Friday, August 31, 2012

there's always a catch

Much has been written about Andrew Strauss' departure from the England captaincy this week, so I'll restrict myself to a couple of statistical observations. Firstly, Strauss ends his Test career with 21 centuries, just one short of equalling the record for an English batsman. It's a bit of a statistical oddity that the English record is so low, as the overall record for individual Test centuries stands at a monumental 51 (and since Sachin Tendulkar is still playing, this could yet go up).

If you survey the individual record-holders by country in the table below you'll see how low in the table England are, with only the Test-playing minnows (apologies to New Zealand) below them. England are also the only country where the record is jointly held. Also, curiously, two of the England record-holders had interruptions to the prime of their careers that robbed them of the chance to add to their tallies - Walter Hammond lost 7 years of the prime of his career to the Second World War, and Geoff Boycott voluntarily exiled himself from Test cricket for three years between 1974 and 1977 in a prolonged sulk at not being offered the England captaincy.

Strauss' retirement means that he won't be the man to break the record, but it almost certainly will go in the next year or so - ironically the next man on the list, also on 21 centuries, is none other than Kevin Pietersen, who is in the middle of a bit of a career hiatus himself at the moment, this one entirely of his own making. So the most likely scenario is that it'll be the new England captain Alastair Cook, who currently has 20, who'll break the record, perhaps some time in 2013.

WhereWhoHow many
IndiaSachin Tendulkar51
South AfricaJacques Kallis43
AustraliaRicky Ponting41
West IndiesBrian Lara34
Sri LankaMahela Jayawardene31
EnglandWalter Hammond22
EnglandColin Cowdrey22
EnglandGeoff Boycott22
New ZealandMartin Crowe17
ZimbabweAndy Flower12
BangladeshMohammad Ashraful5

Strauss' other record is that he has taken more catches as an outfielder than any other English cricketer, his total of 121 catches putting him one ahead of Colin Cowdrey and Ian Botham. Most of Strauss' catches were taken in the slips, most famously this electrifying effort to get rid of Adam Gilchrist in the Ashes Test at Trent Bridge in 2005.

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