November 25, 2011


Multistat: 134

Andy Zaltzman
Pat Cummins continued to impress in his debut Test, South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Johannesburg, 4th day, November 20, 2011
The answer is: Cummins is in third place, behind JJ Ferris and Craig McDermott. What's the question?  © AFP

Years since an 18-year-old Australian last took a Test wicket. In Johannesburg, Patrick Cummins became the 45th 18-year-old to take a Test wicket, but the first baggy green one to do so since Tom Garrett in the first ever Test series in 1877.

Cummins’ 6 for 79 were the fourth-best innings figures by a teenage debutant in Test history, behind post-war South African greenhorn Cuan McCarthy, Indian legspin whizzlet Narendra Hirwani in 1988, and Indian legspin whizzlet Narendra Hirwani in 1988 (again).

After one Test, Cummins is already in third place among teenaged wicket-takers for Australia, behind 19th-century swing king and Boer War fatality JJ Ferris (18 wickets), and Cummins’ current bowling coach, Craig McDermott (10 scalps before entering his third decade).

Also: The number of years for which the record of three Test debutants taking five-wicket hauls in a single month had stood, before November 2011 roared into the history books.

Cummins became the fourth bowler this month, after Doug Bracewell, R Ashwin and Vernon Philander, to take five wickets in an innings on his debut – no other month in the entire history of the universe has provided so many honours board-adorning debutant Test bowlers. This historic, unforgettable, numerically immortal month thus beats the previous debut five-fors record of three, which has stood since March 1877, when Billy Midwinter, Alfred Shaw and Tom Kendall all adorned the inaugural Test match with five-fors (a record that was jubilantly equalled by March 1889 and December 1927).

When you factor in Elias Sunny’s successful introduction into the Bangladesh attack in late October, the last five weeks have seen as many five-wicket-innings debuts as any previous entire year – 2003 boasted five such debuts, but has now been cast into the landfill site of statistical history by 2011. Five of the 13 debutants to have bowled since 21 October have taken five wickets on debut – maths fans will bark at you that this equates to 38%, compared with a figure up that pivotal date in human history of just 8.6% of debut bowlers taking five-fors (131 out of 1528). Truly, readers, these are great times in which to be alive.

However, a successful start with the ball is no guarantee that the bowler will Botham or Lillee his way to cricketing immortality. Before Philander picked up his second five-wicket haul in just his second match, and Ashwin did likewise in his third, none of the previous 12 five-wickets-in-an-innings debutants, dating back to mid-2007, have so far gone on to record a second five-wicket haul (some, admittedly, have had few opportunities to do so). Philander and Ashwin are also the first bowlers to take two five-wicket hauls in their debut series since Hirwani’s ludicrous 16-wicket maiden Test, and the first to do so in separate games since Nick Cook in 1983.

Of the 46 bowlers to have taken five or more in an innings in their first Test in the last 30 years, only Cork, Lee, Anderson and Edwards have gone on to take 100 Test wickets. Some still have lively ambitions to do so, whilst for others time is fast running out – it now looks increasingly unlikely that 50-year-old England seamer Neil Mallender will get many more chances to add to his five-wicket blitz against Pakistan at Headingley in 1992.

What does all of this mean for Cummins’ future career? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I’ve just had a bit of time to kill, and access to Statsguru.

Also: The number of years, as of 5pm UK time on 24 November 2011, during which international cricket has been played without anyone scoring 100 centuries.

Also: The likely minimum number of decades that will pass before anyone else scores 100 international centuries.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

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Posted by NALINWIJ on (November 26, 2011, 14:17 GMT)

Tom Garrett was Australia"s first allrounder of note who played in the first test. He had a great grandson Peter Garrett who was the lead singer of Midnight oil and he is currently a member of the Australian parliament. Just adding a bit of trivia to remarkable day in which a moribund test did a Lazarus when WI were dismissed for 134 and 17 wickets fell and ended with scores level. Bizarre month with three classic tests is that a record in 134 years?? Test cricket may have done a Lazarus and risen from the grave!!

Posted by Sid on (November 26, 2011, 7:04 GMT)

I've always maintained that Andy deals in black magic! WI just bundled out for 134!

Posted by Shahid on (November 26, 2011, 6:47 GMT)

It feels as if you trying to say something else too. Let me say it for you; WI who scored 590 in first innings will fall for 134 in the second innings of ongoing 3rd match and by that throwing the match in indias pocket. Come on ACSU, come smell it..

Posted by John on (November 26, 2011, 6:42 GMT)

134: Also the number the West Indies were shot out for in the fifth day of the third test!! Zaltzman you are a genius!! Nostradamus better watch out...

Posted by Anil on (November 26, 2011, 6:21 GMT)

Andy, How did you know 134 is the magic number. IND Bowled out WI 134 in second inning the day you publish your article. Are you psychic?

Posted by swarne708 on (November 26, 2011, 5:50 GMT)


that is what WI were bowled out for today

Posted by kaizenn on (November 26, 2011, 3:38 GMT)

The last two 'also' were fantastic!! Incredibly humorous thinking sir!

Posted by BRK on (November 26, 2011, 2:33 GMT)


Nice article. The last two stats in the Also sections are hilarious. It would be a dream come true if Sachin is able to score his 100th 100 in 134 balls or do it in 134 minutes of Taking guard at the start of the innings !

On a serious note, I think this points to a good spread of good bowling coaches all over the world. Could you check if the number of debut 4 fors and 3 fors have shown a similar trend ? If true, I think you should do an article on bowling coaches whose wards have set the stands alight. Look at the number of high achievers who have been coached by bowling coaches.

I think that while we laud the criceters themselves, I think columnists and media should also highlight the contributions and the supporting stats of coaches. I am not talking of the coaches who coach national teams. I am talking of those coaches who have coached high performers in their formative years. If we can recognise and laud such coaches it will go a long way to nurture the nursery.

Posted by 1 in Glasgow on (November 26, 2011, 1:38 GMT)

It's shocking man. 134 is also my age and I also play cricket in nice Glasgae weather!!

Posted by N Srikanth on (November 25, 2011, 21:31 GMT)

I guess this is the first time that 3 debutants have got the man of the match awards in the same month !!

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Andy Zaltzman
Andy Zaltzman was born in obscurity in 1974. He has been a sporadically-acclaimed stand-up comedian since 1999, and has appeared regularly on BBC Radio 4. He is currently one half of TimesOnline's hit satirical podcast The Bugle, alongside John Oliver. Zaltzman's love of cricket outshone his aptitude for the game by a humiliating margin. He once scored 6 in 75 minutes in an Under-15 match, and failed to hit a six between the ages of 9 and 23. He would have been ideally suited to Tests, had not a congenital defect left him unable to play the game to anything above genuine village standard. He writes the Confectionery Stall blog on Cricinfo.

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