Three ducks take England closer to an unwelcome Test record

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  • Joe Root
    Joe Root
    English cricketer (born 1990)

England are on course to set an unwanted record for the most Test ducks in a single year after another raft of failures during the opening day of the first Ashes Test in Brisbane.

Opener Rory Burns fell to the first ball of the series when bowled by Mitchell Starc, while captain Joe Root and Ollie Robinson also failed to trouble the scorers at the Gabba.

Those shortcomings took the number of ducks by England Test batters in 2021 to 46 – the second-worst total ever for the nation.

Only the 1998 vintage suffered more scores of zero in a single year, with an astonishing 54 in 16 Tests.

And with another two Ashes Tests ahead this year, as well as the second innings in Brisbane to navigate, that unwanted record could well be under threat.

Here, the PA news agency takes a closer look at England’s glut of ducks during 2021.

Tale of woe

England’s Sam Curran in action against Pakistan at Headingley
Sam Curran has been out for three ducks in 2021 (Martin Rickett/PA)

The rot has well and truly set in for England since Sam Curran’s first-ball dismissal against Sri Lanka in Galle in January – and Dom Bess’ shambolic scoreless run-out in the following over.

There was more trouble during the second innings of the second Test defeat to India at Lord’s in August – with Burns, Dominic Sibley, Sam Curran and tailender Jimmy Anderson all out for nought as England were dismissed for just 120.

It was the fourth time this year that four England batters in the same innings have been dismissed without scoring.

The same happened in the second-innings 81 all out in Ahmedabad in February, the first innings of June’s draw with New Zealand at Lord’s and the first innings of the India series at Trent Bridge.

The culprits

Dan Lawrence, left, and Rory Burns
Dan Lawrence, left, and Rory Burns have frequently fallen without scoring (Mike Egerton/Tim Goode/PA)

England’s recognised batters have been largely responsible for the alarming number of ducks – in contrast to 1998, when tail-enders Alan Mullally, Andy Caddick and Phil Tufnell did their bit to inflate the figures.

This time around, Burns has six ducks, with opening partner Sibley, Jonny Bairstow, inexperienced middle-order batter Dan Lawrence and bowler Anderson all having four.

Root’s duck against Australia was his first of the year and saw the captain become the 19th different England batter to fall without managing a run on the board.

England’s Joe Root walks off after being dismissed during day one of the first Ashes Test in Brisbane
Joe Root’s duck saw the captain become the 19th different England batter to fall without managing a run on the board (Jason O’Brien/PA)

Sam Curran and Robinson have failed to trouble the scorers on three occasions each, as has tail-ender Stuart Broad.

Two each from Zak Crawley, Haseeb Hameed, James Bracey – in just three innings – and bowler Jofra Archer have added to the tally.

The 1998 figures show five ducks each for Mike Atherton, Mark Butcher and Mullally, four from Caddick and three each for Nasser Hussain, Graham Thorpe, Graeme Hick, Jack Russell and Tufnell, with a dozen other batters dismissed without scoring at least once.

How they compare

Most Test ducks by a team in a calendar year infographic
PA Graphics

The total of 46 is more ducks than all but three other Test-playing nations have ever had in a single year – South Africa’s worst tally is 29 while Pakistan and Zimbabwe have never surpassed 30.

The West Indies collectively made 44 ducks in 2000 with Australia in 1999 the only other team to reach 40 in a single year.

India’s worst figures were 39 in 2018 and 37 in 2002.

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