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England have won only one of their last 18 Tests in Asia (excluding Bangladesh). Here's a look at why their results are so poor
January 20, 2012
England's results over the last 32 months have earned them the right to be called the best team in the world - that's quite indisputable. They've won 20 out of 32 Tests during this period, and lost only five, which gives them a win-loss ratio of four. The fact that no other team has done better than 1.60 says just how good England have been - in terms of this statistic alone, they're 2.5 times as good as the next-best team during this period.
However, going beyond the overall numbers and into specifics, it's clear that there are some boxes that England haven't ticked yet. Fourteen of their 20 wins during this period have come at home, and of their six overseas ones, two were in Bangladesh. (Click here for more details.) The Ashes triumphs, especially the one in Australia, was fantastic, but for any team from outside the subcontinent, the ultimate challenge is to conquer the turning conditions of Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India - just as the reverse is true for the teams from the subcontinent - and that's the challenge England haven't yet won.
England's three-day debacle in Dubai means they've won just one of their last 18 Tests in Asia, excluding their visits to Bangladesh. In the 2000-01 season, they won back-to-back series in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, but since then there hasn't been a whole lot to celebrate. In six series in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka during this period, they've lost twice to India and Sri Lanka, and once to Pakistan. Their only Test win - against India in Mumbai in 2006 - resulted in a drawn series.
Compared to the other top teams, England's subcontinent stats are quite poor. Australia are quite clearly on top, with four wins in six series, including two whitewashes. South Africa aren't as impressive, but they've still managed three wins in the subcontinent, including two by an innings in India.
A batting average of 27.38 and a bowling average of 40.53 explains why England have managed the results they have in the last decade in the subcontinent. Their batting average isn't much worse than Australia's 31.73, but then Australia have compensated by achieving excellent results with the ball, averaging less than 30 per wicket. On the other hand, England's bowlers have similar stats to South Africa's, but the South African batsmen compensated for the bowling average of 40 by averaging 36.55 with the bat, more than nine runs higher than England's average.
One of the problems for England's batsmen has been converting their fifties into hundreds. Of the 61 times that one of their batsmen have topped 50, only 13 have resulted in centuries. That's a much poorer conversion rate than those for Australia (26 hundreds out of 66 fifty-plus scores) and South Africa (22 out of 66), and similar to that for West Indies (12 out of 59). (In Dubai, though, their batsmen didn't do much to worsen that ratio, with only Matt Prior topping 50.)
|Team||Tests||Bat ave||100s/ 50s||Wickets||Bowl ave||5WI/ 10WM||Ave diff|
|Australia||19||31.73||26/ 40||317||29.95||13/ 4||2.48|
|South Africa||17||36.55||22/ 44||234||40.47||9/ 1||-3.92|
|England||18||27.38||13/ 48||234||40.53||3/ 0||-13.15|
|New Zealand||10||31.89||11/ 25||117||50.65||2/ 0||-18.76|
|West Indies||19||26.23||12/ 47||229||45.31||3/ 0||-19.08|
|Zimbabwe||5||19.35||0/ 10||46||59.04||1/ 0||-39.69|
One of the challenges for batsmen when touring the subcontinent is the constant barrage of spin they are confronted with. The table below checks out the performances of each team against pace and spin over the last decade on tours to the subcontinent. Again, the numbers for England aren't that impressive: their averages against spin are lower than those for Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, and as much as the average for West Indies. The run-rates column also shows that England's batsmen have a problem in getting the spinners away for runs - they're the only one among the top teams with a scoring rate of less than 2.5 against spin.
|Team||Pace-wkts||Average||Econ rate||Spin-wkts||Average||Econ rate|
Among the bowlers too, England's spinners have been pretty ineffective in the subcontinent, averaging more than 46 runs per wicket. Given that their own batsmen average less than 28 against spinners, it's clear that the gulf between the performance of England's batsmen against opposition spinners, and England's spinners against opposition batsmen, is pretty huge, and that's one of the significant reasons why England's results have been so disappointing.
|Team||Pace-wkts||Average||Econ rate||Spin-wkts||Average||Econ rate|
A look at England's top run-getters during this period reveals that none of the specialist batsmen average more than 43 in the subcontinent during this period. The biggest disappointments have been Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell: in 23 innings Pietersen averages 31.54, with 13 scores of under 20. Bell is only slightly better, with an average touching 33 in 24 innings. Both these numbers are well below the career averages for these players.
Bell's stats against spin are particularly disappointing. His two dismissals against Saeed Ajmal reduced his average against spin in the subcontinent to 23 - he has scored only 345 runs in 952 deliveries, and been dismissed 15 times by slow bowlers. On the other hand, Alastair Cook averages 39.33 overall in the subcontinent, but against spin his stats are outstanding: 286 runs for three dismissals at an average of 95.33.
|Paul Collingwood||12||843||42.15||2/ 3|
|Ian Bell||12||758||32.95||1/ 6|
|Marcus Trescothick||9||703||41.35||1/ 4|
|Kevin Pietersen||12||694||31.54||2/ 2|
|Andrew Flintoff||14||642||25.68||0/ 7|
|Michael Vaughan||10||624||34.66||1/ 5|
|Alastair Cook||8||590||39.33||2/ 5|
|Andrew Strauss||8||558||37.20||3/ 0|
|Mark Butcher||6||390||35.45||0/ 4|
|Matt Prior||6||327||46.71||0/ 4|
S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on TwitterFeeds: S Rajesh
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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