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George Binoy and Travis Basevi dig into our stats database

England on the verge of a sub-30 attack

Which Test XIs have had the most bowlers with averages below 30? And has any team had seven batsmen with averages over 45?

Travis Basevi and George Binoy

May 30, 2012

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The scoreboard shows Matthew Hayden's world-record score of 380, Australia v Zimbabwe, first Test, Perth, October 10, 2003
Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist were among seven Australian batsmen averaging more than 45 during the Perth Test against Zimbabwe in 2003 Hamish Blair / © Getty Images
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At the end of the Trent Bridge Test against West Indies, England's attack had two bowlers on the right side of 30, and two on the wrong side by very little. We're talking averages, by the way. Tim Bresnan's eight wickets brought his average down to 25.46 and Graeme Swann's was 28.12, while James Anderson is now on 30.05 and Stuart Broad on 30.42. If Bresnan and Swann maintain their means and Anderson and Broad improve theirs, England could soon join Australia as the only teams capable of fielding a sub-30 Test attack.

England also have four batsmen - Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell - with Test averages over 45 at present. They had five for three Tests between July 2011 and January 2012 but Matt Prior's average has dropped to 42.31 since then.

This week we've dug up teams that had the most bowlers with averages below 30 in Tests, and those that had the most batsmen with averages over 45.

The Australian team that played the Perth Test against Zimbabwe in 2003 is the only one to have seven batsmen with averages over 45. Matthew Hayden scored 380 in that game and held the record for best Test score until Brian Lara reclaimed it a few months later. At the end of the innings-and-175-run victory, Adam Gilchrist averaged 61.06, Hayden 56.75, Steve Waugh 51.20, Ricky Ponting 50.96, Darren Lehmann 49.75, Damien Martyn 46.65 and Justin Langer 45.66.

Australia are also the only international team to have had six batsmen with 45-plus averages in an XI. Gilchrist, Hayden, Langer and Ponting were constants in those six matches, while Lehmann, Waugh, Martyn or Michael Hussey filled the remaining two spots.

The ICC World XI that played the Super Test in 2005 had six players with averages over 50, but that's why they were selected in the first place. The Australian team that beat them by 210 runs had four over 45, of whom Gilchrist, Hayden and Ponting were over 50.

Teams with the most players with a batting average greater than or equal to 45 for a min of 20 innings - Tests
Team Num Mat Start Date End Date List
Australia 7 1 Oct 9, 2003 Oct 13, 2003 AC Gilchrist, ML Hayden, JL Langer, DS Lehmann, DR Martyn, RT Ponting, SR Waugh
Australia 6 1 Jul 25, 2003 Jul 28, 2003 AC Gilchrist, ML Hayden, JL Langer, DS Lehmann, RT Ponting, SR Waugh
Australia 6 1 Dec 4, 2003 Dec 8, 2003 AC Gilchrist, ML Hayden, JL Langer, DR Martyn, RT Ponting, SR Waugh
Australia 6 2 Nov 26, 2004 Dec 19, 2004 AC Gilchrist, ML Hayden, JL Langer, DS Lehmann, DR Martyn, RT Ponting
ICC World XI 6 1 Oct 14, 2005 Oct 17, 2005 R Dravid, Inzamam-ul-Haq, JH Kallis, BC Lara, V Sehwag, GC Smith
Australia 6 2 Nov 23, 2006 Dec 5, 2006 AC Gilchrist, ML Hayden, MEK Hussey, JL Langer, DR Martyn, RT Ponting
West Indies 5 3 Dec 7, 1984 Jan 2, 1985 PJL Dujon, HA Gomes, CG Greenidge, CH Lloyd, IVA Richards
Australia 5 4 Apr 10, 2003 Jul 20, 2003 AC Gilchrist, ML Hayden, JL Langer, RT Ponting, SR Waugh
Australia 5 14 Mar 8, 2002 Jan 6, 2004 AC Gilchrist, ML Hayden, DR Martyn, RT Ponting, SR Waugh
South Africa 5 2 Mar 18, 2004 Mar 30, 2004 HH Gibbs, JH Kallis, G Kirsten, JA Rudolph, GC Smith
Australia 5 1 Oct 26, 2004 Oct 29, 2004 AC Gilchrist, ML Hayden, SM Katich, DS Lehmann, DR Martyn
Australia 5 5 Mar 8, 2004 Nov 21, 2004 AC Gilchrist, ML Hayden, DS Lehmann, DR Martyn, RT Ponting
Australia 5 13 Dec 26, 2004 Apr 4, 2006 AC Gilchrist, ML Hayden, JL Langer, DR Martyn, RT Ponting
Australia 5 3 Dec 14, 2006 Jan 5, 2007 AC Gilchrist, ML Hayden, MEK Hussey, JL Langer, RT Ponting
Australia 5 4 Nov 8, 2007 Jan 28, 2008 MJ Clarke, AC Gilchrist, ML Hayden, MEK Hussey, RT Ponting
England 5 3 Jul 21, 2011 Jan 19, 2012 IR Bell, AN Cook, KP Pietersen, MJ Prior, IJL Trott
India 5 21 Mar 26, 2009 Jan 28, 2012 R Dravid, G Gambhir, VVS Laxman, V Sehwag, SR Tendulkar

India had the most constant combination in the table above. Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman played 21 Tests together between March 2009 and January this year in which all of them had averages above 45.

The first time a team had five batsmen with such high averages was as late as 1984. West Indies played three Tests against Australia between December that year and January 1985 with Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd, Gordon Greenidge, Larry Gomes and Jeff Dujon averaging more than 45. They won the first of those matches to take a 3-0 lead and secure the Frank Worrell Trophy, drew the next and lost the last. All the other entries in the table are from the 21st century, an example of the depreciating value of a 45 average.

It's quite the opposite for the bowlers. There have been only 21 Tests in which a team had five bowlers averaging less than 30, and only three of those were in the 21st century. The great West Indian and Australian attacks of the 1980s and 2000s don't appear in the table below because they usually needed only four bowlers to do the job.

The first time a team had five sub-30 bowlers was in 1950, when Australia played South Africa in two Tests, with Ian Johnson, Ray Lindwall, Keith Miller, Bill Johnston and Colin McCool. Five years later, against West Indies at Sabina Park, Johnson, Johnston, Lindwall and Miller were still averaging below 30, and they were joined by Ron Archer, who averaged just below 30 at the time.

Teams with the most players with a bowling average less than 30 for a min of 2000 balls bowled - Tests
Team Num Mat Start Date End Date List
Australia 5 2 Jan 20, 1950 Feb 14, 1950 IWG Johnson, WA Johnston, RR Lindwall, CL McCool, KR Miller
Australia 5 1 Jun 11, 1955 Jun 17, 1955 RG Archer, IWG Johnson, WA Johnston, RR Lindwall, KR Miller
England 5 2 Jun 19, 1958 Jul 8, 1958 TE Bailey, JC Laker, PJ Loader, GAR Lock, FS Trueman
England 5 2 Dec 5, 1958 Jan 5, 1959 TE Bailey, JC Laker, PJ Loader, GAR Lock, JB Statham
England 5 2 Aug 21, 1958 Jan 15, 1959 TE Bailey, JC Laker, GAR Lock, JB Statham, FS Trueman
England 5 1 Jan 30, 1959 Feb 5, 1959 TE Bailey, GAR Lock, JB Statham, FS Trueman, FH Tyson
Australia 5 1 Jan 23, 1960 Jan 28, 1960 R Benaud, AK Davidson, RR Lindwall, KD Mackay, I Meckiff
Australia 5 3 Jul 31, 1975 Sep 3, 1975 DK Lillee, AA Mallett, JR Thomson, MHN Walker, KD Walters
England 5 1 Aug 2, 1979 Aug 7, 1979 IT Botham, PH Edmonds, M Hendrick, JK Lever, G Miller
England 5 2 Jul 12, 1979 Aug 21, 1979 IT Botham, PH Edmonds, M Hendrick, G Miller, RGD Willis
Australia 5 1 Jan 2, 1981 Jan 4, 1981 JD Higgs, RM Hogg, DK Lillee, LS Pascoe, KD Walters
South Africa 5 3 Mar 9, 2001 Apr 2, 2001 N Boje, AA Donald, JH Kallis, M Ntini, SM Pollock

The last team to have five bowlers with sub-30 Test averages was South Africa, for three Tests in the West Indies in 2001. Their attack comprised Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini, Nicky Boje and Jacques Kallis.

Kallis was also part of the first ODI team to have five batsmen with averages over 40. The other four in the two 2003 World Cup matches in question were Boeta Dippenaar, Gary Kirsten, Graeme Smith and Lance Klusener. South Africa's only other time was in an ODI against Pakistan in 2010, when Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Kallis and Graeme Smith had 40-plus averages. Smith's average has dropped to 39 since then.

Teams with the most players with a batting average greater than or equal to 40 for a min of 20 innings - ODIs
Team Num Mat Start Date End Date List
South Africa 5 2 Feb 16, 2003 Mar 3, 2003 HH Dippenaar, JH Kallis, G Kirsten, L Klusener, GC Smith
Australia 5 2 Feb 25, 2004 Feb 27, 2004 MG Bevan, MJ Clarke, ML Hayden, DR Martyn, RT Ponting
Australia 5 2 Jan 21, 2005 Jan 23, 2005 MJ Clarke, ML Hayden, DS Lehmann, DR Martyn, RT Ponting
Australia 5 8 Dec 14, 2007 Feb 24, 2008 MJ Clarke, ML Hayden, MEK Hussey, RT Ponting, A Symonds
Australia 5 1 Jan 26, 2010 Jan 26, 2010 MJ Clarke, MEK Hussey, SE Marsh, RT Ponting, SR Watson
South Africa 5 1 Nov 8, 2010 Nov 8, 2010 HM Amla, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, JH Kallis, GC Smith
Australia 5 2 Apr 11, 2011 Apr 13, 2011 MJ Clarke, CJ Ferguson, MEK Hussey, RT Ponting, SR Watson
West Indies 4 1 Feb 2, 1985 Feb 2, 1985 CG Greenidge, CH Lloyd, AL Logie, IVA Richards
West Indies 4 4 Nov 30, 1986 Jan 24, 1987 CG Greenidge, DL Haynes, AL Logie, IVA Richards
West Indies 4 1 May 23, 1988 May 24, 1988 CG Greenidge, DL Haynes, CL Hooper, IVA Richards
South Africa 4 1 Jan 20, 2002 Jan 20, 2002 JH Kallis, G Kirsten, L Klusener, ND McKenzie
South Africa 4 11 Feb 3, 2002 Feb 22, 2003 HH Dippenaar, JH Kallis, G Kirsten, L Klusener
South Africa 4 1 Feb 27, 2003 Feb 27, 2003 HH Dippenaar, JH Kallis, G Kirsten, GC Smith
Australia 4 29 Dec 13, 2002 Feb 22, 2004 MG Bevan, ML Hayden, DR Martyn, RT Ponting
South Africa 4 3 Feb 17, 2004 Feb 29, 2004 HH Dippenaar, JH Kallis, L Klusener, JA Rudolph
Australia 4 1 Jan 16, 2005 Jan 16, 2005 MJ Clarke, DS Lehmann, DR Martyn, RT Ponting
Australia 4 16 Aug 23, 2004 Jul 12, 2005 MJ Clarke, ML Hayden, DR Martyn, RT Ponting
South Africa 4 1 Jan 15, 2006 Jan 15, 2006 HH Dippenaar, JH Kallis, AG Prince, GC Smith
Australia 4 12 Feb 3, 2006 Nov 5, 2006 MJ Clarke, MEK Hussey, DR Martyn, RT Ponting
India 4 14 Jan 31, 2007 Sep 29, 2007 MS Dhoni, R Dravid, SC Ganguly, SR Tendulkar
Australia 4 3 Oct 5, 2007 Oct 11, 2007 MJ Clarke, ML Hayden, RT Ponting, A Symonds
Australia 4 1 Feb 3, 2008 Feb 3, 2008 MJ Clarke, MEK Hussey, RT Ponting, A Symonds
Australia 4 20 Jan 12, 2007 Mar 4, 2008 MJ Clarke, ML Hayden, MEK Hussey, RT Ponting
Australia 4 1 Oct 5, 2009 Oct 5, 2009 CJ Ferguson, MEK Hussey, RT Ponting, SR Watson
South Africa 4 6 May 22, 2010 Nov 5, 2010 HM Amla, AB de Villiers, JH Kallis, GC Smith
South Africa 4 3 Jan 15, 2011 Jan 21, 2011 HM Amla, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, GC Smith
Australia 4 23 Jan 22, 2010 Oct 28, 2011 MJ Clarke, MEK Hussey, RT Ponting, SR Watson
South Africa 4 9 Feb 24, 2011 Feb 29, 2012 HM Amla, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, JH Kallis
India 4 17 Feb 19, 2011 Mar 18, 2012 MS Dhoni, G Gambhir, V Kohli, SR Tendulkar

Pakistan are the only side to have had five ODI bowlers with averages below 25, for 15 matches between January 2000 and April 2002 - Abdul Razzaq, Saqlain Mushtaq, Shoaib Akhtar, Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram.

The last team to have four bowlers with ODI averages below 25 was Australia, when Jason Gillespie, Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath and Michael Kasprowicz came together for four matches between September 2004 and March 2005.

Teams with the most players with a bowling average less than 25 for a min of 1000 balls bowled - ODIs
Team Num Mat Start Date End Date List
Pakistan 5 15 Jan 9, 2000 Apr 24, 2002 Abdul Razzaq, Saqlain Mushtaq, Shoaib Akhtar, Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram
West Indies 4 2 Jun 22, 1983 Jun 25, 1983 J Garner, MA Holding, MD Marshall, AME Roberts
Australia 4 7 Mar 11, 1995 Feb 23, 1996 CJ McDermott, GD McGrath, PR Reiffel, SK Warne
Pakistan 4 5 Jan 23, 2000 Apr 23, 2000 Abdul Razzaq, Saqlain Mushtaq, Shoaib Akhtar, Wasim Akram
England 4 1 Jul 15, 2000 Jul 15, 2000 AR Caddick, D Gough, AD Mullally, C White
Pakistan 4 1 Jun 9, 2001 Jun 9, 2001 Abdul Razzaq, Saqlain Mushtaq, Shoaib Akhtar, Waqar Younis
Pakistan 4 6 Oct 24, 2000 Jun 23, 2001 Abdul Razzaq, Saqlain Mushtaq, Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram
Pakistan 4 8 Mar 23, 2000 Sep 1, 2002 Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Akhtar, Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram
Pakistan 4 6 May 31, 1999 Feb 25, 2003 Saqlain Mushtaq, Shoaib Akhtar, Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram
Australia 4 3 Sep 13, 2004 Mar 1, 2005 JN Gillespie, MS Kasprowicz, B Lee, GD McGrath

If there's a particular List that you would like to see, email us with your comments and suggestions.

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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