After Covid had done its worst, only 22 Tests were played in 2020 (i.e. Tests starting in the calendar year 2020). The corresponding figures were 48 in 2018 and 40 in 2019-and the latter was a World Cup year.
A quick summary of Test results:
All 4 of India’s Tests were away (2 vs NZ and 2 vs Aus) and that meant that their results were poorer than usual. England and New Zealand are clear leaders here.
We now look at individual performances. The number of matches is not enough to make meaningful comparisons of averages, strike rates and the like.
Batting-Most runs (250 and above):
Stokes and newcomer Sibley are at the top. India does have one representative (Rahane) near the cutoff of 250 runs. Stokes and Sibley were the only ones with 2 centuries, while Pope made 5 scores above 50. 4 others made 4 scores above 50.
Highest innings scores (90 and above):
Here you see all the centuries made along with the near misses (a 98 and 2 95s). Newcomer Crawley and (inevitably) Williamson have the only 250+ scores.
There is only one score here from India (Rahane’s 112 at Melbourne).
Bowling- 8 or more wickets:
Broad and Southee lead at a distance. Bumrah and Ashwin lead for India.
There are two 10-fors (Broad and Lyon) and four players have taken two 5-fors (Anderson, newcomer Jamieson, Lyon and Southee).
Best innings bowling (5wi and above):
While the best innings bowling is by Sikandar Raza of Zimbabwe, Broad and Holder also have 6-wicket hauls. Ishant Sharma has the only fiver for India.
Best match bowling (8wm and above):
After Broad and Lyon, there are several with 9wm. There is no Indian bowler here.
Anderson has the most wickets, closely followed by SM Pollock.
The most 5-fors is 12 by SF Barnes. He also has the record of 6 10-fors.
His 49 wickets in 4 Tests of the 1913-14 series are the best in any series. The next best is 46 by Laker in 1956.
Anderson, Broad and Rabada are the current players here.
Best innings bowling (includes all 8wi and better):
This is headed by Lohmann, whose 9-28 is the most economical 9-for in all Tests. Nothing after 1994.
Best match bowling (includes all 10wm and better):
Barnes leads here with the peak of his 1913-14 form. This was a Test record until Laker took 19-90 in 1956.
In recent years there is only Rabada’s 13-144 in 2015-16.
Best bowling average (Min 2000 balls, less than 35.00):
Barnes (who else?) leads here followed by C Blythe with the best bowling averages. For economy rates it is Verity followed by TL Goddard, and for strike rates it is Barnes followed by Rabada.
Most dismissals (25 or more):
Boucher has the most dismissals (105) and catches (103), Evans the most stumpings (12) and Mitchell the most catches by a non-keeper (43). The recent players here are de Kock followed by Bairstow and Stokes.
Most innings dismissals (5 and more):
de Kock has the best performance among current players. Stokes is the only non-keeper with 5 catches, which he did in this series.
Most match dismissals (7 or more):
RC Russell’s 11 dismissals is a share in the world record also held by de Villiers and newcomer RR Pant.
Best dismissal rate (Minimum 20 innings, 0.600):
Boucher leads here, while Stokes has the best rate for a non-keeper. de Villiers and Root are the other current players here.
Overall (see criteria in table):
Led by the less familiar GA Faulkner and TL Goddard. Broad represents current players.
Match performance (50 and 5wi):
Includes some with the double of century + 5wi (Sinclair, Faulkner) and fifty + 10wm (MM Ali). Philander and Maharaj are also here, with the latter doing this during the current series.
Finally we look at all-round performances. For overall performances we have this (see the criteria):
Even by these modest standards we only get two who meet the criteria of all-rounders. Jadeja has clearly done better than Stokes, although the latter is more likely to make an impact.
Then we have
Match performances: Fifty and fiver in the same match:
Here we have two contrasting performances. While Chase was largely responsible for an unexpected WI win, Rashid Khan’s criteria was the best all-round performance from Afghanistan in a Test. He was also the captain.
Not long ago, the BCCI was trying to justify the selection of at least one relatively undistinguished player for the World Cup on the grounds that he was a “3-dimensional player”.
It is true that being a good fielder is an asset to any player (whether they are batsmen or bowlers or both). Fielding, unlike batting and bowling, does not lend itself ready to numerical measures. One can count the catches taken by a fielder, but it is not so easy to evaluate the runs saved in the field or even the pressure put on the opposing batsmen by a good outfielder.
The case of a three-dimensional performance in a Test win comes up with Ben Stokes at the second SA v Eng Test at Cape Town, which was won by England by a large margin.
Stokes contributed 47, 0-34, 5c, 72, 3-35 and 1c in England’s 189-run victory:
We first look at the catching records for non-keepers
5 or more catches in an innings:
The record of 5 catches in an innings is shared by 13 players, Stokes being the latest. Many of these performances have come in recent years.
6 or more catches in a match:
The record is 8 by AM Rahane. de Villiers took 8 catches as a keeper when the regular keeper de Kock was injured at the beginning of the match. A total of 43 players (or 42 if you remove de Villiers) have made 6 or more catches as a non-keeper in a match.
AM Rahane and KL Rahul are the only current players with 7 or more catches in a match.
Some other current players (notably SPD Smith) have taken 6 catches in a match.
Coming back to Ben Stokes, we can round off and say that he scored 100, took 3 wickets and made 6 catches.
Who else has done this in Tests?
100 runs, 3 wickets and 6 catches in Tests:
Only two other players. Stokes is in good company here.
Suppose we consider only two “dimensions”. Who else has Stokes emulated?
100 runs and 3 wickets:
This has happened on 338 occasions, with several players doing this on multiple occasions. Stokes himself has done so on 6 occasions.
Sobers did this on 16 occasions, followed by Kallis with 13, Botham (10) and Shakib Al Hasan (9). Ashwin and Stokes (6 apiece) are the only current players.
So that is not a particularly rare achievement.
Now we try
3 wickets and 6 catches:
Only 5 times. Apart from Woolley, Kallis and Stokes there are Vogler and Jack Gregory from long ago.
Another permutation is
100 runs and 6 catches:
This has been done only on 10 occasions, including twice by SPD Smith. Also note that Hayden is the only one to make a century AND take 7 catches. Kallis is the only one with a double century AND 6 catches.
So Stokes has achieved a rare all-round feat of 100/3/6 which had been done only twice before, by Woolley and Kallis.
Who is the only non-keeper to take 5 catches in an innings on debut?
And who is the only non-keeper to take 7 catches in a match on debut?
Which current keeper took 5 catches in an innings and 7 in the match on debut?
England also gained 30 points in the WTC championship and moved into third place. Meanwhile Australia bagged all the 120 points in their series against New Zealand and continued to creep up towards India’s tally.
As in the first Test at Centurion, we enter the last day with a potentially long run-chase.
South Africa was set 438 to win (remember that famous ODI when they reached that figure?) and had made 126/2 in 56 overs with about 90 overs left. They still need to make 312 runs at a run rate of 3.47, while they have reached 126/2 at an RR of 2.25
We look at 4th-innings scores above 300 in South Africa:
The highest winning score is 340/5 by SA vs Aus at Durban in 2002. But teams have got very close to winning by scoring 458 in 2013 and even 696 in 1939.
At Cape Town alone, we have:
The highest score to win is 334/6 by Aus in 2002, and overall it is 354/5 to draw by WI in 2004. SA’s highest score here is 335 (and lost) back in 1962. So 438 to win is unlikely.
There have only been 15 1-wicket victories, and none between 1923 and 1951 and then between 1951 and 1980.
Here is a list of all 1-wicket and 2-wicket victories as on 16 Aug 2021:
1) The first instance was in the Eng v Aus Test starting at the Oval on 11/08/1902, when England won.
The last wicket partnership was of 15 runs from 248/9 to 263/9 by GH Hirst (58) and W Rhodes (6). The story goes that they planned to get the runs in singles, but they did not have to do this.
2) SA v Eng at Johannesburg starting on 02/01/1906, won by SA. Partnership of 48 from 239 to 287 by AW Nourse (93) and captain/keeper PW Sherwell (22).
3) Aus v Eng at Melbourne starting on 01/01/1908, won by Eng. Partnership of 39 from 243 to 282 by SF Barnes (38) and A Fielder (18).
4) SA v Eng at Cape Town starting on 01/01/1923, won by Eng. Partnership of 5 from 168 to 173 by AS Kennedy (11) and GG Macaulay (1).
5) Aus v WI at Melbourne starting on 31/12/1951, won by Aus. Partnership of 38 from 222 to 260 by DT Ring (32) and WA Johnston (7).
6) NZ v WI at Dunedin starting on 08/02/1980, won by NZ. Partnership of 4 from 100 to 104 by GB Troup (7) and SL Boock (2).
7) Pak v Aus at Karachi starting on 28/09/1994, won by Pak. Partnership of 57 from 258 to 315 by Inzamam-ul-Haq (58) and Mushtaq Ahmed (20).
8) WI v Aus at Bridgetown starting on 26/03/1999, won by WI. Partnership of 9 from 302 to 311 by BC Lara (153) and CA Walsh (0).
9) WI v Pak at St John’s starting on 25/05/2000, won by WI. Partnership of 19 from 197 to 216 by JC Adams (48) and CA Walsh (4).
10) Pak v BD at Multan starting on 03/09/2003, won by Pak. Partnership of 5 from 257 to 262 by Inzamam-ul-Haq (138) and Yasir Ali (1).
11) SL v SA at Colombo (PSS) starting on 04/08/2006, won by SL. Partnership of 2 from 350 to 352 by MF Mahroof (29) and SL Malinga (1).
12) Ind v Aus at Mohali starting on 01/10/2010, won by Ind. Partnership of 11 from 205 to 216 by VVS Laxman (73) and PP Ojha (5).
13) SA v SL at Durban starting on 13/02/2019, won by SL. Partnership of 78 from 226 to 304 by MDKJ Perera (153) and MVT Fernando (6).
14) Eng v Aus at Leeds starting on 22/08/2019, won by Eng. Partnership of 76 from 286 to 362 by BA Stokes (135) and MJ Leach (1).
15) WI v Pak at Kingston starting on 12/08/2021, won by WI. Partnership of 17 between Roach (30) and Seales (2). Seales had earlier taken his first five-for.
Scorecards of the first match in 1902 and the last match in 2021 are here and here.
We now look at the 17 Tests which ended in a two-wicket victory.
One of them was actually an one-wicket victory as one batsman had retired hurt and probably would not have batted. This was at Dunedin where NZ had pulled off an improbable win in 1980 (see No 6 above).
The 1985 match was NZ v Pak at Dunedin starting on 09/02/1985, won by NZ. The 9th wicket partnership (effectively the last wicket) put on 50 from 228/8 to 278/8 by JV Coney (111) and EJ Chatfield (21). Earlier BL Cairns (0) had retired hurt at 217/7 and the 8th wicket fell at 228.
Coming back to the list of 14 1-wicket victories:
The Feb 2019 match saw the highest winning 10th wicket partnership of 78 in Tests as well as in all first-class cricket. The previous Test record was 57 by Pakistan in 1994.
Later in Aug 2019 we had the second highest winning 10th wicket partnership of 76.
The highest scores in these partnership were 153 by Lara as well as Perera, followed by Inzaman’s 138 and Stokes’s 135.
The lowest scores by the no 11 batsman include 0 by Walsh in 1999, 1 by Leach in 2019 and several other single-figure scores. Walsh did slightly better in 2000 scoring 4.
Leach made his single run only towards the end of the partnership, which ensured the match would at least be tied when England’s score reached 358.
The highest score by a No 11 in these matches was 22 by Sherwell in 1906.
Yasir Ali was playing in his only Test.
Inzamam and Walsh are the only ones to appear twice in these partnerships.
The highest total here is 362 by England in 2019, and the lowest 104 by NZ in 1980.
That was an eventful match which saw DL Haynes scoring 55 and 105, being the only opener in all Tests to be last out in both innings. It ultimately led to New Zealand winning a series against West Indies. This was the first time they had won any Test series at home. They had earlier won only against Pakistan in Pakistan in 1969-70.
The August 2019 win by England also involved one of the lowest first-innings totals by a winning side (and the lowest such total since 1887):
One of the sore points of India’s defeat in the Asia Cup final against dismissal was the unusual dismissal (obstructing the field) of Anuja Patil for 3. She thus became the first player to be so dismissed in a women’s T20I match.
There is no such instance in women’s Tests.
There is one instance in ODIs, again from India. D Kamini (2) was dismissed the same way against the West Indies in 2016.
This mode of dismissal is quite rare in men’s cricket too.
Tests: Only one instance, Len Hutton (27), E v SA in 1951.
ODIs: 6 instances, starting with Ramiz Raja (99) against England in 1987. This was in an ODI series after the 1987 World Cup. The last instance was by Ben Stokes, E v A in 2015.
T20Is: Only one instance, Jason Roy (67), E v SA in 2017.
This refers to all Tests in the calendar year 2016.
Overall all-round performance (see criteria below):
Ashwin deservedly leads this list, followed closely by Stokes.
All-round performance in matches (at least one fifty and one five-for):
The list of 6 instances includes 2 by Ashwin and 2 by Jadeja. Chase made a match-saving century and took a fiver in his 2nd Test. Dilruwan Perera and Jadeja performed the less common double of a fifty and 10 wickets in a match. Jadeja was the only one of the 20-odd of these players (who took 50/10wm) to take more than 2 catches.
These tables cover all Test matches in the calendar year 2016.
This post concentrates on batting.
Most runs (500 and above):
As many as 7 with over 1000 runs (including 4 from England). Root just edged out Bairstow.
4 centuries each by V Kohli, S Smith and MM Ali.
The most scores of 50+ are 13 by JE Root and 11 by JM Bairstow. Three others have 9.
Highest innings scores (140 and above):
Headed by a newcomer KK Nair and a relative veteran in Azhar Ali. This was Nair’s maiden Test century. V Kohli had three scores of 200 and above. BA Stokes’s 258 was the highest by any No 6 batsman in Tests, surpassing KD Walters’s 250 in 1976-77.
Highest batting averages (Minimum 15 innings, 20.00 and above):
Also note the highest strike rates for a minimum of 15 innings: Warner (86.87), Sarfraz (70.33) and Stokes (66.76).