When England host India at Edgbaston on 1 August, it will be their 1,000th Test match. SA Cricket magazine looks to the record books.
For the nation that gave birth to cricket, and then exported it all around the world to their colonies, England’s Test record leaves a lot to be desired. But we’ll forgive them because they have brought tradition to the game and (often) a great sense of dignity.
Considering that only 2,313 Tests have been played in the history of Test cricket, you’d expect England to dominate Test records, having played in 43% of all Tests. But that’s not quite the case.
All-time Test records – Tests played
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Poor Bangladesh is the biggest loser, having tasted defeat in 75% of their Tests, while those damn Aussies are the meanest in given away wins to the opposition, losing just 27% of their Tests. Least likely to get a win or taste defeat are India, with 41% of their Tests being drawn. Coaching job for Arsene Wenger perhaps? To be fair, their home wickets aren’t the easiest to rolls side out on twice.
For thrills and spills, the Aussies again lead the pack, having played in both tied Test matches. They also have the most Test wins (383), even though they’ve played 187 Tests less than the Poms. Hmmm… there’s their special Aussie number again!
Big up for the Proteas (and the South Africans from the days before democracy) – second on the list behind Australia when it comes to win percentage (37.7%).
England, Australia, South Africa and Pakistan have won more matches than they have lost. All other Test nations are in deficit.
Most Tests for England
The most popular number of Test caps is 118, as worn by Stuart Broad (until tomorrow), Ian Bell and Graham Gooch, while David Gower is one back on 117. Alastair Cook’s mammoth pile of caps has helped him to rise to sixth on the all-time list of Test run-scorers… with the next best Gooch (16th spot) followed by Alec Stewart (25th), after which a string of England batsmen appear. So English batsmen have far from dominated with the willow.
Any better with the ball?
James Anderson is fifth on the all-time list of bowlers with 540 Test sticks in his bag… 23 behind Glenn McGrath, but the lanky Australian did play 14 Tests less than Anderson. Next is Broad in 12th spot on 417 wickets from 118 Tests – a lot more than the four old boys ahead of him (sorry Dale!). Ian Botham holds up 17th spot on 383. Bushy-haired Bob Willis sneaks in 25th place with 325 sticks, and there’s not a lot after that.
So… bat and ball not really England’s thing, by the looks of it.
Any good at catching?
Cook is in ninth spot among the fielders with 162 catches, followed by Andrew Strauss (121), Botham (120) and Colin Cowdrey (120) in 21st and joint 22nd spots.
That whittles things down to the wicketkeepers… and poor old impish Alan Knott is languishing down in eighth spot with 269 Test victims (250 caught, 19 stumped). Not his fault he only took 1.545 wickets an innings – after all, a lot rests on the bowlers’ shoulders. However, Matt Prior (ninth), Alec Stewart (10th), Godfrey Evans (13th), Bob Taylor (23rd) and Jack Russell (24th) are all in the Top 25, giving England seven out of 25 and their biggest contribution in the Test record books.
Oh well, even though stats are a huge part of cricket, there’s more to cricket than meets the Excel spreadsheet. England might not have dominated the record books quite like the Australians, South Africans, West Indians and India, but Test cricket just wouldn’t have been the same without England.
Congratulations on Test number 1000.
Photo: Gareth Copley/Getty Images