Test captains compared-batting

The first of a series comparing Test captains by their basic skills rather than captaincy.

Data up to May 15, 2021. The ICC XI Test of 2005 is not included.

Most runs (2500 and above):

After all, Graeme Smith has played the most Tests as captain.

Kohli is in 4th position, the best for Indian players as well as current players. Root and SPD Smith are some distance behind, and Gavaskar still further behind.

Most centuries (6 and above):

Graeme Smith again. Kohli is in second place here and will probably overtake him. SPD Smith is next among current players. Gavaskar with 11 is next among Indian players.

Fifty-plus scores (18 and above):

Here is Graeme Smith yet again. Kohli is in 8th position here, which is the highest both for Indian players and current players. Root and Gavaskar are some distance behind.

Highest individual scores (225 and above):

Led by Lara with his world record 400*. Kohli with 254* is the first among Indian players and current players. Williamson (251) and Karunaratne (244) are next among current players. Kohli’s 243 is the second highest for Indian captains.

Highest batting average (Min 20 innings, 50.00):

Bradman’s 101.51 is far ahead of the next, who is SPD Smith with 70.36. Williamson (62.81) and Kohli (58.60) are the next among current captains. Tendulkar and Gavaskar are further down.

Highest strike rates (Min 1000 balls faced, 50.00):

Exact figures for balls faced are lacking for some who played before 2000. However, it should be clear that Kapil Dev would have the highest strike rate.

Shakib Al Hasan has the highest among current players, although he may not captain his side again. Even SPD Smith may come back.

Kohli can be said to have the highest strike rate among undisputed present captains.

Washington Sundar’s good start

At the time of writing, the 1st Test between India and England at Chennai has ended in defeat for the home side. Washington Sundar’s Test batting record is now 62 and 22 followed by 85* and 0, thus making two fifties in his first two Tests.

Not such a big deal, is it? 15 Indian players have made a century on Test debut (although a significant proportion of them never made another century). There are 44 instances of Indian players making at least one fifty on their debut, such as Sundar.

We now look at cases where they scored at least two scores of fifty-plus in their first two Tests. There are only 14 such instances. Let us look more closely at them.

1. Dilawar Hussain (1933-34): 59, 57; 13, 36. He and Gavaskar are the only Indian players to make two 50+ scores on Test debut.

2. DG Phadkar (1947-48): 51, 2; 55*, 13

3. AG Kripal Singh (1955-56): 100*; 63

4. SM Gavaskar (1970-71): 65, 67*; 116, 64* No less than four 50+ scores in his first two Tests. He and Dilawar are the only Indian players to score two fifties on Test debut.

5. J Arun Lal (1982-83): 63,1; 51

6. M Azharuddin (1984-85): 110; 48, 105

7. R Dravid (1996): 95; 84, 8

8. SC Ganguly (1996): 131; 136, 48 These two played their debut and second Tests together.

9. DJ Gandhi (1999-2000): 0, 75; 88, 31*

10. SK Raina (2010): 120; 62, 41*

12. RG Sharma (2013-14): 177; 111* Centuries in his first two innings, but not in the same Test.

12. PP Shaw (2018-19): 134; 70, 33*

13. MA Agarwal (2018-19): 76, 42; 77

14. W Sundar (2020-21): 62, 22; 85*,0

Some, like Dilawar, Arun Lal and Gandhi never scored a Test century.

Of these, only Gavaskar made four 50+ scores in his first two Tests. This is probably a world Test record. No one else from India made three 50+ scores in his first two Tests.

Alistair Cook’s record score.

As you can see from here, Alistair Cook’s 244* at Melbourne is not his highest Test score.

That is 294.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/11728.html

However, it set a number of records. He became the first Test player to make 244*, while Bradman is the only one to be dismissed on 244 (vs England, who else?) in 1934.

Cook’s 244* is also the highest score by anyone carrying his bat through a Test:

http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/records/283149.html

The previous record was 223* by GM Turner vs WI in 1971-72; this series had all 5 Tests drawn and is the only such series not involving India.

The previous record for England was 202* by L Hutton vs WI in 1950-this was not enough to prevent an innings defeat against Ramadhin, Valentine and Goddard.

And the previous record in Australia was 169* by MA Taylor vs SA at Adelaide in 1998.

There was also a near-miss in 1974 when DL Amiss made 262* against WI in a total of 432/9.

 

Karun Nair’s Test records

You will remember the fuss about Karun Nair when he scored his triple century in his third Test at Chennai. We now look at his oddly skewed Test career after he has completed 6 Tests. This should be apparent from this sequence of scores:

KK Nair innings seq

He has a respectable average of 62.33. But he scored 303 of his 374 runs in one innings (81.0 %) and never made another score above 50. To be precise, his next highest score is only 26.

It is hoped that he will play at least a few more Tests and score more centuries. Until then, he holds a couple of records in all Tests. This does NOT include the highest maiden century, as Gary Sobers (365*) and Bob Simpson (311) are ahead.

Highest score by someone who scored only one century ( 150 and above):

Highest score with one century

KK Nair heads this list, ahead of England’s RE Foster who held the record for about 113 years. His 287 (on debut) was the world Test record until early 1930 when Andy Sandham made 325 (in his last Test), though Bradman crossed it with 334 later the same year.

Foster, Kuruppu, Fawad Alam, K Ibadulla, C Bannerman and A JacksonĀ  were making their Test debuts. Gillespie made his only century in his last Test while batting as nightwatchman. There are several other current players here led by MT Renshaw with 184.

Another quirky record is the highest Test score made by someone who never made a fifty (i.e. a score between 50 and 99). This gets a bit messy due to Statsguru’s limitations, but we get these figures:

Highest score by those who scored one century and no fifty (110 and above):

1 century no fifty

Highest score by those who scored two centuries and no fifties (all cases):

Two century, no fifty

And finally:

Highest score by those who scored three centuries and no fifties (all cases):

Three century no fifty

No one has scored more than three centuries without a fifty. For a short time KL Rahul shared the record with Bopara. But Rahul scored his first fifty soon after he scored his third century.

As we can see, KK Nair is the only one to score a triple century but no fifty. David Lloyd and Brendon Kuruppu are the only ones to score a double century but no fifty. And Ravi Bopara’s Test career may be over, but he also holds a record which may not be broken for a long time.

KK Nair is also the only current player with one or more centuries and no fifties.