Fourteen Tests, 41 players, one year
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.
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.
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.
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.
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