The Ashes And World War – Destiny Brought Three Cricketers Together

Bodyline Series And World War - Destiny Brought Three Cricketers Together

Ashes 1937 and World War II were unified by the destiny of three cricketers, Ross Gregory, Ken Farnes & Hedley Verity. 

One of the greatest Ashes series was played during 1936-37 in Australia. This was England’s first tour to Australia after the infamous Bodyline series. Although Bradman was there, two other main protagonists Douglas Jardine and Harold Larwood already retired by then. England’s captain was Gubby Allen. Those days such tours used to go on for months with lots of rest and other matches against state teams. The first match of the series started on December 4, 1936, whereas the fifth and final test started on February 26, 1937.

Ashes 1936/37- A Recap

Ken Farnes Image Source – The Cricketer

England took an early lead in the series. They won both the first and second tests played at Brisbane and Sydney respectively. Without Larwood, Allen and Bill Voce troubled the Australian batsmen and Wally Hammond’s innings of 231 was instrumental in England’s innings victory in Sydney.

Australia tried to make a comeback after being 0-2 down. The third test in Melbourne was played in a dangerous ‘Sticky’ wicket which saw all types of unique strategies. Australia first declared at 200 for 9 then England declared at 76 for 9 so that they could utilize the sticky wicket. Bradman sent a reverse batting order; he came at 7, scored 270 and won the match easily for Australia. Bradman scored another double in the next test to level the series.

The Final Show In Melbourne

And then the final test of the Ashes began in Melbourne. Bradman won the toss for Australia and decided to bat. He scored another century and added 249 runs in the third wicket with Stan McCabe who himself scored 112.

Ross GregoryImage Source – ESPN

On February 27, day 2 Bradman went early but Jack Badcock and Ross Gregory built another good partnership. Badcock got his hundred. Gregory, playing just his second test, was approaching his maiden test hundred. But England bowler Ken Farnes stopped him when he was on 80 and the catch was taken by Hedley Verity, a dismissal which would have a dark significance in years to come. 

But let us focus on the match. Australia finally completed their innings and scored 604. Farnes took 6 wickets. England did not do well in front of a William O’Reilly master class. O’Reilly picked up 8 for 109 in the match and England after following on lost the test match by innings and 200 runs. This was a wonderful turn around for Australia and still, the only instance of a team winning a series after 0-2 behind. England’s next Ashes series win came after more than 17 years.

Ross Gregory, Ken Farnes & Hedley Verity- Destined To Be Together Once Again

Hedley Verity Image Source –

It was Ross Gregory’s last test match. World War II broke out in the next few years and like many others, even some of the active cricketers from England and Australia had to register themselves for the war. The war took many lives that included some of the cricketers. Three of them were Pilot Officers.

Ken Farnes, died in an accident while flying over Chipping-Warden, Oxfordshire on October 20, 1941, Sergeant-Observer Ross Gregory was killed on active service in India on June 10, 1942, and Captain Hedley Verity on July 31, 1943, when he succumbed to wounds from a battle in Sicily. 

This way, all the three parties involved in Ross Gregory’s final dismissal were the martyrs of World War II. And this happened on this day, 82 years back.

Also Read: On This Day – 26th Feb

World Cup 2019: How England shape up

World Cup 2019: How England shape up

July 24th, 2019. It is the date when the inventors of the game of cricket will host the coveted World Cup Final at the most hallowed ground of the game, Lords. 

Currently ranked number 1 in ODIs, the English team have age, expertise, and rankings on their side. But how will the side fare in the World Cup 2019?

Home Advantage

World Cup 2019: How England shape up
Image Source – The Independent

One of the biggest advantages that English teams have enjoyed over the years is that they are constantly encouraged to overlook past failures, and only focus on what is to come. The English cricket team is young and bursting with energy, and this will be a huge plus point for them. The summer of 2005 when the Ashes was staged proved that cricket can truly hypnotize the nation. Organizers are expected that with widespread and clever advertising techniques, revenue will be at an all-time high. In addition to this, playing at home in front of a well-educated crowd will always work in their favor, and England will be expected to cash in on it in the World Cup 2019.

Opening Partnership

Image Source – ABC

With openers Jason Roy and Bairstow, England have nothing to worry about. They form the perfect team, complementing each other successfully while playing long innings. The pair has been responsible for handing the English team with many match-winning opening stands, including a double hundred together. Due to their pairing, the English team has changed their playing tactic. From a policy of holding back and playing calmly, England now follows the route of controlled aggression, which was on full display against West Indies recently, when they chased down 360.

The Captain

Image Source – The Independent

Eoin Morgan buckled under the pressures of the previous management, but Andrew Strauss’ decision to retain him for World Cup 2019 was probably the best ideas in a long time. His team respects his decisions, and he understands which bowler to play, depending on the field conditions. However, the only source of worry for the team is Morgan’s own form. Averaging at 25 the past year, playing at number 4, his future seems shaky. However, he is still more than capable of an attack if England starts strongly. Though inconsistency is an issue with him, Morgan rises to the occasion when need be, like he did against Windies in the first ODI.

The Attack

Image Source – The Independent

Liam Plunkett will be tucking up the bowlers in the middle overs, assisted by Mark Wood and Chris Woakes. England has an ace up their sleeve in the form of Adil Rashid, who can easily be used to null runs and snatch up wickets in the midst of the tournament. However, what England desperately lacks is a bowler like Sunil Narine, who can keep the opposition on their toes at all times. The bowling attack is their biggest worry though, with the pacers often going for a lot of runs throughout the innings. With no variety in the attack and with small grounds, England have struggled to curb runs and have easily allowed opponents to score 300+ runs, which will be a major worry in the tourney.

Also Read: India will not play Pakistan in World Cup 2019 if the Government Feels So

The Batting

Image Source –

England has two very mature players in their team, in the form of Jos Buttler and Joe Root. These players have proven, time and again, that they can be depended on to salvage the lower order. Buttler has learned on how to play on more than one way, modeling his on-field mannerisms on MS Dhoni, possibly the coolest player of the game. Furthermore, Alex Hales can mold himself into any batting situation as well, and it is safe to say that the batting unit is one of the most settled ones among all teams that will play the World Cup.

England has a strong team this year, with players who understand the game, who do not stick to their conventional methods of gameplay, and who can model themselves to play on any surface. These requisites are of utmost importance, especially for a home team looking to redeem themselves and clinch the World Cup 2019, and make themselves a team to reckon with, yet again. England does suffer on slow pitches, but if recent matches are anything to go by, England is slowly becoming a master and they would hope to clinch their maiden title this year.

A Century, A Debut & A Draw – AB de Villiers and Kevin Pietersen

A Century, A Debut & A Draw - AB de Villiers and Kevin Pietersen

There are quite a few incidents of two or more great players making their debuts in the same period. We all remember Sachin Tendulkar and Waqar Younis making their debut in the same match in Karachi in 1989 followed by certain Shane Warne, in Tendulkar’s first Australia tour. 

Although only one player made his debut on 2nd February 2005 in Mangaung Oval, Bloemfontein, there was another young player from his opponents who announced himself in that match. And both of them went on to become modern legends and they are two of the most loved cricketers all over the world.

Image- Youtube

England were touring South Africa for 5 tests and 7 One-Day Internationals. After winning the test series 2-1, the English players were quite upbeat. England squad led by Michael Vaughan were missing the service of key all-rounder Andrew Flintoff. South Africa despite being a strong team lost the test series and the first ODI. So they were already under pressure.

After the 2003 World cup, where both England and South Africa failed to make a mark, teams were going through the transition and quite a few new players were tested. For England, in the forefront was Kevin Pietersen, a swash-buckling batsman who was originally from Natal, South Africa. A wonderful young talent, Pietersen was already a flashy character, although no one would expect all the various controversies he had to face later, his talent was everyone to see. Although he appeared in test arena in 2005, he already made his ODI debut in Zimbabwe. Pietersen remained not out in three of his first 4 innings and played a steady unbeaten 22 in the first ODI to help England win by D/L method.

Also Read: Unknown Records held by Tendulkar

For South Africa, the youngster who attracted everyone was Abraham Benjamin de Villiers. A livewire in the field, AB made his test debut during the test series and after a collective batting failure was drafted in the first eleven in the second ODI.

Sent to bat, England were in early trouble and Pietersen came to bat at 67 for 3. He took some time to settle down but once set he started to dominate the bowlers. Attractive pulls and sweeps were in display and once he passed his second ODI fifty he started acceleration. Andre Nel had to suffer as Pietersen muscled his way to his first ODI century, a brilliant effort which saw him finish with a 96-ball 108. He remained not out till the end to propel England to 270.

South Africa started the chase with Captain Smith paired with the debutant de Villiers. It was a steady start and both of them reached their twenties. But after the 10th over, while trying to up the ante, both of them perished within four balls. However Kallis and Gibbs built a good partnership and at 185 for 2 wickets in 38th Over, South Africa looked set to win. However, like many of their matches, South Africa started to mess it up suddenly. Both Kallis and Gibbs were gone by the 46th over. The target was still 34 runs. Even the big-hitter Kemp were also gone.

The final equation came down to 8 require of last 6 balls. Boucher was on strike with Pollock on the other end. A high full toss from Kabir Ali to Boucher resulted in a no-ball and boundary and gave the early advantage to South Africa who required an easy 3 of 5. But Boucher was caught next ball. A dot ball was followed by a single and the run out of new batsman Ashwell Prince.

With 2 of 2 required, Pollock somehow hit the 5th ball and scampered for one. The new batsman Andrew Hall was on strike on the last ball. Wicketkeeper Jones came close to the wicket. Ali bowled a full ball just outside off-stump, Hall missed it and in all the excitement just came out of his crease. Jones was alert enough to get the ball and flicked the bails to get a tie for England. The England team were ecstatic as it was a tie which looked unlikely even just a few overs back.

Both KP and ABDV went on to become legends of the game with some outstanding performances in next 10-12 years.

The Day England Were Bowled Out For 45

The Day England Were Bowled Out For 45

Windies got one of their biggest test victories against England over the weekend. In the first innings, England were blown away by the pace of Kemar Roach and got all out for just 77 runs. Looking back, this is the 35th time England were bowled out in a test match for a sub-hundred team total.

The interesting fact about 28th January is that 132 years back on 28th Jan 1887 England were bowled out for their lowest test total ever.

It was the first test match of England of the 1886-87 tour of Australia played in Sydney Cricket Ground.

George Lohmann (Image- ESPNCricinfo)

Earlier the tours were organized by private groups with some support from MCC. In this tour, the England team was also known as ‘Alfred Shaw’s XI’. The tour party combined of 13 members. In those days of segregation between Armature and professionals, this team was combined with only professional players.

It consisted of A. Shrewsbury, W. Barnes, W. Gunn, W. Scotton, W. Flowers, M. Sherwin and A. Shaw (Notts), R. G. Barlow and J. Briggs ( Lancashire), G. A. Lohmann and M. Read (Surrey), W. Bates (Yorkshire), and James Lillywhite (Sussex).

Like the trend, the tour lasted from late October 1886 to Late March 1887 and team played a host of first class and non-first class matches. Some of those non-first class matches included the team taking on Parramatta, where 18 players batted for Parramatta. The scorecard read 67 and 78 for Alfred Shaw’s XI against 73 and 49 from Parramatta XVIII’s. This gives us some indication about the pitches in some of those matches that were not up to the mark.

Deemed as ‘one of the strongest that ever left England for the Colonies’ by Wisden, the team played ten First-class matches in the tour winning six, losing two and drawing two. Except for the test matches, other first-class matches were against Victoria, New South Wales, and Melbourne Club’s Australian team. Their two losses came against New South Wales.

Coming back to test matches, the combined Australia team for the first test was a strong outfit. Captained by brilliant attacking batsman Percy McDonnell the team had bowlers like Fred Spofforth, J J Ferris, and Charlie Turner. Both Ferris and Turner were making their debuts. They also had Billy Midwinter, who after making his debut for Australia, played four tests for England in between and again went back to play for Australia.

McDonnell won the toss and put England in a difficult pitch. These days there used to be only four deliveries each over. Turner and Ferris opened the bowling. It is to be noted that the 11 run partnership between Captain Arthur Shrewsbury and Billy Bates were the second highest in the innings. Ferris got Bates first and immediately Turner got the new man Barnes. England lost two wickets on the score of 11 and three more with the score on 13. There was a 12 run partnership for the 9th wicket as George Lohmann became the only player in the line up to reach a double-digit score and ended with 17. The duo bowled unchanged and Turner finished with 6 for 15 and Ferris with 4 for 27. England were all out in 35.3 overs in just more than two hours.

Billy Barnes (Image- ESPNCricinfo)

The test match remained a low scoring one and despite scoring their lowest ever total, England came back to win the test match. Australia could only score 119 in their first innings and England responded with a ‘massive’ 184. Defending 111 in the fourth innings, Billy Burns and George Lohmann ran through the innings and got Australia out for 97 to give England a win by 13 runs. The test match lasted for three days and one of the most memorable from that era.

Interestingly, on the 125th anniversary of that day, on 28th January 2012 England were again out for a sub-hundred total. This time the opponent were Pakistan in Abu Dhabi and England were skittled for 72 chasing 145 with Pakistani spin duo Abdur Rehman and Saeed Ajmal being the chief destroyers.


Billy Bates – First English Test Hat-Trick

Billy Bates - First English Test Hat-Trick

The story of Billy Bates is a tragic cricket story from yesteryears. He was an Ashes hero whose life turned upside down post a freak accident. 

While bowling in nets in Australia a straight drive hit him on his face and damaged his eyesight so much that he had to retire from all first-class cricket. The year was 1887 and Bates was just 32. This brought severe depression for him and he died even before reaching 45 at the turn of the century.

But during his playing days, he was a classy off-spinner with multiple bowling feats during the early days of Test cricket. The most famous of those came on this day, 20th January, 136 years ago.

Billy Bates (Image – Wikipedia)

The great Australian fast bowler Fred ‘Demon’ Spofforth became the first player to take a Test hat-trick during England’s 1878/79 tour in the great Melbourne Cricket Ground. So fittingly during England’s next tour, the great MCG became the venue for Test cricket’s first hat-trick by an Englishman and the Englishman was Billy Bates. With a wonderful display of round-arm off-spin bowling, Bates got the Australian batsmen Percy McDonnell, George Giffen, and George Bonnor on three consecutive deliveries to complete his hat-trick. In fact, Bates’ final analysis was 7 wickets for 28 runs in 26.2, four-ball overs as was the norm those days. Bates did not stop there and once Australians were asked to follow on by English captain Honourable Ivo Bligh, he promptly took 7 more wickets in the second innings to get them all out for 153. With this England won the Test match by an innings and that was the first such instances in the short history of the game and Bates’ match figure of 14 for 102 was pivotal.

Also Read: The Bodyline series

Interestingly Billy Bates’ all 15 Test matches were played in Australia as he was part of 4 different touring parties and took 50 wickets with a bowling average of 16.42. His batting average was 27.33 which was quite respectable for that period and he even opened the batting in Test matches for England.

Bates’ hat-trick was the first of the 14 Test hat-tricks taken by English bowlers. Stuart Broad has two and the latest person to add his name in the list of Test hat-trick owners is English off-spinner Moeen Ali, who achieved this feat against South Africa in the Oval in 2017.

Overall, there are 43 Test hat-tricks till now with England leading the way, followed by Australia (11). No other country has more than four hat-tricks in their credit.

Along with Broad, three more players have two hat-tricks in Test cricket. One of them is Pakistan legend, Wasim Akram. Other two are Hugh Trumble and Jimmy Matthews, two Australian bowlers in the bygone era. Also, there are interesting instances like Peter Siddle taking a hat-trick on his birthday or Irfan Pathan taking a hat-trick in the first over of a Test match. There were no Test hat-tricks in 2018 and with 2019 having very few Test matches, let us wait to see who will take the next Test hat-trick.

Centurion Test 2000 : When Hansie Fooled Cricket World

Centurion Test 2000 : When Hansie Fooled Cricket World

January 18, 2000. The day witnessed one of the most thrilling test match endings in the history of cricket. For the first time, a team declared on 0/0 and that too for the sake of the game. 

A test match that was considered to be the epitome of sporting spirit later turned out to be something unusual and a shameful act.

Hansie Cronje (Image- AP)

It was the final day of the final test match between South Africa and England at Centurion. When the test match began the hosts were already 2-0 up in the series. England won the toss and elected to field first. The weather was gloomy.  South Africa were struggling on 155 for 6 when rains stopped play. Only 45 overs could be played on day one. Rains didn’t stop for the next three days and play could be resumed again only on day 5, January 18, 2000.

Just before the day’s play began, Hansie Cronje, South African captain went to the visitors’ dressing room with an offer; an offer that was much applauded later by the whole cricket fraternity. On his way to the England dressing room he found Alec Stewart on the stairs and asked Whether Nasser Hussain, England skipper would consider an offer and like to go for 270 in 73 overs. It was a complete shocker for the England captain. They were confused but not tempted. According to Hussain, “Fletch and I, both being conservative types, decided to see how things went in the first session”.

Also Read: The Bodyline series

Wicket turned friendly on day five.  Klusener scored 50 and went past 1000 test runs. The partnership between Klusener and Pollock sort of made Nasser Hussain respond to Hansie’s offer.  Forty minutes into the game and Nasser sent a message to the South African dressing room to check whether the offer was still on. But he wanted to chase 250 only.  He deliberately aimed low with a thought that Hansie would ask for higher. But Hansie Cronje once again surprised the opponent captain.

“I deliberately aimed low at first and said, ‘How about us chasing 250?’,” Hussain revealed later. “Hansie just said, ‘Fine’. I couldn’t believe it. No haggling. No banter. No bartering, No mention of how many overs we would face. It was like that scene from Life of Brian when the salesman is all indignant because the guy has simply paid his first asking price without any argument.”

The final proposal was 245 in 76 overs, which was lower than what was offered earlier and that too in three more overs. Hansie’s idea was to declare South Africa’s first innings and forfeit in the second. Then England had to declare their first innings on 0/0 and chase in the second innings.  Cronje then met with Barry Jarman, the ICC match referee, to discuss the legality of forfeiting the innings. Although there was some ambiguity as but in the end, Jarman agreed because “the spirit of the game” was given the utmost importance.

Image Source –

South African team also agreed to the proposal of their captain. But they were short of bowling resources when they came to defend the game. At one point England were 102 for 4 and were probably having a second thought about the proposal. But Stewart played brilliantly and scored 73 to ensure the victory for England.  England won the match for the loss of 8 wickets with 5 balls to spare.

Although few criticized the pact between the cricket team captains, most of them proclaimed the purpose of Cronje to provide a good game of cricket. In the post-match interviews, he said,

“As Test cricketers, we have a duty to entertain and get full houses and this was far better than seeing spectators sitting there with long faces.”

Later when the match-fixing scandal broke, it was revealed that the Centurion deal was also a result of match-fixing. Cronje was contacted by a bookmaker to make the deal with Nasser Hussain. Due to the weather, the match was set to finish in a draw and that would be a loss for the bookmaker. Hansie confessed, “He said if we declared he’d give $150,000 to charity.” Getting a nod from the England captain, Hansie texted the bookmaker on the match day saying, “the game is on”.  The price of the first fixed test match supposedly was 50,000 Rand and a leather jacket. The deal was for another 500,000 Rand to be given to a charity which according to Hansie Cronje was never materialized.

Bodyline Series: When Woodfull Was Hit On Heart

Bodyline Series: When Woodfull Was Hit On Heart

86 years ago during 1932-33 Ashes tour of England in Australia the 22 yards witnessed few unforgettable moments in the history of cricket that almost gave birth to a war. 

Australian cricket was on the rise and they beat England at their home with a 2-1 scoreline in the previous Ashes series in 1930. The young Australian sensation Don Bradman scored 974 runs with a triple century and 2 double centuries and was a nightmare for all the English bowlers.

Douglas Jardine, the prolific batsman from Surrey was given the responsibility to lead the England team in the return Ashes tour in 1932-33. His first target was to hatch a plan to stop Bradman’s run scoring. Being an intelligent and pragmatic captain, Jardine with his mentor Percy Fender formed a plan to bowl fast, short balls attempting towards the body to create discomfort for Bradman and other Australian batsmen. Post a famous meeting in a hotel in Nottinghamshire, Jardine got his two main weapons in Harold Larwood and Bill Voce. Larwood was extremely quick with great control and leading the fast bowling pack in the tour.

Also Read: When the crowd at Kolkata erupted

The test series started with much excitement at Sydney and the bowling towards batsman’s body or ‘Bodyline’ was visible from the first day with huge disapproval from the general Australian crowd. It turned into a heated environment with constant ‘boo’s targeted to Jardine and Larwood. Although England won the first test easily, Australia won the second test match to make it 1-1. But much drama was in store for the third test at Adelaide.

On 13th Jan, Jardine won the toss and decided to bat. England were in early trouble with the score at 30/4 but got some late order support from Leyland (83), Wyatt (78), Paynter (77) and Verity (45) and reached 341 on the stroke of tea on 2nd day, 14th Jan.

Image Source – Wikipedia

For Australia, their Captain Bill Woodfull opened with Jack Fingleton. Fingleton was soon gone bringing Bradman in the middle. The scenario was electric with the crowd on top of their voice. Larwood was also bowling beautifully and could make the ball swing into Woodfull. The last ball of his third over was a very fast and short one at the line of the middle stump and hit Woodfull on his heart. It was a terrible scene as Woodfull’s bat fell from his hand and he was on his knees holding his chest. The crowd went mad on anger and started abusing the English players. Jardine carries on with his strategy and told, “Well Bowled Harold” so that it could intimidate Bradman, standing nearby.

Once Woodfull was up after treatment, on the very next over Jardine applied Bodyline field, which included sending multiple fielders in the leg side, a clear indicator that they would target batsmen’s body. The crowd could not take more. They started protesting with mass hooting and jeering occurred after almost every ball. Even some of the England players were scared that there might be a riot and police might not be able to help them. It was one of the most theatrical afternoons of test cricket. Another quick ball hit Woodfull in the hand which resulted in his bat falling on the ground. After taking many such blows on his body Woodfull finally got out for 22. Later Bill Voce was injured and required a doctor, but the crowd thought it was Woodfull who required assistance, leading to a renewal of protest.

At the end of day’s play, the English team manager Pelham Warner went to meet Woodfull to show his sympathy. Woodfull’s response was to him was short and direct and became one of the famous quotes in the history of the game,

“I do not want to see you, Mr. Warner. There are two teams out there. One is playing cricket. The other is making no effort to do so.”

It was a fanatical test match and after a rest day on 15th, Australian wicketkeeper Bert Oldfield was also hurt when a ball hit on his temple resulted in more angry scenes among the crowd. Once the test match was over, the Australian board sent a cable to their MCC counterparts, complaining about the tactic appointed by Jardine which gave birth to some new sets of controversies.

England have now claimed their third 3-0 away clean sweep in History

England have now claimed their third 3-0 away clean sweep in History

For all exact three-match Test series that England have played over the years away from home, they’ve claimed a clean sweep of 3-0 only thrice in history. 

Each of these 3-0 away triumphs has occurred with a 50 years hiatus each. The last of these three clean sweeps was achieved on November 26, 2018, when England destroyed Sri Lanka in their own den. Joe Root’s England team thus became the first English side to achieve a 3-0 clean sweep in Asia. Before this recent accolade, England had done this 55 years ago. It was a series against the Blackcaps in New Zealand in 1962-63. The first-ever 3-0 clean sweep away from home for England was in 1895-96 against South Africa. 


The First Ever – In South Africa(1895-96)

The most recent victory of England over South Africa in South Africa was back in 2016. England successfully overthrew an undefeatable South Africa in their own den. England fast bowler Stuart Broad claimed 6/37 in an innings which ended up being a series defining spell. But the biggest ever triumph that England has achieved in South Africa dates back to the year 1896 when they toured South Africa for a three-match Test series. Test Cricket was just 49 Test matches old back then. The English side, led by Sir Tim O’Brien completely destroyed the home team in a one-sided affair. 


After 67 years – In New Zealand(1962-63)

Just like the above mentioned pre-war series in South Africa, in New Zealand, England achieved a similar feat. England claimed margin victories in all three matches and in both the series, two innings victories were inclusive. Another one-sided affair was turned into a 3-0 clean sweep into England’s account. A team that was led by captain Ted Dexter. Even though New Zealand captain John Reid hit a captain’s knock of 100 in the third Test at Christchurch, the rest of the team were completely dissolved by the English bowlers thus claiming a big win of 7 wickets.


A spinners’ paradise – In Sri Lanka(2018)

England’s tour of Sri Lanka in 2018 turned out to be a paradise for the spinners. A total of 100 wickets were claimed by spinners in the three-match Test series out of total 111 bowler wickets. This hundred wickets tally is the most in any series of fewer than five matches. Out of these 100 wickets, 51 were claimed by the Sri Lankan spinners whereas the English spinners picked up 49 wickets. England thus achieved their third 3-0 away clean sweep, also their first ever in Asia, after a span of 55 years since the victory in New Zealand. This was yet another one-sided affair with the home team being given no chances for a comeback.

Spinners help England win series by 3-0 against Sri Lanka

Spinners help England win series by 3-0 against Sri Lanka



⚬ England clean sweeps Sri Lanka to win away series by 3 – 0


⚬ 100 wickets by spinners in this 3-match Test series


⚬ Ben Foakes was awarded as the player of the series


⚬ Joe Root’s team is the first English side to claim a clean sweep in Asia 


With the series won against Sri Lanka, thanks to the go-to spinner Jack Leach, England have rested front-line seamer, James Anderson. Stuart Broad was dropped from the England side for the first two Test matches to incorporate more spin options. Broad was called back in the third Test, a dead rubber, after James Anderson was rested. Consequently, Moeen Ali and Jack Leach helped England also win the third Test match, at Colombo by 42 runs. England thus achieved an away clean sweep of 3 – 0 against Sri Lanka for the first time in history.

The decision worked out fine for England as they have won the three-match Test series by 2-0. In fact, the second Test Match, at Pallekele, between Sri Lanka and England was witness to a new high for spinners. In the Test match between Sri Lanka and England, a total of 38 wickets were bagged by spinners from both teams combined. 

Although this Test series has no inputs to give to the cause of The Ashes or the World cup, England did set some major records in this series. 

England have now claimed three clean sweeps in away series of three or more Tests. Each of these away series wins of 3-0 has occurred with a gap of more than 50 years. The first time was against South Africa in 1895-96 and then against New Zealand in 1962-63.

English and Sri Lankan spinners in the Test series have claimed a combined 100 wickets out of total 111 bowler wickets taken in this series. This hundred wickets tally is the most in any series of fewer than five matches. Out of these 100 wickets, 51 were claimed by the Sri Lankan spinners at 31.56 whereas the English spinners sported a bowling average of 24.69 in their 49 wickets claimed. The second in the list for most wickets in any series of three or fewer Tests was 79, in the series played between New Zealand and Sri Lanka in 1998. 


Third Test scorecard: England 336 (Bairstow 110, Stokes 57, Sandakan 5-95) and 230 (Buttler 64, Dilruwan 5-88) beat Sri Lanka 240 (Karunaratne 83, de Silva 73, Rashid 5-49) and 284 (Mendis 86, Roshen 65, Leach 4-72, Moeen 4-92) by 42 runs

Most wickets by spinners in a Test match

Most wickets by spinners in a Test match

The recently concluded Test Match, at Pallekele, between Sri Lanka and England was witness to a new high for spinners. 

In the Test match between Sri Lanka and England, a total of 38 wickets were bagged by spinners from both teams combined. Amongst seamers, only Suranga Lakmal secured a single wicket. None of the English seamers could bag one. The remaining one wicket was a runout by Ben Stokes, dismissing Dimuth Karunaratne. 

There have been some other instances where spinners bagged almost all wickets in a Test match. Three of the top four of such incidents have happened in India. And of course, all of the top four in Asia. In all these cases, the hosts ended up on the losing side. 


Four times when spin took 35 wickets or more in a single Test match


38 wickets by spinners Sri Lanka v England at Pallekele, 2018/19

The Sri Lankan pitches are long known as the Spinners’ Paradise. Sri Lanka had just bid farewell to their frontline spinner Rangana Herath in the first Test match, at Galle. England dropped one of their frontline seamers Stuart Broad to accommodate Jack Leach in the eleven-man side. Turns out, it was the best decision that England made now that they have already won the three-match Test series 2-0. Man of the Match and skipper Joe Root made a cameo with the ball and bagged a wicket in the 2nd innings of the match.


37 wickets  India v New Zealand at Nagpur, 1969/70

Till date, out of the 34 matches played by New Zealand in India, they’ve emerged victorious only twice. This match was one of those rare couples of occasions. The match had witnessed 37 wickets bagged by spinners. New Zealand had won their first ever Test match in India by 167 runs. 


35 wickets  India v Australia at Kolkata, 1956/57

India first toured Australia in 1947-48 but it was not until 1956 that Australia first visited India. Australia had emerged victorious quite unexpectedly by a margin of 2-0 at the end of the series. The third Test match, at Eden Gardens in Kolkata, was witness to spin taking away 35 wickets out of 40. Australia had won that match by 94 runs.


35 wickets  India v Pakistan at Bengaluru, 1986/87

The fifth Test match between India and Pakistan that had started on March 13, 1987, was witness to another incident wherein spinners had bagged 35 wickets out of a total of 40. The Indian and Pakistani sides were led by Kapil Dev and Imran Khan respectively. Even though Pakistan had won the match by 16 runs, Sunil Gavaskar was adjudged the Man of the Match for his 21 and 96.



Match Players Balls Runs Wickets BBI BBM SR 5WI 10WM Start Date
SL vs ENG  9 1760 1031 38 6/115 8/153 46.3 2 0 14-Nov-18
India vs New Zealand 11 1910 677 37 Jun-74 9/100 51.6 2 0 3-Oct-69
India vs Australia 11 1533 552 35 Jul-49 11/105 43.8 3 2  2-Nov-56
India vs Pakistan 10 1530 527 35 27-Jul 10/126 43.7 3 1 13-Mar-87