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Stats Analysis

A 77-ball duck, century-making No. 10s, and a bowler who conceded five runs in 32 overs

Who performed these feats? The answers are revealed in this, part two of a survey of unusual occurrences in Test cricket

Virender Sehwag acknowledges the applause after his monumental 319 came to an end, India v South Africa, 1st Test, Chennai, 4th day, March 29, 2008

Virender Sehwag made three 250-plus scores at better than a run a ball, all between 2006 and 2009  •  AFP

This is the second of my articles on unique events that happen in Test matches. In part one, I covered the topic from the points of view of the match, the innings and team. In this article I will look at events that relate to the players - batters, bowlers, and fielders. For a complete introduction, please read the first part. And again, these lists are drawn up strictly at the level of Tests, not at a series or career level.
Let me also emphasise that I am not looking at records. I will not be presenting tables on individual scores, wickets taken and the like. I will look at features that are unique and do not come into normal discussions. It is possible that some (or most) of these tables will be accessible on one website or the other. However, as I have mentioned in part one, this is one place in which you can view all such unusual tables together.
To start with, a new record. This match would also have found a place in the first of these articles if it was written after the game was played.
England's run rate of 5.41 in the Headingley Test against New Zealand is the third-highest by a team in a Test. It is also the highest ever by a team that played two innings; the two higher ones (6.8 by South Africa vs Zimbabwe, and 5.73 by England vs Bangladesh) were both single-innings efforts.

Batters

Let me start with a caveat. Some of these graphs contain data, such as balls faced by the batter, that are not available for all Tests played. So these cover the last 40 years or so, for which period the balls-played data is available. Also, the strike rates are measured at the innings-completion stage, not at the landmark stage.
If ever a table was needed to show the unique abilities of Virender Sehwag, this is the one for the job. It shows double-centuries that have been scored at better than a run a ball (a really tough requirement, as readers will appreciate). There are six entries, of which Sehwag has three - a triple-hundred, a near-300, and a 250-plus innings, all scored at breakneck speeds. Note that he sustained these speeds for well over six hours in each of these innings. No one else even comes close. The other innings are by Ben Stokes, Brendon McCullum and Nathan Astle. Astle's masterpiece was in a losing cause; the other innings ended in wins or draws for the team of the maker of the fast double-hundred in question. Gilbert Jessop's hundred, among a few others, would certainly have appeared here, if balls-played data had been available on the scorecard of that game.
The second of these tables lists fifties that were scored at breakneck speeds. There are three tables. The first table features fifties with strike rates above 170. Jacques Kallis' 54 was made off the hapless Zimbabweans, and Dale Steyn's 58 off West Indies side of 2014. David Warner's 55 was made while going for a quick declaration. Tim Southee's innings was in his debut Test.
The next table shows fifties with strike rates between 150 and 170, sorted by runs scored. Kapil Dev's 89 came in a losing cause, while the other innings played their parts in winning the Tests in question. Bairstow's Headingley blitz is the most recent entry on this list.
The third table features sub-50-run cameos (where a minimum of 30 runs were made) scored at T20 rates. Umesh Yadav's 31 consisted of five sixes and a single.
The selection for this table of slow scorers presented a few challenges. Finally I settled on a 40-ball cut-off, and then sorted by strike rates. That produced 11 instances of the batter not scoring a single run, and a few others where they made one run apiece. Geoff Allott's monumental effort, coming in at 320 for 9 and batting for nearly two hours probably saved New Zealand in 1999. James Anderson's Headingley effort in 2014, on the other hand, did not save England. Peter Such's 51-ball zero was a first-innings effort, which probably rescued England. John Snow's monumental 1 in 60 balls, in the company of Alan Knott, saved England, who finished at 206 for 9. Colin Croft's patient innings was essayed when he was sent in as nightwatcher.
Now for the batters who scored a large percent of their team runs by themselves. Normally, this table only considers situations when a team is all out, and Charles Bannerman tops the list - as he has done for the small matter of 145 years. However, this time I have decided to drop that filter and have only stipulated that the batter have scored a minimum of the 60% of the team's runs.
The first table lists the innings in the order of runs scored. Brian Lara's 375 in 1994 formed 63% of the team total. Wally Hammond's 336 in 1933 and a few innings greater than 200 adorn the table. The last innings, by Sehwag, is an all-time classic, which makes it to the top ten of my list of best Test innings. Sehwag also appears earlier on this table, for his 254 in that near-record-breaking first-wicket partnership with Rahul Dravid in Lahore in 2006.
The second table lists innings that formed a very high proportion of their team's score; I have applied a 50-run cut-off for this table. Chris Gayle's whirlwind 80 in 2014 was out of 95. The much-missed Phil Hughes similarly scored the bulk of an opening partnership in 2010, as did Sehwag. Mohsin Khan's 101 is the only innings featured that reached three figures. The first two innings on the table comprised over 80% of the team total.
The next list is of those unfortunate batters who were either stumped or run-out at 99, and in one case, on 199. We can surmise that they were desperate to go for their 100th run and paid the price. Sehwag's run-a-ball 99 ended when he was stumped going for a big hit. Would John Wright, totally different to Sehwag, after having played patiently for 323 balls, have gone for his 100 in this manner? Unlikely. He possibly over-balanced. Maqsood Ahmed played an even longer innings than Wright. His dismissal was possibly down to a brilliant piece of bowling by that magician, Subhash Gupte.
In Shaun Marsh's case, he was running out of partners and had to take the risk. MS Dhoni's was a patient innings. Angelo Mathews, who features on this table, run out on 99, was also recently dismissed for 199. Younis Khan is the only batter to have been run out on 199.
This table has four sub-tables. The classifications are self-explanatory. Graham Gooch's double at Lord's is well known. Kumar Sangakkara's double was in a batter-dominated draw in Chittagong. Then come five batters who scored a double of 200 and 100 in the same Test. Lara's double is poignant, since West Indies lost massively, despite his feat. Allan Border's double of 150 and 153 is unique.
Finally, those batters who went from ecstasy to agony, or, in one case, vice versa, scoring a double-hundred and a zero . A couple of such performances came in losing causes: Ricky Ponting's against India in 2003, and Shakib Al Hasan's 217 against New Zealand.
This next table is a short list of five batters who outscored their opponent's totals across both innings - and their team obviously won. Mathew Hayden's 119 was seven runs more than Pakistan's twin efforts in Sharjah in 2022. One could say "Mathew Hayden won by an innings and seven runs". Bobby Abel's was a similar effort, but he outscored South Africa by 30 runs - his innings stood at 133% of the other team's two innings. India were all at sea against Ernie Toshack and Ray Lindwall in Brisbane in 1947, and could barely go past 150, which was well short of Don Bradman's 185. Inzamam-ul-Haq's 329 was enough to beat New Zealand's two innings in 2002. Len Hutton's 364 brooked very little resistance.
Let's now honour the warriors who bat late in the order. Through the history of Test cricket, batters at Nos. 10 and 11 have often fought terrific battles and helped rescue their teams from difficult situations, often converting losses into draws, and sometimes into wins. The first table lists those No. 10 and 11 batters who scored heavily in particular innings.
In 1884, Walter Read, coming in at No. 10, scored 117, added 151 for the ninth wicket, and helped England save the match. Over 120 years later, Abul Hasan put up a similar effort but could not save Bangladesh. Pat Symcox's hundred helped South Africa recover from 166 for 8 against Pakistan; he added a record 191 runs for the penultimate wicket. Finally, Reggie Duff helped Australia recover from 233 for 8 to a winning position in 1902.
No one batting at No.11 has ever scored a hundred. Ashton Agar scored 98 but could not prevent Australia from losing narrowly at Trent Bridge in the 2013 Ashes. Tino Best and James Anderson made their high scores in comfortably drawn matches. Of all those featured here, Zaheer Khan probably had the most comfortable entry, at 393 for 9, and helped India cement their win.
On the list of late-order innings where the batters played many balls, we must keep in mind that this analysis too is restricted to those Tests for which balls-played information is available. It is amazing that no fewer than 14 batters batting at Nos. 10 or 11, have faced more than 150 balls in an innings - that is more than about three hours of batting. And this number would swell further if balls-faced data was available for earlier games.
In 1981, Shivlal Yadav joined Syed Kirmani at a perilous 124 for 8 and took the score to 229 in a three-and-a-half-hour stay; India were saved because of this stand. In the Boxing Day Test of 2008, South Africa were on the brink at 251 for 8, facing 391, when Steyn walked in. He and JP Duminy added 180 runs, and eventually South Africa won the Test.
In the 1983 Test in Calcutta, West Indies were not so well placed at 213 for 8 when Andy Roberts walked in. He faced 181 balls and added 161 runs for the ninth wicket with Clive Lloyd. Lloyd's 161 is an all-time great innings, placed in the top 20 in my list of best all-time innings. West Indies won by an innings. In Lahore in 2000, Saqlain Mushtaq came in at 273 for 8, after England had made 480, and added 127 for the ninth wicket. The match was eventually drawn. New Zealand's Mark Craig also faced 167 balls, exactly as many as Saqlain Mushtaq, against West Indies in 2014.
The only instance of a No. 11 batter facing more than 150 balls came at the Bourda in 1984: Rodney Hogg walked in at 182 for 9 and added 97 with Tom Hogan. The match was drawn. John Snow, Trent Boult, Danny Morrison, and Jimmy Anderson are the other batters who faced 130 or more balls, having come in to bat at No. 11. Because of these heroic efforts, most of those matches, barring England's Snow-driven effort, were drawn. Morrison's effort was amazing: he batted for three hours with Nathan Astle to save the Test.
In the previous article, we looked at boundaries hit as a team/innings measure. Here, we will look at individual batters. John Edrich is the only one to have hit 50 or more fours in an innings. Sehwag, Bradman and Lara each hit over 40 boundaries in more than one of their famous innings. Sehwag's 47 fours in his 2006 Lahore innings were out of a total as low as 254, giving him an amazing 74% boundary component - the only batter to cross 70% on this parameter.
In his out-of-the-world innings of 257, coming in at 183 for 6, Wasim Akram hit 12 sixes. He is followed by a set of big hitters who hit 11 sixes apiece. Brendon McCullum has achieved the feat twice.
Across nearly 2500 Tests, no fewer than 56 batters have carried their bat through the completed innings. In this pair of tables, I have listed those who scored 200 or more runs, or 50 or fewer, while carrying their bats. They represent two ends of the spectrum. Seven batters have scored 200-plus runs while remaining unbeaten. Tom Latham leads the pack with his 264 against Sri Lanka. Len Hutton's 202 could not save his team, unfortunately. Sehwag's Galle masterclass helped India win comfortably. The other matches were drawn. All the games in which the openers scored below 50 but carried their bats have resulted in losses - unsurprisingly, because the team must only have scored about 100 in each of those innings.
For this next table, let me start with a pair of questions: What is common to Sehwag's 293, Laxman's 281, and Boycott's 246? And what is unique to Tendulkar's two high double-hundreds? The answer: they were all unique one-off scores. No other batter has made those exact scores in Test cricket. Since most scores above 300 are likely to be unique, I have restricted this table to scores under 300. The lowest score to have only been reached by one batter is 238, by Kane Williamson. Javed Miandad, Tom Latham, Alastair Cook and Tendulkar have two such scores apiece to their credit. Incidentally, the lowest three scores that have never been reached by any batter are 229, 265 and 272.
I end the batter section with a pair of tables about batters achieving a special double. The first table lists those who scored the same number of runs in each of their two innings in a match. Since many batters have achieved this feat (this becomes commonplace at low scores), I have only featured scores above 60. Duleep Mendis and Misbah-ul-Haq are the only two batters to have replicated a hundred in each innings, 105 and 101 respectively. Twenty-three batters have achieved this feat while scoring 50 or more runs.
In the second part, I have raised the bar. I have looked at replication of both runs and balls faced in a match. For obvious reasons, this analysis is limited to the past 30 or so years. Syed Kirmani scored 29 runs in 62 balls in two innings of a Test. Warner scored 16 off 20 balls twice. A total of 15 batters have achieved this quirky landmark but I have only featured those who scored more than five runs.

Bowlers

We start the bowlers' section with a scarcely believable table - of bowlers who took as many wickets, or more, than the number of runs they conceded in an innings. The only criterion I have set is that a minimum of three wickets should have been taken. First up is inarguably the most astonishing bowling performance in Test history: George Lohmann's spell of 8 for 7 in fewer than ten five-ball overs. That indicates that Lohmann, who took a hat-trick in the innings, took a wicket every six balls. Jermaine Lawson's spell of 6 for 3 against Bangladesh in 2002 was no less a miracle. However, it must be mentioned that Lawson was fourth-change bowler and cleaned up the last six wickets.
The hapless Indians on their post-war tour of Australia were bamboozled by Ernie Toshack, who needed only 19 balls for his five wickets. Richie Benaud is the only bowler to have taken three wickets without conceding a run, also against India. And Haris Sohail is the only one to have bowled one over and taken three wickets. He finished on the losing side, as did Alok Kapali, who took three for three runs.
Now we come to accurate bowlers. In this and the next table, the number of balls per over has been standardised to six. One thing that strikes me is that the batters in these instances were unwilling to take risks, and often padded the ball away. It would surely not happen today that a team allows an opposing bowler to deliver 27 maiden overs in succession. That is what happened in Madras in 1964. Bapu Nadkarni bowled those maidens and conceded a single in each of the other five overs to finish with an incredible 32-27-5-0. Nadkarni conceded 0.156 runs per over. I listened to every ball of this spell on the radio as a young boy, and it was a miracle that it did not turn me off cricket.
Jim Burke bowled 15 eight-ball overs for eight runs in Johannesburg in 1958. In Delhi against South Africa, Umesh Yadav bowled 21 overs for nine runs. Maninder Singh completes the trio of Indian bowlers in the top four. Nathan Lyon is fifth with a ten-runs-in-22-overs performance. Readers might be amazed to see a batter like Denis Compton on this bowling specialty table.
Let us look at those who conceded less than a run an over in a different order - the number of overs bowled. There is a lack of order when sorting by the overs column, and this stems from the fact that I have shown the number of overs based on the balls per over for that particular Test.
Vinoo Mankad bowled no fewer than 76 overs and took four wickets for a mere 58 runs. England scored 368 runs in 221 overs - and managed to draw the Test. There are a bevy of bowlers who bowled more than 40 overs and conceded less than a run an over. Lance Gibbs' spell against India in 1952 was absolutely unbelievable: 53.3-37-38-8. Lyon's spell against South Africa is of recent vintage (Faf du Plessis, in his debut Test, had the last laugh in that game).
When you order bowlers by the number of maiden overs bowled in a match, you need to normalise four-ball, five-ball, six-ball and eight-ball maiden overs. I have proceeded on the basis that a maiden over is a maiden, irrespective of the number of balls per over. So this table is populated equally by four-ball-over and six-ball-over Tests. Bobby Peel's spell at the MCG in 1885 was 102.1-56-78-3. And Tom Garrett's in 1886 was 99.0-55-88-3. Both are four-ball-over Tests.
Alf Valentine's spell of 92.0-49-140-3 came in Nottingham in 1950. In the previous Test, he had bowled 47 maiden overs, and Sonny Ramadhin 43. The greatest number of eight-ball maidens bowled is 24 - by Hugh Tayfield against Australia in 1958. His spell was 59.0-24-94-3. However, no one even comes close to Nadkarni's record of 85% maiden overs in a spell (27 maidens out of 32 overs bowled).
At the other end of the spectrum are the bowlers who went for large numbers of runs. The list is headed by Umesh Yadav, who, surprisingly, also featured on the economical bowlers' list. He bowled three overs against Australia in Sydney in 2015, conceding 45 runs, which would be considered expensive even in ODIs or T20s. The economy rate drops after that: Mominul Haque, Graeme Smith and Suresh Raina, not full-time bowlers, conceded around 11 runs per over. Michael Kasprowicz completes the top-five.
In this table, we look at bowlers whose two spells in a match were chalk and cheese. I have ordered the table on the ratio of the average runs per wicket between the two spells. I have ignored the spell if the better spell is a one-wicket one. Courtney Walsh followed his expensive 2 for 93 with a miserly 2 for 2 in India's second innings in Nagpur in 1994 - a ratio of 46.5. Scott Boland's pair of spells are of recent vintage and came on his debut, at the MCG. Jasprit Bumrah compensated for his 1 for 55 with a magnificent 5 for 7 in North Sound.
Phil Tufnell's good spell came first: he was unplayable in the first innings (6 for 25) but was taken to the cleaners in the second (1 for 150) against West Indies at The Oval. James Anderson and Vernon Philander were similar, in that their better spells came first.
In this table, I compare how a bowler performed against how his team-mates did in the same match. Kapali had a 3 for 3 spell while his compatriots toiled, taking 7 for 292, a ratio of 41.7. Lohmann was unplayable with 9 for 28 in Johannesburg in 1896, and his fellow bowlers, easy to handle, ended at 1 for 123. The surprise is part-time bowler, Ken Barrington, who had his figures of 3 for 4 against his team-mates' 7 for 342. In the famous (or some might say, infamous) Mumbai Test of 2010, Michael Clarke took 6 for 9, while his fellow bowlers did not do well, finishing with 4 for 196 - leading to Australia's defeat. Muthiah Muralidaran was magnificent with figures of 9 for 51, while his fellow bowlers took 1 for 185 to allow Zimbabwe to score 236 in Kandy in 2002.
This next table is a recognition of opening-bowler magic: bowlers who dismissed both opening batters for ducks, reducing the opponents to two down for virtually nothing. These table entries are all equals as such and I will not look at any one in detail. I will only point out some surprises. One is Karsan Ghavri of India, not necessarily known for his incisive opening bowling, dismissing the West Indian openers for ducks. The most effective double was that of Balwinder Sandhu, who dismissed Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes for zeros. Finally, Bill Voce's double at the MCG in 1937 was a pseudo double, since Don Bradman reversed his side's batting order to counter the muddy pitch, and then he scored 270 coming at 97 for 5.
This table mirrors one of those in the batters' section: players who replicated their first-innings performance in the second. I have looked at the wickets and runs conceded as the parameter for comparison and taken a cut-off of a minimum of three wickets taken. Bhagwath Chandrasekhar had identical figures of 6 for 52 in both innings against Australia in Melbourne in 1977. In Pune a few years ago, Steve O'Keefe had identical figures - 6 for 35 - in both innings. Intikhab Alam matched his first-innings spell of 5 for 91 in the second innings in Dacca in 1969. It is amazing that an analysis like 2 for 133, by Lance Gibbs (not on the table) was replicated in the second innings.
This one looks at pairs of opening bowlers who bowled through a completed innings. The table features matches where the innings lasted at least 240 balls (apart from the last entry, Birmingham 1924). Most of these Tests were played before the First World War, and the most recent instance was as far back as 1956 (though there were other instances of under 240 balls that happened later).
There is only one Test, in 1909, where the opening pair, George Hirst and Colin Blythe, bowled the same number of balls in the innings - 138 each. Joey Palmer and Edwin Evans bowled non-stop for 115 four-ball overs in 1882 - maybe well over four hours. Finally, Maurice Tate and Arthur Gilligan needed only 75 balls to take ten wickets at Edgbaston in 1924. The innings was a blur - South Africa made 30 runs, with no one reaching double figures.
Four bowler-fielder pairs were responsible for five wickets in an innings. Three of these were bowler-wicketkeeper combinations while the fourth one was a bowler-fielder pair. Recently Lahiru Thirimanne caught five batters off Lasith Embuldeniya. This is the only instance of five catches by a non-wicketkeeper off the same bowler. The other five-fors are by Allan Donald and Mark Boucher, Ian Botham and Bob Taylor, and Kasprowicz and Adam Gilchrist. Only in the case of the Donald-Boucher combination did the five wickets comprise all the wickets taken by the bowler in that innings. However, in all the bowler-fielder combinations where four wickets were taken, those four wickets were all that were taken by the bowler in that innings.
The most wicketkeeper catches in an innings was covered in the previous article. In this one, I look at the most such dismissals in a match. The record of 11 dismissals is held by three wicketkeepers. Rishabh Pant, in the Adelaide Test against Australia in 2018, Jack Russell against South Africa, and AB de Villiers against Pakistan - both at the Wanderers in Johannesburg. All three performances had innings-wise splits of six and five. Four other keepers had ten dismissals in a match. Ajinkya Rahane holds the record for the most fielder catches in a match; he caught eight batters in Galle.
This article is current up to the third Test in the England-New Zealand series
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Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systems