Only 15 men in Test history have achieved the double of 500 runs and 40 wickets in a calendar year but England look set to add three players to that exclusive list on their tour of India, and could reasonably lay claim to fielding one of the most versatile teams ever assembled in the game’s oldest format.
With two more Tests to play in 2016, England allrounders Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes are within touching distance of completing the rare feat.
Having notched five Test tons between them in 2016, Moeen (838 runs for the year) and Stokes (826 runs) have both gone well past the 500-run mark this year.
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Moeen needs six more wickets and Stokes eight to join the 500-run, 40 wicket club.
Woakes meanwhile claimed his 40th wicket for the year with the scalp of Murali Vijay in the third Test in Mohali and after his handy contributions of 25 and 30 in that match, the 27-year-old is now just 18 runs away from reaching 500 in 2016.
Leading allrounders in 2016 (as of December 2):
England’s contribution from their trio of allrounders is unprecedented; no Test nation has ever had two players, let alone three, pass 500 runs and 40 wickets in the same calendar year.
Mitchell Johnson achieved the double in 2009 after scoring exactly 500 runs to complement his 63 wickets for the year, becoming the first Australian to do so in almost a century.
The stellar all-round form of India’s Ravichandran Ashwin has seen him already pass both the 500-run and 40-wicket mark in 2016.
But in terms of a team having multiple players to achieve the feat in one calendar year, even with the bar lowered slightly to 300 runs and 30 wickets, only six sides in Test history – none of them Australian – have had two players accomplish that double.
England’s versatility is potentially unprecedented in the game’s history, especially when wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow’s tremendous year is added into the equation.
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Bairstow completed statistically the most prolific calendar year by a wicketkeeper in Test cricket in Mohali, after effecting his 68th dismissal in 2016 when he caught Umesh Yadav off Stokes on day three, taking him past the mark of 67 dismissals jointly-held by Ian Healy and Mark Boucher.
The English gloveman had already eclipsed the 1,045 run mark set by former Zimbabwe captain (and ex-England coach) Andy Flower in 2000 during England’s first Test against Bangladesh in November for the most runs by a ‘keeper in a single year.
But even though England’s batting depth is enviable – Jimmy Anderson was the only member of their XI in Mohali who didn’t have a first-class century to his name – Alastair Cook’s men have had middling results in 2016.
They’ve won just six of 15 Tests and are 2-0 down in their current series against India, with two more Tests to come.
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