know, that World Cup had begun just three weeks before the Headingley Test.
The unfamiliar event may have unsettled Mohammad Azharuddin, who was batting, because he was out next ball.
UPDATE: There is a note in the score for the subsequent Lord’s Test reading “Attempted Mexico Wave” (sic).
Kapil’s 99* in a Session
I don’t know if this has been noted before, but there is an odd fact about Kapil Dev’s 100 not out at Port-of-Spain in 1983. Kapil put paid to any chance of a West Indies win when he went to town on the West Indies pace bowlers after tea. In the 16th over of the final 20, Kapil reached his century, and the match was immediately called off as a draw. But the adjournment cost Kapil a rare achievement. After being one not out at tea, he had scored 99 runs in the session, and so the ending of the match had deprived him of that rare century. (The match could have been called off earlier, but Clive Lloyd, in a sporting gesture, allowed Kapil the chance of the 100).
Kapil’s 100 off 95 balls was the fastest ton conceded by the mighty Windies at home at their peak in the 1980s. Sunil Gavaskar did go one better only a few months later, but his 100 off 94 balls was in India.
I don’t know of anyone hitting a century in a session on the fifth day of a Test match before Dwayne Smith did so on debut at Cape Town in 2004. Stan McCabe famously hit 100 before lunch in his 189* in the final innings at Johannesburg in 1935, but that was a four-day Test.
A Keeper’s Unique Double
Don Tallon was known in his time as a prince of wicketkeepers. Less well known was his ability as a legspinner, which on occasion could net him bags of wickets in minor matches. Tallon’s first match after returning from the 1948 Invincible tour was a country match in his native Bundaberg (Queensland). Playing against a Queensland Country XI in October 1948, Tallon left the gloves in the dressing room and spun the opposition out by taking all ten wickets for 30 runs, following this up with a score of 106 not out.
The double of all ten plus a century has been done by others (I think including WG in a first-class match) but I doubt if any other wicketkeeper has done it. I came across this report, believe it or not, in an Indian newspaper, but it is confirmed by report also in the Brisbane Courier Mail.
On the subject of unusual doubles, reader Pradhip asked if Lindsay Hassett’s scores of 122 and 122 for Vic v NSW in 1949/50 is the highest score made twice by a batsman in a first-class match. I did find scores of 146 and 146 not out by John Langridge in a county match in 1949. Looking for batsmen who were twice out, there is N Bredenkamp who scored 125 and 125 in a relatively minor but “first-class” match in 2007. CD Cumming scored 127 not out and 127 for Otago v Canterbury in 2011. Mark Waugh scored 121 not out and 121 for Essex v Derbyshire in 1995.
An incredible coincidence occurred in 1972 when Glenn Turner was out for 259 twice in consecutive first-class innings on the Bourda ground, in the space of a week. Of course, that was in two different matches.
22 August 2012
First Helmet Penalties
In the Kingston Test of 1984, a footnote in the score records that five penalty runs were scored while Courtney Walsh was bowling, because the ball hit a helmet on the field. I wondered when this was first recorded. Finding other early cases is complicated by the fact that it was recorded as five byes rather than penalty runs. It happened again in Australia the following season, again involving New Zealand. But it had also happened at Lord’s in 1980, with David Gower batting.
A Wicket First and Last
A list of bowlers who took the winning wicket in a Test match with the last ball they bowled was sent to me by reader ashru, from Dr A Siddiqui. I noticed that it included Nathan Lyon, who finished off Australia’s last Test in the West Indies, at Dominica. That may make Lyon the only bowler (currently) to take wickets with both his first ball in Test cricket and his last (see 2 September 2011). Of course, this is very probably a temporary situation; Lyon will almost certainly continue to bowl in Test cricket.
Warne and McGrath: Off Days
A recent article at Cricinfo spoke of the batsmen who had hit the most runs in a single innings off some major bowlers. The dates were restricted to post-2001, so data for Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath were incomplete. For the record, the most runs hit by one batsman off Shane Warne is 90 by Ravi Shastri (206) at Brisbane in 1991/92, Warne’s debut (1 for 150). The most hit off McGrath in one innings is 58 by Nasser Hussain (207) at Edgbaston in 1997. McGrath took 2 for 107. The most off Murali, in the article, was given as 111 by Younis Khan. This is probably the most for Murali in all Tests, although I don’t have complete data in this case.
8 August 2012 (Updated)
Final Ball a Winner
After some correspondence with reader Ashru, I made this interesting list of batsmen hitting the winning run in their last Test. Or to put it another way, they hit the winning run with their last ball in Test cricket. I haven’t included recent Tests involving players who may yet play again. I have noted before that both Moss and Siddiqui were playing in their only Tests. Of course, there were others who were present for the winning stroke (including Justin Langer) but whose partners delivered the coup de grace.
Up to 2008 only.
Wickets with the First Ball and Last Ball of an Innings
For no particular reason, I made a list of bowlers who took wickets with both the first ball and the last ball of an innings. It turns out to be quite rare. A puzzling aspect is the absence of any cases before 1974. There were almost 40 innings before then where a wicket fell first ball of the innings, but I checked them all, and not one of the bowlers involved later finished the innings off. One factor would be the greater relative role played by spinners in earlier decades, especially when it came to finishing innings off. The other curiosity is that one bowler, Pedro Collins, turns up three times in what is quite a short list, each time against the same country. Guess which country.
All Out innings only
Longest without New Ball, and a Hadlee Golden Spell.
There are a couple of new entries in this record category. India went
without a new ball for 166 overs against England at Kanpur in 1984/85, while
Pakistan appear to have waited 173.2 overs on a
slow-turn wicket at Wellington just a couple weeks previously. New Zealand
batted right through the first two days in that Wellington Test without
facing a second new ball. These rank third and fourth all-time, if the data
are to be trusted, noting that in the case of the leader (185 overs at Bridgetown
1961/62), the new ball could not be taken under the
rules at the time, due to fewer than 200 runs being scored.
Also in 1984/85, I came across a remarkable bowling spell by Richard Hadlee that has received little recognition. Against Pakistan at Dunedin, Hadlee took five wickets in the space of 16 balls at the close of the first day and the start of the second, conceding five runs. Ignoring the special category of “Bangladesh”, only three bowlers have bagged five in fewer balls. The leader is Monty Noble back in 1902, with a probable 13 balls, (though the exact number is not certain, range 12-15). See the Unusual Records section.
Two of Hadlee’s wickets came with the old ball, then two with the new ball, taken in the last over of the day. The last of the five wickets occurred immediately the following morning, which may explain why the feat was apparently little-noticed (with no mention in Wisden or New Zealand Cricketers Almanack). I missed it in my own research until now, even though the full score has been sitting in my files for about three years. When one has three filing cabinets full of Test match scores, these things can be missed. Another factor would be Hadlee’s unspectacular (though excellent) final figures of 6 for 51. The discovery of such a spell does, of course, open the possibility that other extreme cases remain undiscovered.
Hadlee’s victims included Javed Miandad, Zaheer Abbas, and Salim Malik. Quite a haul; no one above Hadlee in the list of “fast fives” has included so many good batsmen.
Another morsel from the 1984/85 series in New Zealand: in the first Test in Wellington, Geoff Howarth was run out (by Azeem Hafeez) after running a bye and while attempting a second. I haven’t encountered before a definite case where byes or leg byes were scored and a batsman was run out. This is rather curious. There must have been cases where run outs occurred while attempting (leg) byes, but since only about 15% of run outs involve one or more runs being completed, most of them would only have registered as run outs off dot balls.
UPDATE: I found an error in one of the other “fast fives”. Jim Laker, in his 9 for 37 at Old Trafford in 1956, took his 3rd to 7th wickets in the span of 13 balls. I previously had 14 balls, which was the span for Laker’s last five wickets.
16 July 2012
Dropped Catches Report: 2011
I have gone through Cricinfo’s ball-by-ball accounts of Tests from Jan 2011 to end Jan 2012 (40 Tests), and extracted as many cases of dropped catches and missed stumpings as I could. This is something I have done for every year since 2002 (and some Tests in 2001). [A plea to Cricinfo: have your Test recorders flag or catalogue dropped catches in commentary or attached to scorecards; it would be a simple thing to do as they go.] As usual, I have been broad in my interpretations, including extremely difficult and “half” chances, and cases where the fieldsman failed to reach the ball but could have. There is always a possibility that in some cases the judgement is too harsh, but also there are some that may have been missed.
Some 290 chances were logged. The miss rate was 26.3%. This rate has been remarkably constant since I have been carrying out these analyses: the average for 2002 to 2004 was 26.4%, the average for 2009 and 2010 was 26.9%.
Rates do vary between teams. Australia, with a drop rate of 19.6%, has snatched back the #1 spot from South Africa (now 21.2%), with New Zealand sneaking into second at 21.0%. Australia’s rate stems partly from an exceptional series against India, where they dropped only 15% of chances. These are some of the best figures seen in the decade of analysis.
One alarming stat showed up: Bangladesh had a drop rate of 45.6%, the worst they have ever recorded. During the past decade, no team (including Bangladesh) has previously recorded over 40% in a single year. There is a clear gap between Bangladesh and other teams, and it is not getting any narrower. Bangladesh’s misses are all over the field: they miss a much higher proportion of outfield catches than other teams. If Bangladesh had the same drop rate as leading teams, their combined bowling average might drop from about 46 to a competitive 33.
2011 Dropped Catches
Looking at individuals, Taufeeq Umar of Pakistan had a wonderfully lucky year as a batsman, being dropped 13 times, ahead of that hard-hitter Sehwag on 10. In making 135 against West Indies, Tafeeq was dropped five times, equalling the modern record set by Andy Blignaut in 2005. Taufeeq was also dropped four times in making 130 against Bangladesh, as was HDRL Thirimanne in making 68 against Pakistan. [The most extreme cases I know of from earlier times are seven or eight off George Bonnor in making 87 in the 1880s, and six off Bill Ponsford’s 266 at the Oval in 1934.]
Leading bowler by a long shot was Saeed Ajmal of Pakistan, with 22 misses off his bowling. Saeed takes up the mantle of Danish Kaneria, who was ‘unluckiest’ bowler in previous years. Pakistan miss a lot of chances behind the stumps and at short leg when spinners are bowling.
Perhaps the best record among fieldsmen was Martin Guptill of New Zealand, who took seven catches and had no recorded misses, including a unique run of four consecutive catches, “PJ Hughes, c Guptill b Martin”, that cost Phil Hughes his Test place. Among fieldsmen who had ten or more chances, the best rate was 13% (14 catches and two drops) by Jacques Kallis. Kallis was also a major beneficiary of one missed chance; against Sri Lanka at Cape Town he was missed on 2 and went on to make 224, the most expensive miss of the year.
Best keepers were Prior and Haddin with 9% each.
Misbah-ul-Haq missed more chances than he took (8 and 7). Alastair Cook, consigned to that fielding graveyard at short leg, missed 47%, most of them difficult. If you thought Rahul Dravid had a bad year in slips, the stats support it: he also missed 47% (9 misses, 10 catches)
About half of Test centuries during the year were chanceless in the first 100 runs. Alastair Cook’s 294 at Edgbaston appears to have been chanceless, the biggest chanceless innings since a 319 by Virender Sehwag in 2008.
Did Keith Miller Throw his Wicket Away?
Martin Williamson at Cricinfo posted an interesting article about the day Australia scored 721 against Essex in 1948. He mentioned the stories about Keith Miller allegedly throwing his wicket away first ball as protest against Bradman’s scorched-earth tactics, a story later promoted by Miller himself. As no conclusion was reached, I decided to look at contemporary reports to see if there was any mention. Nowadays, it is possible to look up some original newspaper reports online using the Trove database and other sources.
I saw maybe a dozen reports. Nearly all mentioned Miller being bowled first ball by Trevor Bailey, but few described the dismissal in detail. Not one said that Miller deliberately raised his bat to allow the ball to hit his stumps, something that one might expect to attract a remark or two. On the other hand, two of the reports said that Miller was beaten by a yorker. To quote the Adelaide Advertiser: “Miller was dismissed sensationally first ball. He played over a yorker from Bailey and his off stump was flattened.”
I guess that being bowled neck and crop first ball on a day when your team scores 700 could be somewhat embarrassing. Perhaps Miller’s account was a ‘cover’ story.
More from “Story of a Cricket Country”
Here is another item I wrote for Australia: Story of a Cricket Country in 2011, this time about Bruce Yardley, as something of a bookend for the earlier posted article on ALick Bannerman.
1 July 2012
I recently had the privilege of being allowed access to the file archive at Cricket Australia at Jolimont, to search for old Test scorebooks. Rare is the word; I had first enquired about such access more than ten years ago, and in most years since. Once finally there, the people at CA were very helpful, having sorted and retrieved quite a number of boxes from a storage facility.
As it turned out, there was an extensive array of scores to be found, including most Sheffield Shield matches for the last 30 years and most of Australia’s Tests. Unfortunately, there was no material before 1981, the year of the establishment of the Melbourne headquarters, but subsequent material included some Tests that I had not found elsewhere. In the same week, I received a number of Test scores from Queensland Cricket from the 1980s, and 1977. The upshot is that scores or ball-by-ball records for all Tests in Australia since 1970 have now been found and copied, with the exception of Adelaide 1973/74 (v New Zealand). Going further back, gaps arise, and there eight Tests missing from the 1960s (including the Brisbane Tied Test) and fourteen in all missing since 1945.
For Australia’s Tests overseas, the gaps are larger. However, there are now only two overseas Tests since 1980 unrepresented by scores – Lahore 1982 and the Madras Tied Test in 1986 (!). Three others, in the West Indies, have only incomplete or inadequate scores. (The scores received have come from a variety of sources, not just Cricket Australia). The prior record has more significant gaps, including West Indies in 1973, New Zealand in 1974 and India and Pakistan in 1979/80, which are missing in their entirety. (UPDATE: NZ 1974 and Pakistan 1980 have turned up in the Cricket NSW Collection)
It is hoped that once fully sorted, the score collection at CA will be sent for safekeeping at the Melbourne CC library or the MCG Sports Museum, which are both just across the road from CA.
One series found at CA for which no other complete source is known was the 1981/82 Australian tour of New Zealand. The third Test of this series, at Christchurch, included a century before lunch by Greg Chappell, the only such achievement in a two-hour session between 1976 and 2005. Statistically, it was extraordinary, faster than most pre-lunch centuries, and dominating the scoring more than most. I have drawn up a table of pre-lunch centuries, according to the balls faced.
Balls faced by pre-lunch century-makers
@ = extended session.
Chappell was dismissed with 13 minutes remaining in the session. His 100 runs came out of just 132 runs off the bat. He went from 83 to 103 in a single Troup over. Only a few on the above list have so dominated the scoring before lunch. [Note: a century before lunch was not uncommon in England from 1912 to 1939, thanks to very high over rates and frequent use of 150-minute sessions.]
Thanks to Shazad for corrected data on Majid Khan.
Short Articles for “Story of a Cricket Country”
I wrote a few short items for Chris Ryan for Australia: Story of a Cricket Country in 2011, most of which, I’m pleased to say, appeared in the book. I will post these over the next little while. Here is one, The Old Stone Wall, about Alick Bannerman and his statistical uniqueness. This is as I submitted the article, which was edited for the purposes of the book. A highly recommended publication, if I do say so myself.
5 June 2012
Blogging has been weak due to unusual levels of alternative activity. One significant project is a new book. Tentatively titled “Encyclopedia of Australian Cricketers”, my contribution has been basic biographical information and statistics on every player who has played first-class or senior One-Day cricket in Australia. That comes to more than 3,300 players; compiling it has been both challenging and tedious. The hope is to appeal to dedicated fans who like to have such information at their fingertips in one volume. Online sources are invaluable of course, but looking up numerous players that way has its drawbacks and can be time-consuming. To set the new volume apart from those sources I will also offer a couple of stats that aren’t always available online.
The other main feature will be mini-biographies of all Australian international players, written by Ken Piesse, giving the volume a unique flavour. Publication is slated for September by New Holland Publishing.
There has been little activity on the basic research front. Fortunately, Andrew Samson in South Africa has come up with some new material, and has discovered, among other things, a couple of scorebooks for Durban Tests in 1922/23. The re-score of the 3rd Test of that series includes an interesting result, in spite of it being a dull draw. Philip Mead made 181 in a manner so slow that it was the longest innings by Englishman up to that time, at 567 balls. Mead also took 537 balls to reach his 150; this ranks third among the slowest 150s that I know of.
The shortlist is
As is the case with many old scores, there is some uncertainty about some balls faced figures. Both Cowdrey and Mead’s innings have uncertainties due to the fact that byes and leg byes are not marked in the score. The Frank and Hammond cases are adequately marked and so are reasonably solid.
The eight slowest 150s, incidentally, include no double-centuries. The slowest 150 to be converted to 200 was Sid Barnes’ 234 in 1946/47 (150 off 462 balls) which ranks ninth, and second or third among slow 200s (see 26 April 2010).
Re-scoring a 1984 Test recently, I came across an unusual (to put it mildly) match double by Richard Hadlee. Hadlee top-scored with 99 and took eight wickets for 44 in the match, including 5 for 28 in England’s second innings. As such, he scored the only half-century in the match, and made the only five-wicket haul. It turns out that this is unique in Test matches. Plenty of players have scored a 50 and bagged a five in the same match, but no one else has made ALL the 50s and fives in a match. Although it would not make the normal lists of great match doubles, it was one of the most dominating all-round individual performances in Test history.
20 April 2012
Martin’s Super Spells
Chris Martin of New Zealand picked up three wickets in four balls in a Test recently (at Dunedin). This is an exceptional though not especially rare achievement: I count 63 instances in Tests. What was particularly noteworthy about this was the calibre of the batsmen involved: Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers. Their combined batting averages come to 156. I wondered how often such a threesome is dismissed like this. Not very often, of course.
I tallied up all the known cases and found only one where the combined average of the victims was greater. Of course, anyone who nailed Don Bradman in such a sequence would have an advantage, and indeed one bowler did so – Bill Voce at the SCG in 1936/37. Voce also sank Leo O’Brien and Stan McCabe, giving a combined average of 175. There are no other cases quite like it. A fuller list is
Three wickets in four balls: Highest-Calibre Victims
Complete career averages were used in all cases except where careers are ongoing.
A few bowlers have taken 3 in 4 on two occasions, including Martin. Martin actually did it twice in the space of seven overs that he bowled (but in two different series). I haven’t checked but I am sure this must be unique. When on song, Martin is one of the best bowlers in the world. He and Dale Steyn are the only current bowlers who have taken five wickets before lunch on the first day of a Test (see 25 Sep 2010).
A reader, Stephen, pointed out that Australia had never declared its first innings in deficit and gone on to win a Test until Michael Clarke did so in the Barbados Test. Indeed as far as I can tell, Australia has only once before declared when batting second and still behind on first innings, at the WACA against the West Indies in 1988/89, and that was an unusual circumstance when Geoff Lawson suffered a nasty injury and Allan Border decided to end the innings with eight wickets down.
There is only one direct precedent, when England beat the West Indies by four wickets on a very dodgy surface in 1935. Curiously, that was also at Bridgetown. Most cases of teams declaring in deficit are in matches severely afflicted by bad weather, and most end in in draws. One exception is Pakistan’s strange declaration at 4 for 272, chasing 331 against India in 1979/80. This match has been mentioned (by others) in connection to match-fixing. It would certainly be a very early example if so.
Clarke, I am sure, earned Ian Chappell’s approval. It was Chappell who declared Australia’s first innings (batting first) at 5 for 441 at the MCG in 1972/73. Even though Pakistan replied with 574, there was enough time for Australia to pile on more runs in the second innings and win the match.
I mentioned in the last entry that published balls faced figures for some Tests do not tally with the number of balls bowled. Dave Barry has produced a list (of remarkable length) of cases on his blog and discusses some issues there. There are many cases from the 80s and 90s, and for many of these Tests there is only one published source and no available original scorebook. The errors generally originate in these sources and Cricket Archive and Cricinfo simply reproduce them. I have corrected the problems myself for quite a number of Tests, but I have only reached 1983 in my comprehensive survey and the results are not publicly available yet – hopefully one day. Barry has commented on a few of the cases; where I can check, his surmises of the problems are correct.
The problems sometimes lie in the original scorebooks, which was the case for the 1983/84 West Indies Tests. Problematic scores turn up as recently as the late 1990s. I recently studied a couple of scores from Sri Lanka (v Zimbabwe) in January 1998, and they were riddled with anomalies, even though they superficially added up. In some innings the tallies for specific scoring strokes (1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, 6s) differed between the batting and bowling sections of the score, and in others re-scoring produced a muddle of scoring strokes that seemed in the wrong place. One innings I could not re-score at all, even with a generous application of fudging. Oddly enough, a couple of scoresheets from two months later (Pakistan/Sri Lanka March 1998), using the same sheet structure, were in good order and fitted together perfectly. (They were written in a different hand). But problems arise again in Sri Lanka’s Tests against New Zealand in May 1998, which have significant anomalies. Whether these anomalies are a sign of errors in the accepted scores (and player career stats) is an open question; there are no independent sources to check against.
31 March 2012
Philander’s Great Start
Vernon Philander took his 50th Test wicket against New Zealand in his 7th Test, an extremely rare achievement. It was sufficiently rare for the Cricinfo statisticians to write an article about it, although they did not address the most interesting question this raised (this happens quite a lot). However, the question occurred to a reader of this blog (Tom) who asked: which bowler was fastest to 50 wickets in terms of balls bowled?
Tom correctly deduced that Philander has taken out this particular record, and by a considerable margin. I was able to help him out with a few exact figures. Philander took his 50th wicket with his 1240th ball – an incredible strike rate of 24.8. The next best I can find is 1523 balls by Johnny Briggs (helped by those farcical “Tests” of 1888/89, which unfortunately seem to keep coming up in the annals of cricket statistics) and 1652 for George Lohmann. I don’t have an exact figure for CTB Turner; I suspect that “The Terror” was similar to Lohmann.
Next I get Brett Lee (1844) Frank Tyson (1881) followed by Spofforth (1915) Not including no balls.
It is quite remarkable to see a player beating one of those bowling records set back in the 19th Century, when the game was rather different. Those old bowling records often seem to be set in stone.
Late Season Batting Blues
In the last ten Sheffield Shield matches for the season, not one team batting first scored over 300. The highest was 277 by Victoria at the WACA. Five out of ten teams batting second scored over 300.
WINNING RUNS: the list of batsmen who hit the winning run in Tests is now complete, apart from one Test in 1936 (was it Wally Hammond or Charles Barnett?). This finalises the summary list in the Unusual Records section. Ricky Ponting leads with nine followed by Desmond Haynes with seven. Haynes was present at the death on 18 occasions, more than any other batsman, but on most occasions his partner or extras provided the final runs. Extras have finished 31 Tests.
Balls Faced Blues
I recently, belatedly, obtained copies of scores from Australia’s blowtorch-to-the-belly tour of the West Indies in 1984. [I have mentioned earlier that balls faced records for Allan Border’s career are complete except for one Test (Barbados) from that series. Border was recently edged out by Rahul Dravid as the batsmen who had faced most balls in Test cricket, but exactly when that happened is unclear]. At last, I thought, we can find the missing balls faced figures. Alas, the Bridgetown score that came back to Australia is seriously incomplete (and this is an “official” score!). Many balls faced figures are missing – there is nothing to add to the figures posted on Cricket Archive – and there is no detail whatsoever in the bowling sections of the score. The fourth Test score of the series is also incomplete in the bowling section.
There are other problems. Where they can be checked, there are significant issues with balls faced figures in the second Test. This was the match of Border’s epic rescue, scoring 98 not out and 100 not out against the West Indies pace barrage at its peak, including a two-hour last-wicket stand with Terry Alderman that saved the match. A full re-score confirms Border’s runs and the sequence of strokes, yet the balls faced figures as published seem to be quite wrong. Border is given 314 balls for his 98* and 269 for the 100*. The figures I get are 283 and 285 balls, respectively. Viv Richards’ figures for his 76 are also very doubtful: I get 130 balls not 188. There are other discrepancies. Using the revised figures, the balls faced now reconcile with the bowling figures.
Once again, solid evidence that balls faced figures published in the pre-computer age can be questionable. Even if all figures are eventually found, the total balls faced for Border’s career will be quite uncertain.
The Border/Alderman stand, incidentally, lasted for 197 balls. The first hour of the stand was the critical part; later on, Australia’s lead was such that there was no time for the West Indies to win. Play was called off 13 overs into the final 20, when Border reached his century.
A Lock on Scoring
Speaking of late-order pressure partnerships, Sreeram recently asked about the Georgetown Test of 1968, when Tony Lock dominated a critical late-order stand with Pat Pocock. I checked the scorebook. Lock scored 57 while Pocock remained on 0, and 59 including two runs he scored with Snow. There were about eight sundries, not marked in the score.
Lock did an amazing job of farming the strike in the early stages. At one point Pocock faced only 4 balls in ten overs (half an hour) during which Lock scored 39 off 56. Later on the strike was even. Pocock did not score until his 62nd ball.
The partnership lasted 258 balls.
19 March 2012
His Only Ball in First-Class Cricket
Some recent correspondence alerted me to the unusual case of one JEP (Emile) McMaster, who played his only Test and first-class cricket as part of Major Wharton’s tour to South Africa in 1888/89, and was caught off the only ball he faced in the series. Accepting, for the moment, the first-class and (very dubious) Test status of these matches, McMaster is the only Test player to be dismissed by the only ball he faced in first-class cricket.
There are others who have been out to their only ball faced in Tests: EJ Tyler, GE Bond, RL Park (a specialist batsman), WA Hunt, and M Ngam, who played three Tests but only batted once. They may have been trumped by MA Hanley of South Africa, who possibly made a diamond duck (run out without facing a ball) in his only Test innings in 1949. It is not clear from the scorebook whether Hanley faced the one ball bowled while he was at the wicket, since the batsman preceding him (Begbie) was also run out on the preceding ball. The Times says he “ran himself out like a schoolboy”, a hint that he did in fact face the ball.
The Other David Warner
David Warner’s 100 off 140 balls for Australia, batting first at Adelaide, was a puzzling innings. It was the slowest ODI century by an Australian for 20 years, since David Boon made 100 off 147 balls in the days before super bats and shortened boundaries. Boon was batting in 1991/92 at the MCG against the mighty West Indians, and under difficult conditions Australia won the match when West Indies was bowled out for 144. Since then, some Australian players have batted slower than Warner without making a century (Shane Watson once got 85* off 140 balls), but it is usually in a successful chase of relatively low totals.
An Impossible Partnership: Statistical Notes on Atkinson and Depeiza.
Dennis Atkinson and Clairmote Depeiza re-wrote the record book for lower-order partnerships when they added 347 for the seventh wicket at Bridgetown in 1955. The signs were not auspicious. The record seventh-wicket stand for the West Indies stood at just 73. Depeiza was a wicketkeeper whose top score in first-class cricket was 64, and who was playing only his second Test. Atkinson was an all-rounder who was not a fixture in the team; in 13 Tests since 1948 his highest score was 74. He had been dropped for the second Test, but stepped into the captaincy at Bridgetown when Stollmeyer was injured, a not uncontroversial appointment; at the time, pressure was increasing to appoint a black captain.
Unfortunately, an original score of the Test or series does not exist as far as I know; the Australian team may not have even returned with one. The following is from newspapers including Barbados Advocate.
Australia had finally been dismissed for 668 on the third day of the six-day Test. Depeiza (whose name is given as De Peiza in the newspaper, and Depeiaza in Cricket Archive) came to the crease at 147/6* late in the day when Miller dismissed Smith, about four minutes after Atkinson's innings had begun. They added 41 in 29 minutes before stumps day 3, WI 187/6 off 55 overs in 195 minutes, Depeiza 22, Atkinson 19. Lindwall 10-2-40-1, Miller 7-1-43-2. Miller, who had taken two wickets in an over, was immediately taken off by Johnson, a decision resented by Miller and sparking criticism in the press. Lindwall and Benaud were mentioned as bowlers in that 29 minutes; there may have been others.
Lindwall opened the bowling on the fourth day with Miller. Both came under attack from Atkinson, and the new ball was taken at 207. Archer was brought on for Miller at 229, with Atkinson on 53 and Depeiza 31. Lindwall was taken off after bowling six overs for 25 runs. Atkinson reached 50 in 63 minutes, the 50 partnership came in 39 minutes, 100 partnership in 84 minutes, 61 added in first hour of the day. There were 26 overs in the 90-minute session, WI now 282/6, Depeiza 37, Atkinson 95. At one stage there were six consecutive maidens (Hill and Johnson). Depeiza had adopted a fully defensive supporting role; at one stage he added 2 runs while Atkinson added 50.
Miller bowled after lunch and Atkinson hit him for four to reach his first Test century in 130 minutes, 14x4, 1x6. Depeiza suddenly came out of his shell to hit two fours and reach 50 in 138 minutes, 5x4. West Indies 300 had come up in 295 minutes. Miller came off and spinners bowled most of the session, both batsmen scoring easily. Atkinson reached 150 with a four off Hill, in 198 minutes, 19x4, 1x6, 1x5, and was severe on Benaud before tea.
Tea score (120-minute session) was 417/6, Atkinson 185, Depeiza 78.
Another new ball was taken at 427, Lindwall and Miller. Depeiza reached 100 (which would remain his only century in first-class cricket) with a four off Miller, in 261 minutes, 12x4, which also brought up 300 stand. Scoring slowed considerably, a catch was dropped, Lindwall bowling accurately. After some difficulties, a single off Lindwall gave Atkinson 200 in 310 minutes, 26x4, 1x6.
Stumps called at 494/6 off 146 overs, 495 minutes (90-minute session), Atkinson 215 in 333 minutes and Depeiza 122 in 329 minutes. Lindwall 25-3-97-1, Miller 22-2-112-2.
Depeiza was bowled by Benaud off the third ball of the fifth day without addition to the score. He batted 330 minutes, 16x4. Atkinson was next out at 504 for 219 in 351 minutes, 29x4, 1x6.
The number of balls bowled in the partnership is not known, but is quite close to 600.
I once heard Colin McDonald say that he dropped a catch very early in the partnership. There is no mention of this, but there is mention of McDonald juggling and dropping an easy chance off Atkinson on 195, at cover point off Lindwall. Perhaps McDonald misremembered which day it was! It is the only dropped catch mentioned, although a clear run out chance had been missed when Atkinson was on 147.
Atkinson and Depeiza were only the second pair to bat unbeaten through a complete day’s play, after Hobbs and Sutcliffe in 1924. No other partnership for the sixth wicket or later has done it since. Only three such partnerships have faced more than Atkinson and Depeiza’s 91 overs in a day. The record is equivalent to 110 six-ball overs, by Hobbs and Sutcliffe. Mark Taylor and Geoff Marsh faced 102 overs at Trent Bridge in 1989.
Even after all this, West Indies failed to save the follow-on (Australia 668, WI 510), but Johnson did not enforce it. Understandable perhaps.
*Curiously, newspaper reports in both West Indies and Australia give the fall of wicket as 146/6 rather than 147;146 would be consistent with the fact that the batsmen changed ends between the dismissals of Weekes and Smith. By the next day, the fall of wicket had been revised to 147; the best explanation is a no ball that initially had been overlooked.
Here is the scorecard as it stood at the fall of the seventh wicket.
29 February 2012
Azhar Ali took 319 balls to reach a century at Dubai a few weeks ago, slowest century in a winning cause since TT Samaraweera against England in 2003. There have been only three 300-ball centuries in the last 230+ Test matches. Compare that to thirty in the space of 200 Tests in the early 1960s. Australians, in particular, have abandoned the stone wall: the last Aussie to take over 300 balls to reach 100 was Graham Wood at the MCG in 1981/82.
Yet the number of situations where such innings would be invaluable has not decreased. No one seems to want to tough it out any more. It was once said that attack was the best form of defence; now it seems to be the only form.
Those of us who saw the likes of Tavare batting (see next item) won’t be mourning the passing of the stonewaller too much, but it does sometimes feel that some of the variety of Test cricket has gone out of the game.
A Tavare Special
I have identified previously Chris Tavare’s record as the slowest specialist batsman of all time (in runs per hour, see 9 Nov 2011). I recently came across an innings where Tavare was instructed to “bat as long as possible” by his captain. The result, at Chennai in 1982, was 35 runs in three full sessions (5.5 hours batting time). India had declared at 481/3 at lunch on the third day, after which Tavare opened the innings and scored 17 in the lunch/tea session. Graham Gooch reached 81 in the same session. Tavare added just nine runs in the 90 minute final session (Gooch reached 117), and another nine in a full two hours before lunch. I don’t know the record here, but 18 runs in two full sessions would be hard to beat. Tavare was out to the third ball after lunch, 35 off 238 balls in 332 minutes. He scored only 26 runs in the first 50 overs, but even then his scoring slowed even further.
Slower innings of this size are hard to find. Robin Russell scored 29*
off 235 balls at Joburg in 1995/96, and Geoff Rabone scored a 29 of similar
ilk in Auckland in 1953 (but balls faced are not known). The only similar
innings that was clearly slower was WH Scotton’s 34 off about
Tavare was outscored 127 to 26 by Gooch in the opening stand of 155. This is the most one-sided large opening stand in all Tests.
A Scoresheet Unlike Any Other
Here is an unusual one - an image of the scoresheet for AEJ Collins’ all-time record score in 11-a-side cricket in 1899, 628 not out no less. Or as the scorer supposedly put it “628 not plus or minus 20 shall we say” (a remark not found on the actual sheet). The ground and circumstances had some strange features; check out the entry in Wikipedia. These included boundaries as short as 16 metres! (where boundaries only counted as two runs). In addition, it was unusual to play to a finish at any level in England at the time.
The image is a photograph of a museum exhibit in Wellington New Zealand.
6 February 2012
England, in the Abu Dhabi Test, lost their last five wickets off eleven balls. I’m told that there is a claim out there that this is the fastest such collapse in all Tests, and a couple of people asked me to check this. Not so easy, as such detailed data is still unavailable for many Tests.
However, combining scorebook data with original match reports does produce an interesting list.
Fewest balls for last five wickets
The scorebook for Leeds 1957 happens to be still missing, but the report in The Times is explicit, and adds that four wickets fell in consecutive balls, perhaps the only such case in Test cricket. There are a number of other candidates for the list where exact data is lacking (e.g Auckland 1963/64), but very few of them are likely to be under 20 balls. One Test for which I have no relevant information at all is Dhaka 1959. There is also Lord’s 1888, which was just like Abu Dhabi; England lost by the same number of runs as they scored, and the last five fell in a flash (but more than 20 balls, it appears).
29 January 2012
Rich Day for Bowlers
Reader Mark pointed out to me that 42 wickets fell in Test matches on Saturday 28 January, spread across three matches. He asks is this the highest for any calendar day, and indeed it is. The list is
Corrected 30 Jan
Actually, it is intriguing that so few additions to this list have been made in the last seven years, given that cricketers’ workloads are allegedly increasing. Partly, it can be put down to recent domination of bat over ball.
The previous record, in 2006, included a 20-wicket day at Johannesburg between South Africa and India (10 wickets each).
It is very unusual for players involved in a giant partnership to produce another substantial partnership in the second innings; for one thing there are not a lot of opportunities to do so, since one giant innings is often sufficient. Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke managed it at Adelaide, becoming only the second pair to add more than 70 runs in the second innings after a triple-century first innings. The most combination runs for partners in a Test are as follows
Most Runs in Partnership (batting together twice)
The Oval Test of 1934 was a Timeless match, so Ponting and Clarke have secured the record for this little category for time-limited Test matches.
Dravid and Laxman added 303 and 51 at Adelaide in 2003/04 – the good old days, it would seem.
David Warner’s hectic century against India at Perth, 100 off 69 balls, set a number of records, as well attested elsewhere. I don’t have much to add, except that the century was also very fast in time batted, thanks to Warner grabbing a majority of the strike. It used to be that minutes batted dominated reporting of fast innings, with balls faced only gradually being accepted as the superior measure, over a period of decades. Now it has turned 180 degrees, and it is hard to find mention of minutes batted for milestones. I figure that Warner reached 100 in 96 minutes, faster even than Gilchrist’s 57-ball, 100-minute century five years ago. This would equal the time for Brian Lara at St John’s in 1999, and be the fastest by anyone since Viv Richard’s record-breaker in 81 minutes (56 balls) in 1986.
There is a case for giving ongoing attention to time batted. While balls faced is the better measure of innings quality, time batted can give a better measure of an innings’ impact and its memorability.
Warner scored a century on the first day, even though his team batted second. I figure this only the eighth time it has been done (Graeme Smith has done it twice, once against Zimbabwe), or five times if you exclude Bangladesh and Zimbabwe Tests. The most runs in such a situation is 151 by Marcus Trescothick, against Bangladesh; the record for more authentic Tests is 123 by Everton Weekes in Dunedin back 1955/56. The only other Australian to do it (Bradman came close) was Jack Fingleton at Johannesburg in 1935/36. Warner may be the first batsman to do this who started his innings after tea: Wally Hammond probably did so at Old Trafford in 1936, but the tea break for that day is a little uncertain.
Warner played a great innings by any measure, though I was pleased that Roy Fredericks’ fastest to 150, off 113 balls at the WACA in 1975/76, still stands. I have vivid memories of Fredericks’ 169. Memory may have to suffice. I have heard that most of the video of the 1975/76 series has been lost, destroyed in a flood of some kind. There was no home video back then, so no other copies apparently exist.
09 January 2012
I must admit sometimes to a moment of regret when a long-standing cricket record falls. Another little bit of cricket history edges towards obscurity. So it was when Michael Clarke took out Reg Foster’s ground record score of 287 at the SCG, which had stood since 1903. Still, Test cricket is a living game, and one of the reassuring things about the game is that the old records are difficult but by no means impossible to beat. And Foster (who only made two scores over 50 in Test cricket) still has that highest score on debut, a record unapproached and formidable.
For a guy who scored only 602 Test runs, Foster certainly made his mark on the record books.
The SCG was overdue for a triple century, in a way. Triples occur about once in every 80 Tests, so with the SCG registering its 100th Test, it is not surprising that someone knocked one up eventually.
One reader (David) wrote in with a few interesting observations that highlight the occasional capriciousness of the game. In Australia’s innings, David Warner was out to the first false shot he played. Clarke on the other hand, played and missed perhaps eight times in his first 40 runs, and went on to 329 not out. This is not to be too critical of Clarke: we have all seen big innings that contained more false strokes. But spare a thought for Warner, who sat there watching the scoreboard ratchet up to 659 for 4, with his eight runs at the top.
False strokes might be an interesting area of study, and a new statistic. It would not be possible to extend this far back in history, although Bill Frindall’s scores (I have about 150 of these) might provide some historical basis.
On the first day of a Test between Sri Lanka and India in 1985 (Colombo PSS Stadium), Sri Lanka scored 168 runs for one wicket (off 89 overs), and the Indian bowlers took no wickets at all, S Wettimuny (19 off 155 balls!) having been run out. It wasn’t for lack of effort from the bowlers, since SEVEN catches were dropped during the day’s play.
The partnership of 288 between Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting at the SCG is the highest ever between a serving captain and his predecessor.
The feat of scoring a century before lunch in a Test match is well chronicled. But who has scored the fewest runs in the first session of a match? At Kanpur in 1979, opener Chetan Chauhan batted right through the two-hour pre-lunch session for eight runs, surprising given that India scored 69 runs overall in the session. Other candidates may well turn up.
Reader Mark mentioned that the partnership of 207 between Jacques Kallis and Alviro Petersen in the recent Cape Town Test contained no sundries at all. I don’t know of a larger such partnership. There are partnerships with more runs between extras, but not complete ones. The most I found was a period of 241 runs between extras by Nurse and Kanhai at Port-of-Spain in 1967/68. Barrington and Dexter, in their epic at Old Trafford in 1964, put on 237 before the first extra.
Comments on First India Test
The MCG Test was the fourteenth consecutive Test at the ground to give a positive result. Apart from one washout, there has been only one Test at the ground in the last 23 years that has gone the distance and been drawn: South Africa in 1997/98.
The victory ended Australia’s (equal) longest streak without a win over India: eight matches.
Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar became the first pair of batsmen to score twenty century partnerships in Tests. They are now well ahead of Greenidge/Haynes and Hayden/Ponting, each with 16 century partnerships. The Dravid/Tendulkar firm has produced 6884 runs in partnership at an average of 51.0.
Those waiting impatiently for the elusive 100th hundred from Tendulkar might like to know that he has been involved in 158 century partnerships in Tests and ODIs.
Boxing Day saw for the first time two Tasmanian top-order batsmen batting together in a Test. The stand of 113 between Ricky Ponting and Ed Cowan was only the fifth century partnership between a debutant and a 100-Test veteran. The record here was set in 2010 by Tendulkar with Suresh Raina, 256 at Colombo.
Eighteen batsmen batted on the third day; only three of them (Ashwin, Ponting, Hussey) scored more than eleven runs.
2011 has been a year where bowlers have made a comeback. Test matches worldwide have seen 32.7 runs per wicket this year, more than ten per cent down on the figures for 2010 and 2009, and the lowest since high-tech superbats came into widespread use around 2002. There has been only one team score over 350 in Australia’s last five Tests.
The attendance of 70,027 on Boxing Day is the highest for India in Australia in a Test match, and the second day of 52,000 was likewise a second-day record. Test cricket is said to be in decline, but it still has its strongholds.
Eleven batsmen were out bowled in the match (more than half via the edge of the bat). This equals the most in any Test since 2005, and the most in Australia since 1979.
22 December 2011
Comments on Second New Zealand Test
New Zealand’s seven-run victory is the narrowest margin in a Test in Australia since South Africa won by five runs at the SCG in 1993/94. It was New Zealand’s first win in Australia since 1985.
The match ends a 22-match streak without a win (since Auckland 1993) for New Zealand against Australia. It was the longest streak involving any two teams since England went winless for 29 Tests against West Indies from 1979 to 1988.
Batting first, the New Zealanders were out for 150. No visiting team has beaten Australia after such a poor start since 1894 (when England won after scoring 75 at the MCG). At the Adelaide Oval in 1951/52, the West Indies beat Australia after a first innings of 105, but they were batting second.
At the Gabba, the missed run out of Ponting, Clarke’s belated no ball escape off Bracewell, and the dropped catch off Mitchel Starc, cost New Zealand 226 runs. At Bellerive, New Zealand missed no clear chances at all; the misses by Australia would have been more than enough to reverse the result.
James Pattinson took 5 for 51 at Hobart to follow his 5 for 27 on debut. He is the first Australian to nail five-fors in both his first and second Test matches since Rodney Hogg in 1978/79. Clarrie Grimmett is the only other Australian to do it in the last 100 years.
Brad Haddin’s stumping off a medium pacer (Mike Hussey) is actually a very rare dismissal. It hadn’t happened in any Test for 20 years, and the last Australian keeper to make a stumping off a non-spinner was Barry Jarman off Alan Connolly against India in 1967/68. It was also a rare highlight for Hussey, who has suffered a sudden form reversal. After batting averaging in the 90s with the bat in Sri Lanka, he has averaged less than 12 in fours Tests since then.
David Warner was the first Australian opener to carry his bat in his second Test match; the only comparable Australian was Dr John Barrett, on debut way back in 1890. Another batsman to carry his bat on debut was another Warner, ‘Plum’ Warner of England, in 1899. David Warner was the first batsman to carry his bat in the fourth innings of a Test since Mark Dekker of Zimbabwe in 1993.
Since 1980, Australia has lost nine Tests by fewer than 20 runs, and won only one. Australia has lost more Tests by fewer than 20 runs than all other countries put together.
A Wicket with Two Consecutive Balls
Yes, it has been done countless times in Test matches, but never a case quite like Nazmul Hossain of Bangladesh. In 2004, Nazmul finished off an innings by dismissing Harbhajan Singh. Dropped from the team, he did not return until the latest Test against Pakistan at Mirpur, and after seven years on the outer dismissed Mohammad Hafeez with his first ball.
Thanks to reader Mark for the info.
12 December 2011
The Leanest Sessions
I came across another case of extreme slow scoring from the 1950s. Pakistan hosted India for the first time in 1954/55. Both teams were desperate to avoid defeat, and all Tests were dull draws in spite of low scoring, but not helped by the match limits of four days of 5.5 hours each. At Peshawar, defensiveness climaxed on the last day when Pakistan added just 26 runs before lunch in a full two-hour session. Hanif Mohammad was out late in the session for 21 in 195 minutes, having added eight runs in 105 minutes during the morning. The 26 runs equals the smallest return I have come across in a full two-hour session, equalling the output an unusual session at the Gabba in 1931/32, which comprised all the play on that day. It was the session that Bruce Mitchell was unable to score for 95 balls. The list as it currently stands is
Fewest Runs in a Full Two-Hour Session
Does not include interrupted sessions, including those with change of innings. Many low-scoring sessions prior to the mid-1980s ran less than 120 minutes.
Apart from the Pakistan case, all the above batting teams were playing away from home. The Chennai 1963 case was discussed in the entry for 6 April 2010.
This is probably an incomplete list. Suggestions welcome.
The table will be posted in the Unusual Records Section, along with some new tables of the fastest team 50s, 100s, and 200s.
There is a peculiar postscript to Pakistan’s 26-run session. A wicket (Wazir Mohammad) had fallen on the stroke of lunch. Next in was Imtiaz Ahmed, who, it appears, was of a different mindset to most of his colleagues. Imtiaz thrashed 28 runs (maybe more) in the first 12 minutes after lunch, personally scoring at more than 10 times the team’s pre-lunch rate. Maqsood Ahmed, who had batted over an hour and a half, was overtaken by Imtiaz inside ten minutes. Note a correction to the ‘official’ scorecard: Wazir Mohammad batted at #5, Maqsood Ahmed at #4.
An Over of No Balls
The longest over in Test cricket is believed to be 15 deliveries, including nine no balls, by Curtley Ambrose at Perth in 1996/97. I haven’t seen a list of other contenders, but I do know of two 13-delivery overs, one by ‘Gubby’ Allen in 1934, and one by Joel Garner at the MCG in 1984/85. The Garner effort is unique, it appears, in that there were no ‘legals’ in the first six deliveries (two of them were scored from); in effect, a complete “over” of no balls. The over reads 2n, n, n, n, n, 3n, 3, 0, n, 0, 0, 0, 0.
Incidentally, I recently obtained copies of three official scores for Tests at the Gabba in the 1990s. This has allowed me to “complete the set” of Tests involving Australia in the last 20 years. The most recent Test for Australia that now does not have ball-by-ball record is St. Johns 1991, so there is now a full ball-by-ball record of players such as Warne, McGrath and Ponting. The most recent missing Test in Australia is the Gabba Test of 1989/90 (Sri Lanka).
A few off-the-cuff comments on the first Australia/New Zealand test.
Australia has now won 17 Tests at the Gabba since our last defeat there in 1988/89. This equals the most victories between defeats at any ground, set by Pakistan at the Karachi National Stadium (with some help from local umpires) prior to 2000. Australia was now beaten New Zealand 16 times since the Kiwis last tasted success at Auckland in 1993. New Zealand has beaten every other Test team since then.
During the second innings, James Pattinson took five wickets in the space of 21 balls. No bowler has done this on Test debut before. While more than 100 bowlers have taken a five-for on debut before, only a handful have conceded fewer runs than Pattinson’s 5 for 27. The only Australian was Charles Turner with six for 15 on debut way back in 1887.
Captaincy seems to have boosted Michael Clarke’s batting. He has scored 563 runs at 47.0 in seven Tests since his promotion, after scoring just 263 at 20.2 in his previous seven Tests.
In spite of three centuries since he became Test captain, Michael Clarke has still not mastered the art of making huge scores. In 17 Test centuries his top score is only 168. Only Mark Waugh has scored more centuries with a lower top score (20 centuries, HS of 153*).
Debutants have taken almost one-quarter of Australia’s wickets since the start of the Sri Lanka series in August (22 out of 95). This is quite a change from the heyday of Warne and McGrath, when Australia needed few new bowlers, and debutants took less than 3 per cent of Australia’s wickets.
The missed run out of Ponting, Clarke’s belated no ball escape off Bracewell, and the dropped catch off Mitchel Starc, cost New Zealand 226 runs.
Phillip Hughes has now been caught 26 times in his 28 dismissals by bowlers. He has been caught twenty times in the arc between keeper and point.
9 November 2011
Fast and Slow Update
The HOT 100 list has been updated. I only do this about once a year now since most players’ career scoring rates change only slowly.
Virender Sehwag’s march up the leader board has paused. He is still just behind Gilchrist in third place, and has slipped marginally in the last 12 months. Tillekeratne Dilshan, also struggling for from, has slipped out of the Top 10, but Umar Akmal has made his debut in the Top 10. With just 1003 runs he qualifies only marginally for the list.
Kallis (#21) has passed Dravid (#24) as the most tenacious active batsman, although both have improved on last year.
A new feature is the Fastest and Slowest lists measured in runs per hour. The Fastest list heavily favours old-time batsmen in the days when over rates were much higher. Nevertheless, the domination of the Golden Age batsmen gives us a hint of how entertaining cricket must have been for spectators at the time, and why the likes of Victor Trumper were so fondly remembered. I hope I never have to read again that ‘statistics cannot capture the genius of Trumper’. He is revealed as the fastest-scoring specialist batsman of all time (40 runs per hour); enough said.
The Slowest list also has some interest, dominated by some who played in the 1970s and 80s, after over rates dropped but before the modern resurgence in scoring. The bottom of the list is Bob Taylor, a fine wicketkeeper, but who would be unlikely to be selected today. Just above Taylor is Chris Tavare at 13.5 runs per hour; anyone who saw him bat would be sure to consider him worthy of his place on the list. Tavare, oddly enough, played plenty of One-Day cricket. Mike Brearley (14.4 rph) is revealed as being considerably slower than his partner in crime Geoff Boycott (18.0). Boycott is not among the 70 slowest batsmen; however, he benefits from playing so many Tests in the 1960s, before over rates plummeted.
23 October 2011
The One Millionth Test Run
It is almost exactly 25 years since Test cricket saw its one millionth run. I don’t know if many people, or anyone at all, noticed at the time – I only recall discussion of it some years later. Nowadays it is quite straightforward to track down the millionth run to a particular match and a particular partnership, but identifying the specific batsman is not so easy. Batting at the time were Dean Jones and Allan Border, during the final overs of the drawn Test at Wankede stadium in October 1986. Beyond this, conventional published scores do not reveal enough detail.
A bit of Googling of the question turns up some references to the partnership, and some of these specify Border as the man. The source for this is unclear: one forum comment dates from 2001. Nor is it clear how the information was obtained.
The claim that Border hit the run is in error. It was in fact Dean Jones. The source is a surviving official scorebook (kindly supplied by Rajneesh), which I re-scored to tease out the necessary info.
The one millionth run came in the 83rd over of the innings, the fifth ball of Raju Kulkarni’s fifth over, when a single from Jones took Australia’s score to 201. Border hit the next ball for four. The match had reached a pointless state by that time, and was abandoned as a draw five overs later with Australia 216/3 in their second innings.
The identification does of course depend on complete accuracy in counting the previous 999,999 runs. Confidence is boosted by the fact that my database is aligned exactly with the Cricinfo/Cricket Archive ‘received version’ (confirmed by an Ask Steven column by Steven Lynch at Cricinfo in July, reporting 1,958,692 runs in Tests up to that point). On the other hand, there is next to zero chance that every run has been counted perfectly since 1877, but that really does not matter. We can never know the exact “real” total, so we might as well go with the official version.
Two million runs is now approaching, and is about 25-30 Tests away. The second million will come up in somewhat fewer Tests than the first, which took 1,054 matches. The last 100 Tests have produced 1,125 runs per match, up from the 980 runs per match for all Tests.
UPDATE: ALL WRONG!!! Groan. There has been a change in the “official” scores. An innings by South Africa in a Johannesburg Test of 1906 has been changed from 34/1 to 33/1. The 34/1 is in the Wisden Book of Test Cricket but the 33/1 is supported by a surviving scorebook, which also give as different total for Extras. This means that the frame is shifted by one run, making Allan Border the scorer of the one millionth run. Of course, there could be other errors of this type unrecorded, but there you go.
I recently came across a century by Graham Wood at the MCG against Pakistan in 1981/82, where at one stage he hit no fours for 221 balls spanning four and a half hours. I wondered how many batsmen had faced more balls between boundaries, so I consulted the database. I was surprised at how many there were.
Most Balls Faced Between Fours (during a single innings)
FLH Mooney (New Zealand) hit no fours off his last 430 balls faced in Test cricket, spread over six innings.
In 1978/79, Geoff Boycott faced 569 balls between boundaries, spanning six innings (including one innings of 337 balls). There was one four, which included two overthrows.
So Wood is not even in the top 12. One report does note that one of Wood’s three fours was all-run, so there is a possibility that he faced up to 264 balls without a shot to the boundary, but I don’t know which of his fours it was. Also note that most sources do not distinguish between boundaries and all-run fours, so the table is based entirely on shots for four, not boundaries.
Mitchell was making his Test debut. His boundary drought spanned five and a half hours batting. Rowan’s 250 balls was his entire innings.
Boycott’s sequence is one of the most extraordinary statistics in Test cricket. How on Earth anyone could bat for twelve hours without hitting a boundary, not even by accident, defies understanding. When he did finally break the drought, with a single boundary in the second innings of the 1978/79 MCG Test, he then did not hit another four for a further 215 balls, spanning four innings.
Wood, incidentally, took 302 balls to reach his century. No Australian in the 30 years since then has taken more than 300 balls to reach 100, itself a remarkable stat, given how common slow centuries were in the decades prior. More than 40 batsmen from other countries have done so since 1981.
The table is based almost entirely on a computer search, and there was little other research involved. Other cases may well have gone undetected. There may not be many others, however, because low boundary counts tend to cluster on a few large grounds such as the MCG, and as it happens these grounds are well covered in the database.
4 October 2011
That’s Gotta Hurt
When Virender Sehwag recently bagged a “king pair” at Edgbaston, he also bagged the batting equivalent of a hat trick; having been dismissed in his previous innings, Sehwag had been out three balls in a row. How often has this happened? About half or more of king pairs involve batting hat tricks, while (surprisingly, perhaps) most batting hat tricks do not involve a king pair. Batting hat tricks perforce cover multiple matches. Sehwag is the first batsman since Adam Gilchrist to record both a king pair and a batting hat trick. Here is a list of the batting hat tricks that I know about
Batsmen out three times in three balls in Tests
*Harbhajan and Asif were out three times while facing three balls, but included ‘diamond ducks’.
The Kotze and Gopal Sharma cases (in italics) are uncertain.
Gary Troup was out five times in the space of seven balls, spread over several matches. Kotze’s innings were five years apart; he may have faced as few as ten or twelve balls in his whole career, while being dismissed five times and scoring just two runs. But they all must tip their hats to Ajit Agarkar who was out to five consecutive balls he faced against Australia in 1999/2000.
Troup and Kapil Dev completed their respective batting hat tricks in the same match, at Wellington in 1981.
Technically, a few of these cases include run outs, in which the batsman may not actually have faced the ball he was out.
Asif Masood’s three balls stretched over three matches and two years.
The only batsmen to twice record batting hat tricks are Mutiah Muralitharan, and (believe it or not) David Boon. Also surprising is the fact that David Boon was the first Australian to suffer a batting hat trick.
I will post this table in the Unusual Records sections.
Fall of Wicket Adjustments
In the Fall of Wicket sections of online Test match scores (Cricinfo, Cricket Archive), the names of all batsmen out are identified at each fall of wicket. Traditionally, this data has usually been absent from published scores; for example, Wisden did not include such data before 1988. So for many Tests, the identifications would have been culled from match reports. There is a suspicion that some guesswork has been involved. I say this because I did a bit of a survey of the identified names, comparing them against the scorebooks and other data that I have collected. The survey covered perhaps two-thirds of Tests played between 1945-1978. I found over one hundred cases where the identity of the batsman out required correction.
This is not as bad as it sounds. In the great majority of cases, the problem occurred when clusters of wickets fell, and adjustments were needed to the exact sequence of batsmen falling. Such issues are generally minor. Errors always come in multiples: one batsman misidentified means another batsman misidentified elsewhere in the same innings.
But even so, it flags that secondary data like this should not be regarded as rock solid.
12 September 2011
Missed by That Much
Sean Marsh missed out on the highest partnership by an Australian on Test debut – by one run. His stand of 258 with Mike Hussey at Pallekele is shaded by the 259 by Wayne Phillips with Graham Yallop at the WACA in 1983. You can also file this one under the “I bet he didn’t know he was close to a record” category.
Marsh (141) is the sixth Australian to come within 25 runs of that most venerable Australian record, the 165* by Charles Bannerman on debut in 1877, without beating Bannerman’s mark. The others are Archie Jackson (164), Kepler Wessels (162), Phillips (159), Doug Walters (155), and Michael Clarke (151).
Here is a list of the largest partnerships involving at least one player on Test debut.
The Rudolph record, being against Bangladesh, should be accepted only reluctantly. Then again, the 276 by Mills and Dempster was also against a non-Test strength team. The 249 by Abdul Kadir and Billy Ibadulla was also discussed in the entry of 20 July 2010.
Yet More on Scorelessness
The area of longest scoreless sequences by bowlers has been covered by record books and other sources. Keith Walmsley in Most Withouts in Test Cricket p233 waxes lyrical on the subject. It is a subject that is unavoidably incomplete, but for now I will record the instances that turn up in the database, or have otherwise some to light. The list has been extended to allow comparison with the longest modern spells. Thank you to reader Mark for the enquiry and suggestions.
Most Consecutive Balls Bowled Without Conceding a Run
“Runs scored” refers to runs scored at the other end during the sequence.
The recent serendipitous discovery of the Collie Smith spell suggest that there are almost certainly other cases out there to be found. Nothing has been found between 1976 and 2004, a period requiring further research (although 1998 to 2004 has been checked and has no cases). Many of the above cases were recorded in multiple spells. The longest sequences in continuous spells are 108 balls by Nadkarni (while 30 runs were scored at the other end) and 104 by Tayfield (33 runs). It seems unlikely that these records will ever be exceeded.
Tayfield at Durban had, as partner in crime, one of the most usual of ‘usual suspects’. Trevor Bailey, at one stage, failed to score off 114 consecutive balls he faced from Tayfield.
My reading of other reports suggest that Nadkarni at Kanpur in 1960/61, where he bowled 24 maidens in the space of 29 overs in multiple spells (a couple of days after the Brisbane Tied Test), does not qualify, nor does Lance Gibbs final 14 maidens in 16.3 overs at Bridgetown the following year.
An able assist to Collie Smith at Auckland in 1956 was provided by Tony MacGibbon, who was out for 9 off 121 balls. This is one of the longest innings ever played by a batsman who failed to reach double figures (the record, 8 off 135 by Trevor Bailey at Leeds in 1955). MacGibbon’s first scoring shot was an edge for four after 58 balls. His first “honest” scoring shot was a single after 96 balls, and his tally of 3 scoring shots in a complete innings of 121 balls has no known parallel in Test cricket. The West Indies that (first) day bowled 99 overs before tea, including 52 overs between lunch and tea. Hasn’t the game changed!
2 September 2011
Those First-Ball Wicket-Takers
The remarkable coincidence of two Australians taking wickets in their first over in Test cricket, on the same day at Galle, attracted plenty of comment. Nathan Lyon, it is said, is only the second Australian to take a wicket with his first ball in Test cricket, after Arthur Coningham at the MCG in 1894, who was the first player to achieve the feat in Tests.
But this is one of those records that is difficult to research; since these things are not recorded on standard scorecards, historians have relied on their predecessors noticing when these things happen, and writing about them anecdotally. It should not be surprising that sometimes these things get overlooked.
So it is with Coningham. Here is one earlier case. At the SCG in 1882/83, Irish-born Tom Horan, who was playing in his tenth Test but who had not previously bowled, bowled WW Read in the second innings, with the first ball of an eventful over. The Sydney Morning Herald remarked
“Horan’s first over was sensational. He bowled W.W. Read with the first ball, and nearly lamed Barlow with the last.”
The exact meaning of “lamed” was left to the imagination.
It is not surprising that the import of this was missed, given that Horan was not a regular bowler. (I have reconstructed the innings over by over and can confirm that Horan had not previously bowled in the innings.) We can still say, though, that Coningham is the first bowler do it on Test debut. One could add that the concept of a “Test career” or even “Test cricket” did not really exist in 1883.
There is even a precedent of sorts for the Copeland/Lyon coincidence. In a Johannesburg Test in 1905/06, both AEE Vogler (South Africa) and JN Crawford (England) took wickets with their respective first balls in Test cricket. These cases are confirmed by a surviving scorebook.
These are the only “new” cases of the feat in my database. There might well be other cases unfound, in the many Tests for which complete records are still not available.
28 August 2011
A “Last Ball” Test Victory Discovered?
There have been many close Test matches over the years, including a number of matches won with very little time to spare. The two Tied Tests both finished with only one ball left to play. However, there has still been only one Test won on the absolute last ball of the last possible over: Port Elizabeth 1949, when England hustled a leg bye off the last ball to win by three wickets.
Some evidence that there may have been another has now turned up. New Zealand played three Tests in Pakistan in 1955/56; apart from the standard scores, there is not much in the published record about these matches. The second Test in Lahore was a remarkable match that included an innings of 209 by Imtiaz Ahmed batting at Number 8. (Imtiaz, incidentally batted 380 minutes, not the 680 minutes given in Wisden Book of Test Cricket.) The standard account says Pakistan won by four wickets with 18 minutes to spare. So I was surprised to come across a rather different on-the-spot newspaper account (Dominion, Wellington) that spells out in some detail how the match went down to the wire, with the winning run hit off the very last ball. It is quite specific, and self-consistent, about the final overs. The last over was bowled by Johnny Hayes.
The account is supported by a similar account, less detailed but independent, in the Otago Daily Times, which adds that the scores were level for about three overs.
These accounts conflict with the Pakistan newspaper Dawn, which gives the 18 minute figure. It is still possible, though, that Dawn has it right. Tea had been called when New Zealand was out. Post-tea sessions in that series were normally 90 minutes, and the Pakistan innings time of 92 minutes is consistent with the last-ball scenario. However, the session would have been extended if an early tea had been called for the change of innings. In that case, the N.Z. reporters may have simply been under a misapprehension, and were assuming that stumps would be called after 90 minutes. It also seems hard to believe that a team, even in the funereal ’Fifties, would sit with scores level for three overs before hitting a run off the last possible ball. On the other hand, calling tea 20 minutes early seems a little strange and out of order, especially when the time factor was so critical.
The New Zealand Cricket Almanack for that year supports the 18 minute figure, and this very probably was, in turn, the source for a statement to the same effect in Frindall’s Wisden Book of Test Cricket. Wisden in 1957 is ambiguous on the matter. However, looking at NZCA carefully, I suspect that the match report was not eyewitness, and was based mostly on Dawn. Teams in those days sometimes brought back collections of press clipping from tours. [NZCA reports from this time and later, written usually by Arthur Carman, are normally rich in statistical information that must have been obtained from scorebooks, but the reports from this series contain little or nothing that is not found in Dawn.] It may be that no scorebook was brought back from that tour. It wouldn’t be the last time that a touring team on the subcontinent did not come back with a scorebook (Tied Test in Madras a notorious case).
The final-day report in Dawn is a bit odd: it is far less detailed than the reports from the first three days of the Test, and it becomes rather brief and sketchy when describing what was, either way, an exciting and important final session.
Can it be resolved? There is supposition in either scenario. I don’t think that either account can be ruled out, but there is no clear resolution.
[Researching such obscure Tests can be a challenge. Some of the materials for this item were obtained from as far afield as the Library of Congress in Washington, and the National Library in Wellington.]
UPDATE: The Christchurch Press has an independent report that supports the last-ball scenario, although not conclusively (“what might well have been the final over of the match”), while New Zealand Herald supports the Dawn account, although like Dawn it is brief and vague.
The First Batting Helmet?
Helmets for batsmen have been around for a long time now. The first batsman to use one in a Test match was Graham Yallop in an innings of 47 at Bridgetown in 1978. Earlier, helmets were used by Barry Richards and others during the first ‘World Series’ season in Australia in 1977/78.
Turns out it was an old idea, if this report in the Times of India is any guide. Under the byline of respected cricket author Ray Robinson, it shows a prototype batting helmet in Australia in March 1965. At the time, the Australian team was under severe pressure in the West Indies, where Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith were threatening life and limb. The report says that the helmets were about to be sent to the West Indies. It is not known if this was done; if so, they certainly were not used.
I haven’t seen any similar reports in Australian papers at the time, but I haven’t checked widely.
UPDATE: Ken Williams at the Melbourne CC Library confirms this story, and says he recalls when it happened. He recalls that the helmets were in fact dispatched to the West Indies, but were never collected. Perhaps they are still sitting in an old warehouse somewhere in Trinidad.
8 August 2011
Lloyd and Richards Amok
Continuing the theme of extreme batting sessions, I came across one from 1974/75. India was hosting the west Indies in a most interesting series. The series was 2-2 going into the final Test, but India was then blown away by Clive Lloyd’s 242 not out, off less than 300 balls (probably – his 200 came up off 240 balls, but the final total is not known). India saved the follow-on, but the West Indies second innings, after a slow start, climaxed in some heavy hitting by Lloyd and then Viv Richards, just prior to a declaration. They were just cameo innings, but unusual ones. Lloyd scored 37 off 17 balls, and Richards 39 not out off 23 (figures found, oddly enough, in The Times, rather than Indian sources). Both innings have few if any parallels among innings of this size.
I have gathered together what data there is on the fastest innings of a given size. Each innings in the following list has a characteristic in common: there are no innings that are both larger while being made off fewer balls. For example, for Lloyd’s 37, there is no innings known of greater than 37 that was made off fewer than 17 balls. Starting with Adam Gilchrist’s 24 off 9 balls (the fewest balls faced for any innings greater than 20), the list is complete from then on.
Fastest Innings of Their Size
UPDATE: no sooner was this written than Abdur Razzak of Bangladesh played an innings of 43 off 17 balls against Zimbabwe, displacing the innings of Lloyd and Richards from the list.
We are looking at complete innings here. Innings that started very fast, but continued at a lesser pace, are not included. For example, “Foffie” Williams of the West Indies once reached 30 off only 8 balls against England in 1948 (66440442), but his whole innings of 72 off 56 balls was not fast enough to qualify for the list.
The most impressive innings on the list are those that are significantly larger than the preceding entries, or off far fewer balls than subsequent entries. Mann’s 49*, Southee’s 77*, Richards’ 110*, and Sehwag’s 319 stand out, although the most remarkable must be Nathan Astle’s 222. Richards and Sehwag are the only players to appear three times; Sehwag certainly has rewritten the records when it comes to extremely large innings scored at extreme speed.
Naturally, the data here is incomplete, and there are other possible entries for this list where balls faced is not yet known. One interesting one is Farook Engineer’s 45 against New Zealand in 1964/65, which sources give as made in either 25 minutes (probable) or 21 minutes (less likely). A balls faced tally as low as 20 is possible, although something like 25 seems more likely.
Back to the subject of fast sessions. Thanks to Lloyd and Richards, the West Indies scored 163 runs between lunch and tea on the 5th day at Wankede stadium (it was a six-day Test). India, trying to limit the damage, bowled only 26 overs in the session. This appears to be the first time that a complete session was scored at significantly more than more than a run a ball (6.27 runs per over in this case). There are many precedents of more runs in a session, but all of them involved much faster over rates. The only sessions identified so far with faster scoring rates have all been since 2000. (There are probably others in the period 1975-1998, but that will take further research.)
For the time being the list of fastest-scoring sessions looks like this