Test cricket April 10, 2010

A Test series for the gods - part 2

The results from a simulated five-Test series between an all-time England XI and an all-time World XI

Malcolm Marshall: 32 wickets in five Tests a an average of 17.18 © Getty Images
An intriguing title to an article radically different from my normal analytical efforts. I can assure the readers that they would not be disappointed.

During early 1990s we had developed a series of complex and unique Test and ODI simulation systems. We had simulated for Sportstar a ODI World Cup. We had also conducted an inter-school tournament between the top schools letting the children captain various teams. Also we had done some innovative pre-match simulation of the matches during the 1999 World Cup.

During 2002, I undertook a very different and unusual exercise with Times of London, in conjunction with Wisden On-line. This was to simulate a series of 5 Tests between an all-time England XI and all-time World XI. For various logical reasons we restricted ourselves to the post-war players. These matches were to be played at Lord's, Bridgetown, Cape Town, SCG and Calcutta. The two teams were selected by Christopher Martin-Jenkins with inputs from us. The actual simulation was done in Bangalore over a few days.

The results were published in London times, with comments by Steven Lynch, between 26 July 2002 and 3 August 2002.

Since most readers might not have seen these articles, I felt I ought to do an article on this unique exercise. In the first part I talked about the simulation methodology and the teams which were selected. In the second part I will cover the actual "Test" match scores and the original match reports as sent by us to London Times. I am sure the readers would find these worthwhile to peruse.

In the first part, I had laid the foundation of this unique Test series. In this follow-up article I have given the scorecards and match reports.

First Test: played at Lord's, London (ROW won by six wickets)

England Post-war XI: First  innings -
292 (Hutton 129*, May 89, Marshall 5/46)
R O W   Post-war XI: First  innings -
440 (V Richards 85, Lara 75, Tendulkar 59, Gichrist 95*, Statham 4/86, Underwood 4/84)
England Post-war XI: Second innings -
302 (Hutton 136, Cowdrey 63, Warne 5/84, Muralitharan 4/74)
R O W   Post-war XI: Second innings -
156/4 (Gavaskar 57*)
To view the scanned scorecard properly, please right-click here and download the file.

Viewing on the browser may not be clear since most browsers reduce the picture sizes. This applies to all jpg files. It is suggested that readers download the files and peruse at leisure.

To view the scanned match report properly, please right-click here and download the file.

Alternately, to view the match report in browser-friendly html format, please click here.

Second Test: played at Bridgetown, Barbados (England won by 43 runs)

England Post-war XI: First  innings
308 (May 92*, Botham 73, Marshall 4/67, Lillee 4/79)
R O W   Post-war XI: First  innings
339 (V Richards 103, Lara 50, Trueman 3/70, Statham 4/60)
England Post-war XI: Second innings
299 (Botham 101*, Dexter 46, Marshall 6/81)
R O W   Post-war XI: Second innings
223 (B Richards 62, Sobers 53*, Trueman 3/46, Statham 4/57).
To view the scanned scorecard properly, please right-click here and download the file. Viewing on the browser may not be clear since most browsers reduce the picture sizes.

To view the scanned match report properly, please right-click here and download the file.

Alternately, to view the match report in browser-friendly html format, please click here.

Third Test: played at Cape town, South Africa (ROW won by 55 runs)

R O W   Post-war XI: First  innings
485 (Gavaskar 145, Lara 75, Sobers 89*, Gilchrist 66)
England Post-war XI: First  innings
150 (Hutton 48, Marshall 4/30, Warne 5/35)
R O W   Post-war XI: Second innings
150 for 3 decl (Gavaskar 57*)
England Post-war XI: Second innings\
430 (Hutton 113, Gooch 104, May 64, Muralitharan 5/118).
To view the scanned scorecard properly, please right-click here and download the file. Viewing on the browser may not be clear since most browsers reduce the picture sizes.

To view the scanned match report properly, please right-click here and download the file.

Alternately, to view the match report in browser-friendly html format, please click here.

Fourth Test: played at SCG, Sydney (England won by 5 wickets)

R O W   Post-war XI: First  innings
242 (B Richards 72, V Richards 74, Underwood 3/34, Laker 3/26)
England Post-war XI: First  innings
429 (Hutton 182, Dexter 82, May 69, Murali 5.91, Warne 4/91)
R O W   Post-war XI: Second innings
261 (B Richards 53, Lara 84, Botham 4/74)
England Post-war XI: Second innings
76 for 5 (Marshall 5/33).
To view the scanned scorecard properly, please right-click here and download the file. Viewing on the browser may not be clear since most browsers reduce the picture sizes. Pl note that this scanning has been done off the original newspaper.

To view the scanned match report properly, please right-click here and download the file.

Alternately, to view the match report in browser-friendly html format, please click here.

Fifth Test: played at Calcutta, India (ROW won by an innings and 52 runs)

England Post-war XI: First  innings
282 (Dexter 132, Marshall 3/56, Lillee 3/66, Sobers 3/64)
R O W   Post-war XI: First  innings
616 for 4 decl (Tendulkar 200*, Lara 106, Sobers 102*)
England Post-war XI: Second innings
282 (Hutton 56, May 102, Marshall 3/71, Muralitharan 3/40).
To view the scanned scorecard properly, please right-click here and download the file. Viewing on the browser may not be clear since most browsers reduce the picture sizes.

To view the scanned match report properly, please right-click here and download the file.

Alternately, to view the match report in browser-friendly html format, please click here.

In addition to the five Test series, a one-off "Test" was played between the team selected by a lucky reader (P.J.Mickleburgh) and an eleven selected by Christopher Martin-Jenkins.

To view the scanned scorecard properly, please right-click here and download the file. Viewing on the browser may not be clear since most browsers reduce the picture sizes.

A statistical summary:

Runs scored:      Hutton scored 744 runs.
Batting average:  Hutton's average was a Bradman-like 93.0.
Wickets captured: Marshall captured 32 wickets.
Bowling average:  Marshall's bowling average was a miserly 17.18.
Hundreds:         Hutton scored 4 hundreds.
Four-wkt hauls:   Marshall had 5 four-wkt hauls.
Highest score:    Tendulkar's unbeaten 200 in the last Test.
Best bowling:     Marshall's 6 for 81 although his devastating
spell of 5 for 33 when England needed only 76 to win
probably the bowling performance of the series.
Summing up this has been a Hutton-Marshall dominated series.

To view all five scorecards/simulation reports, please click/right-click here and view/download the file. Viewing on the browser may be fine since this is only a MS Word file.

Download this document and read the simulation reports at leisure. You will get a clear insight into the rationale behind the game development and the way it is played. Do not miss the last bit of the fourth Test where England chases 76 to win and almost comes a cropper due to wrong strategy adopted by the simulation captain.

Many readers have expressed their surprise at the non-inclusion of Barrington. If the readers peruse the simulation reports carefully, they will notice this sentiment expressed in more than one place. I myself was quite surprised at the preference of Cowdrey, no more than competent, to Barrington, among the best of defensive batsmen.

The final image. To view the scanned Player selection report of CM-J properly, please right-click here and download the file. Viewing on the browser may not be clear since most browsers reduce the picture sizes.

Truly this was a series for the Gods. If these teams were made into all-time XIs, Bradman, Barnes SF and Hammond might have replaced B Richards, Statham and Cowdrey. My hunch is that that team, immeasurably strengthened with the arrival of the great man himself, would probably win 4-1. Possibly not. Who knows, Barnes was well-nigh unplayable on many pitches and Hammond has a 14-run lead over Cowdrey.

Even in this series the presence of Barrington might (or might not) have tilted the scales. Readers must remember that if Barrington was playing, the role-playing captains might have attempted alternate strategies.

A few people have asked whether some simulation exercise can be done now. Unfortunately the programs were kept in cold storage in 2002. The database was also a manually created one since I was not able to link the simulation with my established and dynamic database in 2002, mainly because of time constraints. That exercise is a massive one, as also the one of fine tuning the simulation to fit in with today's 75+% result and 3.5+ rpo Test environment. I promise I will do it one day. At least let me see whether I can wake the Simulation suite of programs from their Rip van Winkle-like slumber.

Again let me re-assure the readers that this is not an attempt to plug any of our company products since I have nothing to sell, no products, no services, nothing !!! I have been driven by nostalgia and the need to share unique experiences with enlightened readers.

Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systems

Comments