Down, down, deeper and down
Bangladesh's 62 against Sri Lanka was depressing but there have been much worse ... here are the lowest team totals since World War Two
England took a first-innings lead of 46 in the second Test of the series, but on a far-from-difficult pitch, New Zealand were bundled to an innings defeat in 104 minutes. England's pace attack of Frank Tyson and Brian Statham, the brisk seamers of Bob Appleyard and the spin of Johnny Wardle (who finished with 5-5-0-1) found little resistance, and once John Reid and Bert Sutcliffe, New Zealand's two quality batsmen, had departed cheaply (Sutcliffe's 11 was the only score in double figures) the rest folded. It was - and remains - the lowest Test total, beating South Africa's two scores of 30 against England in 1984-95 and 1924.
42 - New Zealand v Australia Wellington, 1945-46
New Zealand again, this time in their first Test against Australia (and their last for another 27 years). "It had been so wet in Wellington for a week before the scheduled start on March 29 that it was not feasible to mow the outfield," Walter Hadlee, New Zealand's captain, explained. "The pitch was saturated and a new one was cut out alongside the prepared one." He won the toss, batted, and his side reached 37 for 2 on the stroke of lunch - then lost eight wickets for five runs. Naturally we are disappointed," Hadlee said with all the understatement of those less media-savvy times. "We failed and that is all there is to be said." It was the same story in the second innings, 54 all out and an innings defeat.
A bizarre match. The first three days were hot and sunny, and midway through Saturday's play India were 131 for 0 in reply to England's 629. By the close, they had been bowled out for 302 and were 2 for 0 following on. "There are lots of runs left in the pitch," wrote John Woodcock after the rest day. But the morning was overcast and the ball, which had done little, suddenly started moving significantly, both off the pitch and through the air. In Geoff Arnold and Chris Old, England had two bowlers ideally suited to the conditions. In 70 minutes Old took 5 for 21, Arnold 4 for 19 and India were routed. They only lost nine wickets as Chandrasakar was injured and so unable to bat, but it made little difference.
46 - England v West Indies Port of Spain, 1993-94
England began this innings with a chance for victory. Their only solace by the end was that they had avoided their lowest Test score, by one run. The damage was done on the third evening. Mike Atherton fell lbw to the first ball of the innings, and the level of incompetence thereafter was best illustrated by Mark Ramprakash's crass run-out to the fifth ball of the same over. It was downhill from then on and an hour later England closed on 40 for 8. "It was the worst hour of my life," reflected Atherton, the situation made worse by the fact that England had been in control of the match throughout and needed just 194 to pull the series back to 2-1. In The Independent Martin Johnson wrote: "There were rumours that England's sponsor Tetley Bitter would double its financial support if its name was removed from the team shirts."
47 - New Zealand v England Lord's, 1958
Heavy overnight rain meant that New Zealand were caught on a drying pitch and against Jim Laker (4 for 13) and Tony Lock (5 for 17) they were almost clueless. Again, Reid and Sutcliffe were the main line of resistance, Sutcliffe's dogged 18 the top score. Reid swished Lock into the Tavern Stand for six and then holed out to mid-on trying another big hit, Sutcliffe opted for defence, while Lock polished off the tail with 4 for 1 in 49 balls. New Zealand fared little better in their second innings, scoring 74, and with 22,000 in the ground and the match over by 3.30pm, the two sides played an exhibition match.
In the nine years since England's humiliation at Port-of-Spain, West Indies cricket had gone into sharp decline, and from 13 for 0 early on the fourth day, they lost ten wickets for 34 runs. Steve Harmison shredded them with 7 for 12, and it seemed the side had hit a new low. It later emerged that West Indies had trained once in the five days leading up to the match, instead attending psychological sessions, ironically watching motivational videos of basketball legend Michael Jordan stressing the importance of practice. And as the post-mortems started, several West Indies players were found joining in parties in the stands.
51 - West Indies v Australia Port of Spain, 1998-99
The moment when the reality of a decade of decline finally hit home. In the first Test West Indies were set an improbable 364 to win, but they never came close. Within an hour they had slumped to 16 for 5, and were left to claw their way past some of Test cricket's most unwanted records, aided by nine overthrows gifted by the Australians. In 19.1 overs and 102 minutes, they were humiliated. "Cricket is my life," Brian Lara, the captain, said afterwards. "I think it's important that before I retire that I lead West Indies back on the way to the top." He did his utmost for the rest of the series, which was eventually drawn 2-2 thanks to three Lara centuries of matchless brilliance. But the Trinidad debacle still lingered. "Afterwards there was some angry finger-pointing and heated words between players and officials, while the mercifully small crowd swarmed round the pavilion and shouted, `Fire them, fire them,' to no-one in particular," noted Paul Weaver in The Guardian. Others shouted `Rubbish' to everyone in particular.
The Times reported that England's batting was deplorable while Australia's bowling, fielding and catching was superb. In two hours and 25 minutes on a drying - but far from treacherous - Oval pitch England were blasted away by Ray Lindwall (6 for 19). Only Len Hutton, who opened the innings and was last man out for 30, showed any kind of technique. The next highest score was Norman Yardley's 7. Australia found the going much easier and closed on 153 for 2, but the day is best remembered as the one on which Don Bradman was bowled for a second-ball 0 in his final Test innings.
53 West Indies v Pakistan Faisalabad, 1986-87
Another West Indies low, but this one stands out as it came at a time they were the unchallenged world No. 1. In the opening Test they took a first-innings lead of 89 and were left chasing 240. But on a crumbling pitch Imran Khan blasted out both openers and then Abdul Qadir exploited the conditions to the full to take 6 for 16. It was West Indies' third defeat in 54 Tests. They bounced straight back with an innings victory in the next Test.
53 Pakistan v Australia Sharjah, 2002-03
Pakistan's dismal effort came 24 hours after they had been bowled out for 59 in a 'home' match at Sharjah (sides refused to tour Pakistan in the aftermath of September 11). The conditions were uncomfortable - both days were played in sweltering heat - but that didn't bother the Australians. Pakistan succumbed to "a feeble procession of wafts and drives" reported The Guardian. "It feels a little bit hollow I must admit," said Steve Waugh, Australia's captain, as he rubbed salt in a gaping wound. "You expect to work a little bit harder to win a Test but we'll still take it." It was the lowest two-innings total (112) in Pakistan's 50-year Test history, and they were in effect defeated by Matthew Hayden's 119. It was the fourth lowest match total by one team in Test history.
54 New Zealand v Australia Wellington, 1945-46
54 West Indies v England Lord's, 2000
54 Zimbabwe v South Africa Cape Town, 2004-05
Three scores tie for 11th. The first was the second innings of New Zealand's first Test against Australia mentioned above. The second came on a remarkable second day at Lord's where spectators saw all four innings of the match. England, replying to West Indies' 267, were bowled out for 134, but the high fives had hardly finished before West Indies' own second innings was falling apart at the seams. Andy Caddick bowled 13 overs unchanged from the Nursery End and took 5 for 16, including 5 for 7 in 9.5 overs after tea. West Indies made 54 and England went on to win a nail-biter by two wickets on the third evening. Zimbabwe's score against South Africa was amassed in a little more than the first session at Cape Town, and by the close South Africa had underlined the massive gulf in class between the sides by scoring 340 for 3, a lead of 286. It broke the record for the biggest lead on a first day's play in a Test match (England, 233 v Australia at Lords in 1896).
Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo