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.
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.
Tail piece: Some readers seem to be unsure about the existence of the 10wm boards. Maybe they are a relatively recent innovation. However, we have some pictures to verify this:
Part of the 10wm board.
Also, when someone gets 10wm with two fivers, both fivers are mentioned on the fiver board. If he gets one fiver and another haul of less than 5 wickets in the match, both are mentioned (and marked) as you can see here:
And finally, one of the obscure boards for neutral Tests:
These were set up in 2010 and so far cover only two Tests, Aus v SA in 1912 and Aus v Pak in 2010.
There is a happy ending as he was promptly deported to India a few days later.
Sheikhupura is on the route from the Atari/Wagah border to Nankana Saheb, where special trains from India run occasionally for the benefit of Sikh pilgrims. The main stations on the way are Lahore and Qila Sheikhupura:
There is a video on Youtube produced by a passenger on of the pilgrim trains, showing it passing through these stations:
Nankana Saheb is not really a major railway station. Timetables of the 1930s and 1940s show it as a wayside station served by two pairs of passenger trains between Lahore and Shorkot Road (now Shorkot Cantt). In recent years an express has started running on this route which stops at Nankana Saheb and several other stations.
Those who follow cricket closely would remember that Sheikhupura had staged two Test matches and two ODIs in the 1990s. The first Test was against Zimbabwe in 1996, where Wasim Akram’s record of 12 6s in his 257 not out is still a world record for an innings. In fact, it was a match record until RG Sharma hit 13 sixes in a match in 2019.
With Saqlain Mushtaq (79) he put on 313 for the 8th wicket which was the new Test record.
This record was surpassed by Trott (184) and Broad (169)’s partnership of 332 against Pakistan at Lord’s in 2010. Given the later disclosures of various tricks being played by Salman Butt and his friends, it is quite likely that they were “allowed” to run up large scores.
In that match in 1996 Paul Strang scored a century and took a five-for. He remains the only one from Zimbabwe to achieve this in a Test.
In 1997 this venue hosted another Test against South Africa. Nothing much happened as 3 days were washed out.
While Test matches did not return here, the people of Sheikhupura were more fortunate than their neighbors in Gujranwala. The one Test there (against Sri Lanka) in 1991 saw only one day of play before the weather played spoilsport. There are several other venues in India and Pakistan which have hosted only one Test so far.
Sheikhupura also features in jokes where it is supposed to be the home of Sheikh Pir, who wrote the plays attributed to Shakespeare. Tamilians disagree as they say the plays were written by their scholar Seshappa Iyer.
There is a lesser-known Sheikhpura in Bihar state in India, on the Gaya-Kiul route:
First have a look at the entire history of Tests involving Pakistan at neutral venues:
The 1999 match was part of the Asian Test championship which had the final played in Bangladesh, which was not a Test country at that time.
Apart from 9/11, an attack near the hotel where NZ’s team was staying in Karachi in early 2002 resulted in matches being moved out of the country. This began with a 3-Test series against Aus (with the first Test at Colombo and the next two at Sharjah). Australia won this 3-0.
After this, serious cricket returned to Pakistan for some years before the Lahore incident involving the SL team in Lahore in 2009 made it the last Test to be played in Pakistan.
Here are the matches played IN Pakistan since 1999:
In this period Pakistan lost 2-1 to Sri Lanka in 2000, 1-0 to England later in 2000, 2-1 to India in 2004, and 1-0 to SA in 2007 before the end came in early 2009. The UAE become Pakistan’s adopted home from 2010 onwards, after one neutral series against Australia in England.
Although some series were drawn, Pakistan did record a 3-0 victory against England in 2012, and a 2-0 victory against Australia in 2014. While they beat WI 2-1 in late 2016, they lost 2-0 to Sri Lanka in the just concluded series. This involved their first loss at Abu Dhabi, and the first series loss in the UAE since 2010. And their last 3 Tests in the UAE have resulted in successive losses at Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Certain venues like Bridgetown and Karachi were regarded as “fortresses” where visiting teams hardly ever won there. There are even such fortresses in domestic cricket including the IPL.
But the UAE may not be a fortress any more-which resulted in Pakistan moving from 1 to 7 in the rankings quite rapidly.
The feats of scoring a century, five wickets in an innings and ten wickets in a match in Test matches are documented on the boards at Lord’s. There are separate sets of boards for the home team (England), visiting teams and (more recently) teams in neutral Tests.
A total of 135 Tests have been played at Lord’s from 1884 to 2017. 133 involved England and only 2 were neutral. They were: Aus v SA in 1912 as part of the Triangular Tournament, and Aus v Pak in 2010.
3 Tests (including one neutral Test) were played in 1912 and 2010. From 1928 onwards (except in 1940-45) Lord’s has always had at least one Test. When England started hosting two visiting teams in 1965 (starting with NZ and SA) Lord’s always had a Test for each side. Since 2000 there have always been two teams and thus two Tests at Lord’s, except in 2010 when there were three.
Neutral Tests at Lord’s:
We first look at the scanty entries on the boards for neutral Tests:
Two from 1912 and none from 2010.
Five wickets in an innings:
In contrast, there are two from 2010 and none from 1912. Watson and North recorded their first five-fors. In North’s case, he was an occasional bowler and this was his only five-for in Tests.
Ten wickets in an innings:
No instance. The two best match bowling figures are 6-55 by MJ North (as above) and 6-140 by Pakistan’s Mohammed Asif in the same match.
The honors board at Lord’s are well known-anyone who scores a century or takes a fiver or a tenner gets his name on them, even if it is a neutral Test not involving England. If you need to brush up, see
and for Indian players featured there, full details are here:
However, note this extract from the Wikipedia article:
“A number of very distinguished players such as Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Shane Warne, Curtly Ambrose and Brian Lara are not named on the honours boards.”
It may be recalled that there was much heartbreak when Sachin failed to score a century in 2011, which was generally understood then to be his last Test there.
We now look at the aspect of prominent players failing to reach a board-worthy performance at Lord’s despite several opportunities. And there are some visitors who simply did not get to play enough at Lord’s.
Many English players whose career lasted about 5 years would have played 10+ Tests at Lord’s. Visiting players with long careers usually manage 4 Tests, unless they miss one Test or series. So we begin by identifying those who batted in at least 8 innings there. A further stipulation is that their batting position is 1 to 8, to eliminate tailenders without much batting ability.
So we have this for Most innings/matches at Lord’s without a century:
Atherton, Thorpe and Gatting played the most innings there without a century-particularly odd as Gatting played for Middlesex. Atherton did score 99 there and has the most fifties (7).
Visitors are led by Gavaskar and Tendulkar, followed by Azhar Ali, Faulkner, AW Nourse, Ponting and R Taylor. Lara played in only 3 Tests and 6 innings. The highest averages here are by Dexter (51.62) and FS Jackson (47.71).
Apart from Atherton’s 99, there are 90s by TE Bailey, JM Parks and FS Jackson.
Most innings/matches at Lord’s without a fifty:
While most of the batsmen here scored at least one fifty, some did not. They include Ramprakash (HS 40 in 13 innings), bowling all-rounder Emburey, Brearley, wicketkeeper Downton, Tendulkar, Faulkner and Ponting. The lowest average here is 10.38 by Ramprakash who was a specialist batsman, unlike some of the others. Then comes all-rounder Pringle (16.11) and another famous batsman Ponting (16.87). Tendulkar at least got into the 20s.
Next, we take up bowlers who bowled at least 1000 balls (while bowling at no 1 to 5) and never took a five-for:
Hoggard has the most Tests (11) and innings (20) here with a best of 4-27. However Edmonds has the best bowling figures of 4-6 followed by Laker with 4-13, while Hoggard has the most wickets (37).
Lillee (17 wkts), Kumble and Gibbs are the only visitors here.
Ambrose and Warne did not bowl enough balls here.
The best bowling average here is Laker’s 24.43, followed by Wardle’s 26.78.
And one gets similar results if we look for those who made the same effort and never took a ten-for:
Here, Anderson has the most wickets (110) with a best of 9-43. He may, of course, play a few more Tests at Lord’s. He also has the most 5-fors (7). CM Old has 9-88. Oddly enough Anderson has more than twice the wickets of the next bowler Willis with 47. Bedi, Kapil and Kumble represent India. The best bowling average is by Willis with 18.76 followed by Illingworth with 19.85.
Sir Richard Hadlee has the most wickets by a visitor (26).
This time it is true-he did pass away on 11th August. We review some highlights of his career. There is of course Cricinfo for an overview.
Hanif made his debut in Pakistan’s very first Test in 1952, remembered more for Mankad’s 13-wicket haul. Here he made 51 and 1, and was also the designated wicket-keeper. That didn’t go too well, as he conceded 28 byes in India’s only innings besides taking one catch. He played his first 3 Tests (all against India in 1952-53) as a wicket-keeper but never kept in Tests later.
Note that his 337 came in a follow-on, and the 4 successive century partnerships with Imtiaz, Alimuddin, Saeed Ahmed and brother Wazir. Ultimately Pakistan lost the series 3-1, running into Sobers and his 365 not out along the way. And the 970-minute innings is a record in all Tests, though not in first-class cricket now.
This is revised whenever India plays a Test at Lord’s
Here we continue our focus on Lord’s with the list of Indian batsmen and bowlers who figure on the honors boards there.
Some points of interest:
Mankad’s century came along with a five-for. He and Ian Botham are the only ones to score a century and take a five-for in the same match at Lord’s.
Dilip Vengsarkar is the only visiting batsman from any country to score 3 Test centuries at this venue.
Ganguly’s 131 came on his Test debut. It was the highest innings score by anyone making his Test debut at this venue, until D Conway made 200 earlier in 2021.
Agarkar made his only Test century here-all the more remarkable as his next highest score was 41. Now you know the answer to the old quiz question “What batting feat was attained by Agarkar and not by Gavaskar and Tendulkar?”
No instance from 2018.
Now we come to the bowling boards, listing all Indians who have taken 5 wickets in an innings here:
No one from 2018 or even the win at 2021. A fair cross-section of Indian bowlers over the years. Ishant Sharma now holds the record with 7-74, surpassing the record of 6-35 by Amar Singh in 1936. Mohammed Nissar’s fiver came on his Test debut which was also India’s first Test.
There is also an honors board for 10-wicket hauls, in which no Indian appears. There are some performances by English bowlers against India, notably Alec Bedser’s 11-wicket haul on his debut in 1946.
Tail piece: After the 2021 Test, England and India had played 19 Tests there. England lead 12-3 with 4 draws. India’s victories were in 1986, 2014 and 2021.
You would have heard of the honours boards at Lord’s. A summary can be seen here.
The “neutral” boards are dealt with at more length here towards the end of the post.
Basically these boards list all instances of i) centuries ii) five wickets in an innings and iii) ten wickets in a match at this ground. Here we look at instances of all-round performances.
Only two have scored a century and taken a five-for in the same Tests. They are among the all-time greats:
Then there are others who have scored centuries and taken five-fors at Lord’s, but not necessarily in the same Test. The full list (which includes the pair listed above) is:
If you remove Mankad and Botham, you still have Allen, Miller, Illingworth, Flintoff and Broad who have scored centuries as well as five-fors at Lord’s. None have scored more than one century at this venue, though there are some instances of multiple five-fors.
There have been only three instances of centuries and ten-fors in the same Test, and all of them have occurred in Asia. We can find a few who have achieved centuries and ten-fors at Lord’s, but not in the same Test:
Incidentally Allen and Broad scored their only Test centuries at Lord’s.
Let us now look at all-round performances at Lord’s which go beyond the honours boards.
A fifty and ten wickets in the match:
Only one instance. If we “stretch” this to 50 or more runs and ten or more wickets, we get:
Miller and newcomer Woakes are added here.
And finally, 100 or more runs and five or more wickets in the match:
Additions to the original pair of Mankad and Botham (1978) are Morkel, Kapil, Botham (1984) and Mark Butcher. The earlier Morkel does not seem to be related to Albie and Morne. The instance of Botham in 1984 was the time when West Indies made 344/1 to win the match. And Butcher was an occasional bowler who took only 15 wickets in his Test career.
Although the story-lines of the two Tests are somewhat different, the end result was the same. Note that one performance in the 1877 Test remains a Test record even today.
Now here is another lesser-known one involving two brothers-Tony Greig (58 Tests) and the lesser-known Ian Greig (2 Tests). Tony had one of the best all-round debuts including 4-53. His brother also took 4-53 on debut.
Jasu Patel’s figures of 9-69 and 14-124 stood as records for a long time. The first one was bettered only by Anil Kumble in 1998-99, and the second was bettered only by Narendra Hirwani in 1987-88.
Other points to note are:
India won by over 100 runs after conceding a first-innings lead
An Australian left-arm pace bowler (Davidson) took 12 wickets (5 and 7)
Almost 20 years passed. Kanpur saw 7 drawn Tests in succession, and got the reputation of being the deadest Test pitch in the world. These Tests were generally dull draws, with some highlights like GR Viswanath’s duck and century on debut in 1969-70 and India’s then highest total of 644/7 in 1978-79. Then came another Australian team in 1979-80, admittedly a rather weak team without the Packer players.
The Test venues which have stations named after them include Lord’s (no longer in existence) and the Oval:
In India we have these small suburban stations at Eden Gardens and Chepauk. Both are relatively new, probably dating from the 1990s:
Note the Hindi spelling for “Cheppakkam”,one of the numerous Hindi signs you will find in Chennai with transliteration from Tamil (e.g. Chennai Kotte, Chennai Kodikarai). In contrast, the English, Bengali and Hindi signs all match at Eden Garden.
You would know of stations named Kohli, Sachin and Amla which have nothing to do with the cricketers concerned. But here are two stations which do refer to the states connected with these princely captains:
Pataudi is a rather small place in Haryana, and the locality around the station is better known as Hailey Mandi.
Vizianagaram is a somewhat larger town and important station in northern Andhra Pradesh, though “Vizzy” remained a prince as he was the second son and did not become the ruler. However, Iftekhar Ali Khan and his son Mansur Ali Khan did hold the title of Nawab of Pataudi.
Women’s cricket gets its due here, although it is doubtful if Mumbai-born Smriti Mandhana has anything to do with this place near Kanpur:
There are other people with connections to cricket whose names include place names. One was the one-Test player the Yuvraj of Patiala, also known as Yadavindra Singh. Patiala is not one of the larger cities of Punjab but is somehow well known, possibly because of the Patiala Peg* which was said to be devised by one of the rulers. Then there was Raj Singh Dungarpur, who was from the royal family of a small state now in Rajasthan.