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    May 16, 2006

    That twenty wicket chant again!

    We constantly hear from captains, and commentators, about how you need 20 wickets to win a test match. Mahela is the latest to join the bandwagon.
    We have to get England out twice to win Test matches, and we only got five wickets.
    But that isn't necessarily true, especially if the opposition's declaration has backfired! For e.g., Clive Lloyd's quicks didn't take 20 wickets at Sabina Park in 1976 against India. They only had to get half the side out retired hurt. Australia only took 15 wickets at Sydney earlier this year and yet thrashed South Africa.

    Which leads me to the stats question - Have there been other instances where sides have won without taking 20 wickets? What is the least number of wickets taken and yet ending up winning the game?
    Thus spake Jagadish @ 5:35 PM |
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    4 sledge(s):

    You can't really see a captain saying 'right, boys, they're 300-3. We're obviously not going to take the wickets, so let's send down some pies and see if we can win it that way', can you though?

    Your question can largely be answered with StatsGuru (ignoring double delcarations or other sillyness). The England record is 12 wickets in a won match, assuming one all-out innings, when Garry Sobers famously erred:

    Interestingly, if you apply the following StatsGuru setting to a Test Team:
    Wickets: from [blank] to 5
    With the match result: Won

    Only England and West Indies have any matches, and England have three of the four between them.

    By Anonymous Geoff (16-May-2006, 8:04:00 PM)  

    geoff: That isn't quite my rant. My point is about how you can actually win without worrying "How are we going to bowl them out twice?" because there've been quite a few instances where teams have obviously won without picking up all 20 wickets. I know some (Sabina Park for e.g.) may be extreme examples. But you can win even if the opposition is daft! The results you throw up are interesting. The way I read the StatsGuru result, it is basically looking for at least one innings of a match where the team took less than 5 wickets and won. Assuming that the opposition was all out other innings, this means anything <= 15 wickets to win. But the opposition could have declared in both innings at say 7 down, which wouldn't be captured in this query. South Africa v Australia at Sydney, which I mentioned in the post, was such an instance [declared 9 wkts down in 1st innings, 6 in 2nd]

    By Blogger Jagadish (17-May-2006, 10:52:00 AM)  

    That's true, but it doesn't significantly change the results either way. Set it to eight wickets and look for double declarations, and you won't find many. Although I do now notice that the number of wickets England took in that Sabina match was in fact nine, as Sobers declared in both innings.

    There's one for Australia, obviously (Sydney last year), but that's about it. England famously beat South Africa also when Hansie Cronje forfeited an innings, so England only took eight wickets in the match, but there still aren't many matches at all.

    By Anonymous Geoff (17-May-2006, 3:36:00 PM)  

    geoff: Fair call, so it's better to take 20 wickets, after all :)

    By Blogger Jagadish (18-May-2006, 1:43:00 PM)  

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