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World Test Championship

Stats breakdown: England smash records in Test form turnaround

By Mazher Arshad

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A remarkable turnaround in form has seen England break several Test match records - we crunch the numbers on their stunning streak.

England men’s Test team are on a roll with four consecutive victories on home soil – one against India and three against New Zealand. 

With four successful fourth-innings run chases in as many games and batters in fantastic form, England have broken numerous records.  

A dream run chase

England scaled a mammoth target of 378 against India in Birmingham to draw the five-Test series 2-2 and gain 12 points in the ICC World Test Championship. 

It is the highest successful chase in England’s Test history, beating 359 against Australia in Leeds in the 2019 Ashes.

No team before had chased a target in excess of 350 against India in Tests, the previous highest being 339 by Australia in Perth’s iconic WACA ground in 1977.

It is also the eighth-highest chase in Test cricket and the second-highest on English soil, after Don Bradman led Australia’s 404 against England in Leeds in the 1948 Ashes.

A unique streak

England are the first team in the history of Test cricket to successfully chase 250-plus targets in four consecutive attempts. 

Before chasing 378 against India at Edgbaston, England mounted 296 at Headingley, 299 at Trent Bridge and 277 at Lord’s - all three efforts coming in victories over New Zealand last month.

The next best 250-plus chase streak is three games, by Australia on two different occasions -  against South Africa twice and Bangladesh in 2006, and against England, South Africa and West Indies between 1948 and 1951.

England’s current streak also means that four of their top 14 successful chases in their 145 years’ Test history have come in the last 30 days. 

In these four chases, they have racked up 1252 runs for the loss of 16 fourth-innings wickets, averaging 78.25 runs per wicket in what is typically the most difficult innings to bat in when playing in Tests.

These are astonishing numbers considering England started their home season on the back of just one win in 17 Tests and were sitting at the last position in the ICC World Test Championship standings last month.

The turnaround in fortunes has been built on an aggressive intent and fearless philosophy, fondly known as ‘BazBall’, which was brought to England’s dressing room by their new coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes.

England’s successful chases in Tests this summer

Target

Opponent

Venue

277

New Zealand

London (Lord’s)

299

New Zealand

Nottingham

296

New Zealand

Leeds

378

India

Birmingham

Architect of chases

While there are many factors behind England’s successful run, the two batters leading the charge are Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow. 

Both scored unbeaten centuries, 142 for Root and 114 for Bairstow, in the historic chase against India in Birmingham.

Bairstow also scored 136 in the chase against New Zealand in Nottingham last month and before him Root knocked 115 not out against New Zealand at Lord’s in the same series. 

It is the first time in Test cricket that a team has produced four centuries in fourth innings in a calendar year.

Root and Bairstow shared an unbeaten stand of 269 against India which is England’s highest partnership in a successful chase in Test cricket.

All England batters combined have piled up 1546 runs in fourth innings in Tests in 2022, the highest sum in chases by a team in a calendar year. The previous record was 1462 runs by Pakistan batters in 2010.

With two more three-Test series this year - against South Africa and Pakistan and both part of the ICC World Test Championship - England batters might finish 2022 with over 2000 runs in chases.

Root (1744 runs) and Bairstow (1218) are also the top-two run-getters in the current cycle of the ICC World Test Championship.

Most runs in ICC World Test Championship 2021-23

Batter

Innings

Runs

Average

Centuries

Joe Root (ENG)

31

1744

64.59

8

Jonny Bairstow (ENG)

25

1218

55.36

6

Litton Das (BAN)

18

883

49.05

3

Usman Khawaja (AUS)

11

822

117.42

4

Kraigg Brathwaite (WI)

18

752

50.13

1

* to 6 July 2022

Bairstow’s purple patch

Jonny Bairstow is in the form of his life after often failing to convince in his Test career for nine years. 

In Bairstow’s last 5 innings he has accumulated 589 runs which equates to 10.88 percent of his all Test runs (5415) in a career spanning over 10 years and 87 Tests.

The Yorkshireman has scored six centuries in eight Tests this year - the same number of centuries he had in the previous 79 Tests of his career.

Bairstow is only the fourth England batter to have six centuries in a year, after Root in 2021, Michael Vaughan in 2002 and Denis Compton in 1947.

The 32-year-old scored tons in both innings in Birmingham, becoming the first England batter since Andrew Strauss against India in Chennai in 2008 to hit twin centuries in a Test.

With 994 runs at an average of 76.46, Bairstow is also the highest run-scorer in Test cricket in 2022 and has hit second most sixes (18) after captain Ben Stokes (19).

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India caught off guard

India were in a commanding position at the end of England’s first innings with a lead of 132 runs.

It was hard to imagine they would lose from that position as they had never before lost a Test after gaining 100-plus runs lead when batting first. Of the previous 94 Tests when they had 100-plus lead, India had won 58, drawn 36 and lost none.

On the first day alone, India had put on 338 runs – their highest ever tally on the opening day of a Test match in England.

After losing 98/5, India recovered well to finish at 416 in the first innings thanks to centuries by Rishabh Pant (146) and Ravindra Jadeja (104).

Pant’s ton came off just 89 balls, the fastest by an India keeper in Test cricket to surpass MS Dhoni’s 93-ball century against Pakistan in Faisalabad in 2006.

That 416 is the second-highest first innings total in India’s Test history that resulted in a loss.- the highest being 424 against Australia in Bangalore in 1998.

India's biggest leads batting first and ending in Test defeat

Lead

Opponent

Venue

Year

132

England

Birmingham

2022

53

Australia

Adelaide

2020

49

South Africa

Wankhede

2000

41

South Africa

Cape Town

2007

24

Australia

Bangalore

1998

 

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