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One series, many wicket-takers

Australia used 11 bowlers in the West Indies, and all 11 picked up at least one wicket

Travis Basevi and George Binoy

May 2, 2012

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David Warner jumps for joy after taking a wicket, West Indies v Australia, 3rd Test, Roseau, 2nd day, April 24, 2012
David Warner picked up his first Test wickets in the Caribbean © Associated Press
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"Australia used 11 bowlers in the just concluded West Indies series and [they] all got at least one wicket. Is this the most bowlers in a series to get at least one wicket?" Steve Williams asked Steven Lynch . We nicked the idea for the List instead.

Of the 14 players in Australia's squad for the tour of the Caribbean, only Ricky Ponting, Matthew Wade and Ed Cowan did not bowl. All the others did, even David Warner, who picked up his first Test wickets. He took as many as Peter Siddle and Shane Watson, and more than Mitchell Starc, Michael Beer and James Pattinson. There have been two other three-Test series - both involving Australia and Pakistan - in which 11 bowlers took at least one wicket.

The most bowlers used in a three-Test series, however, is 13 - by England at home against New Zealand in 1937 - and all 13 took wickets. Five of them averaged below 20, eight below 25, and 11 under 30 per wicket. New Zealand did not make more than 300 in an innings and England won the rubber 1-0. The series contained the debuts of Arthur Wellard, Austin Matthews, Jim Parks, Denis Compton and Len Hutton. For Parks and Matthews, it was their only Test; Wellard played one more, against Australia in 1938; while Compton and Hutton went on to have illustrious international careers.

Most wicket-takers in a series of four of fewer Tests
Team Series Season Matches Players Bowlers Wkt Takers
West Indies v England 1929/30 4 27 20 13
England v New Zealand 1937 3 18 13 13
England v New Zealand 1949 4 20 16 12
West Indies v England 1947/48 4 19 13 11
England v West Indies 1950 4 25 15 11
England v Pakistan 1954 4 19 11 11
New Zealand v India 1964/65 4 15 12 11
Australia v Pakistan 1994/95 3 15 12 11
Pakistan v Australia 1998/99 3 18 13 11
Australia v West Indies 2011/12 3 14 11 11

There have been several four-Test series in which more than 11 bowlers were used by a team, and in two of them more than 11 took wickets. During England's tour of the West Indies in 1929-30, the visitors used only 13 players in four Tests. They were constrained by the limited size of the touring party of course. West Indies used as many as 27, of which 20 bowled and 13 took wickets. In the timeless Test at Sabina Park, legspinner Tommy Scott came within four deliveries of equalling the record for most balls bowled in an innings at the time, George Geary's 486.

For Leslie Walcott, Charles Passailaigue, Edwin St Hill, Frank de Caries, Mervyn Grell, Nelson Betancourt, George Gladstone and Errol Hunte, it was their only series. Another debutant George Headley, on the other hand, went on to have a memorable career. He was one of the seven who bowled but did not take a wicket. He would not take a wicket in his 22-Test career, but earned the sobriquet "Black Bradman" for his run-scoring.

In series of five Tests or more, the highest number of wicket-takers for a team is 15, and the most bowlers used, 19. The most recent such series was the 1989 Ashes, when England used as many as 29 players in six Tests, the second highest ever. Out of the 120 Australian wickets on offer, though, they managed to take only 65 in a 0-4 defeat. Neil Foster and Angus Fraser were the only England bowlers to average less than 40 per wicket.

Most wicket-takers in a five or six-Test series
Team Series Season Matches Players Bowlers Wkt Takers
England v Australia 1989 6 29 19 15
England v Australia 1899 5 24 19 14
Australia v England 1970/71 6 19 15 14
England v South Africa 1947 5 21 17 13
West Indies v Australia 1955 5 19 15 13
India v West Indies 1958/59 5 24 19 13
Australia v England 1894/95 5 22 14 12
England v Australia 1921 5 30 14 12
England v South Africa 1929 5 23 15 12
England v South Africa 1935 5 25 18 12
West Indies v England 1953/54 5 18 16 12
England v West Indies 1976 5 21 14 12
England v Australia 1993 6 24 16 12
England v Australia 2001 5 19 13 12

In one-day internationals, the most bowlers used by a team in a series is 16, and the most wicket-takers, 13. West Indies used 19 players in the five-ODI series at home against England in 1997-98, which the hosts won 4-1. Sixteen of them bowled, including batsmen such as Brian Lara, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Stuart Williams and Clayton Lambert, and 13 took wickets. In the fifth ODI in Port-of-Spain, West Indies used nine bowlers in a 57-run victory. Williams took 1 for 30 in the only time he turned his arm over in a 57-ODI career. The only West Indians not to bowl in the series were the wicketkeepers Ridley Jacobs and Junior Murray, and Philo Wallace.

Most wicket-takers in a bilateral ODI series
Team Series Season Matches Players Bowlers Wkt Takers
West Indies v England 1997/98 5 19 16 13
England v Australia 2009 7 16 12 12
England v Australia 2010/11 7 19 14 12
India v Sri Lanka 1986/87 5 14 10 10
Australia v West Indies 1998/99 7 14 12 10
India v New Zealand 1999/00 5 16 12 10
South Africa v India 1999/00 5 15 12 10
South Africa v West Indies 2000/01 7 16 11 10
England v Zimbabwe 2001/02 5 16 11 10
New Zealand v India 2002/03 7 16 10 10
Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe 2004 5 16 11 10
South Africa v Sri Lanka 2004 5 13 10 10
India v Pakistan 2004/05 6 16 12 10
Pakistan v England 2005/06 5 16 10 10
New Zealand v Sri Lanka 2005/06 4 16 10 10
Zimbabwe v Kenya 2005/06 4 14 10 10
Australia v Bangladesh 2005/06 3 14 11 10
West Indies v India 2006 5 17 11 10
India v South Africa 2006/07 4 17 10 10
England v India 2007 7 15 12 10
Sri Lanka v Pakistan 2009 5 16 11 10
Bangladesh v Zimbabwe 2009 5 14 10 10
Australia v India 2009/10 6 17 12 10
Australia v England 2010/11 7 19 12 10
New Zealand v Zimbabwe 2011/12 3 14 10 10

Most wicket-takers in a multi-team ODI tournament
Team Series Season Matches Players Bowlers Wkt Takers
Australia VB Series 2002/03 10 19 13 13
India VB Series 2003/04 10 17 13 13
Sri Lanka World Series 1995/96 10 17 14 12
Australia Carlton & United Series 1997/98 11 19 13 12
Australia Carlton & United Series 1998/99 12 17 14 12
Australia Commonwealth Bank Series 2006/07 10 17 13 12
England World Series Cup 1979/80 9 16 11 11
Sri Lanka World Series 1989/90 8 16 12 11
Australia Carlton & United Series 1996/97 8 16 13 11
Pakistan Carlton & United Series 1996/97 10 15 11 11
West Indies Carlton & United Series 1996/97 10 17 11 11
Sri Lanka Carlton & United Series 1998/99 10 16 11 11
Australia Carlton & United Series 1999/00 10 15 13 11
Australia Carlton Series 2000/01 10 16 11 11
England VB Series 2002/03 10 17 12 11
Kenya ICC World Cricket League Championship 2011-2013 4 18 14 11
Australia Commonwealth Bank Series 2011/12 11 17 12 11
India Commonwealth Bank Series 2011/12 8 16 12 11

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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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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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