August 26, 2009

When the numbers didn't add up

Instances when teams with the leading run-scorers and wicket-takers in a series ended up on the wrong side of the scoreline

You'd expect the team with the top three wicket-takers, six of the seven highest run-scorers, and eight out of 10 centuries scored in a series to win the rubber. But Australia lost the Ashes. They lost though their best bowlers - Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus and Mitchell Johnson - took 18 more wickets between them than England's top three, though England's highest run-getters - Andrew Strauss (474) and Matt Prior (261) - were separated by six Australians, including the woefully out-of-form Michael Hussey (276), and though they had six centurions making eight hundreds to England's two. So this week we've looked at other series that have been lost by the team with the better stats.

Before the 2009 Ashes, no team had ever won a Test series after scoring six centuries fewer than their opponents. The widest gap overcame had been five, during the Frank Worrell Trophy of 1960-61. Gerry Alexander, Rohan Kanhai, Garry Sobers and Conrad Hunte hit six hundreds between them for West Indies while Australia's only century, by Norm O'Neill, came in the famous tied Test in Brisbane. Australia, however, eventually won the decider by two wickets at the MCG to take the series 2-1. The vanquished West Indians, however, had so captured the imagination of the Australian public that they were given "a send-off the like of which is normally reserved for Royalty and national heroes", according to Wisden.

Losing a Test series despite scoring more hundreds than the opposition
Team 100 Opposition 100 Diff Won Lost Mat Series
Australia 8 v England 2 6 1 2 5 2009
West Indies 6 v Australia 1 5 1 2 5 1960/61
India 5 v New Zealand 1 4 0 1 2 1998/99
Australia 7 v England 4 3 0 1 5 1926
South Africa 6 v England 3 3 2 3 5 1955
India 7 v England 4 3 1 2 5 1984/85
Pakistan 4 v West Indies 1 3 0 1 3 1999/00

During India's tour of Australia in 1977-78, the visiting bowlers took seven five-wicket hauls between them - Bishan Bedi and BS Chandrasekhar took three each, while Madan Lal took one. None of the bowlers in the Packer-weakened Australian team took any - Wayne Clark's 4 for 46 was their best - but the hosts still won the closely fought five-match series 3-2, taking the fifth and deciding Test by 47 runs.

Losing a Test series despite taking more five-wicket hauls than the opposition
Team 5 Opposition 5 Diff Won Lost Mat Series
India 7 v Australia 0 7 2 3 5 1977/78
Australia 7 v England 2 5 1 5 6 1978/79
South Africa 5 v England 1 4 0 2 5 1948/49
South Africa 7 v England 3 4 2 3 5 1955
Pakistan 5 v New Zealand 1 4 0 1 3 1969/70
Pakistan 7 v India 3 4 0 2 6 1979/80
Australia 8 v England 4 4 1 3 6 1981

Had Michael Clarke scored 26 runs in the second innings at The Oval, Australia would have had both the highest run-scorer and highest wicket-taker in the Ashes. Clarke, though, was run out for a duck by Andrew Strauss, who ensured his position at the top of the runs table with a swift direct hit. The table below contains all series in which the best batsman and bowler came from the losing team.

The 1981 Ashes, which England famously won, had two Australians on top of the runs and wickets lists. Allan Border collected 533 runs in the six Tests at an average of nearly 60, Terry Alderman took 42 wickets at 21 apiece, while Dennis Lillee took 39. But Ian Botham took 34 wickets and also scored 399 runs, and his performances were powerful enough to snatch the series away from Australia.

The most recent series in the table is South Africa's tour of England in 2008. Kevin Pietersen led the run charts with 421, but he was followed by three South Africans - AB de Villiers, Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie - before the next England batsman appeared on the list. James Anderson was the joint-highest wicket-taker along with Morne Morkel - they both had 15. South Africa won the series, taking a 2-0 lead after three Tests, but then lost the final game.

Highest run-scorer and wicket-taker being from the losing side in a series
Player Mat Runs Bat Av Player Mat Wkts Bowl Av Series Season
AG Steel (Eng) 1 156 156.00 AG Steel (Eng) 1 6 13.83 v Australia 1882/83
WL Murdoch (Aus) 3 266 66.50 GE Palmer (Aus) 3 14 18.57 v England 1884
H Moses (Aus) 2 116 29.00 JJ Ferris (Aus) 2 18 13.50 v England 1886/87
JJ Lyons (Aus) 2 122 30.50 JJ Ferris (Aus) 2 13 13.15 v England 1890
G Giffen (Aus) 5 475 52.77 G Giffen (Aus) 5 34 24.11 v England 1894/95
H Sutcliffe (Eng) 5 734 81.55 MW Tate (Eng) 5 38 23.18 v Australia 1924/25
WR Hammond (Eng) 5 517 64.62 W Voce (Eng) 5 23 24.39 v South Africa 1930/31
GA Headley (WI) 3 277 55.40 EA Martindale (WI) 3 14 17.92 v England 1933
L Hutton (Eng) 5 533 88.83 AV Bedser (Eng) 5 30 16.06 v Australia 1950/51
GS Sobers (WI) 5 709 101.28 WW Hall (WI) 5 22 30.86 v England 1959/60
CG Borde (India) 3 345 57.50 BS Chandrasekhar (India) 3 18 28.50 v West Indies 1966/67
Zaheer Abbas (Pak) 3 386 96.50 Asif Masood (Pak) 3 13 26.46 v England 1971
GM Wood (Aus) 5 474 47.40 JR Thomson (Aus) 5 20 28.80 v West Indies 1977/78
AR Border (Aus) 6 533 59.22 TM Alderman (Aus) 6 42 21.26 v England 1981
S Wettimuny (SL) 3 316 52.66 DS de Silva (SL) 3 17 28.94 v Pakistan 1981/82
Mohsin Khan (Pak) 3 310 62.00 Imran Khan (Pak) 3 21 18.57 v England 1982
DW Randall (Eng) 3 293 73.25 RGD Willis (Eng) 3 12 25.50 v New Zealand 1983/84
DM Jones (Aus) 5 511 56.77 BA Reid (Aus) 5 20 26.35 v England 1986/87
DB Vengsarkar (India) 5 404 67.33 Maninder Singh (India) 4 20 23.90 v Pakistan 1986/87
MD Crowe (NZ) 3 396 66.00 RJ Hadlee (NZ) 3 18 19.61 v Australia 1987/88
AC Hudson (SA) 1 163 81.50 RP Snell (SA) 1 8 19.62 v West Indies 1991/92
MA Atherton (Eng) 5 390 55.71 DG Cork (Eng) 5 19 25.52 v South Africa 1995/96
SR Tendulkar (India) 3 428 85.60 BKV Prasad (India) 3 15 25.00 v England 1996
ST Jayasuriya (SL) 2 192 48.00 M Muralitharan (SL) 2 16 15.43 v West Indies 1997
R Dravid (India) 1 162 81.00 A Kumble (India) 1 7 18.42 v Zimbabwe 1998/99
AJ Stewart (Eng) 4 215 30.71 AR Caddick (Eng) 4 20 20.60 v New Zealand 1999
A Flower (Zim) 2 194 64.66 HH Streak (Zim) 2 9 8.00 v West Indies 1999/00
MS Atapattu (SL) 3 380 95.00 M Muralitharan (SL) 3 12 25.50 v Pakistan 2000
GJ Whittall (Zim) 1 197 197.00 PA Strang (Zim) 2 12 19.83 v New Zealand 2000/01
Mohammad Yousuf (Pak) 3 342 85.50 Saqlain Mushtaq (Pak) 3 18 23.94 v England 2000/01
Habibul Bashar (Ban) 2 249 62.25 Mashrafe Mortaza (Ban) 2 8 27.12 v Zimbabwe 2001/02
CH Gayle (WI) 2 280 93.33 PT Collins (WI) 2 12 21.00 v New Zealand 2002
MP Vaughan (Eng) 5 633 63.30 AR Caddick (Eng) 4 20 34.50 v Australia 2002/03
Habibul Bashar (Ban) 3 379 63.16 Mohammad Rafique (Ban) 3 17 23.82 v Pakistan 2003
KP Pietersen (Eng) 4 421 60.14 JM Anderson (Eng) 4 15 33.93 v South Africa 2008

In the next table we've looked at series in which the top run-scorer finished on the losing side; it has been ordered in descending order of the difference between the highest run-scorer and the second highest. Brian Lara's effort in Sri Lanka in 2001-02 is No. 1. He was immense on that tour, scoring 688 runs (178, 40, 74, 45, 221, 130), a record aggregate in a losing cause in a three-Test series. However, there was only one West Indian in the next seven highest aggregates, and the visitors were crushed in every Test - twice by 10 wickets and once by 131 runs.

Another Lara effort, against England at home in 2003-04, is at No. 2. Lara was having a poor series, having scored only 100 runs in six innings, before he filled his boots with 400 not out in the fourth Test in Antigua. He finished with 500 runs, 204 more than England's highest run-scorer, Mark Butcher, but England had already taken the series 3-0 before Lara's record-breaking innings.

Highest run-scorer being from the losing team in a Test series
Player Mat Inns Runs HS Ave 100 50 Next Diff Series Season
BC Lara (WI) 3 6 688 221 114.66 3 1 403 285 v Sri Lanka 2001/02
BC Lara (WI) 4 7 500 400* 83.33 1 0 296 204 v England 2003/04
M Amarnath (India) 5 9 598 117 66.44 2 4 407 191 v West Indies 1982/83
Mohammad Yousuf (Pak) 4 7 631 202 90.14 3 0 444 187 v England 2006
GS Sobers (WI) 5 8 709 226 101.28 3 1 526 183 v England 1959/60
CL Walcott (WI) 5 10 827 155 82.70 5 2 650 177 v Australia 1954/55
L Hutton (Eng) 5 10 533 156* 88.83 1 4 366 167 v Australia 1950/51
SM Gavaskar (India) 4 7 542 221 77.42 1 4 378 164 v England 1979
H Sutcliffe (Eng) 5 9 734 176 81.55 4 2 573 161 v Australia 1924/25
HW Taylor (SA) 5 9 582 176 64.66 3 2 436 146 v England 1922/23

Shane Warne took 40 wickets in the 2005 Ashes, 16 more than Andrew Flintoff, who was England's highest wicket-taker, but Australia lost the series 2-1. Alderman's 42 in 1981 doesn't appear in the table because Lillee was close behind on 39. In the 1978-79 Ashes, Rodney Hogg picked up 41 wickets in six Tests - 18 more than Geoff Miller, who led the wickets list for England - but Australia were thrashed in that series 1-5.

Highest wicket-taker being from the losing team in a Test series
Player Mat Balls Runs Wkts BBI Ave 5 Next Diff Series Season
RM Hogg (Aus) 6 1740 527 41 6/74 12.85 5 25 16 v England 1978/79
SK Warne (Aus) 5 1517 797 40 6/46 19.92 3 24 16 v England 2005
MW Tate (Eng) 5 2528 881 38 6/99 23.18 5 24 14 v Australia 1924/25
J Cowie (NZ) 3 839 395 19 6/67 20.78 1 8 11 v England 1937
CB Llewellyn (SA) 3 796 448 25 6/92 17.92 4 15 10 v Australia 1902/03
EAS Prasanna (India) 4 1581 686 25 6/104 27.44 2 15 10 v Australia 1967/68
RW Price (Zim) 2 836 396 19 6/73 20.84 2 9 10 v West Indies 2003/04
L Sivaramakrishnan (India) 5 1647 723 23 6/64 31.43 3 14 9 v England 1984/85
HH Streak (Zim) 3 708 298 22 6/90 13.54 2 13 9 v Pakistan 1994/95
AA Donald (SA) 5 1460 653 33 6/88 19.78 4 24 9 v England 1998

If there's a particular List you would like to see, email us with your comments and suggestions.

George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo