The ‘home of cricket’ has hosted 128 Tests since 1884, of which England have featured in 126. They have won 50 and lost 28, a fine record by all accounts. Not surprisingly then, nine of the 15 highest impact performances on this ground as per Impact Index are by Englishmen.
Then, two Australians and two Indians feature in the list – interesting considering this is not happy hunting ground for India – followed by a South African and a Pakistani.
Almost every name on the list is of an all-time great. There’s something about this venue, no doubt.
NOTE: In the lists below, a series-defining performance (SD) is marked with an asterisk.
All Impact numbers are in a match context, but in a career context, these numbers are capped at 5.
The highest impact batting performances
1) Jonathan Trott, 184 vs Pakistan,2010. Batting Impact 13.52
2) Stuart Broad, 169 vs Pakistan, 2010. Batting Impact 12.31
3) Bruce Mitchell, 30 and 164 not out vs England, 1935. Batting Impact 8.99 *
4) Greg Chappell, 131 and 7 not out vs England, 1972. Batting Impact 8.80
5) Colin Cowdrey, 152 vs West Indies, 1957. Batting Impact 8.40
The first two on this list are from the same match, a recent one more remembered now for the infamous spot-fixing scandal involving three Pakistan players. But that should not take away from the performances of Jonathan Trott and Stuart Broad. They came together at 102 for 7 when Mohammed Amir was running amok, but took the score to a record-breaking 434, before finally finishing with 446, so absolutely nobody else got runs. Pakistan were dismissed for 74 and 147, giving England a massive victory. Broad’s three wickets further gave him a high all-round impact. They ensured that England won the series 3-1.
The third innings 164 by Bruce Mitchell, the South African batting great, in a relatively low-scoring match – the innings totals were 228, 198, 278 and 151 – ensured he had a huge impact as opener. Given that this match offered the sole result in the four-Test series, in South Africa’s favour, this performance had a greater impact.
Greg Chappell’s masterpiece is now forgotten in ‘Massie’s Test’ (more on that soon) but his 134, after he came in at 7 for 2 and later stabilising from a precarious 84 for 4, played a huge role in Australia getting to 308 with a 36-run lead on a wicket not that easy to bat on. The double-figure target for them in the fourth innings was largely the result of Chappell’s six-hour effort and Massie’s bowling, serving to increase Chappell’s impact numbers in the game. This was Australia’s first win in a series, which they would eventually draw 2-2.
Colin Cowdrey’s performance in the second Test came after England had got out of jail and turned the tables in the previous Test, coming close to a win. Here, after dismissing West Indies for 127, England were 34 for 3 when Cowdrey walked in. With Peter Richardson and later Godfrey Evens, the wicketkeeper, Cowdrey batted for almost six hours to help take England to a score where they wouldn’t have to bat again. It set the tone for utter domination in the series; England would win by an innings twice more – and the series 3-0.
NOTABLE OMMISSION: Graham Gooch, 333 and 123 vs India, 1990. Batting Impact 5.41
Even though this is the highest individual tally of runs in a single match in Test history, it does not make it to this list purely because of what a high-scoring match it was. Over four innings, 1603 runs were scored on that pitch at 57 a wicket. Four others scored centuries and three half-centuries. So, Gooch shared his impact with those batsmen too.
The highest impact bowling performances
1) Bob Massie, 8 for 84 and 8 for 53 vs England, 1972. Bowling Impact 9.18
2) Derek Underwood, 5 for 20 and 8 for 51 vs Pakistan, 1974. Bowling Impact 8.74
3) Derek Underwood, 4 for 38 and 7 for 32 vs New Zealand, 1969, 1969. Bowling Impact 8.45
4) Hedley Verity, 7 for 61 and 8 for 43 vs Australia, 1934. Bowling Impact 8.24
5) Roy Tattersall, 7 for 52 and 5 for 49 vs South Africa, 1951. Bowling Impact 7.55
How interesting that four of the five highest performances are by spinners. The sole exception is Bob Massie. With his twin eight-wicket hauls on his Test debut at 25, the Australian proved to be a one-hit wonder, as his form deteriorated so rapidly after this that he played just five more Tests. But here, he upstaged even Dennis Lillee as England collapsed for 116 in their second outing.
Derek Underwood’s performances against Pakistan and New Zealand five years apart suggest what a giant he was for that era of English cricket. Against Pakistan, in a strange all-drawn series, the visitors were dismissed for 130 and 226, leaving England 87 to make off 10 overs. But 35 years before T20 exploded, they could make only 27 for no loss. Against New Zealand, Underwood was aided by some fine English batting in the third innings, led by John Edrich. The target for New Zealand was 362, not too intimidating, but thanks to Underwood’s seven, they folded for 131.
Hedley Verity came in to bowl his left-arm orthodox spin with the backing of England’s first innings score of 440 in the second Test of the first series after Bodyline. Australia had won the first Test convincingly, but here, his 7 for 61 dismissed Australia for 284, requiring them to follow on (it was a four-day game). Verity was in his element again, taking eight this time as Australia collapsed, shockingly, for 118 after being 94 for 4. Unfortunately for England, this would be the last highpoint in a series they would lose 1-2.
Roy Tattersall, the offspinner, played just 16 Tests for England but his most memorable moment marked an important turnaround for his team. After losing the first Test to South Africa, England were dismissed for 311 in the first innings of the second Test. Tattersall came on early and bowled 28 overs, going for 52 and taking seven wickets for his best figures in Test cricket, as South Africa collapsed for 115. They followed on and managed 211, again failing to negotiate Tattersall with his tail up. He got five more. England would go on to dominate the series thereafter, winning 3-1.
The highest impact all-round performances
1) Ian Botham, 0 for 17, 8 for 34 and 108 vs Pakistan, 1978. Overall Impact 13.42
2) Ian Botham, 5, 85 and 5 for 109, 2 for 49 vs Australia, 1985. Overall Impact 9.83
3) Kapil Dev, 41, 89 and 5 for 125, 3 for 43 v England, 1982. Overall Impact 8.46
4) Wasim Akram, 24, 45 and 2 for 49, 4 for 66 vs England,1992. Overall Impact 8.17
5) Vinoo Mankad, 5 for 196, 0 for 35 and 72, 184 vs England,1952. Overall Impact 7.72
Four all-time great allrounders populate this list, with three from the subcontinent. All of them were in their prime when these performance happened, suggesting a certain awareness of occasion and venue too.
Ian Botham’s two performances came in a space of seven years, an indication of his domination in world cricket. First, in 1978, playing in just his third series and seventh Test, Botham came out to bat at 134 for 5 and produced a run-a-ball century to demoralise the opposition and help take his team to 364. Bob Willis and Phil Edmonds reduced Pakistan to 105 and Botham came back to the party thereafter as he took eight wickets in Pakistan’s collapse of 139.
Against Australia in 1985, Botham’s five wickets could not prevent a 135-run deficit. He came out to bat next at 98 for 6, match all but gone, and produced a relatively patient 85, helping give England something decent to bowl at. Then, he snuffed out both openers before Australia reached double digits, though Australia, thanks to captain Border, eventually won by four wickets. England would later come back strongly to win the series 3-1.
Kapil Dev too produced an underrated classic in a losing cause. England were 166 for 6 at one stage; Kapil Dev having taken five of those wickets. They got away though, through Derek Randall and Phil Edmonds, with a massive 433 and then India collapsed to 128 with Kapil getting 41, the second-highest score. Only two batsmen reached double figures; Sunil Gavaskar with 48 the other one. India followed on and the two highest scorers were Dilip Vengsarkar with 157 and Kapil Dev with 89. Then Kapil came out and reduced England to 18 for 3, before England managed the 73 to win by seven wickets.
In his first Test series after the ODI World Cup final where he was clearly at his career’s peak, Wasim Akram produced a remarkable performance more notable for his less famous skill – batting. He had taken six wickets in the low-scoring match and Pakistan had been set an ostensibly gettable 138 to win. At 18 for 3, the jitters were more than apparent. At 62 for 5, when Akram walked out to bat, England seemed on the ascendancy; at 95 for 8, the match looked over. But, with his bowling partner-in-crime, Waqar Younis, (both would later win Man-of-the-Series awards) Akram guided his team with a 64-ball 45 to a famous victory to take the lead in the series they would eventually win 2-1.
Vinoo Mankad’s performance here is one of India’s all-time classics. Opening the batting, first he top-scored with 72 as India managed 235, then took five wickets as England amassed 537. Then he came out top of the order again and scored 184 out of 378 but could only delay the inevitable England win as they made 79 to win by eight wickets, in a series India would lose 0-3.
(Jaideep Varma, Soham Sarkhel)