Partnership (cricket)

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Harbhajan Singh and Sachin Tendulkar support each other mid-innings.

In the sport of cricket, two batsmen always bat in partnership, although only one is on strike at any time. The partnership between two batsmen will come to an end when one of them is dismissed or retires, or the innings comes to a close (usually due to victory being achieved, a declaration, a time or over limit being reached, or the match being abandoned in mid-innings for inclement weather or, exceptionally, dangerous playing conditions). Various statistics may be used to describe a partnership, most notably the number of runs scored during it (either by the batsmen or as extras), the duration of the partnership both in time (usually quoted in minutes) and number of deliveries (balls) faced. Partnerships are often described as being for a particular wicket (for example, a "third wicket partnership", also called a "third wicket stand" - in this context, the "opening partnership" between the two opening batsmen is the "first wicket partnership"). This has the anomalous result that a partnership may be between more than two batsmen, if one of the original batsmen retires hurt but not out, since the particular numbered wicket will not have fallen yet.

Batting in partnership[edit]

Batting in partnership is an important skill. When two higher-order batsmen (usually these are the side's best batsmen) are together, they are largely free to play to their own styles (which may be quite different: Marcus Trescothick, an aggressive strokeplayer and Mike Atherton, a defensive stonewaller, enjoyed many successful opening partnerships for England) although "rotating the strike" (each allowing the other play to face the bowler regularly) is encouraged, and communication when calling runs is an important part of any partnership. Opening partnerships are entrusted with seeing off the new ball, later partnerships are largely charged with consolidation, often facing an aging ball, spin bowling and eventually the second new ball.

The concept of batting in partnership becomes even more vital once only one recognised quality batsman remains. His job is then to shepherd the tail-end batsmen, while attempting to eke out as many runs as possible, or simply to survive as long as possible when merely attempting to save the game. This usually involves attempting to minimise risk, by exposing the lesser batsmen to as little bowling as possible. To do this, boundaries and twos are preferred while singles are avoided in the early parts of an over (although this allows the fielding captain to set his field further back into a more defensive position, often tempting the batsman with an easy single) but because the bowling end changes at the end of an over, it is necessary to score a single (or much more rarely, three runs) to counteract this. While a single on the sixth and final ball of the over would be ideal, the field is usually set closer to make this harder and the batsman may prefer to rotate the strike on the fifth or even fourth ball, hoping that the tail-ender can survive for a delivery or two, rather than risking either having to take a dangerous run on the last ball (with the attendant risk of a run out) or not being able to get a single at all, leaving the tail-ender stranded on strike for the start of the next over (hence allowing up to six balls to be bowled at him).

Style of play[edit]

Unsurprisingly, lower order partnerships are usually much smaller than those for the early wickets, but are often the most tactically intense. A lot of spectator enjoyment derives either from the frequent combination of a last recognised batsman adopting extremely aggressive play (in an effort to score as many runs as possible before he runs out of batting partners - one reason why aggressive batsmen like Andrew Flintoff and Adam Gilchrist are often deliberately placed relatively low in the batting order) and the constant risk of a wicket, the alternative situation where no recognised batsmen remains and the tail-enders (relieved of their responsibility to bat carefully for anybody else) often unleash their rarely seen arsenal of attacking shots, or alternatively the extremely tense situation which sometimes emerges towards the end of a match when a batting side, facing defeat, can only salvage a draw and save the match by batting to the end of the final day, which becomes difficult once the worst batsmen are in, and their survival is always nerve-wracking — English fans fondly remember the last wicket stand of Angus Fraser and Robert Croft, batting out the last few overs of the drawn Third Test against South Africa at Old Trafford in 1998, when the dismissal of either of them would have resulted in a loss. This contrasts with the spirit of earlier wicket partnerships, where the batsmen usually dominate and the bowlers have to work especially hard to take their wickets.

Effect on the opposition[edit]

Large partnerships do more than simply add runs to the scoreboard, they may also serve to exhaust and demoralise the fielding team. Both of these were major factors at the famous Test match at Eden Gardens in 2001, when India's V. V. S. Laxman and Rahul Dravid put on a fifth wicket stand of 376 runs, staying at the crease for the entire fourth day's play without being dismissed. Despite having forced their opponents to follow on, Steve Waugh's highly regarded Australians were left emotionally and physically drained, slumping to a shock heavy (171 run) defeat. Even if nowhere near as damaging numerically, larger-than-expected last wicket stands can still be very demoralising, especially because as soon as the Number 11 batsman walks out of the pavilion, many of the fielders expect to be batting within minutes and start their mental preparations. If the last wicket partnership lasts much longer than they expect, it has an adverse effect on their preparation and composure, as well as their energy level deteriorating from extra time on the field. It is also damaging to the confidence of the bowlers if they are unable to dismiss a team's worst batsman relatively easily. A good example of this came in the First Test between Australia and New Zealand at Brisbane Cricket Ground in 2004. The Kiwis performed well for the first two-day, and while the Australians did recover strongly on the third, the New Zealanders were still well in the hunt when Glenn McGrath, the Australian fast bowler and notoriously poor batsman came to the crease to accompany fellow tail-ender Jason Gillespie with nine wickets down. Incredibly, the pair put on 114 runs, both achieving half centuries (McGrath's first in a long Test career in which he has never averaged more than 8 with the bat). The humiliated New Zealanders lost energy and focus, and when they finally removed McGrath and went in to bat, their batting order was devastated, collapsing to 76 all out, giving Australia an innings victory with a day to spare. During second test of the 2005 Ashes, Australia's tailenders Shane Warne, Michael Kasprowicz and Brett Lee infamously held out during their second innings after the top order had been decimated by England's bowlers and nearly won a tightly-contested match, losing by a mere 2 runs - the narrowest margin in Ashes history - due to the contentious dismissal of Kasprowicz.

Test record partnerships by wicket[edit]

Correct as of 12 July 2014 :

Wicket Runs Batting partners Batting team Fielding team Venue Season
1st 415 Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie South Africa Bangladesh Chittagong 2008
2nd 576 Roshan Mahanama and Sanath Jayasuriya Sri Lanka India Colombo 1997
3rd 624 Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara Sri Lanka South Africa Colombo 2006
4th 437 Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera Sri Lanka Pakistan Karachi 2008/09
5th 405 Donald Bradman and Sid Barnes Australia England Sydney 1946/47
6th 365 Kane Williamson and BJ Watling New Zealand Sri Lanka Wellington 2015
7th 347 Clairmonte Depeiaza and Denis Atkinson West Indies Australia Bridgetown 1954/55
8th 332 Jonathan Trott and Stuart Broad England Pakistan Lord's 2010
9th 195 Pat Symcox and Mark Boucher South Africa Pakistan Johannesburg 1997/98
10th 198 Joe Root and James Anderson England India Nottingham 2014

Top 10 Test partnerships (for any wicket)[edit]

Correct as of 23 January 2010:

Runs Wicket Batting partners Batting team Fielding team Venue Season
624 3rd Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara Sri Lanka South Africa Colombo 2006
576 2nd Roshan Mahanama and Sanath Jayasuriya Sri Lanka India Colombo 1997
467 3rd Andrew Jones and Martin Crowe New Zealand Sri Lanka Wellington 1990/91
451 2nd Donald Bradman and W H Ponsford Australia England Sydney 1934
451 3rd Mudassar Nazar and Javed Miandad Pakistan India Hyderabad, Pakistan 1982/83
446 2nd Conrad Hunte and Gary Sobers West Indies Pakistan The Oval 1957/58
438 2nd Marvan Atapattu and Kumar Sangakkara Sri Lanka Zimbabwe Bulawayo 2004
437 4th Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera Sri Lanka Pakistan Karachi 2008/09
429* 3rd Jacques Rudolph and Boeta Dippenaar South Africa Bangladesh Chittagong 2003
415 1st Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie South Africa Bangladesh Chittagong 2008

First Class record partnerships by wicket[edit]

Correct as of 6 December 2009:

Wicket Runs Batting partners Batting team Fielding team Venue Season
1st 561 Waheed Mirza and Mansoor Akhtar Karachi Whites Quetta Karachi 1976/77
2nd 580 Rafatullah Mohmand and Aamer Sajjad WAPDA SSGC Sheikhupura 2009/10
3rd 624 Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara Sri Lanka South Africa Colombo 2006
4th 577 Vijay Hazare and Gul Mohammad Baroda Holkar Baroda 1946/47
5th 520* Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravi Jadeja Saurashtra Orissa Rajkot 2008/09
6th 487* George Headley and Clarence Passailaigue Jamaica Lord Tennyson's XI Kingston 1931/32
7th 460 Bhupinder Singh and Pankaj Dharmani Punjab Delhi Delhi 1994/95
8th 433 Arthur Sims and Victor Trumper Australia Canterbury Christchurch 1913/14
9th 283 John Chapman and Arnold Warren Derbyshire Warwickshire Blackwell 1910
10th 307 Alan Kippax and Hal Hooker New South Wales Victoria MCG 1928/29

* = unbroken partnership

One-Day Internationals Highest Partnerships by wicket[edit]

Correct as of 17 May 2007:

Wicket Runs Batting partners Batting team Fielding team Venue Date
1st 286 Upul Tharanga and Sanath Jayasuriya Sri Lanka England Leeds 1 July 2006
2nd 372 Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels West Indies Zimbabwe Canberra 24 February 2015
3rd 258 Darren Bravo and Denesh Ramdin West Indies Bangladesh Basseterre 25 August 2014
4th 275* Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja India Zimbabwe Cuttack 9 April 1998
5th 256* David Miller and JP Duminy South Africa Zimbabwe Hamilton 15 February 2015
6th 267* Grant Elliott and Luke Ronchi New Zealand Sri Lanka Dunedin 23 January 2015
7th 177 Jos Buttler and Adil Rashid England New Zealand Birmingham 9 June 2015
8th 138* Justin Kemp and Andrew Hall South Africa India Cape Town 26 November 2006
9th 132 Angelo Mathews and Lasith Malinga Sri Lanka Australia MCG, Melbourne 3 November 2010
10th 106* Viv Richards and Michael Holding West Indies England Manchester 31 May 1984

* = unbroken partnership

  • Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly hold the world record for the maximum number of runs scored by the opening partnership. They have put together 6,362 runs in 129 matches that includes 20 century partnerships and 22 fifty run partnerships. The 20 century partnerships for opening pair is also a world record.