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Welcome to part one of the official and unarguable Confectionery Stall Good-In-One-Format-But-Rubbish-In-Another XIs.
England's coach, guru, spiritual leader, bicker-mediator, and ego-guidance-counsellor Andy Flower suggested after the World Twenty20 that international players would increasingly specialise in one format or another, as the time-guzzling hydra that is the world cricket calendar, and its increasingly numerous and ravenous heads, make more and more demands of Planet Earth's leading cricketers.
Several top-level cricketers have pre-empted this by failing to replicate world-beating performances in one format of the game in another. Garfield Sobers, for example, who appears on no one's list of Most Useless Test Cricketers Of All Time - he is, at the very worst, approximately the 2675th Rubbishest Ever Test Cricketer, and some argue that he even challenges Don Bradman for the currently-prestigious 2682nd spot on that hotly-contested chart. However, the Bajan Beethoven had an ODI batting average of 0 - worse than the heroically, indefatigably inept Chris Martin.
Admittedly, Sobers played in just one ODI, compared with Martin's 20, and batted just once, compared to Martin's seven glorious innings, so can perhaps be forgiven for falling an agonising eight runs short of the Kiwi's career total. Sobers' solitary one-dayer was West Indies' first, and he compounded his duck by conceding the winning runs to England batting legend Bob Willis. Had the West Indian not made the crucial error of almost completely pre-dating the ODI era, however, I think it is fair to assume he would have proved a more than useful ODI operator, and that batting average of 0 would have risen. Significantly. It is also fair to assume that, had Martin not been congenitally allergic to willow and with a lifelong phobia of having padding strapped to his legs, he might have had a more productive batting career.
Some ground rules for these XIs:
● I have ignored T20Is due to lack of evidence. When more T20Is have been played, I may revisit this. However, a third corner to this selectorial see-saw would complicate matters considerably - XIs of players who were adequate in Tests, awesome in ODIs and atrocious in T20Is, plus all the vices and versas involved, is a project for a very rainy day. Or the next Ice Age.
● Players must preferably have definitively failed in one format and unquestionably succeeded in the other, rather than just being significantly better in one. Lance Klusener, for example, was one of the most effective ODI allrounders ever, averaging 41 with the bat and 29 with the ball, and, whilst his equivalent Test averages of 32 and 37 are not in the same league, they still qualify him as a decent Test cricketer. Saqlain Mushtaq, Brett Lee and Andrew Flintoff were all statistically far more effective with the ball in the shorter game, but still formidable Test bowlers. Amongst the numerous top-class Test batsmen who did not fully replicate their five-day successes in the one-day arena, Allan Border (Test average: 50), David Gower (44) and VVS Laxman (almost 46) all averaged 30 in ODIs, but cannot be said to have completely failed as one-day players. Leonardo da Vinci was notoriously good at drawing. He made an adequate spaghetti bolognese. Probably. That did not make him an appalling chef.
● Minimum Test appearances: 10. Minimum ODI appearances: 20.
● The above rules can be flouted at the discretion of the selectors if, for example, they are struggling to find a wicketkeeper who completely flunked his Test career but was a one-day superstar.
● The selectors' decision is final and legally binding. All selected players must report for winter endurance training in Verkhoyansk, Siberia, next Monday.
We begin with the Test-Stars-But-One-Day-Flops XI, a keenly contested selection, for which many players have made persuasive cases through years of dedicatedly failing to replicate their five-day form in the one-day arena.
Test-Stars-But-One-Day-Flops XI. Part 1: Batsmen
1. Michael Slater (Australia): 74 Tests, batting average 42.8, 14 hundreds; 42 ODIs, average 24.0, 0 hundreds.
On his numerous good days, Slater was a dazzling D'Artagnan of an opener who could set the tempo and mood of a Test match in the first hour. Particularly if the bowlers were English. He hit 14 centuries and nine scores in the 90s in the five-day format, with a pugnacious attacking game and an adventurous range of strokes that seemed ideally suited to limited over mayhem.
Seemed ideally suited - but was not. Similarly, D'Artagnan might have been an ace swordsman, but he was by all accounts hopeless at chopping vegetables. Some skills are not transferable. Slater routinely failed to convert useful starts into valuable scores, and ended up not only with an ODI average of 24 and a highest score of 73, but also with a frankly baffling strike-rate of 60. In the last 20 years, 170 players from the top-eight Test countries have played 40 innings batting in the top seven in ODIs. Slater is the 166th fastest scorer of them. With the 154th highest average. And this was no fluke - his career average in all List A limited overs matches was a pitiful 26.
2. Michael Vaughan (England): 82 Tests, average 41.4, 18 hundreds; 86 ODIs, 27.1, 0 hundreds.
For a golden seven-month period in 2002, Vaughan played like, and looked like, one of the greatest batsmen of all time. If he never replicated that staggeringly effective and almost mind-bendingly stylish peak in the Test arena, he remained a fine five-day player and became an iconic England captain. Throughout his career, however, he persisted in being just-about-OK at one-day internationals. And disastrously ineffective as an ODI opener.
He averaged 19 opening in one-dayers (compared with 45 in Tests), registering the 142nd best average of the 147 players who have opened at least 20 times in ODIs. And he would have been three places lower had he not cut loose to hit 79 off 68 to help England to a thrilling win in a dead World Cup Super Eights match against West Indies. Before that innings, Vaughan's average as an ODI opener was 16.3 in 20 innings. An elegant 16.3, but still 16.3. Perhaps, like Slater, he needed bowlers to be attacking him for his strokeplay to be effective. Perhaps the gods of Mount Olympus thought his cover drive was too magnificent to be sullied by being played in a garish blue uniform and defended by three men on the off-side boundary.
3. Kim Hughes (Australia): 70 Tests, average 37.4, 9 hundreds; 97 ODIs, average 24.0, 0 hundreds.
Hughes' Test career started poorly and ended melting down like an over-emotional ice lolly in a malfunctioning nuclear reactor. But for five years, he was one of the best Test batsmen in the world. In ODIs, his average bumbled around in the mid-20s, not really going anywhere or doing much, occasionally showing signs of life, but mostly just slumbering quietly to itself in a rocking chair, wondering whether or not it was still alive. And he was particularly inept at home. A total of 102 players have batted in the top six 40 times or more in home ODIs. Hughes' average of 21.4 is the 102nd best of those 102 players.
4. Gundappa Viswanath (India): 91Tests, average 41.9, 14 hundreds; 25 ODIs, average 19.9, 0 hundreds.
A Test-match magician renowned for (a) delivering important innings under pressure, (b) forearms that could scare a rhinoceros, and may well have done for all I know, (c) the footwork of a ballerina, and (d) for playing with so much artistry that he might as well have batted with an easel and a Rembrandt mask instead of a bat and a cricket cap.
In ODIs - admittedly in the early, formative days of the format, when matches were sporadic and seldom a priority ‒ Viswanath played as if he was batting with an easel and a Rembrandt mask instead of a bat and a cricket cap. Statistically, at least. And not including the time when he hit the higher of his two ODI half-centuries, against the West Indies in 1979 World Cup, when he made 75 against Roberts, Garner, Holding and Croft (it is rumoured that one international player was so spooked by the prospect of facing that fearsome foursome that, on the way out of the pavilion, he broke down and confessed his role in 12 unsolved murders dating back to the 1850s, arrested himself and locked himself in a prison cell, whilst shouting, "Come and get me in 25 years"). India's second top scorer that day was a promising youngster called Extras, with a doughty 16.
Vishy is unquestionably the greatest batsman to average less than 20 in a significant number of ODIs. He would probably have cracked it in the modern ODI era. But he did not crack it. Just as Rembrandt never cracked Photoshop.
5. Thilan Samaraweera (Sri Lanka): 76 Tests, average 51.2, 14 hundreds; 53 ODIs, average 27.8, 2 hundreds (and 0 fifties).
You might have expected Slater, Vaughan, Hughes and Viswanath to prove to be very good one-day batsmen. You probably would not have watched Samaraweera's studiously skilled Test accumulation and thought, "That guy is going to tear it up in an eight-an-over run chase." Unsurprisingly, his ODI career has been limited and sporadic.
However, the Colombo Craftsman qualifies as the only player who averages more than 50 in ten or more Tests, and less than 30 in ODIs. Apart from Sobers. Who, as discussed above, can be excused.
Of the other 22 batsmen who have a 50-plus Test average the ODI era, only Border (30.6) averages less than 32 in one-dayers. And he captained his country to a World Cup win. Which Samaraweera has verifiably not done. Yet. And, at the age of 36, with a grand total of zero sixes in 1244 ODI balls faced, even his nearest and dearest would privately concede that his chance may have passed him by.
Samaraweera is the only member of this top five who has scored ODI hundreds ‒ two of them, both match-winning innings, to be fair to him ‒ but compensates by never having passed 50 in any of his other 40 ODI innings.
Next time: Nos. 6 to 11. Including a very, very good allrounder, one of the most effective attacking batsmen in modern cricket, and a bowler who induced fear in all who faced him. In Tests. But who, in ODIs, was if not next-to-useless, then next-to-next-to-useless.
Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writerFeeds: Andy Zaltzman
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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.