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Wisden’s Rivalry specialists Test XI

Sarah Waris by Sarah Waris
@swaris16 6 minute read

A few players relish playing against their biggest rivals, raising their game to the next level. We have picked an XI of cricketers who might not have had great Test careers but managed to shine against their arch-rivals.

For this purpose, we have considered performances only against a team’s biggest rivals. The numbers of India players against Pakistan and vice versa have been considered. New Zealand’s biggest rivals are Australia, and the performances of Kiwi players against Australia have been considered. West Indies have a long history with England, and we have taken into account the performances of the players from the Caribbean against them. Australia and England’s showings against New Zealand and West Indies, respectively, have not been counted as their biggest rivalry is in the Ashes.

Shaun Marsh – Australia

v ENG: 447 runs @ 55.87, 100s: 2

Marsh played 38 Tests but was unable to leave his mark, averaging just over 34 with six hundreds in all. However, he seemed to elevate his game when playing in the Ashes. Against England, he made 447 runs, with two of his six tons coming against the rivals. Marsh played six Ashes Tests, making 51, 126*, 19, 28, 61, 4 and 156 against them in his last seven innings.


Jack Richards – England (wk)

v AUS: 264 runs @ 37.71, 100s: 1

Richards’ case is a unique one. His average of 37.71 against Australia might not be eye-catching, but when his performances against other teams are considered, he does earn a spot in this XI. Richards played eight Tests, including one against Pakistan and two against West Indies. He averaged 4 against the Asian side, and 3.25 against West Indies. Still, Richards’ Test average is a little under 22, courtesy of his showing against Australia.

Sanjay Manjrekar – India

v PAK: 569 runs @ 94.83, 100s: 2

Manjrekar has the highest average in all India-Pakistan Tests among batters who have made at least 500 runs. Overall, Manjrekar made four hundreds in his career, two of which came against Pakistan and one each against Zimbabwe and West Indies. If his performances against India’s arch-rivals aren’t considered, his Test average is 30.08.

Marlon Samuels – West Indies

v ENG: 632 runs @ 52.66, 100s: 2

Samuels was inconsistent in Test cricket, averaging 32.64 in 71 Tests. He consistently struggled against higher-ranked sides – Australia (average of 22.10), India (31.25), Pakistan (25.75) and New Zealand (29.09). But he reserved his best for England, against whom he averaged close to 53. In 13 innings, he crossed 50 five times against them, including making a hundred twice.

Dean Brownlie – New Zealand

v AUS: 196 runs @ 65.33, 50s: 2

Brownlie played only two Tests against Australia, but made an impact, making 77*, 42, 56 and a fighting 69-ball 21 in four innings. All games came on the tour in 2011/12, but his overall lacklustre performances against other teams meant that he played only 14 matches for New Zealand. He did not cross 40 in his last eight Test innings and ended with a career average of 29.62.

Yuvraj Singh – India

v PAK: 572 runs @ 63.55, 100s: 3

Yuvraj scored three Test centuries in his career, all of which came against Pakistan. He also had three fifties against the arch-rivals, taking his average against the team to nearing 64. The white-ball giant was unable to transform his success into the longer format otherwise, averaging 33.92 after 40 games. Against all other teams except Pakistan, the left-hander made 1,328 runs at an average of 28.25.

Darren Sammy – West Indies

v ENG: 227 runs @ 32.42, 100s: 1
14 wickets @ 27.78, BBI: 7-66

Sammy’s only Test hundred came against England, in 2012, when he made 106 at Nottingham. It took his batting average against the side to over 32, which is his second-highest against any team after his 41 against Zimbabwe. Overall, Sammy has a batting average of 21.68.

With the ball, Sammy averaged 35.79 in 38 Tests but was effective against England. His best Test figures of 7-66 came on his maiden tour to the country in 2007. He picked up at least a wicket in all but one innings in which he bowled against England.

John Bracewell – New Zealand

v AUS: 38 wickets @ 26.42, BBI: 6-32

Bracewell averaged 35.81 with the ball in 41 Tests, picking up 102 wickets, 38 of which came against Australia. He took his most wickets in the format against the Trans-Tasman rivals and did not have an average fewer than 30 against any other side. The spinner’s sole ten-wicket match-haul came against Australia.

Bracewell also has a knock of 83* against the Aussies.

Geoff Miller – England

v AUS: 39 wickets @ 21.94, BBI: 5-44

Miller is one of two specialist spinners in our side. The England bowler picked up one five-for in his career, against Australia, against whom he also registered his best average. Miller picked up 39 wickets in the Ashes – against no other team did he pick up more than eight wickets.

Venkatesh Prasad – India

v PAK: 11 wickets @ 19.09, BBI: 6-33

Prasad played three Tests against Pakistan, picking up 11 wickets. The quick averaged 35 in his career of 33 matches, including over 40 against Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and West Indies, but was at his lethal best against Pakistan. Prasad also registered his best bowling figures of 6-33 against Pakistan, at Chennai in 1999.

Khan Mohammad – Pakistan

v IND: 24 wickets @ 16.75, BBI: 5-73

Twenty-four of Mohammad’s 54 wickets came against India, with the right-arm fast bowler picking up at least two wickets against the team in seven out of nine innings. Two of his four Test five-fors were against India as well. He has the best bowling average amongst all players from the two countries who have at least 10 wickets in India-Pakistan matches.

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