Virat Kohli created a buzz on the first morning of the 2018 Southampton Test when he retained a playing XI from the previous Test for the first time in 39 matches since taking over as India's Test captain. Was that the longest any captain had gone before playing the same set of 11 players? In this week's Did You Know, we explore this question and other interesting bits about playing XIs in Test cricket.
11 Most matches played together by a set of 11 players - by a West Indies XI under Viv Richards in the late-1980s through to the early-'90s.
Teams that are successful are likely to field the same XI more often than ones that aren't. So not surprisingly, the second-most frequent XI was fielded by Steve Waugh in the early 2000s. He led a team that had Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Ricky Ponting, Mark Waugh, Adam Gilchrist, Damien Martyn, Shane Warne, Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie and Glenn McGrath in nine Tests. There have been three instances of a playing XI playing six matches together - two of them for South Africa, once under Percy Sherwell and Graeme Smith each, and another for England under Michael Vaughan.
6 Most successive Tests played by the same XI for a team. Vaughan chose to play the same team for six straight Tests between March 2008 and July 2008. There have been a few stretches of a team playing the same XI over five consecutive Tests, the last of which was an Australia XI led by Michael Clarke in the 2013-14 Ashes whitewash of England. Graeme Smith fielded the same XI in five consecutive Tests thrice as captain.
639 Unique XIs played by Australia in their 830-match history. Expressed as a percentage of matches played, Australia's 76.99% is the least among all teams. Bangladesh are on the other end of the spectrum, having fielded 116 unique XIs in 119 Tests. They have fielded three of their 116 unique XIs twice each, while the rest of their 113 Tests have been played with different teams. Bangladesh have never played the same XI in more than two Tests.
43 Longest streak of successive Tests by a captain without fielding the same XI, which was by Smith, who didn't retain his team from the previous match until his 44th Test for South Africa as captain (he led the ICC XI for a match in between which is not counted here). Brian Lara didn't retain his playing XI for 40 consecutive Tests from his fourth Test to his 43rd. Kohli did the same in his first 38 Tests. Both Lara and Kohli fielded different XIs in every match in their respective streaks. None of their XIs (40 and 38) had the same set of 11 players.
75 Most consecutive matches for a team fielding different XIs. England had two stretches of 75 matches by different XIs between 1931 to 1948 and 1966 to 1974. Currently, Bangladesh are on a streak of 62 consecutive Tests where they have not retained their XI from the previous match. The last time they fielded the same XI in successive Tests was in December 2008.
4 Most consecutive matches played by the same XI for an Asian team. India, under Sunil Gavaskar, fielded the same XI in the first four matches of the 1979-80 home series against Pakistan, which is the highest by an Asian side. Another set of 11 India players have played four matches together, not in a row though, under Mohammad Azharuddin.
92.7 Percentage of matches in which Kohli has fielded unique XIs as captain in Tests (51 different XIs in 55 Tests) - the highest among all captains who have led in 50-plus matches. Mike Atherton and Arjuna Ranatunga also have fielded unique XIs in over 90% of their matches. Vaughan has fielded the least percentage of unique XIs - 31 in 51 matches. Waugh and Richards are the others who have fielded less than 65% of unique XIs.