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When Sangakkara was faster than Bradman

Batsmen who reached 2000 runs against a particular team in the fewest Test innings

Travis Basevi and George Binoy

June 27, 2012

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Kumar Sangakkara was caught at extra cover, Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 1st Test, Galle, 3rd day, June 24, 2012
Kumar Sangakkara went past 2000 runs against Pakistan in the Galle Test © AFP
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During his unbeaten 199 in Galle, Kumar Sangakkara scored his 2000th Test run against Pakistan in his 26th innings against them. He was the fastest to that landmark against a particular team, quicker than even Don Bradman, who scored his 2000th run against England in his 29th innings. While Bradman had once held the record, it had been taken from him 33 years ago, when Sunil Gavaskar went past 2000 against West Indies in his 28th innings, a feat later matched by Brian Lara against England.

Lara had two record-breaking innings against England, but while his 375 at St John's in 1994 contributed to his first 2000 runs against them, his 400, also at St John's, was in 2004. He had passed the landmark by then. After scoring 798 in the home Tests against England in 1993-94, Lara made 765 in England in the summer of 1995 and had an aggregate of 1563 in 18 innings. He took another ten innings to score the remaining 437.

Gavaskar's contests against West Indies had the ideal start. His 774 runs in the Caribbean in 1970-71 remains the record for the most runs in a series by a debutant. He reached 2000 against West Indies with an average of 83.50 and ten centuries and six fifties.

Bradman wasn't done at 2000 runs against England. He wasn't done at 4000 either. He went on to make 5028 in 63 innings against them, averaging nearly 90. He is by far the highest run-scorer against a particular team.

The only batsman to score 2000 runs in 40 innings or less against two teams is Wally Hammond, who also ensured Bradman would never hold the record for the highest run-scorer in Tests. Hammond passed 2000 in 38 innings against Australia and 40 innings against South Africa.

Fewest innings to score 2000 runs against the same opposition - Tests
Player Opp Span Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave 100 50
KC Sangakkara (SL) v Pak 2002-2012 14 26 3 2029 230 88.21 8 7
SM Gavaskar (India) v WI 1971-1979 16 28 4 2004 220 83.50 10 6
BC Lara (WI) v Eng 1994-2000 18 28 2 2030 375 78.07 5 9
DG Bradman (Aus) v Eng 1928-1934 17 29 2 2275 334 84.25 8 5
IVA Richards (WI) v Eng 1976-1986 23 30 2 2019 291 72.10 7 7
H Sutcliffe (Eng) v Aus 1924-1932 19 31 3 2191 194 78.25 8 10
L Hutton (Eng) v Aus 1938-1953 19 34 6 2013 364 71.89 5 11
DCS Compton (Eng) v SA 1947-1956 20 34 1 2000 208 60.60 7 9
GS Sobers (WI) v Eng 1954-1966 20 34 3 2032 226 65.54 7 6
Javed Miandad (Pak) v India 1978-1989 25 35 6 2027 280* 69.89 4 14
KF Barrington (Eng) v Aus 1961-1968 21 36 5 2016 256 65.03 5 13
SR Tendulkar (India) v Eng 1990-2008 23 36 3 2031 193 61.54 6 10
AR Morris (Aus) v Eng 1946-1954 21 37 2 2010 206 57.42 8 8
JH Kallis (SA) v WI 1998-2008 21 37 9 2073 177 74.03 7 11
RT Ponting (Aus) v SA 1997-2009 20 37 3 2018 143* 59.35 8 10
DPMD Jayawardene (SL) v Eng 1998-2012 21 37 3 2038 213* 59.94 8 8
WR Hammond (Eng) v Aus 1928-1936 22 38 3 2069 251 59.11 8 3
CH Lloyd (WI) v India 1966-1983 25 39 2 2042 242* 55.18 6 11
JB Hobbs (Eng) v Aus 1908-1925 23 40 3 2151 187 58.13 8 8
WR Hammond (Eng) v SA 1927-1939 23 40 7 2024 181 61.33 5 14
AD Nourse (SA) v Eng 1935-1951 22 40 6 2016 208 59.29 7 9
S Chanderpaul (WI) v India 1994-2011 23 40 9 2038 140 65.74 7 10

Everton Weekes did not play India enough, otherwise he might have got to 2000 against a team faster than anyone else. Weekes holds the record for hundreds in the most consecutive innings - five - and four of them were in his first four innings against India. He nearly had a fifth but was run out for 90 in Madras in 1949. Weekes went on to bring up his 1000th run against India in his ninth innings. No one has got there quicker.

Viv Richards got to 1000 Test runs against England in ten innings, second fastest after Weekes. He reached 2000 against them in 30 innings, the fifth fastest. In one-day cricket, however, Richards is the tops. He sprinted to 1000 runs against England in only 15 ODI innings, averaging 101 with three hundreds and six half-centuries. The closest anyone has come since is Dean Jones and Gary Kirsten, who needed 19 innings to pass 1000 ODI runs against New Zealand and India.

Fewest innings to score 1000 runs against the same opposition - ODIs
Player Opp Span Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave 100 50
IVA Richards (WI) v Eng 1976-1986 16 15 5 1009 189* 100.90 3 6
DM Jones (Aus) v NZ 1986-1991 19 19 3 1005 107 62.81 2 9
G Kirsten (SA) v India 1995-2000 19 19 2 1030 115* 60.58 3 7
BC Lara (WI) v Aus 1991-1997 21 20 0 1019 139 50.95 2 9
SR Tendulkar (India) v Aus 1991-1998 20 20 0 1119 143 55.95 4 6
SC Ganguly (India) v SL 1996-1999 21 20 1 1001 183 52.68 4 4
ML Hayden (Aus) v India 1994-2007 20 20 1 1040 126 54.73 3 5
ST Jayasuriya (SL) v Ban 1990-2009 21 20 2 1030 130 57.22 4 5
IVA Richards (WI) v Aus 1975-1984 21 21 4 1068 153* 62.82 2 9
GA Gooch (Eng) v Aus 1979-1989 22 21 1 1080 136 54.00 4 7
SC Ganguly (India) v SA 1996-2001 21 21 2 1071 141* 56.36 3 6
V Sehwag (India) v NZ 2001-2009 21 21 1 1028 130 51.40 5 3
CG Greenidge (WI) v India 1979-1989 23 22 3 1101 117 57.94 3 7
NJ Astle (NZ) v India 1995-2002 22 22 0 1029 120 46.77 4 5
BC Lara (WI) v SL 1992-2003 22 22 2 1093 169 54.65 2 9
Mohammad Yousuf (Pak) v Zim 1998-2008 24 22 8 1033 141* 73.78 3 7
MS Dhoni (India) v SL 2005-2009 28 22 6 1029 183* 64.31 1 8
JH Kallis (SA) v NZ 1996-2002 24 23 6 1010 111 59.41 3 7
G Kirsten (SA) v Pak 1994-2002 23 23 5 1042 118* 57.88 2 8
Shoaib Malik (Pak) v India 2000-2006 23 23 1 1039 143 47.22 2 8
JH Kallis (SA) v India 1996-2006 25 23 7 1100 119* 68.75 1 8
CH Gayle (WI) v Zim 2000-2007 23 23 5 1044 153* 58.00 2 8
RR Sarwan (WI) v India 2001-2009 23 23 7 1028 115* 64.25 1 8

While it's a surprise that Sangakkara is the quickest to 2000 Test runs against a team, it is less so that his former team-mate Muttiah Muralitharan is the quickest to 100 wickets against an opponent. And he's the second quickest as well. When Murali took 7 for 97 in the second innings against South Africa at the P Sara Oval in 2006, he broke a record that had stood since 1895.

Australia's Charlie Turner had gone past 100 wickets in his 17th Test against England, and now Murali had done it in 15 against South Africa. The next year, Murali claimed 9 for 140 in his 14th Test against England, in Kandy, and took his tally against them to 102.

Fewest matches to take 100 wickets against the same opposition - Tests
Player Opp Span Mat Balls Runs Wkts BBI BBM Ave 5 10
M Muralitharan (SL) v Eng 1993-2007 14 5915 1976 102 9/65 16/220 19.37 7 4
M Muralitharan (SL) v SA 1993-2006 15 5908 2311 104 7/84 13/171 22.22 11 4
A Kumble (India) v Aus 1996-2008 16 5529 2831 103 8/141 13/181 27.48 10 2
CTB Turner (Aus) v Eng 1887-1895 17 5179 1670 101 7/43 12/87 16.53 11 2
SF Barnes (Eng) v Aus 1901-1912 17 5377 2166 101 7/60 13/163 21.44 11 1
TM Alderman (Aus) v Eng 1981-1991 17 4717 2117 100 6/47 10/151 21.17 11 1
RJ Hadlee (NZ) v Aus 1973-1986 18 4609 2104 101 9/52 15/123 20.83 10 2
MD Marshall (WI) v Eng 1980-1988 18 4106 1746 100 7/22 10/92 17.46 6 1
SK Warne (Aus) v SA 1993-2002 18 6130 2257 101 7/56 12/128 22.34 6 2
WJ O'Reilly (Aus) v Eng 1932-1938 19 7864 2587 102 7/54 11/129 25.36 8 3
AV Bedser (Eng) v Aus 1946-1953 19 6529 2616 100 7/44 14/99 26.16 7 2
DK Lillee (Aus) v Eng 1971-1979 19 5391 2115 102 6/26 11/165 20.73 7 2
CEL Ambrose (WI) v Eng 1988-1995 19 5075 1931 100 8/45 11/84 19.31 5 2
GD McGrath (Aus) v Eng 1994-2002 19 4499 2087 106 8/38 9/103 19.68 7 0
R Peel (Eng) v Aus 1884-1896 20 5216 1715 101 7/31 11/68 16.98 5 1
SK Warne (Aus) v NZ 1993-2005 20 5770 2511 103 6/31 9/67 24.37 3 0
JR Thomson (Aus) v Eng 1974-1985 21 4951 2418 100 6/46 9/105 24.18 5 0
SK Warne (Aus) v Eng 1993-2001 21 6365 2357 106 8/71 11/110 22.23 6 1
GD McGrath (Aus) v WI 1995-2005 21 4899 1941 101 6/17 10/27 19.21 8 2
CV Grimmett (Aus) v Eng 1925-1934 22 9164 3439 106 6/37 11/82 32.44 11 2
IT Botham (Eng) v Aus 1977-1982 22 5611 2591 100 6/78 11/176 25.91 7 2
CEL Ambrose (WI) v Aus 1988-1996 22 5428 2202 102 7/25 10/120 21.58 6 1
M Muralitharan (SL) v India 1993-2010 22 7020 3425 105 8/87 11/110 32.61 7 2

Sydney Barnes was quickest to 50 Test wickets against a team - he did it in five matches, taking 61 wickets at an average of 8.95 against South Africa between 1912-13. He finished his career with 83 wickets in seven Tests against them.

In one-day cricket, Waqar Younis needed only 20 matches against New Zealand to take 50 wickets at an average of 12.16. Bangladesh's Abdur Razzak is second quickest, having taken 53 wickets at 15 apiece in his first 24 matches against Zimbabwe.

Fewest matches to take 50 wickets against the same opposition - ODIs
Player Opp Span Mat Balls Runs Wkts BBI Ave 5 4
Waqar Younis (Pak) v NZ 1990-1996 20 993 608 50 6/30 12.16 4 2
Abdur Razzak (Ban) v Zim 2005-2010 24 1311 811 53 5/29 15.30 3 3
CEL Ambrose (WI) v Pak 1988-1993 25 1349 878 50 5/53 17.56 1 3
GD McGrath (Aus) v NZ 1993-2005 26 1345 951 50 5/37 19.02 1 2
B Lee (Aus) v Eng 2001-2009 26 1417 1104 50 5/30 22.08 3 1
CJ McDermott (Aus) v WI 1985-1993 27 1356 950 50 4/34 19.00 0 2
IR Bishop (WI) v Pak 1988-1997 27 1443 1103 50 5/25 22.06 2 3
SK Warne (Aus) v WI 1995-2001 27 1504 1045 50 5/33 20.90 1 2
B Lee (Aus) v NZ 2000-2009 27 1321 1062 51 5/42 20.82 1 0
Saqlain Mushtaq (Pak) v India 1996-1999 28 1405 1057 51 5/45 20.72 1 2
Waqar Younis (Pak) v SA 1993-2002 29 1585 1309 52 5/25 25.17 2 2
J Srinath (India) v NZ 1992-2003 29 1538 1021 50 4/23 20.42 0 2
D Gough (Eng) v SA 1994-2005 29 1699 1084 51 4/29 21.25 0 3
M Muralitharan (SL) v Zim 1993-2008 29 1472 828 54 5/23 15.33 2 4
B Lee (Aus) v India 2000-2009 29 1383 1035 50 5/27 20.70 4 0
J Garner (WI) v Aus 1978-1987 30 1630 924 50 5/31 18.48 1 1
CEL Ambrose (WI) v Aus 1988-1996 30 1577 919 50 5/17 18.38 3 0
Waqar Younis (Pak) v SL 1989-1996 30 1463 1085 50 6/26 21.70 2 2
Wasim Akram (Pak) v NZ 1984-2001 30 1421 847 51 5/19 16.60 1 2
M Muralitharan (SL) v NZ 1994-2006 30 1716 1035 50 5/9 20.70 2 0

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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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