One series, many wicket-takers
"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.
|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|
|New Zealand||v India||1964/65||4||15||12||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.
|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|
|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|
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.
|West Indies||v England||1997/98||5||19||16||13|
|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|
|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|
|New Zealand||v Sri Lanka||2005/06||4||16||10||10|
|West Indies||v India||2006||5||17||11||10|
|India||v South Africa||2006/07||4||17||10||10|
|Sri Lanka||v Pakistan||2009||5||16||11||10|
|New Zealand||v Zimbabwe||2011/12||3||14||10||10|
|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|
|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