For comments, or to contact Z-score (Charles Davis) email
stats334 at iprimus dot
(The address is like this to avoid SPAM. Type the address in the usual format)
UPDATED 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.
Modifications will occur, so be patient as it is developed. Ball-by-ball pages have been added where available (most Tests). 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.
There is also extra detailed information of falls of wicket for some series
28 November 2013
More Simple Stats that are Hard to Find
I have been extracting some more statistical information from the Cricinfo texts – yes, it is painstaking – to get some baseline stats on catches and other dismissals. Here is a summary list of the location of catches, based on nearly all Tests from 2002 to 2013.
* “Slip” in this context generally refers to slip fieldsman for spin bowlers.
The locations are based on descriptive names of locations given in the texts, so there are no hard and fast rules, and different commentators may have different definitions. But mostly, this should be a useful baseline for comparison of dismissal locations between from country to country and team to team, and even individual players.
There is also potential for historical comparison (but not now), especially using Bill Frindall’s old England scores, which describe locations. [A slight complication is that Frindall sometimes used categories of locations that did not directly compare to standard definitions when categorising run-scoring. In Frindall’s runs-scoring records, there is no “point” or “square leg” area. The boundary between categories is perpendicular to the pitch and goes right through the middle of what others would regard as point and square leg. This problem is also seen in Cricinfo’s batting charts.]
I have also looked at bowled dismissals in little more detail. About 17% of batsmen were out bowled since 2002, a figure that has remained reasonably steady since about 1990, but well down on earlier times. About 26% of batsmen out bowled edged or hit the ball onto the stumps (at least to the extent that it was noticed), and a further 4% were bowled off the pads (less than I would have thought), so only 70% of batsmen out bowled are ‘clean’ bowled. It would be interesting to know how many of those who played on did so to a ball that would not have hit the stumps. This is hard to say: I would estimate roughly about half, or a bit more, based on reading a lot of descriptions. Overall, then, maybe 15% of batsmen out bowled were out to balls that were not directed at the stumps.
About 55% of batsmen out bowled were playing a defensive stroke, 37% appeared to be attempting to score, and the remaining 9% were playing no stroke at all. Of course, sometimes there is grey area around the definitions. The percentages for top batsmen seem to be quite similar.
In general, this underscores that it is quite hard to bowl a batsman in a defensive frame of mind. Perhaps only one wicket in 11 falls this way, perhaps three per Test.
Slightly more batsmen are out lbw than bowled, 18% to 17%. This is quite interesting given that the lbw law is so difficult to satisfy. For every batsman out clean bowled, there must be several who are hit on the pad by a ball directed at the stumps, but who are not out thanks to the various technicalities such as the ball pitching outside leg stump.
There seems to have been little change in the incidence of lbws since the advent of the Decision Review System. About 17.5% of all dismissals from 1999-2004 were lbw, rising marginally to about 18.1% since 2009.
Perhaps half of batsmen out lbw are playing defensive shots. It is rather hard to be more precise from the descriptions. It appears that only about 3% of lbws are ‘no shot’ dismissals, quite a difference from the 9% who are out bowled this way.
Three wickets and ten runs in an over (Tests): JH Kallis Melbourne 2005/06: 60W4WW
30 October 2013
Some Simple Stats that are Hard to Find
The Cricinfo ball-by-ball texts for Test matches now extend for nearly 15 years, and about 30 per cent of all Tests. Oddly enough, some of the early ones seem to have disappeared from the Cricinfo site (or at least I cannot find them). In other matches from earlier than 2005, the original rich descriptive texts have been replaced by simple records of scoring. It is still possible to find some of the original versions online via Google archive; I am not sure if all can be found this way.
Never mind, I have been around long enough to have kept just about all of them. One possible reason that Cricinfo is not keen on keeping the early ones available is that they are not very reliable. They were only intended as descriptive commentary rather than rigorous scorekeeping, and gaps do occur. Nevertheless, they can be used for some general statistics that it is not possible to find any other way.
I have been I have been trawling through the Cricinfo ball-by-ball texts for data on appeals in Test cricket. I have analysed the whole 14+ years for mentions of appeals, and the last 100 Tests in more detail.
I found descriptions of more than 20,000 unsuccessful appeals. About 30 appeals per match. If you add up lbw, caught behind, stumpings and catches at short leg, you get a figure for successful appeals. The ratio is around to 2.6 to 1, unsuccessful appeals outnumbering the successful. Putting it another way, about 28% of appeals are successful.
The most appeals attributed to a bowler are 860 by Muralitharan. Not surprising given that he took more wickets than anyone during the analysis period. The most by a fast bowler is 415 by Zaheer Khan.
More interesting is the fact that, in number of appeals, the top five places, and eight out of the top 10, are taken by spin bowlers. The leading appealers in this dataset are
Most appeals by bowlers 1999-2013
Giles and Panesar
are the least successful appealers in the top 30. Almost all bowlers with
high rates of appealing, and low success rates, were spinners. Pace bowlers
had an average successful appeal rate of 34%, spinners 21%. The bowlers with
the highest success rates – the most selective appealers – are two of the
greatest: Glen McGrath and Dale Steyn with 46%
Looking at recent data more closely (100 recent Tests, about 2,900 appeals), I found that about 79% of appeals were for lbw, about 11% for caught behind and 7% for other catches, with other types making up the balance. There were fewer appeals for short leg catches (4% of the total) than I expected. There were even a couple of appeals (unsuccessful) for obstructing the field. Success rates: only 20% for lbw appeals, 53% for stumpings, and 65% for caught behind. It would be interesting to know what percentage of lbw appeals were balls that would have hit the stumps, but were rejected on ‘technical’ grounds of where the ball pitches or struck the pad. Alas, this is not really possible from the text description.
An over at Kandy 2001/02 that required three bowlers. Dillon bowled two balls and was injured; Stuart bowled two beamers that were called no ball and he was banned; and the over was completed by Gayle.
Some recent data (from Andrew Samson) shows that Jonty Rhodes is a challenger for Ricky Ponting for most run out credits in ODIs. We now know of 62 credits for Rhodes and 65 for Ponting. In five other run outs when Rhodes was fielding, the fielder is not identified. In 'primary' credits, Ponting is still probably the leader, currently at 64 to 59.
Rhodes played 245 ODIs to Ponting's 375, so his run out rate per match is superior.
Openers in Tests who dominated
the scoring. Highest % runs by players reaching 100:
11 October 2013
Hot 100 Update
I have re-calculated the Hot 100 – the fastest- and slowest-scoring batsmen in Test cricket – and posted it here. I have added a new column showing the change from last year, which, as in previous years, is not much. In spite of a loss in form, Virender Sehwag has held his edge in second place just ahead of Adam Gilchrist. The Top Ten remains unchanged. It is clear that individuals have specific natural scoring rates that do not vary much, or at least vary much less than their batting averages. Poor scoring affects batting average far more than average scoring speed; a duck will bring down the batting average but have almost no effect on average scoring speed.
In spite of the speeding up of the game with super bats and smaller grounds, Sehwag remains the only modern specialist batsman who scores faster than Victor Trumper did more than a century ago.
I have updated my notes on 'dismissals' off no balls in Tests since 1999. There are now 170 cases, although there are almost certainly others that I have missed. The bowler with the most is Morne Morkel with ten. This list for bowlers, as it stands, is
Most ‘dismissals’ off no balls since 1999
The luckiest batsman is Rahul Dravid with six cases; no one else has more than three. These figures include some “lbw off no ball” incidents that may be debatable.
Some extremely lucky batsmen have been firstly dropped and then dismissed off a no ball in quick succession. Early on during a world record partnership of 624 at Colombo in 2006, Kumar Sangakkara (on 7) was dropped at cover by Rudolph off Dale Steyn, and in the same over Steyn bowled Sangakkara with a no ball. Sangakkara went on to score 287, and the next wicket fell 603 runs later.
Two cases of batsmen being dropped, and being dismissed by a no ball, off consecutive deliveries: SC Ganguly at Mohali (off Mohammad Sami) 2004, and Michael Vaughan at Old Trafford 2005 (off Glenn McGrath).
At the SCG in 2004, Brett Lee twice had batsmen dropped, and also caught off no balls, in the same over (Chopra in the 1st innings and Sehwag in the second).
16 September 2013
Head-to-Head Stats at Last
Cricket has an intriguing mix of team and individual aspects, but at its heart are one-on-one contests between bowler and batsman. As such, the absence of extensive data on individual player-versus-player contests is quite a glaring gap in Test statistics. There is some data to be found, of course, with regards to bowlers who frequently dismissed particular batsmen. This stat, led by Glen McGrath’s 19 dismissals of Mike Atherton, has been published or reported from time to time. However, the converse – the batsmen who made most runs of individual bowlers – is a much more elusive stat.
Even traditional style scores are little help here. One needs ball-by-ball records. Fortunately, such records for those opponents who faced each other most often (mostly in Ashes Tests) are now in most cases complete. However, up to recently there was a frustrating gap in the database. I knew that Graham Gooch’s record against Kapil Dev was a top contender, but one Test, the ‘Jubilee’ Test at Bombay in 1980, was missing. The score of this match has now been found at Lord’s, and Benedict Bermange kindly sent me a copy.
Re-scoring this Test resulted in the elevation of Gooch/Kapil to #1. However, it is a close-run thing. Here is the list as it stands:
Individual Player v Player: Most Runs, all Tests
**Javed off Kapil is an estimate only.
Note that “Inns” denotes only those innings where the batsman actually faced the bowler.
The pairing of Herbert Sutcliffe and Clarrie Grimmett runs second by just two runs. Unfortunately, there is some uncertainty here, because a couple of the source scores, particularly the Oval 1926, contain anomalies and errors that may have a small effect. This applies to Hobbs/Mailey as well. Ultimately there is uncertainty as to the top position, but it is an interesting list nevertheless.
There are relatively few recent opponents. The fact is that, even though players are playing more Tests, the number of Tests against specific opponents is not rising much: careers are spread out over more opponents than before. Hence the domination of Ashes Tests, which remain the most common head-to-head contests. Perhaps then, it is surprising that Bradman is not higher on the list. The reason is that few major England bowlers had a complete career overlap with Bradman. One who did, Hedley Verity, sometimes got the better of the Don (398 runs at 49.8 off Verity’s bowling), a fact that has probably been under-emphasised previously, and is quite remarkable when you think about it.
There are a few ‘unknown’ contests that might belong on the list. The most prominent one is shown: Javed off Kapil. Most of the Tests for this pairing are not available ball-by-ball. The estimate shown is partly based on a calculation of the number of runs scored by Javed in matches where Kapil was bowling, as a proportion of the runs conceded by Kapil. Since Kapil was an opening bowler and Javed tended to bat middle order, the real value is more likely to be a bit lower than the calculated estimate.
A few incidental records:
· The most runs scored by a batsman off a bowler without ever being dismissed is 278 by Viv Richards off John Emburey. John Edrich scored 271 runs off Johnny Gleeson in Ashes Tests without losing his wicket.
· The highest known average is a similar case: 278 runs for once out by Kumar Sangakkara off Umar Gul.
· Bradman scored 243 runs off Vinoo Mankad in a single series without being dismissed.
· Greg Matthews bowled Marvan Attapattu with the only two balls he ever bowled to him.
· Steve Smith dismissed Sachin Tendulkar with the first and (so far) only ball he has bowled to him in Tests.
· Grimmett dismissed Xenophon Balaskas of South Africa five times in Tests while conceding two runs.
· Tim May bowled 54 balls to Mark Illott without conceding a run, dismissing him three times.
· Ashwell Prince faced only 19 balls from Bryce McGain, but scored 48 runs.
One of the most dramatic final innings in Tests happened in faraway Bulawayo in 1996, when England chased 205 to win off 37 overs. With five wickets down and England needing three to win of the last ball, Nick Knight was run out for 96 going for a third and winning run, leaving the scores tied but the match drawn, the first time there had been such a result (repeated recently in a India/West Indies Test). There are a few statistical curiosities from this innings (drawn from the scorebook) and match that show how knife-edges such matches are:
· England would have won the match under a rule change that was introduced less than 2 years later. Prior to the change, a no ball attracted a one run penalty only if there were no other runs scored; in 1998 this was changed so that an extra run was added in all cases. At Bulawayo, England scored off five no balls and Zimbabwe two. This would have given England three extra runs under the rule change, and the match.
· In the final innings, Umpire Dunne called a 7-ball over in the second over, bowled by Olonga. The error had extra impact in that Olonga then bowled a wide and so had to bowl the seventh ball again, only to see it hit for four by Knight.
· The fourth ball of the final over was a “very wide” ball bowled by Streak, but umpire Robinson declined to call it. Everyone else, including the bowler, later agreed it should have been called a wide.
Thanks to Benedict Bermange for supplying a copy of the score from Lord’s.
Most runs before lunch on the first day by a #3 batsman:
112 Macartney 1926
105 Bradman 1930
80 Watson The Oval 2013
76 Kanhai 1960/61, Richards 1979/80 (both at Adelaide)
Changing averages: I looked at first days of Tests where at least 450 balls were bowled. Between the Wars the average was 305 runs; since 2000 it is 285 runs. However the average number of balls bowled on the days surveyed has fallen from 650 to 524. There are complications. Before the War, days were 5 hours in Australia and up to 6.5 in England. Also, the practice of extending days when time is lost on previous days, is relatively recent
20 August 2013
Gluttons for Punishment
It is quite well established that Narendra Hirwani bowled the longest bowling spell in Test matches, 59 overs at The Oval in 1990. Less well-known is the most expensive bowling spell. Which bowler conceded the most runs in a continuous spell without being taken off? Most very long spells were sustained because the bowler was very economical. Hirwani was a bit of an exception and conceded 137 runs in his spell, so this is a pretty impressive candidate for most runs. But there a couple of spells in the database that were even more expensive. At Bulawayo in 2003/04, Ray Price (5 for 199) bowled a sustained spell in an innings where Brian Lara went to town (191 off 203 balls). Price’s first spell lasted 33 overs, and he took 3 wickets for 157. After two overs off for the new ball, Price returned to bowl another 10 overs for 42 runs. Price conceded six sixes, four from Lara and two from Wavell Hinds.
Curiously, the next on the list was also for Zimbabwe and at the same ground: Adam Huckle, 5 for 146 off 32 overs against New Zealand in 1997/98. Hirwani is next, followed by Danish Kaneria 2 for 130 off 32 overs at the WACA in Perth in 2004/05.
The database covers only about 80% of Tests, so there might be other cases out there.
The bowler with greatest number of bowling spells in one innings was Maurice Tate (65.1-12-153-1), with 15 separate spells at the Oval in 1930, when Australia scored 695 in 256 overs.
Anil Kumble took all ten wickets in a single spell. Bowlers taking nine in a spell include Lohmann, Laker (first innings at Old Trafford, not second), Tayfield and Abdul Qadir.
Is Catching Improving?
I have completed a survey of dropped catches in Tests for the year 2012, which extends previous surveys that started in 2001, based on Cricinfo’s ball-by-ball texts. There is a surprising result in the percentages. After years of relatively steady figures, in the range 25-27% chances missed, the incidence of misses fell to 23.5% in 2012.
Looking closer, part of the explanation is the near disappearance of Bangladesh from the Test scene in the year 2012. Bangladesh has always been the most generous contributor of dropped catches, reaching 45% in 2011, and overall catching figures improve if Bangladesh is excluded. Even so, this only explains about one-third of the fall from 26.9% to 23.5% from 2011 to 2012. Another factor is a remarkable improvement in the catching from the West Indies. West Indies players missed a steady 31-32% of chances from 2001 to 2009. This fell to 24% in 2011, and to 20% (!) in 2012. West Indies has gone from being one of the poorest teams to being one of the best. Pakistan has also improved out of sight, from the 30s down to 23%.
Australia led with only 18.5% misses, which appears to be the best one-year figure for any team in these surveys.
There are always niggling worries with the data. It relies on Cricinfo reporters reliably mentioning missed chances, and on being able to reliably detect the references in the long texts. The method I use is to use a macro that automatically flag mentions of dropped catches in the text, searching for more than 30 synonyms or euphemisms that are used by the reporters, and then checking each flag individually.
I don’t know if anything has changed in the reporting. It seems to be much the same, and just as detailed as before. It will be interesting to see if the recent figures are maintained.
Some Notes on Six-Hitting in Tests
Shane Warne conceded 174 sixes (data complete). He has recently been overtaken by Vettori on 183. However, even though data for Murali is incomplete, there are records of 189 sixes hit off him. There are 12 other sixes unaccounted for in Murali's career; he would have shared them with the other bowlers. Murali conceded maybe 40% of Sri Lanka's sixes in Test that he played, so a fair estimate would be 195 sixes conceded in his career.
The only other bowlers registering more than 100 sixes are Harbhajan Singh 157, Danish Kaneria 121, and Anil Kumble with at least 120 (data incomplete for Kumble).
The very first sixes: early hits over the boundary were only awarded five or even four runs. The first such hit is credited to Charles Bannerman off James Lillywhite in the second Test match played, at the MCG in 1877. The first hit over the boundary to register six runs (“out of the ground”) has sometimes been credited to Joe Darling off Johnny Briggs during an innings of 178 at Adelaide in 1897/98.
However, prior to Darling, there were several genuine hits over the boundary in Tests in South Africa that were awarded six runs. The first I have noted was by AJ Fothergill off A Rose-Innes at Port Elizabeth in 1889. George Ulyett made a similar stroke in the same match. Jimmy Sinclair hit two genuine sixes at Cape Town in the 1895/96 series, and AJL Hill also hit one in that match.
Technically, the first 'six' in Test cricket was by HH Massie at MCG in 1881/82, whose hit for six included three overthrows. I don’t know how many players have since hit a six without the ball reaching the boundary, but it must be very few.
24 July 2013
A few titbits on fast scoring in ODIs
It is extremely difficult to
score off every ball for long, and it is almost certain that there have been
no major innings where a batsman has scored off every ball, even if you count
extras as scoring balls and ignore dismissals. Younis
Khan scored off all 18 balls he faced in
this ODI in 2002
There were no dot balls in Kevin Pietersen's 39 off 23 balls in this match but there was a leg bye and a dismissal.
Most runs successfully chased down in the last 2 overs of an ODI: 29 by Zimbabwe to beat Bangladesh at Harare in 2006. For 3 overs there was 37 by South Africa against New Zealand at Cape Town 2000, and for 5 overs, 60 by Zimbabwe against India at Faridabad 2002. These are from data since 1997, and that data contains gaps (6% of games).
Batsmen on the field throughout a Test
Qualification: Test completed, or drawn with play on at least four days. Generally, it is not known if substitute fieldsmen were used; *Haynes was definitely substituted for a significant period.
Most Overs on the Field in a Test Match (at the crease or fielding)
*Timeless Tests. Eight ball overs converted to six-ball equivalent. Generally, it is not known if substitute fieldsmen were used.
Most Overs at the Crease in a Test Match
*Timeless Tests. Eight ball overs converted to six-ball equivalent.
Bowlers who took a wicket in their first over most often
20 June 2013
A Rare Pause
As the recent England/ New Zealand Test series faded away at Headingley, the New Zealand tailenders failed to score for the last 68 balls of the match. This is the longest known spell without scoring (off the bat) since 1964, when some Australian batsmen conspired to face 78 dot balls in a row at Calcutta. At Headingley, there was one wide during the scoreless spell.
The subject of the biggest six hits has become a perennial favourite, a question that is as intractable as it is popular. Without suggesting this can be resolved, here is a contribution, from the Sun-Herald newspaper in October 1963, concerning a famous innings by Victor Trumper in 1902/03. At Redfern Oval in a club (1st grade) match, Trumper hit 335 in 165 minutes (less time searching for six lost balls) with 22 ‘fives’, shots that would count for six today. Under the scoring system at the time, a batsman lost the strike by hitting the ball over the boundary. Trumper and his partner Dan Gee at one point hit six fives off an over, three each, taking turns. Trumper’s score remains the record for Sydney 1st Grade cricket.
Anyway, one of Trumper’s shots smashed a second-storey window in a factory across the street from the ground. The article illustrates the shot, which was estimated at 150 yards (135+ metres). One good thing about this one, unlike earlier, more dubious, claims for massive hits, is that its trajectory was definitely known, since the window was broken. Personally (checking against Google Earth) I think that 150 yards is a slight exaggeration, but it was certainly a mighty hit.
Wickets by Substitute Bowlers
From time to time (once in every ten Tests, roughly) a bowler cannot complete an over, usually due to injury. Traditionally, such overs were left unfinished, but since the 1980s another bowler has been called on to complete the over. In a few rare cases, this bowler takes a wicket before the end of the over. Here is a list of such cases
McMillan, uniquely, managed two wickets. Bravo’s wicket came after Taylor was barred from bowling, following a beamer at a tailender. Harbhajan was out first ball, possibly confused by a unique case of batsman (Dravid) and bowler (Dillon) both retiring hurt after the same ball.
Recently, there was a discussion at Cricinfo about the most no balls bowled by a bowler in a Test match, which had Ramanayake at Colombo in 1992/93 leading the way. The numbers presented were rather incomplete; here is a more rigorous analysis…
Willis bowled 34 no balls in all at Edgbaston 1981; four of them were scored from. This is the most I know of. Most in an innings is 32 by Wasim Akram at Old Trafford 1992, 3 of them scored from, but he didn't get a second innings. Seems to be an 'English conditions' thing.
Strangely, the online score for Ramanayake at Colombo is incorrect; he registered 24 no balls not 26, plus six that were scored from.
Most no balls in a match (including those with runs off the bat)
(This table has been edited; previous references to Jeff Thomson were in error)
Rest of the World Again
To follow up the item last month on Dennis Lillee against the World XI in 1971/72, here are some figures for the famous innings of Garfield Sobers at the MCG in the same series. They turned up in Australian Cricket magazine in Feb 1972, but I doubt if they have been otherwise published.
*The original table gives a figure of 373
Off each Bowler
Sobers had been dismissed second ball by Lillee in the previous match in Perth, and first ball in the first innings in Melbourne, so by the time the second innings came around, he really had something to prove against the “six foot Perth bank officer”, as one newspaper described Lillee. Sobers scored effortlessly off every bowler in the second innings, as the head-to head figures show. The innings was very fast but not superfast: Bradman had on several occasions reached 200 faster, although he had rarely matched Sobers speed from 200 to 250. Comparisons were made with Bradman’s own 254 (370 balls) at Lord’s in 1930, and Graeme Pollock’s 274 (413 balls) in 1970; Sobers was faster than both. The only innings of Bradman’s that was clearly faster was his 244 off 275 balls at the Oval 1934. Bradman himself was uncharacteristically effusive about Sobers’ innings, describing it as the finest he had seen in Australia.
It was a speed of scoring that Sobers had demonstrated before in Australia, being similar to his 132 at the Gabba in 1960/61 and two centuries he scored in 1968/69. Sobers’ five centuries against Australia came in an average of 125 balls, significantly faster than his 100s elsewhere, which typically took 200 balls.
There is no parallel in Test cricket for a player scoring a double century in one innings and being out first ball in the other. At Hyderabad in 1972/73, Dennis Amiss made 158 in the first innings, and a golden duck in the second. Dudley Nourse in 1935/36 and Viv Richards in 1984/85 combined double centuries with second ball ducks.
Another curiosity from that series: Greg Chappell, who eventually dismissed Sobers with his medium-pacers, had unaccountably been dropped to 12th man in the first two matches. Once back in the team, he scored 115* in Melbourne, 197* at the SCG, and 85 at Adelaide Oval. The same day as Sobers’ completed his 254, Chappell was caught off Bishen Bedi when a full-blooded sweep shot ricocheted off Norman Gifford’s ankle and ballooned to Sobers at mid-on. Gifford had to be helped from the field.
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 1964.
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.
For entries November 2010 to March 2012 click here
For entries Apr 09 to November 10 click here
For entries Apr 08 to March 09 click here
For entries May 07 to March 08 click here
For entries November 06 to March 07 click here
For entries April 06 to October 06 click here
For entries January 06 to March 06 click here
For entries Nov 04 to June 05 click here