March 31, 2010

A hundred Tests and no wins against Australia

New Zealand's defeat in Hamilton was Daniel Vettori's 18th Test against Australia. He hasn't celebrated a Test win against them yet

Can you remember when New Zealand beat Australia last in a Test? Allan Border was captain, Glenn McGrath hadn't made his debut, and Daniel Vettori was 14 years old. This week in Hamilton - Vettori's 100th Test - New Zealand were presented with an opportunity to put one across their trans-Tasman rivals. They didn't take it, slipping to defeat by 176 runs instead, and maintained the winless records of their players against Australia. In today's column, we've looked at cricketers who played the most Tests against a particular opponent without winning even one.

The Hamilton Test was Vettori's 18th against Australia - 17 for New Zealand and one for the World XI - across eight series and he's been involved in five draws, 13 defeats and no wins. Seven of those series were lost and the one that was drawn, in 2001, contained two matches in which New Zealand and Vettori came closest to beating Australia since 1993. They ended the Brisbane Test 10 runs short of the target, and were three wickets away from victory in Perth.

Before the ongoing barren period began, New Zealand wins against Australia weren't that uncommon - there were four between 1982 and '86 and another in '90. Vettori, therefore, has played the most matches for New Zealand against Australia without a win. Stephen Fleming, the only other New Zealand cricketer to play 100 Tests, played 14 Tests against Australia without victory.

Highest percentage of matches without a win against a team - Tests (qualification: 15 matches)
Player Opposition Span Mat Won Draw Tied Lost %
Mushtaq Mohammad (Pak) v England 1961-1974 23 0 15 0 8 100.00
Intikhab Alam (Pak) v England 1961-1974 20 0 14 0 6 100.00
JR Reid (NZ) v England 1949-1965 19 0 5 0 14 100.00
DI Gower (Eng) v West Indies 1980-1988 19 0 3 0 16 100.00
M Amarnath (India) v Pakistan 1978-1987 18 0 12 0 6 100.00
DL Vettori (ICC/NZ) v Australia 1997-2010 18 0 5 0 13 100.00
B Sutcliffe (NZ) v England 1947-1965 16 0 8 0 8 100.00
PR Umrigar (India) v West Indies 1948-1962 16 0 7 0 9 100.00
PR Downton (Eng) v West Indies 1981-1988 16 0 3 0 13 100.00
Saeed Ahmed (Pak) v England 1961-1971 15 0 7 0 8 100.00
Asif Iqbal (Pak) v England 1967-1974 15 0 12 0 3 100.00
Majid Khan (Pak) v England 1967-1982 15 0 12 0 3 100.00
P Willey (Eng) v West Indies 1976-1986 15 0 6 0 9 100.00
RJ Shastri (India) v Pakistan 1982-1989 15 0 14 0 1 100.00
RA Smith (Eng) v Australia 1989-1993 15 0 4 0 11 100.00
DB Vengsarkar (India) v West Indies 1976-1989 25 1 15 0 9 96.00
Wasim Bari (Pak) v England 1967-1982 24 1 16 0 7 95.83
BE Congdon (NZ) v England 1965-1978 22 1 8 0 13 95.45
IT Botham (Eng) v West Indies 1980-1991 20 1 6 0 13 95.00
A Ranatunga (SL) v India 1982-1999 20 1 12 0 7 95.00
RR Sarwan (WI) v England 2000-2009 20 1 7 0 12 95.00
RJ Shastri (India) v West Indies 1983-1989 19 1 9 0 9 94.73
PA de Silva (SL) v India 1985-1999 19 1 11 0 7 94.73
KG Viljoen (SA) v England 1930-1949 18 1 12 0 5 94.44
Hanif Mohammad (Pak) v England 1954-1969 18 1 9 0 8 94.44

Pakistan beat England for the first time in the fourth Test between the two sides, but then went nearly three decades without a win. The careers of Mushtaq Mohammad and Intikhab Alam were during those years and they played 23 and 20 matches respectively against England between 1961 and 1974 without a win.

England didn't win the Ashes between 1987 and 2005 but several players experienced what it was like to win a Test against Australia, usually in dead rubbers. Not Robin Smith, though. He played 15 Ashes Tests between 1989 and 1993, of which England lost 11 and drew the others. His Ashes career ended with a pasting in 1993: Australia were 4-0 up after five Tests. England axed Smith, for the first time after 45 Tests, for the Oval dead rubber, and promptly won by 161 runs.

Pakistan have not beaten Australia in a Test since 1995. In fact they've lost their last 12 Tests to them. Mohammad Yousuf, one of Pakistan's batting mainstays during this period, ended his career on Monday, following a ban - a consequence of his conduct during a 3-0 drubbing in Australia. He played 11 Tests in all against them, of which Pakistan lost nine and drew two, and averaged only 29 with the bat. Another giant of the 1990s and 2000s who didn't win any of his 13 Tests against Australia was Shaun Pollock.

Highest percentage of matches lost against a team - Tests (qualification: 10 matches)
Player Opposition Span Mat Won Draw Tied Lost %
Mohammad Ashraful (Ban) v Sri Lanka 2001-2009 11 0 0 0 11 100.00
Habibul Bashar (Ban) v Sri Lanka 2001-2007 10 0 0 0 10 100.00
B Mitchell (SA) v Australia 1931-1936 10 0 1 0 9 90.00
DI Gower (Eng) v West Indies 1980-1988 19 0 3 0 16 84.21
GT Dowling (NZ) v England 1963-1971 11 0 2 0 9 81.81
Mohammad Yousuf (Pak) v Australia 1998-2010 11 0 2 0 9 81.81
CD Collymore (WI) v England 2004-2007 11 0 2 0 9 81.81
PR Downton (Eng) v West Indies 1981-1988 16 0 3 0 13 81.25
HH Gibbs (SA) v Australia 1997-2006 15 1 2 0 12 80.00
AD Nourse (SA) v Australia 1935-1950 10 0 2 0 8 80.00
Shoaib Akhtar (Pak) v Australia 1998-2005 10 0 2 0 8 80.00
RR Sarwan (WI) v Australia 2000-2009 14 1 2 0 11 78.57
AJ Lamb (Eng) v West Indies 1984-1991 22 2 3 0 17 77.27
SM Pollock (SA) v Australia 1997-2006 13 0 3 0 10 76.92
S Chanderpaul (WI) v South Africa 1998-2008 17 2 2 0 13 76.47
CG Borde (India) v West Indies 1958-1967 12 0 3 0 9 75.00
JR Reid (NZ) v England 1949-1965 19 0 5 0 14 73.68
MV Boucher (ICC/SA) v Australia 2001-2009 19 4 1 0 14 73.68
RA Smith (Eng) v Australia 1989-1993 15 0 4 0 11 73.33
SL Campbell (WI) v Australia 1995-2001 15 4 0 0 11 73.33
HW Taylor (SA) v Australia 1912-1932 11 0 3 0 8 72.72
DR Pringle (Eng) v West Indies 1984-1991 11 1 2 0 8 72.72
J Srinath (India) v Australia 1991-2001 11 2 1 0 8 72.72
M Dillon (WI) v South Africa 1998-2004 11 1 2 0 8 72.72
D Ganga (WI) v South Africa 1998-2008 11 1 2 0 8 72.72

Only four players have played in 10 or more Tests against a particular opponent and won all of them. Three of those - Mahela Jayawardene, Muttiah Muralitharan and Kumar Sangakkara - did it against relatively weaker Bangladesh. Roger Harper, however, played 10 Tests against England between 1984 and 1988 and West Indies won every one. They were massive victories as well, the smallest margins being eight wickets or 172 runs. Harper's contribution was a batting average of 34 and 22 wickets at 17.90 apiece.

Highest percentage of matches won against a team - Tests (qualification: 10 matches)
Player Opposition Span Mat Won Draw Tied Lost %
DPMD Jayawardene (SL) v Bangladesh 2001-2009 11 11 0 0 0 100.00
M Muralitharan (SL) v Bangladesh 2001-2009 11 11 0 0 0 100.00
KC Sangakkara (SL) v Bangladesh 2001-2009 11 11 0 0 0 100.00
RA Harper (WI) v England 1984-1988 10 10 0 0 0 100.00
RT Ponting (Aus) v Pakistan 1998-2010 13 12 1 0 0 92.30
AC Gilchrist (Aus) v West Indies 2000-2005 12 11 0 0 1 91.66
CV Grimmett (Aus) v South Africa 1931-1936 10 9 1 0 0 90.00
SJ McCabe (Aus) v South Africa 1931-1936 10 9 1 0 0 90.00
MP Vaughan (Eng) v West Indies 2000-2007 15 13 2 0 0 86.66
RT Ponting (Aus) v West Indies 1996-2009 21 18 2 0 1 85.71
B Lee (Aus) v West Indies 2000-2008 12 10 1 0 1 83.33
AC Gilchrist (Aus) v South Africa 2001-2006 12 10 1 0 1 83.33
WAS Oldfield (Aus) v South Africa 1921-1936 11 9 2 0 0 81.81
FS Trueman (Eng) v New Zealand 1958-1965 11 9 2 0 0 81.81
MJ Hoggard (Eng) v West Indies 2000-2007 11 9 2 0 0 81.81
ME Trescothick (Eng) v West Indies 2000-2004 11 9 2 0 0 81.81
JL Langer (Aus) v South Africa 2001-2006 11 9 1 0 1 81.81
GA Lohmann (Eng) v Australia 1886-1896 15 12 0 0 3 80.00
ML Hayden (Aus) v West Indies 1996-2005 15 12 0 0 3 80.00
DR Jardine (Eng) v Australia 1928-1933 10 8 0 0 2 80.00
MS Atapattu (SL) v Zimbabwe 1998-2004 10 8 2 0 0 80.00
R Illingworth (Eng) v New Zealand 1958-1973 13 10 3 0 0 76.92
WW Hall (WI) v India 1958-1967 13 10 3 0 0 76.92
CC Hunte (WI) v India 1958-1967 13 10 3 0 0 76.92
ST Jayasuriya (SL) v Zimbabwe 1994-2004 13 10 3 0 0 76.92

The West Indian dominance over England during the 1970s and 80s was so overwhelming that Michael Holding and Joel Garner spent more than a decade playing Test cricket without ever losing to them. Holding's 21 matches is the most anyone has played against a country without a defeat.

Gordon Greenidge nearly shattered that mark. He had played 28 Tests against England, with West Indies winning 19, drawing nine and losing none. Then, at Sabina Park in 1990, Angus Fraser triggered a collapse from which West Indies did not recover. It was England's first victory against West Indies in 16 years and Greenidge's only defeat against them in 32 Tests.

Highest percentage of matches undefeated against a team - Tests (qualification: 15 matches)
Player Opposition Span Mat Won Draw Tied Lost %
MA Holding (WI) v England 1976-1986 21 14 7 0 0 100.00
J Garner (WI) v England 1980-1986 19 13 6 0 0 100.00
MC Cowdrey (Eng) v New Zealand 1955-1971 18 12 6 0 0 100.00
MD Marshall (WI) v India 1978-1989 17 8 9 0 0 100.00
HA Gomes (WI) v England 1976-1986 16 12 4 0 0 100.00
WPUJC Vaas (SL) v Zimbabwe 1994-2004 15 10 5 0 0 100.00
MP Vaughan (Eng) v West Indies 2000-2007 15 13 2 0 0 100.00
CG Greenidge (WI) v England 1976-1990 32 21 10 0 1 96.87
Saleem Malik (Pak) v India 1982-1999 22 6 15 0 1 95.45
RT Ponting (Aus) v West Indies 1996-2009 21 18 2 0 1 95.23
SK Warne (Aus) v New Zealand 1993-2005 20 12 7 0 1 95.00
L Hutton (Eng) v South Africa 1938-1951 19 9 9 0 1 94.73
PJL Dujon (WI) v India 1983-1989 19 9 9 0 1 94.73
DL Haynes (WI) v India 1983-1989 19 9 9 0 1 94.73
Saleem Malik (Pak) v England 1984-1996 19 7 11 0 1 94.73
JM Taylor (Aus) v England 1920-1926 18 12 5 0 1 94.44
RB Kanhai (WI) v India 1958-1971 18 10 7 0 1 94.44
GS Sobers (WI) v India 1958-1971 18 10 7 0 1 94.44
Asif Iqbal (Pak) v New Zealand 1965-1979 17 5 11 0 1 94.11
HA Gomes (WI) v India 1978-1983 17 5 11 0 1 94.11
M Azharuddin (India) v Sri Lanka 1985-1999 17 5 11 0 1 94.11
AI Kallicharran (WI) v England 1973-1980 16 5 10 0 1 93.75
Abdul Qadir (Pak) v India 1979-1989 16 3 12 0 1 93.75
AL Logie (WI) v India 1983-1989 16 8 7 0 1 93.75
SM Pollock (SA) v West Indies 1998-2008 16 11 4 0 1 93.75

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