The lowest Test totals in living memory, now featuring England

In the first innings of their two Test Series against New Zealand, England entered the record books for all the wrong reasons. They were routed for 58 runs in just 20.4 overs by Tim Southee and Trent Boult, in the process scoring the 11th lowest Test innings score this century, and the third lowest this century by an England team.

It could have been much, much worse too. When Kane Williamson took an incredible one handed catch to dismiss Stuart Broad for England’s fifth duck of the innings, the visitors found themselves at 9/27. At this stage, they were just a solitary run ahead of the lowest total in Test history, which was coincidentally scored by New Zealand back in 1955. Craig Overton swung his bat for a little while en route to 33* off 25, saving what little respect England had left by this point.

Such was the domination, at no point was captain Williamson forced to change his bowlers. Boult and Southee opened and closed the innings, and no other bowler needed to be called upon to demolish the visitors.

The amazing collapse triggered memories of similarly embarrassing innings’, so we thought it would be an appropriate time to have a look back at some of the lowest totals in recent history.

New Zealand (45) vs South Africa, 2013

As unfair as it feels to recount one of New Zealand cricket’s worst moments in the wake of one of it’s finest, this is the lowest Test total of the 21st century, and needs to be mentioned in this list.

The Kiwis headed to South Africa for a two-test series, kicking off on January 2, with high hopes for the 2013 calendar year. Within 100 minutes though, those hopes were shattered. In just 19.2 overs, their batting lineup was decimated by Steyn, Philander and Morkel for a measly total of just 45 runs. Williamson was the only player to reach double figures, and no single partnership lasted for more than 3 overs or 7 runs.

South Africa went on to declare at 8/347, just to prove that the pitch was playing reasonably well, before finishing off New Zealand for 275 in their second dig to win by an innings and 27 runs.

Australia (47) vs South Africa, 2011

Once again, it was South Africa doing the damage in the second lowest Test innings total of this century. Pretty unsurprising when you look at their bowling lineup – again it was Steyn, Philander and Morkel picking up the ten wickets, and amazingly, the spread of wickets was identical to in the New Zealand game. Steyn grabbed two, Philander five, and Morkel three.

In this game, the situation was a little different. Australia batted first and scored 284, thanks largely to 151 runs from captain Michael Clarke. South Africa’s innings which followed didn’t go so well. Ryan Harris picked up 4/33 and Shane Watson 5/17 as the Aussies cleaned up their opponents for just 96 runs.

At this point things obviously looked pretty dire for the home side, but they turned around quickly once Australia’s second innings got under way. Within 11.4 overs, Australia had been reduced to 9/21, and were staring down the barrel of the lowest ever Test total. Thanks to Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon’s double figure heroics, they managed to work their way to 47 runs, but it was all for nought as they were beaten soundly by eight wickets.

West Indies (47) vs England, 2004

In 2004, the West Indies were still a reasonable Test cricket side. Brian Lara was at number four, was surrounded by Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, and Chris Gayle was opening the batting. The 2004 four match series was not expected to be a walkover, and two innings into the first Test things were delicately poised. The West Indies scored 311 in the first innings, to which England replied with 339.

The 28 run deficit didn’t seem like a lot, but as it turned out, it was almost enough for an innings victory. Lara, Chanderpaul and Sarwan failed to score between the three of them, and the home side was bowled out in a little over two hours for 47 on the back of an incredible 7/12 effort by Steve Harmison. This meagre total gave the West Indies a 20 run lead, which England’s openers managed to knock off in 15 balls. After looking like a 50/50 game following each side’s first innings, this match was wrapped up just 134 minutes later.

Pakistan (49) vs South Africa, 2013

South Africa again! This was the second time in a month that South Africa restricted a team to under 50 runs, and the third time in a little over a year. It was Dale Steyn’s turn in this game, as he ended this innings with the remarkable figures of 8.1 overs, 6 maidens, 6 wickets for 8 runs.

The situation: once again this was the first Test of a series, as with all the innings’ in this list. Pakistan headed to South Africa for a three Tests, and the home side opened proceedings after winning the toss and electing to bat. Behind an array of scores between 20 and 50, they were bowled out for 253 in almost exactly a single day’s play.

Pakistan started their first batting innings of the series, and after nearly 20 overs were perched at 3-36: not ideal by any stretch of the imagination, but still salvageable. 44 balls of carnage followed as first Kallis, then Philander, then Steyn picked up two wickets each in quick succession. These 6 wickets came at the cost of just 5 runs, reducing Pakistan to 9/41. They meandered their way to 49, where their innings concluded.

South Africa continued the punishment by quickly knocking out 275/3 at a rate of 4.43 RPO before declaring, and eventually winning by 211 runs.

After losing the Ashes 4-0 in Australia over the Southern Hemisphere summer, England have plenty of work to do to show they are capable of being a decent Test side, and kicking off their series in New Zealand by being rolled for 58 certainly doesn’t help their cause. Fortunately they have another Test in which to redeem themselves, but for the time being, things aren’t looking too pretty for the Poms. They can, at least, be thankful for Craig Overton, the man whose 33* saved a proud cricketing nation from putting up the lowest total in Test cricket history.

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