Amongst the 51allout collective, there are various different ways of watching cricket. Some of us like to do it with a glass of Pimms in hand, others prefer a nice gin and tonic. And some of us watch while having a number of Excel spreadsheets open, poised to answer those questions that are always filling up our inbox:
How long is it since Mishra bowled a no-ball?
Why doesn’t Ravi Bopara use his bat to defend the straight ones?
What’s the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?
The fourth day of England’s win over India at Edgbaston was one such occasion. As the Indian tail thrashed around like Elizabeth Berkley in the pool during Showgirls, we noticed that the only thing lacking was a wicket for Tim Bresnan. As far as we could remember, Bresnan never fails to takes a wicket or two. Doesn’t he?
A quick Alt-Tab later and we had the appropriate spreadsheet to answer the question. But it got us thinking: which bowler is on the longest streak of taking a wicket in every Test innings?
Well here’s the answer (of sorts – we’ll get to that a bit later): Christopher Timothy Tremlett. So far, he’s taken at least one wicket in every single one of his 20 test innings. It’s a mighty impressive feat, albeit one that had completely passed us by, coinciding as it has with a remarkable series of results.
The second name on the list could actually be more impressive: Jimmy Anderson, with 17 consecutive wicket-taking innings. The last time he didn’t take a wicket was Australia’s brief second innings in Brisbane, where he bowled just five overs. Exclude that innings and the streak would be up at 30, going all the way back to Bangladesh at Lord’s last year.
The third longest streak is a genuine surprise: Abdur Rehman of Pakistan with 16 innings, a 100% record. After that comes Bresnan (15) and Stuart Broad (12). It’s certainly a remarkable statistic for the latter, given that ill-informed blogs across the internet were calling for his head just a few weeks back.
Remarkable results these may be but there’s actually one player with an even better record. Shane Bond was a wonderful bowler on the disappointingly rare occasions that he wasn’t completely broken. He only bowled in 32 innings in Tests but he took a wicket in every single one. Incredible stuff that left us both shaken and stirred.
The obvious next question is about the longest streak of all time. To answer this we looked back as far as 1990. We could have gone back further but there’s only so much web-query pillaging of the Statsguru database that you can get away with before awkward questions start to be asked.
Anyway, we found some astonishing performances, unsurprisingly led by the all-time leading Test wicket taker, Murali. His longest streak was an incredible 52 consecutive wicket-taking innings, starting against Bangladesh in August 2002 and only finishing against Pakistan in Kandy in April 2006.
But it gets better than that. Prior to the beginning of that streak, Murali had missed out in the second innings at Old Trafford as England chased just 50 to win, getting there in just five overs (of which Murali bowled two). So if we exclude that innings we have to include the 49 innings streak prior to it, taking the total to a mind-boggling 101 innings. And just to further emphasise the point, after that was finished he set off on another 41 innings streak. You can say what you like about Murali but if ever we needed someone to knock a 50p piece off a glass balanced on off-stump, we know where we’d turn.
Some other remarkable performances: Waqar Younis (41 innings between 1990 and 1995), Andrew Flintoff (37 between 2004 and 2006), Brett Lee (35, 2006-2008), Allan Donald (33, 1994-1997) and Anil Kumble (also 33, 2006-2008).
Of these there were four that didn’t necessarily surprise us, having been top class bowlers and leading their appropriate attacks. We’ll be honest – we genuinely don’t remember Flintoff being quite that good with the ball. We’ll probably just put it down to the Pimms/gin and tonic/excessive spreadsheet usage.
There may well be some similarly impressive streaks in the pre-Home Alone years. If there’s enough demand via the feedback below we might well go there. Although we’re unlikely to find a similar picture of Richie Benaud for the middle of that article, which is probably for the best.