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When Australia won with a high score of 22

Teams that won Test matches despite meagre contributions from their batsmen or bowlers

Travis Basevi and George Binoy

May 18, 2011

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Darren Sammy leads his team off the field after their win, West Indies v Pakistan, 1st Test, Providence, 4th day, May 15, 2011
West Indies beat Pakistan at Providence despite none of their batsmen scoring a half-century © AFP
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Matthew Hayden's 380 against Zimbabwe at the WACA is the highest top score for a winning team in a Test. Brian Lara made 400 against England but that was in a draw. Last week, however, West Indies beat Pakistan at Providence despite two meagre batting performances, in which Lendl Simmons' 49 in the first innings was their best individual score. Have many Tests been won by teams despite extremely low top scores?

The previous time a team won a Test without any of their batsmen scoring more than 50 was in Hamilton in 2002, when New Zealand hosted India on perhaps the most bowler-friendly pitch of the 21st century. Nobody even got to 40 in that game. It was the first time that both teams were dismissed for fewer than 100 in the first innings. India made 99, New Zealand 94. Rahul Dravid's 39 was the top score of the Test but it was Stephen Fleming's 32, which was New Zealand's best, that successfully guided a chase of 160. It was only the second time in Tests that a part of all four innings had been played on the same day (the third).

The first such occurrence also appears in the table below - the Lord's Test in 2000, when England beat West Indies by two wickets despite their top scorer being Michael Atherton, who made 45 in the chase of 188. The second day of that match began with West Indies nine down in the first innings and ended with England on 0 for 0 in the fourth.

The lowest top score to contribute to a team's victory was also made at Lord's, in 1888. Percy McDonnell and Jack Blackham scored 22 each in Australia's first-innings total of 116. England were shot out for 53, after which Australia collapsed for 60 in their second innings. WG Grace's 24 during England's chase of 124 was the highest individual score of the Test, but the hosts were routed for 62.

Lowest individual top-score by the winning team in a Test
Team HS Inns Runs Ave Opposition Ground Start Date Scorecard
Australia 22 22 167 8.35 v England Lord's Jul 16, 1888 Test 28
New Zealand 32 19 234 14.62 v India Hamilton Dec 19, 2002 Test 1633
England 33 22 212 10.60 v Australia Sydney Jan 28, 1887 Test 25
England 35 21 180 10.00 v Australia The Oval Aug 11, 1890 Test 34
England 38 11 170 17.00 v Australia Manchester Aug 30, 1888 Test 30
Australia 42 10 150 16.66 v South Africa Melbourne Feb 12, 1932 Test 216
England 42 14 221 22.10 v New Zealand Dunedin Mar 11, 1955 Test 401
West Indies 42 14 224 20.36 v Australia Port of Spain Apr 21, 1995 Test 1296
England 42* 22 274 13.70 v Australia Sydney Feb 25, 1887 Test 26
Pakistan 42* 22 292 14.60 v England The Oval Aug 12, 1954 Test 390
England 43 16 149 11.46 v West Indies Bridgetown Jan 8, 1935 Test 238
England 44 22 234 11.70 v Australia Sydney Feb 10, 1888 Test 27
England 45 22 226 11.30 v Australia The Oval Aug 10, 1896 Test 52
England 45 22 335 17.63 v South Africa Cape Town Jan 1, 1923 Test 149
England 45 21 293 16.27 v West Indies Lord's Jun 29, 2000 Test 1503
England 46 15 202 16.83 v South Africa Port Elizabeth Mar 12, 1889 Test 31
Australia 46 22 371 18.55 v England Leeds Jul 1, 1909 Test 103
West Indies 47 17 321 22.92 v Australia Adelaide Dec 22, 1951 Test 343
England 47 16 397 30.53 v New Zealand Christchurch Mar 15, 1963 Test 542
Pakistan 47 22 343 17.15 v India Bangalore Mar 13, 1987 Test 1073
New Zealand 47* 17 312 22.28 v Sri Lanka Wellington Mar 11, 1983 Test 951
England 48 22 375 18.75 v Australia Birmingham Jul 30, 1981 Test 906
Australia 49 18 356 23.73 v England Sydney Feb 17, 1882 Test 6
England 49 15 239 19.91 v New Zealand Christchurch Jan 10, 1930 Test 186
West Indies 49 22 282 14.10 v Zimbabwe Port of Spain Mar 16, 2000 Test 1490
West Indies 49 22 336 16.80 v Pakistan Providence May 12, 2011 Test 1992
South Africa 49* 19 351 21.93 v England Cape Town Mar 7, 1910 Test 109

While there have been 27 instances of a team winning a Test without any of its batsmen scoring a half-century, in only 13 has there been no score in excess of 50 in the entire match (excluding draws). The recent Providence Test does not figure among them because Misbah-ul-Haq made 52 in Pakistan's defeat. Hamilton 2000 and Lord's 1888 do feature though.

That 1888 tour of England was an unhappy one for Australia's batsmen. After the visitors won at Lord's, they were beaten at The Oval and at Old Trafford. England had stormed to an innings victory in the second Test by posting 317, and their batsmen made 172 in the first innings of the final match, with WG Grace top scoring with 38. In reply, Australia were skittled for 81 and 70, with a high score of 32. It was the first time that a team had failed to score a half-century in a series comprising at least three Tests. It's only happened once since, when South Africa hosted England in 1895-96 and were routed by George Lohmann. South Africa had a top score of 41 in that series.

Lowest individual top-score by both teams in a Test (qualification: excluding draws)
Team Team HS Inns Runs Ave Ground Start Date Scorecard
England Australia 24 44 281 7.02 Lord's Jul 16, 1888 Test 28
Australia England 33 44 413 10.32 Sydney Jan 28, 1887 Test 25
England Australia 38 33 316 10.53 Manchester Aug 30, 1888 Test 30
England Australia 39 43 366 9.63 The Oval Aug 11, 1890 Test 34
New Zealand India 39 41 465 12.91 Hamilton Dec 19, 2002 Test 1633
Australia South Africa 42 32 219 7.55 Melbourne Feb 12, 1932 Test 216
Australia England 42* 44 490 12.25 Sydney Feb 25, 1887 Test 26
Australia England 44 44 348 8.70 Sydney Feb 10, 1888 Test 27
West Indies England 44 35 287 9.89 Bridgetown Jan 8, 1935 Test 238
South Africa England 46 37 398 12.43 Port Elizabeth Mar 12, 1889 Test 31
England Australia 47 44 378 9.45 The Oval Aug 10, 1896 Test 52
England Australia 48 44 696 17.40 Birmingham Jul 30, 1981 Test 906
New Zealand England 49 37 449 14.03 Christchurch Jan 10, 1930 Test 186
West Indies Pakistan 52 44 649 16.22 Providence May 12, 2011 Test 1992
South Africa England 53 44 510 12.75 Port Elizabeth Feb 13, 1896 Test 47
England Pakistan 53 44 557 13.92 The Oval Aug 12, 1954 Test 390
England South Africa 54 44 402 10.05 Leeds Jul 29, 1907 Test 94
England Australia 55 44 343 8.57 The Oval Aug 28, 1882 Test 9
Australia England 56 44 643 16.07 Sydney Feb 20, 1885 Test 19
Australia England 57 44 872 21.80 Melbourne Jan 1, 1892 Test 35
England Australia 57 36 494 15.93 Leeds Jul 27, 1972 Test 701
India England 59 44 641 16.86 Chennai Jan 14, 1977 Test 793

We've also dug up a list of Tests in which the winning team's most successful bowler had extremely modest figures. England once won a Test even though their best bowler in the match was Alan Mullally, who managed only 2 for 42. It emerged later, though, that the result at Centurion in 2000 was dubiously contrived by Hansie Cronje. He engineered it by forfeiting South Africa's second innings and setting England an extremely chaseable target. England had to take only eight wickets to win the Test instead of 20.

In 1968, England won a Test in Trinidad even though they took only nine wickets in the match. West Indies declared on 526 for 7 in the first innings and then closed their second innings on 92 for 2. England's most successful bowler had been David Brown, who took 3 for 107 in the first innings. Garry Sobers, however, had set England a target of only 215, which was strange considering the series was level at 0-0 with one to play. England chased successfully, with seven wickets in hand, and Sobers became the first captain to lose a Test after declaring in both innings. It's happened only once since, when Graeme Smith declared twice at the SCG in 2006 and lost.

Most modest best-bowling figures in an innings by the winning side in a Test
Team BBI Wkts Ave Opposition Ground Start Date Scorecard
England 2/42 7 33.57 v South Africa Centurion Jan 14, 2000 Test 1483
England 3/107 8 74.62 v West Indies Port of Spain Mar 14, 1968 Test 635
Australia 3/78 16 24.56 v England Perth Nov 29, 2002 Test 1629
India 3/69 18 27.77 v West Indies Port of Spain Apr 19, 2002 Test 1599
Sri Lanka 3/65 18 30.05 v Zimbabwe Colombo (SSC) Jan 14, 1998 Test 1395
South Africa 3/61 18 27.61 v Australia Johannesburg Mar 4, 1994 Test 1252
Australia 3/57 20 34.50 v England Adelaide Jan 16, 1925 Test 160
West Indies 3/56 18 33.11 v New Zealand Auckland Feb 27, 1969 Test 648
Australia 3/52 18 24.33 v England Sydney Feb 17, 1883 Test 13
England 3/50 19 25.26 v South Africa Lord's Jun 28, 1924 Test 154
Australia 3/50 19 21.89 v West Indies St John's Apr 3, 1999 Test 1454
Pakistan 3/50 17 25.58 v Sri Lanka Karachi Mar 12, 2000 Test 1489
Australia 3/45 18 29.38 v England Manchester Jul 16, 1896 Test 51
Australia 3/45 19 23.94 v England Sydney Dec 17, 1920 Test 135
Australia 3/44 17 24.05 v Zimbabwe Harare Oct 14, 1999 Test 1463
Australia 3/44 17 28.29 v South Africa Melbourne Dec 26, 2001 Test 1580
England 3/42 20 24.80 v South Africa The Oval Aug 7, 2008 Test 1885
West Indies 3/41 20 26.25 v England Leeds Jul 22, 1976 Test 780
New Zealand 3/41 18 37.77 v Bangladesh Hamilton Feb 15, 2010 Test 1953
England 3/40 19 24.84 v West Indies The Oval Aug 18, 1966 Test 609
South Africa 3/40 17 29.00 v India Cape Town Jan 2, 1997 Test 1349
India 3/40 19 31.42 v England Chennai Dec 11, 2008 Test 1898

Click here for more tables.

Travis Basevi is a cricket statistician and UK Senior Programmer for Cricinfo and other ESPN sports websites. George Binoy is an Assistant Editor at ESPNcricinfo

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George Binoy Assistant Editor After a major in Economics and nine months in a financial research firm, George realised that equity, capital and the like were not for him. He decided that he wanted to be one of those lucky few who did what they love at work. Alas, his prodigious talent was never spotted and he had to reconcile himself to the fact that he would never earn his money playing cricket for his country, state or even district. He jumped at the opportunity to work for ESPNcricinfo and is now confident of mastering the art of office cricket
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