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The number of century partnerships England's sixth to tenth wickets have been involved in during 2011 - an all-time record for any Test team in a single year. Since their century stands for the sixth, seventh and eighth wickets in the final Ashes Test in Sydney, they have added six more lower-order hundred-plus partnerships - a record for an English summer ‒ with three against both touring sides. The 109 put on by Prior and Bresnan for the seventh wicket at Trent Bridge took England past the previous world best of eight lower-order century stands in a year, by India in 1983, and West Indies in 1984. England's previous best was six - set last year. If they can maintain their current Krakatoan form, England will be able to make a strong statistical claim for having the best lower middle order in Test history. England's average partnership for their sixth to tenth wickets this year is 57 (compared to 27 last year) - comfortably a record by any team who have played more than one Test in a year, beating the previous best of 48 by South Africa in 1966. And they have scored these runs at a bowler-breaking rate of 4.6 per over. This summer, England's lower order has averaged 48 per wicket against Sri Lanka and 54 versus India - whose own last five wickets have responded with, respectively, 19 and 16 per wicket. And some of those responsible for these lower-order blitzkriegs have been bowling quite nicely as well. By comparison, England's first five wickets in the current series have had just four runs per partnership over India's - 37 to 33. But whilst India's tail has been disintegrating like an egg sandwich re-entering the earth's atmosphere from a high earth orbit, England's has been taking the bull by the horns, swinging the bull round their heads, and training the now subdued bull to do their housework, iron their shirts and cook them dinner.
Also: The number of bowlers England's lower order has reduced to tears of impotent rage this year.
Also: The number in England's order at which Alan Mullally batted in the Oval Test of 1999. In both innings there were no batsmen absent. Mullally did not lock the real numbers 9 and 10 in a cupboard just so he could bat. He was chosen as England's No. 9. He scored 5 and 3, so, by his standards, he almost rose to the challenge. England's No. 9 at Trent Bridge was Stuart Broad - 108 runs off 98 balls in the match, bumping his career average up to 29. How times have changed in English cricket.
Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writerFeeds: Andy Zaltzman
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Andy Zaltzman was born in obscurity in 1974. He has been a sporadically-acclaimed stand-up comedian since 1999, and has appeared regularly on BBC Radio 4. He is currently one half of TimesOnline's hit satirical podcast The Bugle, alongside John Oliver. Zaltzman's love of cricket outshone his aptitude for the game by a humiliating margin. He once scored 6 in 75 minutes in an Under-15 match, and failed to hit a six between the ages of 9 and 23. He would have been ideally suited to Tests, had not a congenital defect left him unable to play the game to anything above genuine village standard. He writes the Confectionery Stall blog on Cricinfo.