Some cricketers just love playing against certain opposition teams, and they perform better against them than against everyone else, including supposedly weaker sides.
Why this is will vary from player to player. For some, it may be because that specific opposition plays in a fashion that suits their game. For others, it may be that they have developed a personal rivalry with players in the opposition side that spurs them on to a heightened level of performance. And then of course there are some statistical anomalies that simply cannot be explained.
For the five West Indian players below, three of which are currently in Jason Holder’s side, the stats clearly show England are their opposition of choice.
Marlon Samuels’ record against England is markedly superior to his record against the rest of the world. Against everyone except England, Samuels averaged 30.41 runs per knock in Tests, while against England he averaged 52.66. In 13 innings vs England he passed fifty five times, scoring two tons, and fell for less than 10 only twice. Excluding his 10 wickets vs Zimbabwe, the most wickets Samuels has taken against a single opposition is eight, against both England and India. However, his dismissals against England came from half the number of matches as they did against India.
Daren Sammy arguably enjoyed the most all-round uptick against England of any of the players in this list. The St. Lucian made 32.42 runs per knock in Tests vs England and 20.29 runs per innings against the rest of the world; in 2012 he scored his only Test hundred (106) came against England at Trent Bridge. With the ball, Sammy went for 27.78 runs per wicket against England and 37.40 against all other opponents; his best figures in an innings and match both came against England (7-66 and 8-98).
What’s more, the difference between Sammy’s batting and bowling average against England is far superior than against the rest of the world (4.64 vs -17.10).
The Barbadian, a regular fixture of Jason Holder’s side, has a good record in Tests vs England, compared to a frankly poor record for a No.3 against the rest of the world. Hope averages 38.07 against England (and 57.14 in England) and scored his only two Test hundreds in each innings against the same opposition at Headingley. Against the rest of the world, he averages only 23.02.
Add to the list of players who love playing England, Jermaine Blackwood. The Jamaican averages an astonishing 55 from eight matches against England, with his highest score and only Test hundred of 112* coming against them in Antigua in 2015. His joint-second highest Test score (95) also came against England only last week, showing his love of playing against them hasn’t faded. Blackwood’s record against every other opposition he’s played at Test level is pitiful in comparison: an average of 24 per innings with no tons.
Roston Chase, despite primarily being a batsman, has a noticeably improved bowling record against England. When facing the rest of the world Chase averages 41.01 runs per dismissal. Against England he goes for ten runs less per wicket – 31.05. In fact, over 30 per cent of Roston Chase’s wickets have come in Tests against England (19 out of 63). His best figures of 8-60 were taken in Bridgetown vs the same opposition.
From within the England camp, Chase has a particular favourite victim: Rory Burns. The Bajan has dismissed the Surrey batsman every time he’s bowled to him (3).