Statistics April 13, 2013

Analysing Test matches across eras - part I

A comprehensive analysis of all Tests played, looking at first-innings advantage, result likelihood during different eras, margin of victories, and the best Tests ever played
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Ian Botham was one of the protagonists in England's famous win against Australia at Headingley in 1981 © Getty Images

Milind and I are working on a mega-project on player contributions in Tests. Analysing Test results in depth was an essential part of that exercise where we unearthed some fascinating facts. This made me think that I could do an article analysing Test results. Initially I was apprehensive that it may not have enough material to fill my normal long article. Then things developed as I delved deeper and now I am left, as it often happens, with a two-part article. These two articles are partly anecdotal. The first one will deal with those matches that finished with a definite result. The second one will deal with draws, ties, follow-ons and the like.

This article is as much form as content. This is not the usual table-centric article. I have to present the analysis data in different forms. As I normally do, let me say that most of the data presented here will be available through Cricinfo's stats and some further work. Only thing is you might need quite a few queries and results will not be available in this clear, concise format.

First, let me talk about two special matches that ended with a definite result. Both these have been considered as wins for this exercise.

The first one was Match #1483. There was a lot of rain during the first four days at Centurion and South Africa had scored 248 for 8 in the 72 overs possible. South Africa could have batted on, and the result would have been a dull draw. However Nasser Hussain and Hansie Cronje agreed to forfeit their respective first and second innings and make a match of it. England had 90 overs to score 250 for a win. They did this in 75 overs and won the match by 2 wickets. Many players, commentators and writers have argued for and against this "arrangement". The added spice was the presence of Cronje as one of the protagonists and the subsequent match-fixing allegations. However, the presence of the impeccable English captain, Nasser Hussain, in the twosome should dispel any doubts on this match. I have only one wish. Instead of forfeiting the two innings, the two captains could have played an over each before declaration, making it a complete match. It would have avoided many programming headaches for me. More significantly, no one could have questioned the captains. Anyhow as far as I am concerned this is a match which ended in a 2-wicket win/loss.

The second is a serious "non-win" which became a win. Move the clock forward by six years, to Match #1814. England played poorly and were dismissed for 173 by Pakistan. Pakistan amassed a lead of over 300 runs and England took the field on the third day, in great distress. They reached 298 for 4, still 33 runs in arrears. Darrel Hair accused Pakistan of ball-tampering and awarded 5 penalty runs to England. Pakistan did not take the field and the match was awarded to England as a forfeited match. This was revised to a draw in 2008 and was reversed back to forfeit after another year. A sorry episode all through. Even now, I do not have any clarity in determining how to treat this match. A win no doubt, but not by an innings, not by runs, and not by wickets. For that reason I do not want to create a set of columns called "forfeited". So it remains an undefined win. It does not come under any of the three categories. It is an "un-earned" win. The two concerned teams have been allotted the result, though.

First, let me say that no team should ever forfeit a match, whatever be the provocation. But Pakistan had reason to feel aggrieved, not that it justifies Inzamam-ul-Haq's action. Let us not forget that the first forfeit almost happened 25 years earlier when Sunil Gavaskar, given out lbw, and more likely because of unnecessary and provocative on-field comments from the Australians, almost walked off the field at MCG during 1981. But for the timely action of the manager, Wg CmdrSalim Durrani, in pushing Dilip Vengsarkar onto the field and ensuring that Chetan Chauhan did not cross the line, unpleasant history would have been made then and there. We were 5 seconds away from the first forfeiture of a Test match.

A. Overall summary of results - by period
PeriodTestsFI-AvgeRunsResults%FB-Wins%SB-Wins%Draws%
All Tests 2085324.6136565.5 69033.1 67532.4 72034.5
1877 - 1948 307307.8 21770.7 12540.7 9230.0 9029.3
1949 - 1979 560320.8 32858.6 18432.9 14425.7 23241.4
1980 - 1999 613316.7 36659.7 17328.2 19331.5 24740.3
2000 - 2013 605344.6 45475.0 20834.4 24640.7 15125.0

The first table sets the tone. We start sedately with a straightforward table of results across ages and then increase our pace.

In 135 years of Test cricket, 2085 matches have been played. There have been 1365 results, which is just over 65% of the matches. That is just under 2 out of 3. For the purpose of this article the two tied matches, have been categorized as draws. Teams batting first have won 690 matches, 33.1%, and the teams batting second, 675, around 32.4%. Over the long period, teams batting first have an infinitesimal edge of less than 1%. Take a look at the average of first-innings score of teams batting first, which stands at 324.6.

I have then analysed the results in four broad periods. My usual period work is done by creating 8 periods. Here, I felt that we could consider the two modern periods, one middle period and the first one, covering just over 70 years.

During the first period, upto 1948, the result percentage was higher than 70%, partly helped by timeless Tests. The average first-innings score was lower at 307.8, but the number of matches won by teams batting first was quite high, at over 40%. teams batting second won only 30% of the matches, a clear difference of 25%. Pitches deteriorated faster during this period, owing to them being uncovered.

The period between 1949 and 1979 is perceived to be the dull period when no risks were taken and draws were the first option for some teams. This is shown by the increase of average first-innings score to 320 and the huge drop of over 10% in result matches, to around 59%. Look at the draw percentage, which is over 41%. Teams batting first won more matches comfortably.

Now we arrive at the 1980s and 90s. Despite the presence of very formidable bowling attacks, this period does not even boast a 60% result rate. Probably it was difficult to shrug off the safety-first attitude. The average first-innings score dropped. For the first time more teams won batting second: 31.5% against 28.2%. Fairly high number of draws. So, contrary to the usual perception, the 1980-1999 was not that great a Test period. It is clear that the West Indian dominance was offset by mediocrity elsewhere.

Finally we reach the current era: a truly great Test playing period, despite the proliferation of ODIs and T20 matches. A 75% results in matches is truly phenomenal. That means a 4-Test series is likely to end in a 3-0 or a 2-1 result. Look at the 7% increase in the average first-innings score; it is now around 340-350. And a very significant increase in the wins by teams batting second, despite this increase. No longer can the toss-winning captain play the percentage-game of batting first. You are more likely to lose than not.

B. A look at first-innings scores

First Inns scores>=300   Tests:1070 Wins: 435 Draws: 488 Losses: 147 Perf: 63.5%
First Inns scores>=324   Tests: 958 Wins: 412 Draws: 435 Losses: 111 Perf: 65.7%
First Inns scores>=350   Tests: 832 Wins: 364 Draws: 385 Losses:  83 Perf: 66.9%
First Inns scores>=400   Tests: 607 Wins: 285 Draws: 283 Losses:  39 Perf: 70.3%

This is a special look at first-innings scores. As can be seen, the all-time average first-innings score is 324. I did a special analysis of all matches in which this mean level was reached or exceeded. There were 958 Tests and the teams batting first won 412 of these matches. The overall performance percentage was 65.7, which denotes a fair achievement level. Then I increased the cut-off values and found out that at around 394 runs, the 70% figure is reached. This represents a very good achievement. Rounding off this to 400, we get an excellent performance value of 70.3%. My take is that any target between 350 and 400 can be taken, with the stronger teams opting for the latter figure. The current acceptable level is certainly 350+. We have decided to set the target for all first innings as 400 in our contribution work. Just to get a clear overall picture, I have done this exercise for 300 and 350 runs also. The performance percentage is 63.5% and 66.9%, respectively. As the cut-off runs are reduced, the wins decrease but the number of draws increases significantly. One other interesting fact emerged as I pushed the bar further up. The magic figure of 50% wins is reached at a cut-off score of 594. Out of the 75 instances when this total was reached, 38 ended in wins and 37 in draws.

C. A summary of innings wins

Innings wins:363   Total=34938     Avge=96.2
  Wins by inns &  1-9    runs   23   6.3
  Wins by inns & 10-49   runs  101  27.8
  Wins by inns & 50-99   runs  102  28.1
  Wins by inns & 100-199 runs   96  26.4
  Wins by inns & 200+    runs   41  11.3

This is a summary of the 363 innings wins. The average shown is an interesting number. It is the average margin of the innings victories. In other words, the sum of win-runs divided by the number of wins. Also, the additional runs scored, forms the slack. The average win has been by an innings and 96 runs, which is a big win. This is explained by the analysis below. Only 6.3% of the wins have been by an innings and upto-10 runs. These are still not close contests. It was only a matter of avoiding innings defeats. It can clearly be seen that more than 66% of the innings wins have been by wide margins. This is reflected in the overall average also. Let us not forget that the winning team also had the 10 wickets in hand, in addition to the run margins.

D. A summary of wins by runs

Runs wins: 464     Total= 73968  Avge=159.4
  Wins by  1-9    runs     9    1.9
  Wins by 10-49   runs    57   12.3
  Wins by 50-99   runs    81   17.5
  Wins by 100-199 runs   175   37.7
  Wins by 200+    runs   142   30.6

This is a summary of the 464 wins by runs. The average is calculated similar to the innings victories. There is a lot of slack in these wins also. The average win has been by 159 runs, which is a reasonably big win. This is explained by the analysis below. Only 1.9% of the wins have been by upto10 runs. However, the big difference here is that all these matches were extremely close and could easily have gone the other way. In a way, even the next category, upto-50 runs, is similar to this. These are narrow wins. Beyond this, the wins become more comfortable. Look at the high %, 30.6, of the last category, 200+ runs, all these being huge wins. It can clearly be seen that more than 68% of the innings wins have been by wide margins. This is reflected in the overall average also.

E. A summary of wins by wickets

Wicket  wins: 537  Total= 3856    Avge=  7.2
  Wins by  1 wkt(s)   12   2.2
  Wins by  2 wkt(s)   17   3.2
  Wins by  3 wkt(s)   22   4.1
  Wins by  4 wkt(s)   32   6.0
  Wins by  5 wkt(s)   48   8.9
  Wins by  6 wkt(s)   47   8.8
  Wins by  7 wkt(s)   74  13.8
  Wins by  8 wkt(s)   97  18.1
  Wins by  9 wkt(s)   80  14.9
  Wins by 10 wkt(s)  108  20.1

First, let me say that these are the only wins in which there is no slack. Always, the required number of runs, i.e. the aggregate runs of the losing team plus the run(s) needed to overtake this aggregate, are scored, since the learned duo of Duckworth-Lewis have not made their appearance into the Test arena. This analysis of wins by wickets is an eye-opener. Most of the wins, 92% to be specific, are by 4 or more wickets, which are quite comfortable wins. These teams had a lot of resources to spare. Only wins by 3/2/1 wickets can be termed as narrow and that total is below 10%. The average win margin of 7.2 wickets reflects this. Also, note the increasing trend of the numbers.

F. Team performance summary
TeamTestsWinsDrawsLossesResult %Close winsClose losses
Australia 754353204199 60.3 410
Bangladesh 77 3 8 66 9.1 0 1
England 933331334268 53.4 5 4
India 472119205149 46.9 1 0
New Zealand 382 72154156 39.0 2 0
Pakistan 373115154104 51.5 2 1
South Africa377137114126 51.5 3 2
Sri Lanka 222 66 76 80 46.8 1 1
West Indies 490160169162 49.9 3 2
Zimbabwe 89 9 26 54 24.7 0 0
ICC World XI 1 0 0 1 0.0 0 0

No surprises here. Australia leads the table with a result percentage exceeding 60, the only team to do so. This is based on 1.0 for a win and 0.5 for a draw basis. But what do we have here? Australia has played 14 close matches (listed elsewhere: sub-10 runs and 1-wkt wins). They have lost 10 of those. That means they are the team, despite the abundance of talent and determination, to lose more than 2 of 3 such matches. A true paradox. And it is also a surprise that they get into these situations far more often than others.

England follows next with 53.4%. They seem to hold their nerves, as shown by their wonderful saves during the past 4 years. Maybe there is something there for the Australians to learn. Pakistan and South Africa, with their special bowling attacks capable of winning everywhere, are next with 51.5%. They do not get into these close situations often. These are the only four teams to have a performance percentage of greater than 50. West Indies fall short of the 50% mark, by a whisker. Look at the high percentage of drawn matches for India, a throw-back to the safety-first methods between 1950 and 1995. India and Sri Lanka are almost at the same level.

G. Team performance - Home/Away/Neutral
HOMEAWAYNEUTRAL
TeamTestsWinsDrawsLossesResult %TestsWinsDrawsLossesResult %Tests WinsDrawsLossesResult %
Australia 389219 76 9566.135612712710353.5 9 7 1 183.3
Bangladesh 39 1 5 33 9.0 38 2 3 33 9.2 0 0 0 0 0.0
England 47319117310958.745514015915648.2 5 0 2 320.0
India 242 82110 5156.6229 37 94 9836.7 1 0 1 050.0
New Zealand 186 44 81 6145.4194 28 71 9532.7 2 0 2 050.0
Pakistan 144 55 68 2161.8206 51 77 7843.4 23 9 9 558.7
South Africa203 87 52 6455.7169 50 59 6047.0 5 0 3 230.0
Sri Lanka 113 47 40 2659.3105 19 34 5234.3 4 0 2 225.0
West Indies 223 80 91 5256.3264 80 7810745.1 3 0 0 3 0.0
Zimbabwe 47 7 16 2431.9 42 2 10 3016.7 0 0 0 0 0.0
ICC World XI 0 0 0 0 0.0 1 0 0 1 0.0 0 0 0 0 0.0

Australia has a rather even record everywhere, confirming that they are not just lions at home. They have a result percentage of 66% at home, 53.5% away and 83% in neutral locations: all figures the best in each classification. This makes their recent 0-4 loss an aberration. Pakistan is the only other team with a home result percentage of greater than 61. All other major teams are grouped between 55% and 60%. England is quite good, playing away, with a result percentage of just below 50. South Africa, West Indies and Pakistan follow next. Sri Lanka, India and New Zealand have only average performances away from home. Only Pakistan have played reasonable number of matches in neutral locations and have only a fair result percentage and outside UAE, they have not done well.

H. Location results summary
LocationTestsResultsDrawsResult %
Australia 389314 7680.7%
Bangladesh 47 37 1078.7%
England 47830417463.6%
India 24213311054.9%
New Zealand 186105 8156.5%
Pakistan 144 76 6852.8%
South Africa 203151 5274.4%
Sri Lanka 114 74 4064.9%
West Indies 223132 9159.2%
Zimbabwe 47 31 1666.0%
U.A.E. 12 8 466.7%

This is an analysis by match ground. UAE, a non-Test playing country, has hosted 12 matches. The key measure here is the percentage of matches which ended in a result. Australia leads this table with just over 80% results. That means that a 5-Test series in Australia is likely to end with a single draw. In addition to the type of cricket played by Australia, the pitches with true bounce which provide equal help to batsmen and bowlers alike, would be the main reason. If and when the World Test Championship (WTC) is played, it should be conducted in Australia, Indian money notwithstanding. South Africa follows suit, reasonably close behind with nearly 75% results. Fine, let us have some of the WTC matches there too. Sri Lanka and England are fairly high, at around 65%. West Indies falls just short of 60%. Surprisingly New Zealand manages to produce a result only 56% of the time. India and Pakistan do not even reach 55%, no doubt weighed down by the awful 50s/60s.

Here is a potpourri of interesting result-matches gathered using special criteria. In all these summary score lines, the winning team is shown in upper-case letters.

1. Big Innings wins
    0266 1938 By I&579 runs ENG-903/7 aus-201ao fo aus-123ao
    1590 2002 By I&360 runs AUS-652/7 saf-159ao fo saf-133ao
    0463 1959 By I&336 runs WIN-614/5 ind-124ao fo ind-154ao
    0279 1946 By I&332 runs AUS-645ao eng-141ao fo eng-172ao
    1600 2002 By I&324 runs PAK-643ao nzl- 73ao fo nzl-246ao
    1289 1995 By I&322 runs WIN-660/5 nzl-216ao fo nzl-122ao
    1630 2002 By I&310 runs bng-139ao WIN-536ao    bng- 87ao
    2033 2012 By I&301 runs NZL-495/7 zim- 51ao fo zim-143ao

The Oval disaster for Australia leads the chart. Imagine facing 903 without Don Bradman, who twisted his ankle while bowling. Zimbabwe arrived after a long delay to get slaughtered by New Zealand during 2012.

2. Big Run wins
    0176 1928 By   675 runs ENG-521ao aus-122ao    ENG-342/8 aus- 66ao
    0237 1934 By   562 runs AUS-701ao eng-321ao    AUS-327ao eng-145ao
    0114 1911 By   530 runs AUS-328ao saf-205ao    AUS-578ao saf-171ao
    1726 2004 By   491 runs AUS-381ao pak-179ao    AUS-361/5 pak- 72ao
    1905 2009 By   465 runs SLK-384ao bng-208ao    SLK-447/6 bng-158ao
    0779 1976 By   425 runs WIN-211ao eng- 71ao    WIN-411/5 eng-126ao
    0300 1948 By   409 runs AUS-350ao eng-215ao    AUS-460/7 eng-186ao
    0870 1980 By   408 runs WIN-328ao aus-203ao    WIN-448ao aus-165ao

The first match featured here was Bradman's debut Test. Maybe this Brisbane massacre, followed by him being dropped in the next Test at SCG, must have been partly responsible for Bradman's later run-hunger/thirst.

3. Close Wins - by 1 wkt
    0074 1902 By     1 wkt  aus-324ao ENG-183ao    aus-121ao ENG-263/9
    0088 1906 By     1 wkt  eng-184ao SAF- 91ao    eng-190ao SAF-287/9
    0097 1908 By     1 wkt  aus-266ao ENG-382ao    aus-397ao ENG-282/9
    0149 1923 By     1 wkt  saf-113ao ENG-183ao    saf-242ao ENG-173/9
    0345 1952 By     1 wkt  win-272ao AUS-216ao    win-203ao AUS-260/9
    0873 1980 By     1 wkt  win-140ao NZL-249ao    win-212ao NZL-104/9
    1268 1994 By     1 wkt  aus-337ao PAK-256ao    aus-232ao PAK-315/9
    1453 1999 By     1 wkt  aus-490ao WIN-329ao    aus-146ao WIN-311/9
    1497 2000 By     1 wkt  pak-269ao WIN-273ao    pak-219ao WIN-216/9
    1658 2003 By     1 wkt  bng-281ao PAK-175ao    bng-154ao PAK-262/9
    1812 2006 By     1 wkt  saf-361ao SLK-321ao    saf-311ao SLK-352/9
    1972 2010 By     1 wkt  aus-428ao IND-405ao    aus-192ao IND-216/9

I wanted this section to have no more than 10 Tests in each category but had to accept this classification featuring 12 Tests. The criterion is fixed. The amazing fact is that Australia featured in 6 of these Tests and lost 5. England featured in 3 and won all. One of Australian losses was the Laxman-heist at Mohali during 2010.

4. Close Wins - by fewer than 10 runs
    1505 2000 By     7 runs SAF-253ao slk-308ao    SAF-231ao slk-169ao
    2021 2011 By     7 runs NZL-150ao aus-136ao    NZL-226ao aus-233ao
    0009 1882 By     7 runs AUS- 63ao eng-101ao    AUS-122ao eng- 77ao
    0019 1885 By     6 runs AUS-181ao eng-133ao    AUS-165ao eng-207ao
    1243 1994 By     5 runs SAF-169ao aus-292ao    SAF-239ao aus-111ao
    0943 1982 By     3 runs ENG-284ao aus-287ao    ENG-294ao aus-288ao
    0073 1902 By     3 runs AUS-299ao eng-262ao    AUS- 86ao eng-120ao
    1758 2005 By     2 runs ENG-407ao aus-308ao    ENG-182ao aus-279ao
    1210 1993 By     1 run  WIN-252ao aus-213ao    WIN-146ao aus-184ao

These are the other close matches. Single-digit-run wins should be considered the closest of wins. Australia have featured in 8 of these 9 matches and have only a 3-5 record. They seem to lose their nerve or is there another reason?

5. Lost after scoring 500 runs in first inns
    0042 1894 By    10 runs aus-586ao ENG-325ao fo ENG-437ao aus-166ao
    1673 2003 By     4 wkts aus-556ao IND-523ao    aus-196ao IND-233/6
    1819 2006 By     6 wkts eng-551/6 AUS-513ao    eng-129ao AUS-168/4
    0635 1968 By     7 wkts win-526/7 ENG-404ao    win- 92/2 ENG-215/3
    0365 1953 By     6 wkts aus-520ao SAF-435ao    aus-209ao SAF-297/4
    0180 1929 By     5 wkts eng-519ao AUS-491ao    eng-257ao AUS-287/5

Scoring 500 and losing the match. Very painful. Australia again. They have featured in 5 matches and have only a 2-3 record. One was after making England follow-on and the other was the famous Indian win at Adelaide during 2003. The English win over West Indies was because of the declaration by Garry Sobers, often widely perceived as silly.

6. Lost losing fewer than 15 wkts
    1483 2000 By 2 wkts saf-248/8                      ENG-251/8  8 wkts lost
    0635 1968 By 7 wkts win-526/7 ENG-404ao  win- 92/2 ENG-215/3  9 wkts lost
    1814 2006 Forfeited ENG-173ao pak-504ao  ENG-298/4           10 wkts lost
    0313 1949 By 3 wkts saf-379ao ENG-395ao  saf-187/3 ENG-174/7 13 wkts lost
    1556 2001 By 6 wkts aus-447ao ENG-309ao  aus-176/4 ENG-315/4 14 wkts lost

The first is the match we have discussed earlier. Had to be present here for completion of presentation. The West Indies - England match has also been referred to briefly earlier. West Indies made two declarations, at 7 and 2 wickets, and lost the match. Quixotic, to say the least. The third match also has been discussed extensively earlier. I cannot get a handle on the fourth match. The South African bowling was very ordinary: no bowler even reaching a career aggregate of 60 wickets. Yet they declared leaving England, with Len Hutton, Cyril Washbrook, and Denis Compton, to get a sub-180 target. A strange decision by Dudley Nourse, indeed. But in his favour, it must be said that there was only 96 minutes of play possible. The amazing fact is that South Africa bowled 24 8-ball overs (32 6-ball overs) and captured 7 wickets. So let me equivocate - it is not so strange a decision as I had mentioned earlier. The fourth is the famous dead-rubber loss by Australia, orchestrated by Mark Butcher.

7. Won after scoring 100 runs in first inns
    0025 1887 By    13 runs ENG- 45ao aus-119ao    ENG-184ao aus- 97ao
    0009 1882 By     7 runs AUS- 63ao eng-101ao    AUS-122ao eng- 77ao
    0043 1895 By    94 runs ENG- 75ao aus-123ao    ENG-475ao aus-333ao
    0094 1907 By    53 runs ENG- 76ao saf-110ao    ENG-162ao saf- 75ao
    0059 1899 By   210 runs ENG- 92ao saf-177ao    ENG-330ao saf- 35ao
    2034 2012 By    71 runs PAK- 99ao eng-141ao    PAK-365ao eng-252ao

All but one of these matches were before 1908. Uncovered and deteriorating pitches meant that any runs on board were very valuable. The last match is of current vintage. England's loss was because of their first-innings failure to build a substantial lead after dismissing Pakistan for 99. Then Saeed Ajmal took over. The red herring which made everyone think that they were candidates for a 4-0 drubbing later in the year in India.

8. Won in least overs
    0047 1896 By   288 runs ENG-185ao saf- 93ao    ENG-226ao saf- 30ao (41.2 ov)
    0032 1889 By I&202 runs ENG-292ao saf- 47ao fo saf- 43ao           (50.3 ov)
    0082 1904 By   218 runs AUS-247ao eng- 61ao    AUS-133ao eng-101ao (54.1 ov)
    0216 1932 By I& 72 runs saf- 36ao AUS-153ao    saf- 45ao           (54.3 ov)
    0030 1888 By I& 21 runs ENG-172ao aus- 81ao fo aus- 70ao           (55.5 ov)
    1617 2002 By I&198 runs pak- 59ao AUS-310ao    pak- 53ao           (56.4 ov)
    0353 1952 By I&207 runs ENG-347/9 ind- 58ao fo ind- 82ao           (58.1 ov)

One match finished in fewer than 250 balls. That is a strike rate of a wicket every 12 balls. The umpires must have had sore shoulders. The most recent instance was Pakistan's Sharjah collapse in less than 60 overs for two sub-60 totals.

9. Won losing fewer than 3 wickets
    0154 1924 By I& 18 runs saf-273ao ENG-531/2    saf-240ao   2 wkts lost
    0456 1958 By I& 71 runs nzl- 67ao ENG-267/2    nzl-129ao   2 wkts lost
    0741 1974 By I& 78 runs ind-165ao ENG-459/2    ind-216ao   2 wkts lost
    1640 2003 By I& 60 runs bng-173ao SAF-470/2    bng-237ao   2 wkts lost
    2049 2012 By I& 12 runs eng-385ao SAF-637/2    eng-240ao   2 wkts lost

These are all matches with winning teams declaring 2 wickets down. For the first innings, there are a few matches won losing 3 wickets. The last match is fascinating. The same bowlers who orchestrated 4-0 and 2-1(away) wins against a strong Indian batting line-up managed to capture 2 wickets in 189 overs, in the interim period.

10. Won scoring fewer than 200 runs in match
    0009 1882 By     7 runs AUS- 63ao eng-101ao    AUS-122ao eng- 77ao
    0028 1888 By    61 runs AUS-116ao eng- 53ao    AUS- 60ao eng- 62ao
    0030 1888 By I& 21 runs ENG-172ao aus- 81ao fo aus- 70ao
    0034 1890 By     2 wkts aus- 92ao ENG-100ao    aus-102ao ENG- 95/8
    0128 1912 By    10 wkts saf- 95ao ENG-176ao    saf- 93ao ENG- 14/0
    0216 1932 By I& 72 runs saf- 36ao AUS-153ao    saf- 45ao
    0238 1935 By     4 wkts win-102ao ENG- 81/7    win- 51/6 ENG- 75/6
    0275 1946 By I&103 runs nzl- 42ao AUS-199/8    nzl- 54ao

This is a fascinating collection, mostly filled with pre-WW1 matches. Imagine, the winning team did not even need 200 runs in the two innings combined, to win, thrice with an innings to spare. I am fascinated by the 1888 match when Australia followed on, merely 91 runs behind. Australia's convenient declaration at 199/8 during 1946 got them in.

11. Won trailing by more than 250 runs
    1814 2006 Forfeited   ENG-173ao pak-504ao    ENG-298/4           Deficit 331
    1194 1992 By  16 runs AUS-256ao slk-547/8    AUS-471ao slk-164ao Deficit 291
    1535 2001 By 171 runs aus-445ao IND-171ao fo IND-657/7 aus-212ao Deficit 274
    0042 1894 By  10 runs aus-586ao ENG-325ao fo ENG-437ao aus-166ao Deficit 261
    0320 1950 By   5 wkts saf-311ao AUS- 75ao    saf- 99ao AUS-336/5 Deficit 236
    0905 1981 By  18 runs aus-401/9 ENG-174ao fo ENG-356ao aus-111ao Deficit 227
    1945 2010 By  36 runs AUS-127ao pak-333ao    AUS-381ao pak-139ao Deficit 206

In these matches the winning team trailed by more than 250 runs in the first innings. Three of these matches were won after following on. The fourth is the famous Botham-Willis match. The sixth is the equally famous Laxman-Harbhajan match. The last of these matches happened three years back at SCG. Possibly Michael Hussey's best ever Test innings gave Australian bowlers 175 runs to defend against Pakistan which they did in style. Nathan Hauritz's moment of glory.

12. 1/2 wkt wins with 50+ runs partnership for 8th/9th wicket   9w  10w   
   0096 1907 By  2 wkts eng-273ao AUS-300ao  eng-300ao AUS-275/8   56
   1012 1985 By  2 wkts pak-274ao NZL-220ao  pak-223ao NZL-278/8   50
   1097 1988 By  2 wkts pak-309ao WIN-306ao  pak-262ao WIN-268/8   61
   1268 1994 By  1 wkts aus-337ao PAK-256ao  aus-232ao PAK-315/9   22   57
   1453 1999 By  1 wkts aus-490ao WIN-329ao  aus-146ao WIN-311/9   54    9
   1658 2003 By  1 wkts bng-281ao PAK-175ao  bng-154ao PAK-262/9   52    9
   1972 2010 By  1 wkts aus-428ao IND-405ao  aus-192ao IND-216/9   81   11

These are fascinating matches in which the chasing teams achieved narrow wins by 1 or 2 wickets. However, these wins were unlikely ones in that there was a 50-plus run partnership for either the 9th or the last wicket. Each is a classic. Possibly the most exciting win was Pakistan's win over Australia, which is the only instance of an unbroken last wicket partnership of over 50 runs. The other classics are all here: the Brian Lara masterpiece at Bridgetown, Laxman special at Mohali and the Inzamam-inspired win against Bangladesh.

Which was the greatest of wins? The 1-run or 1-wkt wins are very close and might have provided great drama but the cause might not have been hopeless. But for sheer drama, courage and coming from behind, I have to narrow this search to the three wins after following on. Of these three, the one most talked about is the Calcutta win engineered by Laxman-Harbhajan-Dravid. But this match does not strike the right chords for me. India, at 232 for 4, were still 42 runs in arrears, but not a desperate situation. And Sourav Ganguly's decision to bat on the fifth day gave me the impression that he was not looking for a win. The win happened happenstance, that too by a wide margin. Now let us examine the other two matches. In the 1894 match, England had taken the lead with 6 wickets in hand. At SCG on the fifth day, any total above 150 was defendable, with an excellent bowling attack of Tom Richardson, Johnny Briggs, Bobby Peel and Bill Lockwood. However there is no arguing that this was a very close match.

The most exciting Test ever. The choice is individual: one could pick between the "The Ashes" Test, the first tie, the West Indian win by a single run against Australia, or those heart-stopping wins at Bridgetown, Karachi, Multan and Mohali. No one would go wrong. Result in doubt until the last ball, great individual performances and both teams "winning": what more can be asked for?

What about the 1981 Headingley classic? When Graham Dilley walked in, England were 135 for 7, still 92 in arrears. When Dilley was out, England were only 25 ahead. When Chris Old got out, England were only 92 ahead. Finally when Bob Willis was dismissed, the target for Australia was only 129. It needed one of the greatest fast bowling performances ever to give England the unlikeliest of wins. All things considered, I have no hesitation in nominating this Botham-Willis effort as the greatest of all wins. It is possible that non-match factors such as series status, opponent's fearsome reputation, own team's poor showing etc. might tilt the scale in favour of the 2001 win. But the 1981 match cannot be touched if we look at only the match.

As I have already explained this part itself has gone quite long. In the second part, I will examine the fascinating area of Test cricket, in the form of draws (in different hues), follow-ons, tied matches et al. I trust that at the end of this pair of articles you would have known whatever there is needed to know about Test results.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cool_Jeeves on April 20, 2013, 5:40 GMT

    I think Cape Town 2002 v/s Australia was a brilliant match also. It was full of extra ordinary performances, with Gilchrist correctly anticipating that the Australian innings would come to a rapid close, and absolutely exploding towards the end. By this time his batting had reached a peak that I have never since seen being equalled. He singlehandedly had his foot planted on Saffer's throat right through the innings. Then Warne bowled 70 almost consecutive overs and again singlehandely wrested the match back, and the final day's chase was a thrilling run-a-minute affair led by Ponting. I had an opportunity to meet Warne thereafter in Bombay (he was banned from the 2004 India series and was shooting ads in Bombay) and had the privilege of discussing this performance.
    [[
    It is just that this match did not meet the cut-offs set. Otherwise an extraordinary match.
    South Africa recovering from 92 for 6 to a respectable 239. Hall scoring a wonderful 70. Wickets shared. Then Australia racing to a 150 run lead, powered by the 108-ball 138 by Gilchrist. Australia scored at nearly 5 runs per over. Warne scored a run-a-ball 65.
    South Africa does not give up. The top 7 batsmen contribute, McKenzie leading with 99. Warne 70-15-161-6. He bowled nearly 100 overs in the match. Australia scored at 4 runs per over and had raced to 131-1 in 33 overs by close of fourth day's play. They won comfortably on the fifth day, thanks to quick innings either side of 100 by Hayden and Ponting.
    A truly amazing match. South Africa scoring at 3 rpo and Australia at 4.5 rpo.1400 runs in 14 sessions. Thanks, Gerry, for showcasing this match. Deserves a showcasing here.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • Bonehead_maz on April 19, 2013, 2:06 GMT

    Just a few test matches I watched that I thought amazing games for many and varied reasons.

    1. Aust V India Brisbane 1968 (match 0626)..... ok was my first test match watching, so might have been biased.... what an introduction !
    [[
    If I remember correctly this was the match in which Jaisimha walked off a plane and scored 74 and 101. India ran a full-strength Australia close.
    Ananth
    : ]]

    2. Aust V Pak Sydney 1973 (match 707). Wow ! who can imagine Max Walker taking 6/15 off 16 overs to win the unwinnable ? Who can imagine Johnny Watkins bowling 3 wides in his first test over and having done so, later being a hero along with Massie with the bat to set a target... albeit only 159. No one (I saw it and can't) can imagine a guy (D K Lillee) who was diagnosed with a broken back and told NEVER to bowl again, coming out next day and bowling unchanged through an innings to secure a win. Truly amazing !!!!
    [[
    That last innings effort of Lillee and Walker was similar to the last day efforts of Tayfield, Willis, de Villiers, Ambrose et al.
    Ananth
    : ]]

    3. The Centenary test. (1977 Melbourne). One of the LEAST freaky things that happened in this match was McCosker coming in with jaw wrapped in swaddling and hooking ! Simply everything about it was uncanny and seemingly pre-destined to 45 runs.
    [[
    Bannerman's 165 won while Randall's equally wonderful 174 was on the losing side. Last two wickets of Australia added 66 runs, well over the winning margin. Makes one wonder what the batsmen were doing on the first two days.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • Meety on April 19, 2013, 1:41 GMT

    As an Ozzy - I'll throw in another close loss as one of the best Test finishes of all time 2nd Test Oz v NZ @ Hobart, with NZ winning. I thought we finished the 4th Day on top & would cruise to a win. Watched some of the morning & we lost a wicket or two, but were closing in -then wickets started falling left right & centre. I work near a pub, & so when it was about 8 down I downed tools & went to in to watch (as did half of Brisbane, it was standing room only). Lyons & Warner got us close enuff for me to start thinking we'd win again & then the collective groan as Lyons was bowled. Not a bad lone hand from Warner (carrying the bat on a GENUINE Green Monster)!The atmosphere in the pub for the last hour was amazing, as the bowler bowled it was hushed silence, & then a sigh of relief for no wicket or a run & then hushed again - brilliant!
    [[
    Me says there is a identical twin to David Warner named Dudley Warner who is the one who has visited India over the past three months, for the Indian tour and IPL. The real David is somwhere in Australia. In my opinion that Hobart innings was an all-time great innings, played by the most unlikely of batsmen.
    What an advertisment for Test cricket. And New Zealand showed that they had steel, as was shown later against England also. Another last-ball finish. Well, they could not get 2-in-2.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • harshthakor on April 18, 2013, 9:49 GMT

    Ananth,

    I forgot the 3rd test match at Lords in 2012 where South Africa beat England by 52 runs to clinch the unofficial test world champion title.The match had the twists and turns of a Hollywood thriller with the pendulum continuously swinging in opposite directions.In the 4th Innings England seemed down and out at 146-6 chasing a target of 351 runs before a spectacular assault by Matt Prior,Stuart Broad and finally Grame Swann who took England close to a famous win.The 1st innings were virtually neck to neck while in S.Africa's 2nd innings a late burst by Finn brought England back.

    To me an all-time great game which championed test cricket as the best form of the game.
    [[
    It was not a low-scoring game as many of these games go. There was enough for both batsmen and bowlers. Probably an equally important factor was that almost everyone contributed. There were invaluable 20s and 30s and 1/2 wkt hauls. Yes, I agree, a truly wonderful match and outside the Test match, the no.1 position at stake.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • Bonehead_maz on April 17, 2013, 22:18 GMT

    @ Ananth .. "I cannot get a handle on the fourth match."

    This was a 5 test series with each test for some reason being played over 4 days. The match in question was the 5th and England lead 1 nil. The English win was from a leg bye off the last available ball of play in the first test (0306). ENG won by 2 wickets, with 2 tailenders in. It was apparently a real thriller, as rain delays also turned the pitch into a minefield, changing match complexion frequently on the last day.

    Athol Rowan was an outstanding bowler (Harvey, privately rates him above Tayfield and Laker !!!) although his physical difficulties cut his career short. Mann, a left arm orthodox also had an excellent series..... Dudley obviously thought with a deteriorating pitch they might level the series.

    Perhaps we need a another category for exciting close games - those which were decided with very little time remaining ? Greame Smith batting in plaster in Sydney 2009 (match 1904) springs to mind.
    [[
    Murray, I think the target was still somewhat low. However Dudley Nourse created something out of nothing. Hence he deserves appreciation.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • STNS on April 17, 2013, 11:38 GMT

    What about Lords 1992 Pak Vs Eng Ananath??
    [[
    A real thriller with Waqar and Wasim winning the match, after taking 13 wickets, adding 46 runs for the ninth wicket to win the match.
    Ananth
    : ]]

    And what about the 2nd & 3rd test of 1988 Pak vs WI series in WI??
    [[
    Firat Qadir doing a Panesar at Port of Spain. Will be covered in Part 2
    Benjamin and Dujon adding 61 to win.
    Ananth
    : ]]

    Both matches were absolute thrillers. With 2 best teams of that time competing for the number one spot, under charismatic leaders like Imran & VIv.

    And lastly Pak vs Ind at chennai 1999. My all-time favourite.
    [[
    All excellent selections, Talha. As I ahve mentioned in my response to Gerry I limited myself to the matches chronicled here. These are 2 wkt wins and a 12-run win.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • Cool_Jeeves on April 16, 2013, 17:22 GMT

    The 1982-83 MCG test is also quite vivid in my memory. I listened every day to every ball on Radio Australia. Each of the 4 innings totals were within 3 runs of each other and finally Australia lost by the same margin of 3 runs they had lost 80 years earlier, and which was then the narrowest margin of all time. AB and Thommo nearly won it.
    [[
    The great score symmetry of this Test was something out of the world. The four innings had a spread of 10 runs. Cowan's 9-ball cameo of 10 runs proved decisive, as also his 6 wickets. The last wicket partnership of Australia which was 70 in 25 overs was unbelievable. I agree with you that this match deserves serious consideration. I restricted myself only to the matches which were chronicled in the article.
    Ananth
    : ]]

    Another great MCG match happened the previous year with Lillee taking 7/83 with a dramatic end to the action packed first day.
    [[
    Quite a low-scoring match. What stands out is the bowling skills which was on display: Holding, Roberts, Garner, Croft, Lillee, Alderman, Lawson. I have particular fondness for this match since the unheralded Hughes' 100 moved into the top-10 of the initial Wisden-100 list. Coming in at 8 for 3, he guided the team to 198.
    Ananth
    : ]]

    The match in which Saeed Anwar and Azhar Mahmood scored centuries in 1997-98 in Durban was a super thriller which I saw from a breakfast cafe (AM's 132*). All these were low scoring matches.

    After so many double centuries in 2012 and 2013 (already in 3 months) and high scores I dont feel like watching cricket anymore. I think the game has tilted decisively towards batsmen and now often lacks subtlety.

    These days everyone from Chris Gayle to Moses Henrique is a big hitter.

    Soccer is much more beautiful to watch.

  • harshthakor on April 15, 2013, 9:27 GMT

    Ananth,to me

    1. the 1981 Leeds test of the Ashes would come out on top which had the romantic twist of a Hollywood thriller or a classic epic

    2. 1961 tied test at Brisbane between West Indies and Australia

    3. 2nd test of the series between S.Africa and Australia in 2011 where Australia won by 2 wkts which turned swung from one side of the pendulum to the other from start to finish .

    4..The 1999 3rd test at Barbados of the Frank Worell trophy won by West Indies by 1 wkt. with Lara scoring 153 n.o. after West Indies had a huge 1st innings deficit .

    5.The 2nd test at Calcutta of the Border-Gavaskar trophy in 2001 when Laxman and Dravid changed the destiny of a lost cause into a winning one in a 376 run partnership.

    6.6th test of 1977-78 series between India and Australia after India chased 493 runs in the 4th innings and lost by 48 runs.

    7.1977 Centenary test-Eng.v.Australia
    [[
    A lovely collection.
    By a strange coincidence, or otherwise, all 6 Tests feature Australia. If you add the 1993 edge-of-the-seat thriller against West Indias, the1994 classic against Pakistan, the Hobart surprise during 2011 against New Zealand and finally the 2010 Laxman-special at Mohali, you would get a round 10 out of 10.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • on April 14, 2013, 1:45 GMT

    As much a formidable act of scholarship as a true labour of love, Anantha. Congratulations on one of the most engrossing cricket articles I've ever read: what *could* have been an exercise in statistical aridity was enlivened at every turn by highly astute commentary which served to contextualise each of the stats-based observations you chose to highlight.

    I'm also delighted that at long last a set of forensic statistical data has been utilised to underpin what so many of us instinctively recognise: that this current era represents a true golden age of Test cricket. Let's hope it won't be submerged beneath the gathering tsunami of T20.
    [[
    The next 5 years will see whether more "younger Husseys" would choose to give up Test cricket to play in the mushrooming T20 Leagues. India is the only country insulated from this problem since it allows its players to have the cake, eat it and market it also. Pietersen almost did that last year. That would have been a great loss to Test cricket. Gayle just about survived that type of exit. Malinga did not. Ross Taylor probably flirted with (and still is flirting with) the idea of quitting.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • Beertjie on April 13, 2013, 15:21 GMT

    I began following test cricket in 1960 (SA v Eng.) and became a fan of Australia during the 60-61 series. Being a South African of Indian origin meant I myself could not aspire to play even first-class cricket. I didn't properly grasp the significance of the tied test immediately (I was 9) but I remember clearly thinking home town decisions gave that final series to Australia (they won the final test by 2 wickets to win the series 2-1). Later upon thinking back and reading books dealing with the game I began to appreciate its magic. If I could watch a screening of any game in its entirety for pure excitement it would be that one. However I followed Headingley on the radio and it will perhaps always be the most dramatic of all tests for me, so I agree with the author. My sense of both disappointment and wonder at the result has lingered these 3 decades, and will probably continue into the future.
    [[
    BBC Radio and TMS were the lifeline. I used to listen without fail to the Sports Round-up at 23.15 every day for many years. Life was tough but wonderful then. We knew the value of such offerings since these were rare. And let us not forget the 2-hour vigil of Mackay and Kline to save the last Test. Who would pay money to watch Mackay. After 31 Jan 1961, many would.
    Many thanks for a nostalgic trip down the memory lane.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • Cool_Jeeves on April 20, 2013, 5:40 GMT

    I think Cape Town 2002 v/s Australia was a brilliant match also. It was full of extra ordinary performances, with Gilchrist correctly anticipating that the Australian innings would come to a rapid close, and absolutely exploding towards the end. By this time his batting had reached a peak that I have never since seen being equalled. He singlehandedly had his foot planted on Saffer's throat right through the innings. Then Warne bowled 70 almost consecutive overs and again singlehandely wrested the match back, and the final day's chase was a thrilling run-a-minute affair led by Ponting. I had an opportunity to meet Warne thereafter in Bombay (he was banned from the 2004 India series and was shooting ads in Bombay) and had the privilege of discussing this performance.
    [[
    It is just that this match did not meet the cut-offs set. Otherwise an extraordinary match.
    South Africa recovering from 92 for 6 to a respectable 239. Hall scoring a wonderful 70. Wickets shared. Then Australia racing to a 150 run lead, powered by the 108-ball 138 by Gilchrist. Australia scored at nearly 5 runs per over. Warne scored a run-a-ball 65.
    South Africa does not give up. The top 7 batsmen contribute, McKenzie leading with 99. Warne 70-15-161-6. He bowled nearly 100 overs in the match. Australia scored at 4 runs per over and had raced to 131-1 in 33 overs by close of fourth day's play. They won comfortably on the fifth day, thanks to quick innings either side of 100 by Hayden and Ponting.
    A truly amazing match. South Africa scoring at 3 rpo and Australia at 4.5 rpo.1400 runs in 14 sessions. Thanks, Gerry, for showcasing this match. Deserves a showcasing here.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • Bonehead_maz on April 19, 2013, 2:06 GMT

    Just a few test matches I watched that I thought amazing games for many and varied reasons.

    1. Aust V India Brisbane 1968 (match 0626)..... ok was my first test match watching, so might have been biased.... what an introduction !
    [[
    If I remember correctly this was the match in which Jaisimha walked off a plane and scored 74 and 101. India ran a full-strength Australia close.
    Ananth
    : ]]

    2. Aust V Pak Sydney 1973 (match 707). Wow ! who can imagine Max Walker taking 6/15 off 16 overs to win the unwinnable ? Who can imagine Johnny Watkins bowling 3 wides in his first test over and having done so, later being a hero along with Massie with the bat to set a target... albeit only 159. No one (I saw it and can't) can imagine a guy (D K Lillee) who was diagnosed with a broken back and told NEVER to bowl again, coming out next day and bowling unchanged through an innings to secure a win. Truly amazing !!!!
    [[
    That last innings effort of Lillee and Walker was similar to the last day efforts of Tayfield, Willis, de Villiers, Ambrose et al.
    Ananth
    : ]]

    3. The Centenary test. (1977 Melbourne). One of the LEAST freaky things that happened in this match was McCosker coming in with jaw wrapped in swaddling and hooking ! Simply everything about it was uncanny and seemingly pre-destined to 45 runs.
    [[
    Bannerman's 165 won while Randall's equally wonderful 174 was on the losing side. Last two wickets of Australia added 66 runs, well over the winning margin. Makes one wonder what the batsmen were doing on the first two days.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • Meety on April 19, 2013, 1:41 GMT

    As an Ozzy - I'll throw in another close loss as one of the best Test finishes of all time 2nd Test Oz v NZ @ Hobart, with NZ winning. I thought we finished the 4th Day on top & would cruise to a win. Watched some of the morning & we lost a wicket or two, but were closing in -then wickets started falling left right & centre. I work near a pub, & so when it was about 8 down I downed tools & went to in to watch (as did half of Brisbane, it was standing room only). Lyons & Warner got us close enuff for me to start thinking we'd win again & then the collective groan as Lyons was bowled. Not a bad lone hand from Warner (carrying the bat on a GENUINE Green Monster)!The atmosphere in the pub for the last hour was amazing, as the bowler bowled it was hushed silence, & then a sigh of relief for no wicket or a run & then hushed again - brilliant!
    [[
    Me says there is a identical twin to David Warner named Dudley Warner who is the one who has visited India over the past three months, for the Indian tour and IPL. The real David is somwhere in Australia. In my opinion that Hobart innings was an all-time great innings, played by the most unlikely of batsmen.
    What an advertisment for Test cricket. And New Zealand showed that they had steel, as was shown later against England also. Another last-ball finish. Well, they could not get 2-in-2.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • harshthakor on April 18, 2013, 9:49 GMT

    Ananth,

    I forgot the 3rd test match at Lords in 2012 where South Africa beat England by 52 runs to clinch the unofficial test world champion title.The match had the twists and turns of a Hollywood thriller with the pendulum continuously swinging in opposite directions.In the 4th Innings England seemed down and out at 146-6 chasing a target of 351 runs before a spectacular assault by Matt Prior,Stuart Broad and finally Grame Swann who took England close to a famous win.The 1st innings were virtually neck to neck while in S.Africa's 2nd innings a late burst by Finn brought England back.

    To me an all-time great game which championed test cricket as the best form of the game.
    [[
    It was not a low-scoring game as many of these games go. There was enough for both batsmen and bowlers. Probably an equally important factor was that almost everyone contributed. There were invaluable 20s and 30s and 1/2 wkt hauls. Yes, I agree, a truly wonderful match and outside the Test match, the no.1 position at stake.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • Bonehead_maz on April 17, 2013, 22:18 GMT

    @ Ananth .. "I cannot get a handle on the fourth match."

    This was a 5 test series with each test for some reason being played over 4 days. The match in question was the 5th and England lead 1 nil. The English win was from a leg bye off the last available ball of play in the first test (0306). ENG won by 2 wickets, with 2 tailenders in. It was apparently a real thriller, as rain delays also turned the pitch into a minefield, changing match complexion frequently on the last day.

    Athol Rowan was an outstanding bowler (Harvey, privately rates him above Tayfield and Laker !!!) although his physical difficulties cut his career short. Mann, a left arm orthodox also had an excellent series..... Dudley obviously thought with a deteriorating pitch they might level the series.

    Perhaps we need a another category for exciting close games - those which were decided with very little time remaining ? Greame Smith batting in plaster in Sydney 2009 (match 1904) springs to mind.
    [[
    Murray, I think the target was still somewhat low. However Dudley Nourse created something out of nothing. Hence he deserves appreciation.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • STNS on April 17, 2013, 11:38 GMT

    What about Lords 1992 Pak Vs Eng Ananath??
    [[
    A real thriller with Waqar and Wasim winning the match, after taking 13 wickets, adding 46 runs for the ninth wicket to win the match.
    Ananth
    : ]]

    And what about the 2nd & 3rd test of 1988 Pak vs WI series in WI??
    [[
    Firat Qadir doing a Panesar at Port of Spain. Will be covered in Part 2
    Benjamin and Dujon adding 61 to win.
    Ananth
    : ]]

    Both matches were absolute thrillers. With 2 best teams of that time competing for the number one spot, under charismatic leaders like Imran & VIv.

    And lastly Pak vs Ind at chennai 1999. My all-time favourite.
    [[
    All excellent selections, Talha. As I ahve mentioned in my response to Gerry I limited myself to the matches chronicled here. These are 2 wkt wins and a 12-run win.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • Cool_Jeeves on April 16, 2013, 17:22 GMT

    The 1982-83 MCG test is also quite vivid in my memory. I listened every day to every ball on Radio Australia. Each of the 4 innings totals were within 3 runs of each other and finally Australia lost by the same margin of 3 runs they had lost 80 years earlier, and which was then the narrowest margin of all time. AB and Thommo nearly won it.
    [[
    The great score symmetry of this Test was something out of the world. The four innings had a spread of 10 runs. Cowan's 9-ball cameo of 10 runs proved decisive, as also his 6 wickets. The last wicket partnership of Australia which was 70 in 25 overs was unbelievable. I agree with you that this match deserves serious consideration. I restricted myself only to the matches which were chronicled in the article.
    Ananth
    : ]]

    Another great MCG match happened the previous year with Lillee taking 7/83 with a dramatic end to the action packed first day.
    [[
    Quite a low-scoring match. What stands out is the bowling skills which was on display: Holding, Roberts, Garner, Croft, Lillee, Alderman, Lawson. I have particular fondness for this match since the unheralded Hughes' 100 moved into the top-10 of the initial Wisden-100 list. Coming in at 8 for 3, he guided the team to 198.
    Ananth
    : ]]

    The match in which Saeed Anwar and Azhar Mahmood scored centuries in 1997-98 in Durban was a super thriller which I saw from a breakfast cafe (AM's 132*). All these were low scoring matches.

    After so many double centuries in 2012 and 2013 (already in 3 months) and high scores I dont feel like watching cricket anymore. I think the game has tilted decisively towards batsmen and now often lacks subtlety.

    These days everyone from Chris Gayle to Moses Henrique is a big hitter.

    Soccer is much more beautiful to watch.

  • harshthakor on April 15, 2013, 9:27 GMT

    Ananth,to me

    1. the 1981 Leeds test of the Ashes would come out on top which had the romantic twist of a Hollywood thriller or a classic epic

    2. 1961 tied test at Brisbane between West Indies and Australia

    3. 2nd test of the series between S.Africa and Australia in 2011 where Australia won by 2 wkts which turned swung from one side of the pendulum to the other from start to finish .

    4..The 1999 3rd test at Barbados of the Frank Worell trophy won by West Indies by 1 wkt. with Lara scoring 153 n.o. after West Indies had a huge 1st innings deficit .

    5.The 2nd test at Calcutta of the Border-Gavaskar trophy in 2001 when Laxman and Dravid changed the destiny of a lost cause into a winning one in a 376 run partnership.

    6.6th test of 1977-78 series between India and Australia after India chased 493 runs in the 4th innings and lost by 48 runs.

    7.1977 Centenary test-Eng.v.Australia
    [[
    A lovely collection.
    By a strange coincidence, or otherwise, all 6 Tests feature Australia. If you add the 1993 edge-of-the-seat thriller against West Indias, the1994 classic against Pakistan, the Hobart surprise during 2011 against New Zealand and finally the 2010 Laxman-special at Mohali, you would get a round 10 out of 10.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • on April 14, 2013, 1:45 GMT

    As much a formidable act of scholarship as a true labour of love, Anantha. Congratulations on one of the most engrossing cricket articles I've ever read: what *could* have been an exercise in statistical aridity was enlivened at every turn by highly astute commentary which served to contextualise each of the stats-based observations you chose to highlight.

    I'm also delighted that at long last a set of forensic statistical data has been utilised to underpin what so many of us instinctively recognise: that this current era represents a true golden age of Test cricket. Let's hope it won't be submerged beneath the gathering tsunami of T20.
    [[
    The next 5 years will see whether more "younger Husseys" would choose to give up Test cricket to play in the mushrooming T20 Leagues. India is the only country insulated from this problem since it allows its players to have the cake, eat it and market it also. Pietersen almost did that last year. That would have been a great loss to Test cricket. Gayle just about survived that type of exit. Malinga did not. Ross Taylor probably flirted with (and still is flirting with) the idea of quitting.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • Beertjie on April 13, 2013, 15:21 GMT

    I began following test cricket in 1960 (SA v Eng.) and became a fan of Australia during the 60-61 series. Being a South African of Indian origin meant I myself could not aspire to play even first-class cricket. I didn't properly grasp the significance of the tied test immediately (I was 9) but I remember clearly thinking home town decisions gave that final series to Australia (they won the final test by 2 wickets to win the series 2-1). Later upon thinking back and reading books dealing with the game I began to appreciate its magic. If I could watch a screening of any game in its entirety for pure excitement it would be that one. However I followed Headingley on the radio and it will perhaps always be the most dramatic of all tests for me, so I agree with the author. My sense of both disappointment and wonder at the result has lingered these 3 decades, and will probably continue into the future.
    [[
    BBC Radio and TMS were the lifeline. I used to listen without fail to the Sports Round-up at 23.15 every day for many years. Life was tough but wonderful then. We knew the value of such offerings since these were rare. And let us not forget the 2-hour vigil of Mackay and Kline to save the last Test. Who would pay money to watch Mackay. After 31 Jan 1961, many would.
    Many thanks for a nostalgic trip down the memory lane.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • on June 3, 2013, 4:40 GMT

    Somewhere i would like to see "value of a test run" for each innings so we can normalize test scores accross era's conditions etc. So a 281 by Laxman at calcutta would be worth a lot more than a similar score by someone against bangladesh on a dead pitch and a weak opponent. We should also give weightage to uncovered pitches and helmet less days(if that were possible) and then come up with normalized career averages and see who stands as the real greats....I am sure this is down your alley....

  • Meety on May 4, 2013, 3:55 GMT

    When's part two coming?????
    [[
    Has already been published. Cricinfo, in their infinite wisdom, changed the title from Part-2 to "The tightest draws...".
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • Cool_Jeeves on April 24, 2013, 9:47 GMT

    This is totally off topic, but cant resist pointing out that on a day when I was watching this youtube of Richards https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMUECnO4skI in which several mighty blows from him are barely enough to reach the boundary (would urge everyone to watch as it is only 4 minutes), Chris Gayle smashed 17 sixes. Nothing will convince me that Richards was less brutal, but such were the bats in those days that the returns were very poor compared to what you get today.
    [[
    Yes, certainly true that the bats are heavier. The 17 sixes probably had an average of 100 yards. It was impossible to do this a few decades ago.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • Meety on April 23, 2013, 5:41 GMT

    @Bonehead_maz on (April 19, 2013, 12:26 GMT) - i have been a bit distracted on the best since Bradman article! LOL!

  • red_forever on April 20, 2013, 14:21 GMT

    Hello Ananth,

    Feels Good to be back here, again a very informative article.

    Went through each and every comment and i dint even knew these many test matches existed. That is the beauty of this blog-space.

    I Think another match and a very infamous one at that might also creep in here. India vs Aus at Mumbai 2004, which was a minefield and i would probably say even Sir Don Bradman might have struggled on that "Pitch from Hell" .
    [[
    My feeling is that the terrible quality of that pitch should prevent anyone from looking at that match seriously. If a spinner makes the ball rear shoulder-high from good length, why even talk about any batsman, leave alone Bradman. Contrast that with the pitches in the recent 4-Test series. Even though at least three of the pitches looked like the match would finish in 3 days, good technique enabled batsmen to score runs. The Australian late-order showed a lot of technique and good heart.
    Ananth
    : ]]

    Another match which was became very exciting thanks to an Indian collapse on the last day is Ind vs WI last year again at Mumbai, when the scores ended up Tied.
    [[
    Pl wait for the Part 2 for Draws/Ties.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • Bonehead_maz on April 20, 2013, 3:17 GMT

    :) finally I have read everything written here .... Ananth, I feel you need not worry ....except maybe for my pollution :) It's truly wonderful the matches people here have mentioned ! I have only watched cricket for 40 and a few years. Even in that time, and even when reduced to games I saw live, there's been some crackers!

    Personally Lara's 153 I think is deserving of more "air time" but :) so many great games :)

  • Bonehead_maz on April 19, 2013, 12:56 GMT

    ok ok it's true ..... I did once see a great "50 over" game :- Gillette Cup Western Australia v Queensland W.A.C.A. Ground, Perth, 12 December 1976. It was a Cracker !

  • Bonehead_maz on April 19, 2013, 12:26 GMT

    @ Meety

    Hi ) nice to see you here :)

    I think that Warner failing to win that test match should be like Damien Martyn getting disappeared for 6 years. Not just I, everyone I respect, was disgusted with Chris Gayle when he batted through for a draw in Adelaide too!

    Winners are there to win ! Somehow in T20 world, we forget about run chases to win .... to funny ! That Test in South Africa 1949 ......... the Pommies chased well :))

  • Meety on April 19, 2013, 1:29 GMT

    0313 1949 By 3 wkts saf- I0313 1949 By 3 wkts saf-379ao ENG-395ao saf-187/3 ENG-174/7 13 wkts lost (had to type this in word & pasts as the comments section wouldn't work properly) Thanks for the link to this match. This does superficially seem an odd match. Nourse's Saffas seemed to play cautiously for the entire match & out of nowhere he declares setting England a tough challenge! The pitch must of deteriorated to some extent for Nourse to think he could get a win. The Wisden report made interesting reading. Sth Africa had so many batting resources left - they could of upped the tempo a good deal earlier to force a result. I suppose ultimately the declaration was due to SA being behind in the series!
    [[
    What a sporting declaration. Today captains do nott even want to think of anything beyond 4 rpo.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • sreek_arch on April 18, 2013, 14:02 GMT

    Hi Anatha, Excellant article. I believe you are the reincarantion of egyptioan god "Thoth" himself. My knowledge about headingly 1981 comes from old sportstar magazines kept by my uncle. I read it during my college days and discovered about great Ian Botham. What a performance. My favourite tests are Inzamam chase at mulatan against aussies, laxman 2010 mohali and lara at barbados. Its a pleasure to watch great chases like those and great defence like Prior at New Zealand. This shows test cricket is bowlers game, and its rarely batsmen makes special performance like these to steal the thunder from bowlers. Anytine i will watch hese batsmen like lara, inzamam, laxman etc who in the fourth innings can change defence into offence and changes the entire complexion of the match.

  • STNS on April 18, 2013, 12:12 GMT

    Dear Ananth i am the same Dr.Talha. Actually while registering, my name Dr.Talha was not being accepted. So i had to use the mnemonic STNS.
    [[
    No problems. I knew that. The vagaries of these programs is mystery to me.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • Bonehead_maz on April 17, 2013, 22:54 GMT

    I am not sure the end margin is significant in assessing a great win. Headingly '81 didn't get as close as it might yet is still a great win.

    Headingly 1948 seemingly wasn't close at all in the end, yet is in folklore, considered Australia's greatest ever win. In recent times the Adelaide match Aus V England 2006 was a superb win etc etc.

    From this list I can't go past the 4th test 1902..... a difficult pitch, 2 geniuses in Trumper and Stanley Francis Jackson defying the conditions to play dominant innings, time in the balance..... seemingly had everything !

    Although Mohali 2010 has got to come close - imagine Smith of all people missing a shy at the stumps !

  • Bonehead_maz on April 17, 2013, 5:02 GMT

    Wow - so much to digest .... and even before I read the comments - nice work Ananth !

    The match first mentioned SA V Eng.... I have no problem and think it a great example of trying to win a cricket match !

    Inzamam was wrong in England ! I saw very close to similar in Sydney 1971 when Illingworth lead his team off - despite his poor historical reputation I think Lou Rowan was a SUPER umpire..... that match really did look dead a buried.

    The Gavaskar attempt to forfeit in Melbourne is best forgotten by all.

    Brisbane 1950 V Eng is for many reasons a favourite of mine...... I am certain that the 7/32 was Australia's lowest ever completed innings - took some guts and some sense on Hassett's part.

    Headingly '81 - amazing !! Today Marsh and Lillee would be banned for years for having a sense of humour.

    Agree with Gerry re the reverse when Thommo and Border nearly stole it.

    Too much to digest in one lol "meal" I'll be back ;) Too many GREAT matches :).

  • JeffG on April 16, 2013, 8:24 GMT

    And a couple more comments...

    My own personal favourite match that I attended was the 94 Sydney test that SA won by 5 runs. An eerily similar finish to Headingley 81, with the Aussies chasing a low total and Fanie DeVilliers doing his best Bob Willis impression. And just like Headingley, the Aussies threw it away early - they were 75-8 in both matches - before seemingly turning it around - they got to 110-8 in both matches - but then lost their last 2 wickets for just one run to be bowled out for 111 - in both matches !!
    [[
    South Africa at 110 for 5, still 13 in arrears. I agree that there are many similarities. What was missing was that defining innings. Although Rhodes' 76 was probably his best Test innings.
    Ananth
    : ]]

    My worst test experience (days lost to the weather not included) was the Eng-Pak Oval test of 2006. I was there when Inzy refused to come back out. And while it was certainly a unique experience, you couldn't help but feel that you'd been robbed.

  • on April 16, 2013, 8:22 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    One striking aspects of this analysis is the fact that Australia features in a lot of narrow / tight defeats and losing despite scoring 500+. It is quite natural, given their aggressive brand of cricket and playing for a win rather than anything else. Looking back, Since AB took over, Australia slowly and steadily looked towards eliminating losing as an option at all!! S.Waugh famously branded their baggy green and the rest is history - nay - legendary. It is natural that they also feature in most of the memorable test matches (including both tied tests, Headingly or Eden Gardens, Hobart/Jo'burg 2011 - I am discounting the early Ashes to WW days when Australia/Eng featured in all tests)

    Somehow Eden Gardens was Australian loss than an Indian win (showing the chinks in Australian's mental strength when they face losses). I would somehow feel Chennai test in that series was a better one as both teams were playing the war of attrition till Bhajji's magic arms swung his bat
    [[
    The unlikely Sameer Dighe played the crucial cameo. Harbhajan was unplayable. In the top-12 of all time match bowling performances. Two of the modern classic innings by Hayden and Tendulkar.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • JeffG on April 16, 2013, 8:15 GMT

    Ananth,

    Thanks for an interesting article. A couple of random comments:

    Every test match played in Australia between 1882/83 and 1936/37 was a timeless test - 85 consecutive tests without a single draw. That obviously helps bump up the overall Australian data - since WW2, the average result % in Australia has been 75% - so I'd still agree with you that it would be the best place to play a test championship.

    Regarding the 5th test of 1902 with Deepak mentions - that's the famous occasion when England's last man Wilfred Rhodes (possibly the best number 11 batsman ever!!) joined his Yorkshire colleague George Hirst with 15 still needed. Hirst reportedly told Rhodes - "we'll get them in singles" - and they duly did.

  • on April 15, 2013, 15:44 GMT

    Hi Anantha, very good article summarizing Test results and the nature of wins/losses etc. Regarding the most exciting Test matches, I just wanted to bring up the 1902 Ashes. As you may know, the last two Tests were nail-biting finishes. The 4th Test was won by Australia by 3 runs, with Fred Tate having the misfortune to be the last man out. The 5th Test was seemingly going Australia's way after England were reduced to 49-5 chasing 263. Then Jessop came in and scored a quick-fire century. George Hirst then saw the team through, the tail held up and England won by 1 wicket. That two consecutive Tests should be so exciting no doubt cost a lot of people their nails !!
    [[
    We tend to forget the matches wbout which we have only heard. You are correct. These were two Tests both of which could easily have gone the other way.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • guptahitesh4u on April 15, 2013, 7:54 GMT

    HI Ananth I really like your articles, it really makes cricket more interesting (at least for me).. While analyzing the close matches, one more criteria that I can think of is match finished during the last hour (or half hour) of a match.. If a team is left with 30 overs and have to chase 200 runs to win the same, and if match goes to the last over or 2nd last,that surely makes it an interesting one.

  • 07sanjeewakaru on April 14, 2013, 17:04 GMT

    You are right sir,The only green top I saw in AUS after I followed test cricket was in Hobart vs NZ in 2011.

  • 07sanjeewakaru on April 14, 2013, 17:00 GMT

    To me,when considering Greatest test series of all time,60/61 Aus/WI and 05 Ashes are stay shoulder to shoulder eachother,Tight test and Egibaston,Adilaide with Macay heroics and Old trafford with Ponting heroics,2 wicket series decider at almost 100000 MCG and 3 wicket win by Eng at Nottingham magnificently resemble each other. 01 IND/AUS and 81 Ashes are next just stand behind.92/93 Aus/WI then comes,and surprisingly 98/99 Ashes is sitting very close to there with 98/99 AUS/WI. Surprise package series of SA/NZ in 63/64 interesting.36/37 Ashes also brilliant. One of the interesting test I found was Neil Harvey test in Durbun in 1949/50 another off the radar comeback..(Most of information are found thanks to Cricinfo,constant reading and youtube following) As a SL man,The best I've followed and watch in the ground are 92 SSC(Heartbreaking as in the hell,It was the first test for 5 years in SL),00 Kandy vs SA,06 Psara vs SA stick in mind.Wonderful article sir.

  • on April 14, 2013, 14:55 GMT

    Nice article to read at a time when meaningless IPL matches are getting all hype. Nothing can replace TMC. If we slightly lower the selection criteria to winning by 15-20 runs /3 wickets, I would pick two test matches that were as thrilling as some of the tests mentioned in the article.

    1) West Indies vs Pakistan - 3rd test 1987-88, chasing around 260 against a terrific Pakistan bowling, from 207-8, Dujon and Benjamin won it for windies.

    2) India vs Pak at Chennai-1999- Two arch rivals, the atmosphere, some of best players both nations ever produced, game changing every 15-20 overs, I feel this test to be a better thriller more than Kolkata 2001.Kolkata was a great comeback but when it comes to a nailbiting finish, I will always rate this higher. Also, can not forget the Chennai crowd applause for Pakistan.

    Though more of a backward speculation, I think that the 2004 Chennai test vs Australia, had it not been rained on the 5th day would probably have made it to the list.

  • oayaz01 on April 14, 2013, 13:09 GMT

    For sheer entertainment, I have to say Barbados test 1999 as the best test followed by Karachi 1994 purely because we had a bowling attack featuring Mcgrath, Warne and the great Ambrose/walsh/wasim/waqar.

    With Australia posting 499 and having WI 99/6 in first innings, there was only one winner but that was denied by arguably the best innings ever played in 100 plus years of test history by one and only "Brian Charles Lara". This was real pressure cooker situation for the prince of Trinidad, and he always knew he could win in that tough track.

    Headingley 1981, no doubt Botham played an incredible inning but when he was joined by Dilley, they were just enjoying and not thinking of a win so alot easier to play in such situation and it was the 3rd inning of a test match. Same goes for Dravid/Laxman as they were just thinking of delaying the inevitable at that time. No doubt both these games were nail bitters but not as eye appealing as barbados followed by Karachi.
    [[
    The only thing missing at Karachi, 1994 was the defining innings, as you yourself have pointed. Similar scorelines in the fourth innings. One had 153* and three 30s, while the other had 77, 43, 58 and couple of 30s. Almost identical bowling attacks. I think Inzamam's innings of 138 against Bangladesh in 2003 was nearly as great as Lara's 153*.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • on April 14, 2013, 3:33 GMT

    Wonderful Reading...To me Test Test No:1453 played at Barbados remains the best ever finish,that magnificent innings from the Prince Of Trinidad is still fresh ..

    One interesting fact that emerged out is the no of drawn matches in Sri Lanka..expected this to be much higher owing to the flat pitches and awful weather.Perhaps Murali had an effect,in enforcing a result,will like to know the no of draws before Murali's arrival,the course during which he played and since his departure.
    [[
    Murali's influence on Sri Lankan cricket is without parallel. I can say with certainty that no one, I repeat no one, has had as much influence on his team's cricket as Murali has had. Will try and post a NoM-Murali-NoM summary in Part 2.
    Ananth
    : ]]

    Also tend to agree with you that WTC should be played at Down Under.They do prepare sporting pitches.Of late the cricket season in England has been marred by inclement weather,have hardly seen a washout in Australia.So WTC 2017 at Aus..my vote.

    Was a joyous read,looking forward to the 2nd Part.

  • on April 14, 2013, 2:34 GMT

    Dear Ananth, Waiting for the new 100 best innings and bowling performances, I somehow lost interest in your articles. But this one I enjoyed. What adds to one's memory or choice is the match they followed. So most of the Indian public (who are leaders in comments here) did not follow the 1981 Headingly match could not connect with it. Coming back to Kolkata, barring the Indian first innings when they folded for 171, it was a match which went see-saw.

    I was there at the Eden on first day. Almost a hundred run stand for opening wicket for Australia. They they were around 200 for 2 down. I left the stadium & when reached home,Bhajji picked a Hattrick(first by any Indian, that evening P.Gopichand won All England, first since 1981). Australia were in disarray at 260-8 then Waugh helped by the tail took them to safety levels of 445. India folded at 171 & followed on. So, Australia collapsed twice in the match & India collapsed only once and had one mammoth partnership, which won the match

  • aus_trad on April 13, 2013, 22:09 GMT

    What particularly interests me in this area is close results, especially those involving Australia. There is a curious phenomenon - one which I have been monitoring for some years. SInce the start of the 1981 Ashes series, Aus have been involved in (by my reckoning) 17 tests which have been decided by 1 or 2 wickets, or fewer than 30 runs (my own criteria of a close result). They have won just 4 of them. The closer the result, furthermore, the more fallible Aus seems to become: narrow the criteria to margins of one wicket or fewer than twenty runs, and it is eleven losses versus a solitary victory (over Sri Lanka in Colombo in 1992). It is also an interesting statistic that of the twelve tests ever to have been decided by one wicket, Australia have lost five, and won just one. I believe it is over 60 years since Aus won such a "close" victory over England. I have my theories as to why these extraordinary stats are the way they are, but would be interested in the comments of others.

  • SG70 on April 13, 2013, 21:54 GMT

    (contd) nearly did as they came within 15 mins of saving the Test.

    Ganguly wanted to make sure he had enough runs to keep fielders around the bat all the time thats why he didnt declare overnight. Also dont forget that the Aussies had the fire power to chase 315 in a day. His decision was proved right.

    So pound for pound Kolkatta is much better than Headingly.
    [[
    I knew a few members of the Indian team well and asked one of them why Ganguly had not declared overnight. He said it was because Australia were on a high, could very well have chased 300+ runs, Ganguly was acutely conscious of his responsibility to the team in general and two batsmen in particular and a loss could have been devastating. So the decision to bat on. And it trned out to be correct too. Australia could very well have won, chasing 300+.
    The win happened, that is all. Australia, 3 down at tea, had no business to lose but all credit to the Indian bowlers.
    Some stories develop post-match and this was one of those.
    I was working on the Wisden-100 and I told the Wisden CEO at the end of the fourth day that India should declare and risk losing, to win. Antony (Bouchier)'s riposte was to the point. He told me that I was talking from the comfort of my living room and Ganguly's first responsibility was to lower Australian chances to 10%, by batting on. Then he also told that this was would happen and India would still win.
    One tends to select the match one has seen and there is nothing wrong in that.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • SG70 on April 13, 2013, 21:47 GMT

    Ananth, The 1535 Test is well and truly one of a kind in entire Test history. It is the ONLY Test match where two players from the same side : a bowler (Harbi) took more than 10 wkts and a Batsman (VVS) scored more than 300 runs in a single match leading to a win . In fact there is only one other instance of the 10 + 300 combo by the same side ( Kumble + SRT at SCG'04 in a draw). Thats how RARE that Test match is. Iam quite surprised that a stats buff like you missed that.

    If that wasnt enough then these performances came in a situation where India was asked to f/o and the series at stake, Harbi took a Hattrick and Dravid scored 205 runs in the Test and it was against *THE* best Test team of that time and possibly of all times. Just have a look at that Aussie line-up it is awe-inspiring and much much better than the Aussie lineup of 1981. And to make matters worse Ind were missing Kumble and Srinath. Aussies went from a commanding position to having to save the match which (contd)

  • vize786 on April 13, 2013, 19:26 GMT

    This is a really comprehensive analysis. The thing which I most enjoy about a good test match is its ability to keep you gripped intensely for 5 days. In reference to exciting test matches, the Sri Lanka vs Australia test at the SSC in 1992 is worth a mention. Sri Lanka led Australia by 291 runs in the first innings and even though Australia managed 471 runs in their second innings, Sri Lanka required a relatively modest target of 181 for victory. At 127/2 this seemed very much on the cards but they then proceeded to lose their next 8 wickets for just 37 runs handing Australia a 16 run victory. This match had both a superb comeback as well as a thrilling finish.
    [[
    Although Warne finished off the match with three wickets it was Mathews who was the architect of Australian win taking 4 key wickets.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • ravi.m on April 13, 2013, 17:25 GMT

    With all the good memories being rekindled with the recalling of Hobart 1999 Test, I just went to confirm something on statsguru. From New Year's Test 1999 to 2008 for Australia at home. Australia played 53 Tests. Won 44 & lost 2.

    Really didn't need statsguru to know the common factor in those two losses - just like the two losses in Ashes 2005 -, but just checked for the sake of it. With McGrath in the team in that period between 1999 to 2008 (07 rather), Australia played 42 Tests at home. 37 wins and 0 (!!!!) loss.

    I think somebody just got to 2nd pick on the team sheet for me! :P hehehe
    [[
    Thanks, Ravi for a lovely Australian view. I maintain that the most balanced pitches in the world are in Australia. I can onluy laugh when the Indian players/public talk about greentops in Australia. The bounce is something else. And top spinners do reasonably well.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • ravi.m on April 13, 2013, 16:54 GMT

    2/2:

    (4) TIED TEST Gabba 1960: most thrilling Test (& series) by far. Big 100s from genius strokemakers Sobers & O'Neill, 50s from elegant-personified Sir Frank & Kanhai. 20 wickets to Wes Hall & Davo. It's often overlooked that Aus were 6-92 chasing 233, with Benaud 'promising' Bradman that they were going for a win when asked about his intention during Tea (6/109).

    (5) Hobart 1999: Gilly's arrival! T greatest win in Test history, IMO. Focusing on match alone, 5-126 chasing 369 with Saqlain & Akhtar in their prime & 2 "random" guys named Wasim & Waqar.

    Most importantly, it was the real catalyst to Australia's world domination. Ask the Proteas the meaning of "domination" - Aus won 10 out of 12 Tests in Gilly's time. Only loss was a deadrubber. In fact, Eng & Ind were the only teams to win a Test vs Aus before the series was decided. Eng did it in one series (won only in McGrath's absence). India did it in two series (one without McGrath).

    So much rich history following that WIN!!!!

  • ravi.m on April 13, 2013, 16:53 GMT

    My picks 1 of 2:

    As much as it "hurts" to admit, it is hard to top Headingley '81 when it comes to winning out of nowhere. As for as most outstanding Tests go, in chronological order.

    (1) 1932 Bodyline Test @ MCG: highlight was Bradman's 103* at a SR of 70+ despite refusing singles to LITERALLY guard the tail from Larwood. To put things in perspective, a total of 330 runs were scored in 112 overs by both teams in 3rd & 4th innings - with no one else going past 33 from either side despite the presence of Hammond, Sutcliffe, McCabe etc.

    (2) 1937 MCG Test - Easily the best series comeback of all-time & easily, easily the most remarkable back-to-back-to-back performances by an individual in history of team sports!

    (3) 1948 Headingley chase - such a historic win for such a pre-eminent team. Some serious heavy weights in both line-ups too. Bradman, Harvey, Morris, Miller, Edrich, Hutton, Compton all scoring 100/50s against bowling of Lindwall/Miller or Bedser/Laker.

    Now, to ones I saw:

  • getsetgopk on April 13, 2013, 15:39 GMT

    Let me say this again, its a real joy reading your articles Anantha, keep up the good work. Would like to know if its possible to break test results into two eras, the neutral umpires and the non neutral umpires. How much influence the addition of neutral umpires had on home/away test performances should be interesting i believe. Neutral umpires have been around for quite some time now, same for the DRS. My understanding is that neutral umpires probably didn't had much of an impact on the parity in home/away results but I believe we'll see a marked difference as far as the DRS is concerned.
    [[
    There is no clear date. But I will do some research and try and get a summary table in Part 2.
    Ananth
    : ]]

    Auss pitches have produced the most results in %age and going simply by that logic arranging WTC in Auss puts the sub continental teams at big disadvantage. Probably it should be arranged in Aus but pitches should be prepared by ICC curators? Giving enough support for both pace and spin bowling would be my choice.
    [[
    Aussie pitches are sporty. Anyday better than the dustbowls. In a WTC we want results. None of this scoring rate splits.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • WalkingWicket11 on April 13, 2013, 10:27 GMT

    For me, the greatest Test match was the Ashes Test at Adelaide 2006, where Australia snatched an unlikely win on 5th day, having been 79/3 in reply to 551/6 three days earlier. It shows what makes Test cricket so beautiful.
    [[
    An excellent Test win. However barring a stutter at 65 for 3, Australia were never in great danger. They always looked like saving the Test. What was remarkable is that when the match started on fifth day, 1 in 50 would have given Australia the chance of taking 9 more wickets in 2 hours and then winning the match. That is what they did, thanks to the old firm of Warne, McGrath, Ponting and Hussey.
    Why this self-deprecating nickname when you possess a very nice name.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • Cool_Jeeves on April 13, 2013, 9:09 GMT

    Interesting. The Headingley test was great, almost impossible to believe, but so was the Barbados test as well as the first tied test. Glittering individual performances and two teams unable to give up. I thought the theoretically narrowest win of all time which is the 1 run win of West Indies in 1993 was dramatic in the way it changed the complexion of the series, and deserves a mention in the same breath as the others. It was also a major upset as a young and inexperienced West Indies team under a new captain humbled Australia.
    [[
    Gerry, the only reason whay I selected the Heaingley Test was that unlike most other close classics, that Test required two once-in-a-lifetime performances by a batsman and a bowler on consecutive days. Under-rated Willis' performance is the one which sets this Test apart.
    Having said that if anyone selected any one of the four locations: Bardodas 1999, Adelaide 1993, Brisbane 1960 and Headingley 1981, as the place to have been in, they would all be showing great cricketing sense.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • Cool_Jeeves on April 13, 2013, 9:09 GMT

    Interesting. The Headingley test was great, almost impossible to believe, but so was the Barbados test as well as the first tied test. Glittering individual performances and two teams unable to give up. I thought the theoretically narrowest win of all time which is the 1 run win of West Indies in 1993 was dramatic in the way it changed the complexion of the series, and deserves a mention in the same breath as the others. It was also a major upset as a young and inexperienced West Indies team under a new captain humbled Australia.
    [[
    Gerry, the only reason whay I selected the Heaingley Test was that unlike most other close classics, that Test required two once-in-a-lifetime performances by a batsman and a bowler on consecutive days. Under-rated Willis' performance is the one which sets this Test apart.
    Having said that if anyone selected any one of the four locations: Bardodas 1999, Adelaide 1993, Brisbane 1960 and Headingley 1981, as the place to have been in, they would all be showing great cricketing sense.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • WalkingWicket11 on April 13, 2013, 10:27 GMT

    For me, the greatest Test match was the Ashes Test at Adelaide 2006, where Australia snatched an unlikely win on 5th day, having been 79/3 in reply to 551/6 three days earlier. It shows what makes Test cricket so beautiful.
    [[
    An excellent Test win. However barring a stutter at 65 for 3, Australia were never in great danger. They always looked like saving the Test. What was remarkable is that when the match started on fifth day, 1 in 50 would have given Australia the chance of taking 9 more wickets in 2 hours and then winning the match. That is what they did, thanks to the old firm of Warne, McGrath, Ponting and Hussey.
    Why this self-deprecating nickname when you possess a very nice name.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • getsetgopk on April 13, 2013, 15:39 GMT

    Let me say this again, its a real joy reading your articles Anantha, keep up the good work. Would like to know if its possible to break test results into two eras, the neutral umpires and the non neutral umpires. How much influence the addition of neutral umpires had on home/away test performances should be interesting i believe. Neutral umpires have been around for quite some time now, same for the DRS. My understanding is that neutral umpires probably didn't had much of an impact on the parity in home/away results but I believe we'll see a marked difference as far as the DRS is concerned.
    [[
    There is no clear date. But I will do some research and try and get a summary table in Part 2.
    Ananth
    : ]]

    Auss pitches have produced the most results in %age and going simply by that logic arranging WTC in Auss puts the sub continental teams at big disadvantage. Probably it should be arranged in Aus but pitches should be prepared by ICC curators? Giving enough support for both pace and spin bowling would be my choice.
    [[
    Aussie pitches are sporty. Anyday better than the dustbowls. In a WTC we want results. None of this scoring rate splits.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • ravi.m on April 13, 2013, 16:53 GMT

    My picks 1 of 2:

    As much as it "hurts" to admit, it is hard to top Headingley '81 when it comes to winning out of nowhere. As for as most outstanding Tests go, in chronological order.

    (1) 1932 Bodyline Test @ MCG: highlight was Bradman's 103* at a SR of 70+ despite refusing singles to LITERALLY guard the tail from Larwood. To put things in perspective, a total of 330 runs were scored in 112 overs by both teams in 3rd & 4th innings - with no one else going past 33 from either side despite the presence of Hammond, Sutcliffe, McCabe etc.

    (2) 1937 MCG Test - Easily the best series comeback of all-time & easily, easily the most remarkable back-to-back-to-back performances by an individual in history of team sports!

    (3) 1948 Headingley chase - such a historic win for such a pre-eminent team. Some serious heavy weights in both line-ups too. Bradman, Harvey, Morris, Miller, Edrich, Hutton, Compton all scoring 100/50s against bowling of Lindwall/Miller or Bedser/Laker.

    Now, to ones I saw:

  • ravi.m on April 13, 2013, 16:54 GMT

    2/2:

    (4) TIED TEST Gabba 1960: most thrilling Test (& series) by far. Big 100s from genius strokemakers Sobers & O'Neill, 50s from elegant-personified Sir Frank & Kanhai. 20 wickets to Wes Hall & Davo. It's often overlooked that Aus were 6-92 chasing 233, with Benaud 'promising' Bradman that they were going for a win when asked about his intention during Tea (6/109).

    (5) Hobart 1999: Gilly's arrival! T greatest win in Test history, IMO. Focusing on match alone, 5-126 chasing 369 with Saqlain & Akhtar in their prime & 2 "random" guys named Wasim & Waqar.

    Most importantly, it was the real catalyst to Australia's world domination. Ask the Proteas the meaning of "domination" - Aus won 10 out of 12 Tests in Gilly's time. Only loss was a deadrubber. In fact, Eng & Ind were the only teams to win a Test vs Aus before the series was decided. Eng did it in one series (won only in McGrath's absence). India did it in two series (one without McGrath).

    So much rich history following that WIN!!!!

  • ravi.m on April 13, 2013, 17:25 GMT

    With all the good memories being rekindled with the recalling of Hobart 1999 Test, I just went to confirm something on statsguru. From New Year's Test 1999 to 2008 for Australia at home. Australia played 53 Tests. Won 44 & lost 2.

    Really didn't need statsguru to know the common factor in those two losses - just like the two losses in Ashes 2005 -, but just checked for the sake of it. With McGrath in the team in that period between 1999 to 2008 (07 rather), Australia played 42 Tests at home. 37 wins and 0 (!!!!) loss.

    I think somebody just got to 2nd pick on the team sheet for me! :P hehehe
    [[
    Thanks, Ravi for a lovely Australian view. I maintain that the most balanced pitches in the world are in Australia. I can onluy laugh when the Indian players/public talk about greentops in Australia. The bounce is something else. And top spinners do reasonably well.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • vize786 on April 13, 2013, 19:26 GMT

    This is a really comprehensive analysis. The thing which I most enjoy about a good test match is its ability to keep you gripped intensely for 5 days. In reference to exciting test matches, the Sri Lanka vs Australia test at the SSC in 1992 is worth a mention. Sri Lanka led Australia by 291 runs in the first innings and even though Australia managed 471 runs in their second innings, Sri Lanka required a relatively modest target of 181 for victory. At 127/2 this seemed very much on the cards but they then proceeded to lose their next 8 wickets for just 37 runs handing Australia a 16 run victory. This match had both a superb comeback as well as a thrilling finish.
    [[
    Although Warne finished off the match with three wickets it was Mathews who was the architect of Australian win taking 4 key wickets.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • SG70 on April 13, 2013, 21:47 GMT

    Ananth, The 1535 Test is well and truly one of a kind in entire Test history. It is the ONLY Test match where two players from the same side : a bowler (Harbi) took more than 10 wkts and a Batsman (VVS) scored more than 300 runs in a single match leading to a win . In fact there is only one other instance of the 10 + 300 combo by the same side ( Kumble + SRT at SCG'04 in a draw). Thats how RARE that Test match is. Iam quite surprised that a stats buff like you missed that.

    If that wasnt enough then these performances came in a situation where India was asked to f/o and the series at stake, Harbi took a Hattrick and Dravid scored 205 runs in the Test and it was against *THE* best Test team of that time and possibly of all times. Just have a look at that Aussie line-up it is awe-inspiring and much much better than the Aussie lineup of 1981. And to make matters worse Ind were missing Kumble and Srinath. Aussies went from a commanding position to having to save the match which (contd)

  • SG70 on April 13, 2013, 21:54 GMT

    (contd) nearly did as they came within 15 mins of saving the Test.

    Ganguly wanted to make sure he had enough runs to keep fielders around the bat all the time thats why he didnt declare overnight. Also dont forget that the Aussies had the fire power to chase 315 in a day. His decision was proved right.

    So pound for pound Kolkatta is much better than Headingly.
    [[
    I knew a few members of the Indian team well and asked one of them why Ganguly had not declared overnight. He said it was because Australia were on a high, could very well have chased 300+ runs, Ganguly was acutely conscious of his responsibility to the team in general and two batsmen in particular and a loss could have been devastating. So the decision to bat on. And it trned out to be correct too. Australia could very well have won, chasing 300+.
    The win happened, that is all. Australia, 3 down at tea, had no business to lose but all credit to the Indian bowlers.
    Some stories develop post-match and this was one of those.
    I was working on the Wisden-100 and I told the Wisden CEO at the end of the fourth day that India should declare and risk losing, to win. Antony (Bouchier)'s riposte was to the point. He told me that I was talking from the comfort of my living room and Ganguly's first responsibility was to lower Australian chances to 10%, by batting on. Then he also told that this was would happen and India would still win.
    One tends to select the match one has seen and there is nothing wrong in that.
    Ananth
    : ]]

  • aus_trad on April 13, 2013, 22:09 GMT

    What particularly interests me in this area is close results, especially those involving Australia. There is a curious phenomenon - one which I have been monitoring for some years. SInce the start of the 1981 Ashes series, Aus have been involved in (by my reckoning) 17 tests which have been decided by 1 or 2 wickets, or fewer than 30 runs (my own criteria of a close result). They have won just 4 of them. The closer the result, furthermore, the more fallible Aus seems to become: narrow the criteria to margins of one wicket or fewer than twenty runs, and it is eleven losses versus a solitary victory (over Sri Lanka in Colombo in 1992). It is also an interesting statistic that of the twelve tests ever to have been decided by one wicket, Australia have lost five, and won just one. I believe it is over 60 years since Aus won such a "close" victory over England. I have my theories as to why these extraordinary stats are the way they are, but would be interested in the comments of others.