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George Binoy and Travis Basevi dig into our stats database

Fourteen Tests, 41 players, one year

Most players used by a team in a year, in each format and across all internationals

Travis Basevi and George Binoy

December 21, 2011

Comments: 9 | Text size: A | A

George Headley takes the aerial route while Arthur Wood and Wally Hammond look on, England v West Indies, 3rd Test, The Oval, 2nd day, August 21, 1939
George Headley was one of two players to feature in all of West Indies' Tests in 1930 © Getty Images
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With the proliferation of matches in the cricket schedule, teams are increasingly using different players for different formats, with only a core group remaining constant across Tests, ODIs and Twenty20s. This means the number of players fielded by teams in a year has increased in recent times. In 2011, for instance, India have fallen only two short of using the most players in ODIs, finishing on 34 to West Indies' 36 in 2009. In this week's column we've examined which team needed the most cricketers in a year.

England played only 14 matches in 1930, when Tests were the only form of international cricket that existed. Yet they used as many as 41 players during the course of that year, 11 of whom were debutants. Even with the rapid rise in the number of matches since, no team has needed more players in a year.

In the winter of 1929-30 the MCC, as England's touring sides were known then, sent two squads on concurrent tours of New Zealand and the West Indies. Fourteen players travelled to New Zealand, of whom 12 were used in the four-Test series that England won 1-0. The West Indies tour party comprised 15 players, of whom 13 took part in the series that was drawn 1-1. The last of those matches was the timeless Test that had to be called off because it had gone on for nine days and the England players had a ship to catch. It was also the match in which Andy Sandham scored 325 and never played again. Most of the players who went on these tours were not part of the Ashes at home in 1930, during which England used 21 players: 16 of them had not travelled to New Zealand or West Indies.

Most players for a team in a year - All internationals
Team Year Num Tests ODIs T20Is Mat Tests ODIs T20Is Debuts
England 1930 41 41 0 0 14 14 0 0 11
West Indies 2009 41 30 36 23 41 12 21 8 12
Pakistan 2010 40 29 28 30 46 10 18 18 6
West Indies 2011 40 17 27 23 43 10 28 5 16
India 2000 39 25 31 0 40 6 34 0 13
India 2010 39 21 33 21 48 14 27 7 11
India 2011 39 25 34 21 49 11 34 4 4
England 1996 38 27 31 0 29 9 20 0 12
England 1998 38 28 27 0 28 16 12 0 7
Australia 2009 38 19 32 28 61 13 39 9 13
England 1999 37 26 20 0 28 8 21 0 6
India 2001 37 28 26 0 37 13 24 0 5
Pakistan 2003 37 28 32 0 41 8 33 0 10

England have a monopoly on the top seven years with the most Test players - the earliest being 1899 (35 players in seven matches) and the latest 1951 (33 players in 13 matches). West Indies are the first team other than England in the table below - the most players they used in a year being 30, in 1930. West Indies played only five Tests that year, four against England at home and one in Australia. Of those 30, only George Headley and Clifford Roach played all five Tests. One of those players was Puss Achong, the first cricketer of Chinese extraction to play Tests. The term "chinaman" for a left-arm wrist-spinner was reportedly coined for Achong. He played only one Test in 1930. Seventeen of those 30 players played only one Test in 1930.

England's entry for 1989 is remarkable because they used as many as 29 players for one six-Test Ashes. It is the second largest number of players used by a team in a series, behind the 30 England used during the 1921 Ashes.

Most players for a team in a year - Tests
Team Year Num Debuts Mat Won Draw Lost
England 1930 41 11 14 3 7 4
England 1948 36 15 11 1 4 6
England 1899 35 17 7 2 4 1
England 1921 34 19 8 0 2 6
England 1951 33 15 13 5 5 3
England 1988 32 10 10 1 5 4
England 1935 31 13 9 1 5 3
West Indies 1930 30 16 5 1 2 2
England 1933 30 7 9 6 3 0
India 1952 30 9 11 3 3 5
England 1981 30 5 13 3 6 4
West Indies 2009 30 11 12 1 5 6
England 1964 29 9 12 1 10 1
Australia 1977 29 15 13 5 3 5
England 1984 29 8 15 1 6 8
England 1986 29 11 15 2 5 8
England 1989 29 5 6 0 2 4
England 1993 29 9 10 1 1 8
Pakistan 2010 29 8 10 2 2 6

In 2009, West Indies fielded 30 players in 12 Tests, 36 players in 21 ODIs - which is the most for a team in a year - and 23 players in eight Twenty20 internationals. This was largely because the row between the WICB and the WIPA boiled over days before the home series against Bangladesh was due to begin. As a result, 13 players (Chris Gayle, Adrian Barath, Sulieman Benn, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Runako Morton, Brendan Nash, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Andrew Richardson, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Jerome Taylor) made themselves unavailable for selection. West Indies eventually had to field seven debutants in the first Test, in St Vincent, the most in a match since their first-ever Test in 1928. The upshot of the dispute was that Bangladesh won the Tests 2-0 and the ODIs 3-0.

Most players for a team in a year - ODIs
Team Year Num Debuts Mat Won Tied Lost
West Indies 2009 36 9 21 4 0 15
India 2011 34 3 34 21 2 10
India 2010 33 11 27 17 0 10
Pakistan 2003 32 6 33 21 0 11
Australia 2009 32 13 39 23 0 14
Pakistan 1984 31 10 20 6 0 12
Pakistan 1995 31 9 19 8 1 10
England 1996 31 12 20 7 0 12
Pakistan 1996 31 11 39 23 0 15
Pakistan 1997 31 5 36 15 0 19
India 2000 31 8 34 15 0 19
West Indies 2001 31 6 30 13 0 17
Australia 1979 30 10 13 5 0 7
Pakistan 1998 30 4 26 12 0 14
Pakistan 2000 30 6 41 20 0 21
England 2006 30 8 20 5 0 14
England 2011 30 8 30 11 2 16
India 1998 29 9 40 24 0 14
West Indies 1999 29 9 35 14 1 19
South Africa 2000 29 6 41 25 1 14
South Africa 2002 29 6 38 22 1 15
West Indies 2008 29 9 20 5 0 13
New Zealand 2009 29 7 24 10 0 11
Pakistan 2011 29 9 32 24 0 7

Pakistan played 18 Twenty20 internationals in 2010. It is the most played by a team in a year. The 30 players they used in those matches is the highest number of T20 players used by a team in a year.

Most players for a team in a year - T20Is
Team Year Num Debuts Mat Won Tied Lost
Pakistan 2010 30 5 18 6 0 12
Australia 2009 28 9 9 3 0 5
England 2007 26 15 8 2 0 6
South Africa 2009 25 8 12 8 0 4
England 2009 24 8 9 3 0 5
South Africa 2007 23 7 8 6 0 2
Sri Lanka 2009 23 6 13 7 0 6
West Indies 2009 23 7 8 5 0 3
New Zealand 2010 23 6 13 7 1 5
South Africa 2010 23 4 11 8 0 3
England 2011 23 9 7 4 0 3
West Indies 2011 23 13 5 2 0 3
South Africa 2006 22 13 3 1 0 2
West Indies 2008 22 10 4 1 1 2

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

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by WindiesWillow on (December 23, 2011, 0:45 GMT)

I see the stats show that WI used the most players for Tests, ODIs & T20s in 2009. I wondered why. Then I remembered that this was the year where the spat between WICB & WIPA was the ugliest, and practically the entire 1st team was on strike. Hence West Indies had two completely different teams this calendar year. Probably even six teams given the three formats of the game.

Posted by SaravananIsTheBest on (December 21, 2011, 22:28 GMT)

@(December 21 2011, 03:11 AM GMT), True... Especially the way he handled/hand-picked the injury-prone players in WC'11 was just mind-blowing. He has got lot to offer even after he retired for sure.

Posted by Mr_Anonymous on (December 21, 2011, 21:21 GMT)

I think this is a good article but I would definitely put the table related to "Most players for a team in a year - All internationals" last, not before the other tables.

I think it isn't fair to club all internationals together especially when there are more members of the side who are more suited for a specific form of the game. I mean ideally, it would be nice to have the same team for all formats but we know its just not very likely. We know that there are (and perhaps have always been) players more suited to a specific form of game (e.g. Yuvraj and Bevan for ODIs, Yusuf Pathan and say Malinga for T20s). It does not mean that these players cannot play other formats very well but they are definitely outstanding in the format that suits them best. There will always be players who will transcend formats and be good at all (e.g. Tendulkar, Kallis, Warne, Murali) but increasingly I think they might be a minority (to increase focus on their preferred format and manage injuries better).

Posted by DrAtharAbbas on (December 21, 2011, 15:45 GMT)

Can we count most number of captains used in a year. Pakistan might have a monopoly on that list.

Posted by CricketMaan on (December 21, 2011, 12:07 GMT)

A true reflection on a very consistent and energetic Aussies, and also on the most hyped and erratic and inconsisten England..also highlighted the selection dram that goes in sub continenet with India and Pakistan stealing some limelight in ODIs

Posted by tfjones1978 on (December 21, 2011, 12:03 GMT)

"In the winter of 1929-30 the MCC, as England's touring sides were known then, sent two squads on concurrent tours of New Zealand and the West Indies." Of the list, this interests me the most. There are 105 teams in the world, but I can not recall the last time a full member played against an affiliate team. A touring squad requires 15 players and there are 59 affiliate teams and 36 associate teams. To bring T20 matches to the world, each full member should send multiple teams to each of these countries over a two year period. 95 countries every two years with say six teams per country (8 countries per year per team per country). What better way to promote cricket then to ensure that each country in the world plays against five full members each year. After all, a full member could send club cricketters to play them and be competitive, so there will be plenty of players to choose from!

Posted by   on (December 21, 2011, 11:36 GMT)

thanks for sharing this information

Posted by Windies89 on (December 21, 2011, 4:16 GMT)

good to see Windies topping the list in something...don't tell me what this list is for.

Posted by   on (December 21, 2011, 3:11 GMT)

These statistics demonstrate the reason for India's good showing in the world cup. India has been most innovative of all the teams in the past few years... Kudos to Dhoni as well.

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George BinoyClose
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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