The world's first ever Test match, between Australia and England, began on 15 March 1877 (Australia won by 45 runs). A century later, the same two countries staged the Centenary Test to commemorate; it was the world's 800th Test match (coincidentally, Australia won again, and again by 45 runs).
100 years, 800 Tests. 8 Tests a year.
Thirty years and a handful of months later, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are playing out the world's 1837th Test.
30 years since 1977, 1037 Tests. Nearly 35 Tests a year.
Why this spectacular leap in the frequency of Tests? Yes, since 1977 there have been new Test-playing countries, but only three (Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh). The other seven countries (England, Australia, South Africa, West Indies, New Zealand, Pakistan, India) had all started playing Tests well before 1977.
In any case, take away SL's 168, BD's 39 (after subtracting the ones played against SL) and Zim's 60 (after subtracting the ones played against SL and BD).
That still leaves us with:
30 years since 1977, 770 Tests. Nearly 26 Tests a year.
India and South Africa played a one-day match yesterday June 26. India's Tendulkar scored 99, Dravid 74, and nobody else made much of a contribution. Today's Hindustan Times report about the match speaks of Tendulkar, about the bowlers, about the South Africans ... but not one word about, or even mention of the name, Dravid.
During the match, in fact during the Tendulkar/Dravid partnership, I followed the ball-by-ball on cricinfo.com for an over or two. One of the comments that rolled across my screen was this: "Dravid very sluggish here". This was during the 36th over, immediately after Dravid had played 3 dot balls, hit the fourth for 2 runs, then played another dot ball.
That comment pushed me off my butt into something I simply love doing: making arcane calculations that nobody and her brother could possibly be interested in. Naturally, I thought I should post the results here.
At the moment the Cricinfo man said Dravid was sluggish, Dravid had scored 46 runs in 69 balls (strike rate 67). His partner, Tendulkar, was then on 69 off 117 balls (SR 59). Their partnership was then worth 101 runs. Of those, Dravid had scored his 46 in 69 (SR 67), Tendulkar 51 from 79 (SR 65).
When Dravid was out, he had scored 74 in 93 balls (SR 80). Of their partnership of 158, Tendulkar had contributed 77 in 101 (SR 76). Tendulkar was finally out for 99 in 143 balls (SR 69).
It's Dravid who gets called "sluggish". Not that he seems particularly bothered.
These days, it's common to hear how much cricket is played, how hectic the tours are. Yet consider this schedule for India's series-winning tour of England in 1971:
- Middlesex v Indians at Lord's, 23-25 Jun 1971
- Essex v Indians at Colchester, 26-29 Jun 1971
- DH Robins' XI v Indians at Eastbourne, 30 Jun-2 Jul 1971
- Kent v Indians at Canterbury, 3-6 Jul 1971
- Leicestershire v Indians at Leicester, 7-9 Jul 1971
- Warwickshire v Indians at Birmingham, 10-13 Jul 1971
- Glamorgan v Indians at Cardiff, 14-16 Jul 1971
- Hampshire v Indians at Bournemouth, 17-20 Jul 1971
- 1st Test: England v India at Lord's, 22-27 Jul 1971
- Minor Counties v Indians at Norwich, 28-30 Jul 1971
- Surrey v Indians at The Oval, 31 Jul-2 Aug 1971
- 2nd Test: England v India at Manchester, 5-10 Aug 1971
- Yorkshire v Indians at Leeds, 11-13 Aug 1971
- Nottinghamshire v Indians at Nottingham, 14-17 Aug 1971
- 3rd Test: England v India at The Oval, 19-24 Aug 1971
- Sussex v Indians at Hove, 25-27 Aug 1971
- Somerset v Indians at Taunton, 28-30 Aug 1971
- Worcestershire v Indians at Worcester, 1-3 Sep 1971
- TN Pearce's XI v Indians at Scarborough, 4-7 Sep 1971
First, check how many county matches India played. How many do we play today? Enough said.
Second, apart from a day before every Test and a couple of others here and there, the Indian team was playing every day for over three months. In most cases, a match would finish one day and another would start the next day. Who drew up such a punishing schedule?
Also, India fielded the same eleven for all three Tests.
That September, it must have been one tired squad that arrived back in India.