Win one, lose one

Published : Oct 03, 2015 00:00 IST

Some members of the victorious Australina side which beat England in the ODI series.-AP
Some members of the victorious Australina side which beat England in the ODI series.-AP

Some members of the victorious Australina side which beat England in the ODI series.-AP

When Australia recently beat England by a 3-2 margin to win the bilateral ODI series, they extended an English trend that has been taking shape over the last decade.

Since 2005, England has had a very structured home season, whereby the country has hosted two visiting teams between the months of May and September, and played a bilateral ODI series as well as a Test series against both teams. However, neither England nor their oppositions seem to be able to regularly win both the Test as well as the ODI series. Since 2005, Sri Lanka (in 2014) is the only visiting team to have won both the Test and ODI series. Apart from a stretch between 2010 and 2012 where it played India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and West Indies at home, even England, despite being the home team, has struggled to win both the Test and ODI series. The table shows how there have been only seven instances (out of 21 tours) where the same team has won both the Test and ODI series during the England summer.

Q & A

In the recently concluded Test series between India and Sri Lanka, Ajinkya Rahane took eight catches during one of the Tests, which was a world record for any fielder in a single Test match. Which wicketkeeper has taken the most catches in one Test innings and how many?

- Jai Kapoor (Class 7), New Delhi

The record for the most catches taken by a wicketkeeper in a single Test innings is seven. This has been done four times, by Wasim Bari (v NZ, Auckland, 1979), Bob Taylor (v IND, Mumbai, 1980), Ian Smith (v SL, Hamilton, 1991) and Ridley Jacobs (v AUS, Melbourne, 2000). The record for the most catches by a 'keeper in a Test match is 11, by Jack Russell and AB de Villiers, both at Johannesburg, in 1995 and 2013 respectively.

When India was forced to use multiple openers during the Test series against Sri Lanka - Dhawan, Rahul, Vijay and Pujara - I began to wonder which team has had the most stable opening pair in recent times. Can you address this?

- Nakul Venugopal, Pune, Maharashtra

Pakistan had tried 43 different opening combinations since January 2001, easily the most for any team. In this same period, England had tried only 16 different opening pairs. England's stability is largely due to the fact that Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss opened the batting together on 117 occasions, the most for any pair since 2001. Even if we only look at the very recent past - since January 2013 - Pakistan is still the most experimental, having tried 13 different opening combinations, while South Africa used only four.

Has there ever been an instance of a genuine tail-ender making multiple 50-plus scores in the same Test series?

- Sambhav Bafna, Bangalore, Karnataka

Tail-enders are usually loosely defined as players batting at No. 8 or below. Since you have further narrowed your question to `genuine' tail-enders, I have restricted the scope of this answer to only players batting at Nos. 10 and 11. There has been only one instance ever of a player making more than one 50-plus score in a Test series when batting at these positions - England's Tony Lock made 53 and 56 during a five-match Test series against West Indies at home in 1963.

This may sound like an extremely vague question, but can you please give me a statistic about Sachin Tendulkar that most people would not have heard about?

- Abiha Zaidi, New Delhi

That, most certainly, is a vague question, but here is a stat that I hope you haven't previously heard. Over his 200-Test career, Sachin Tendulkar has opened the batting, and also played at Nos. 4, 5, 6 and 7. However, there is not a single instance in 24 years of Tendulkar having batted at No. 3. In fact, there is just one instance of him having batted above No. 4 - when he opened the batting (as the nonstriker) against New Zealand in Ahmedabad in 1999. Tendulkar has played 275 Test innings at No. 4, more than any other batsman at a single position. In ODIs, Tendulkar has batted at every position from Nos. 1 to 7.

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