The most experienced team

I am currently reading Graeme Yallop’s book, titled Silence of the Lambs – his account of the events of the summer of 1978-79. It details his rise to captain during the height of the turmoil caused by World Series Cricket. I have found the book quite startling because of Yallop’s informal and candid approach – the style is very conversational and is full of colloquialisms. I would be quite sure that Yallop penned the book himself. It was also very controversial when published (which is probably why a publisher backed it) and while Yallop’s openness and honesty is disarming, admirable (Yallop is quite sharing about other players, selectors, the ACB, umpires, media and opposition players), it is incredible (and was somewhat naive on Yallop’s part) to think that the book was published in the early stages of his career. A career that he hoped would be long and successful. Given cricket hierarchy’s past treatment of anyone who dared to openly criticise them, it is a wonder that Yallop ever played for his country again!

I intend to discuss some of the things in Yallop’s book at a later stage as there are some very interesting insights. However, this is a pretty simple email.

Yallop makes the point that before the 1st Ashes Test of 1978-79, the Australian team for that Test could scrape together a total of just 55 Tests between them. The opposing English team (which was far less affected by WSC) totalled 298 matches – a great deal more. That lead me to think of what was the most experienced team (in total Tests played) ever to take to a cricket field.

To put England’s 298 into perspective, consider that Steve Waugh, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne have a total of 354 matches between them!

I don’t know the answer to which team was the most experienced. Cricinfo does not have any records in that area. And you cannot go to a particular match and request the Test match count for the team at that time.

The 3rd Test team of the Ashes series that just concluded included McGrath and Warne (Warne missed the last two tests and McGrath missed the last) had played a total of 635 matches. Not bad but Lehmann (8 Tests) had just replaced Mark Waugh (128 Tests) so let’s go back to Pakistan.

The 1st Test team of: Langer, Hayden, Ponting, Waugh M, Waugh S, Martyn, Gilchrist, Warne, Lee, Gillespie and McGrath had played a total of 709 matches before the start of that Test. That’s an average of 64.2 matches per player – comfortably more than the team total of Yallop’s band of men!

I don’t know, but I wouldn’t mind betting that this team was the most experienced Test cricket team to take a field. Perhaps the West Indian team of the mid to late eighties may rival this, but given the greater number of Tests played today, I doubt it.

Does anyone know the highest team total of matches played?

PS: I chose the 1st Test in Pakistan because Bichel (with just a handful of Tests) replaced Gillespie (34 Tests at that time) for the 2nd and 3rd Tests.

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