July 22, 2014

Are Test batsmen maturing quicker these days?

35

County cricket must not have too much wrong with it if it is able to produce Test-ready batsmen like Gary Ballance
County cricket must not have too much wrong with it if it is able to produce Test-ready batsmen like Gary Ballance © Getty Images

Has batting become a whole lot easier in the last decade or so? Or are batsmen entering the international game more battle-hardened and more ready for instant success than was the case in the past?

I contemplated this theory just this week when Ajinkya Rahane peeled off a masterful Test century at Lord's, hot on the heels of recent hundreds from Sam Robson, Gary Ballance and Ben Stokes early in their Test careers. I then did a quick calculation in my head and immediately came up with a few other batsmen who have scored Test centuries early in their careers (see below). So why is this? Despite the so-called threats to technique from ODI and T20 cricket, are Test batsmen maturing quicker these days?

So I looked at Test squads around the world to see if there's a discernible pattern. Looking at say the 15 players in and around the national squads, how many of these batsmen scored a century in at least one of their first five Tests? What might this suggest to inform my hypothesis?

I stress that this analysis is imperfect and prone to obvious misses. My knowledge of the Pakistan and Bangladesh squads is sketchy, partly because I've hardly seen them on television in Australia in recent years. So I'm going on my recollection of recent Test series, which I then augmented by looking up a "suspect's" career on Statsguru. The numbers in brackets indicate which of their first five Tests they scored a century in.

Australia: Michael Clarke (1 and 5), David Warner (2 and 5), Chris Rogers (5), Shaun Marsh (1). That's four of the current top six. Recent memory extends to Marcus North, Mike Hussey, Adam Gilchrist, and going back another decade brings in Michael Slater, Mark Waugh, Greg Blewett and Martin Love.

India's record looks amazing: Rahane (5), Shikhar Dhawan (1), Cheteshwar Pujara (4), Suresh Raina (1), Rohit Sharma (1 and 2).

England look good too. Alastair Cook (1), Ballance (2 and 5), Moeen Ali (2), Ben Stokes (2), Sam Robson (2), Ian Bell (3) make up the entire current top order. And Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen, who have only recently left the game, will enjoy being mentioned together!

New Zealand? Jimmy Neesham can't stop scoring 'em (1 and 2), Hamish Rutherford (1), Kane Williamson (1), Ross Taylor (3). That's another four in their top order.

South Africa have a full house too. Alviro Peterson (1), Dean Elgar (3), Hashim Amla (4), JP Duminy (2), Faf du Plessis (1 and 4) and AB de Villiers (5).

Sri Lanka boast Mahela Jayawardene (4), Tillakaratne Dilshan (2) and Upul Tharanga (3). Pakistan have just Ahmed Shehzad (3) and Younis Khan (1).

Kirk Edwards (1 and 3) is the only current West Indian with an early burst. What inferences can we draw about how the domestic game in the Caribbean prepares batsmen?

Bangladesh are not forgotten with Mominul Haque (2 and 5 - he has scored four centuries in seven Tests) and Shamsur Rahman (2). Zimbabwe's Tino Mawoyo (2) and Hamilton Masakadza (1) complete the picture.

While I concede that my memory of yesteryear is fading, I still cannot remember so many players in the one squad scoring early-career Test centuries. If readers can think of examples from different generations, please write in.

I can think of two theories to support this argument, if in fact it holds true. The first is that the quality of bowling has dropped significantly. Rotation policies and a seemingly higher injury count for fast bowlers offer fledgling batsmen more opportunities to make a big score. To test this theory to its nth degree, I suppose we need to see if there are more centuries being scored full stop in the modern game, regardless of who scores them.

The second theory I put forward is that perhaps the first-class system or the junior cricket championships are now better preparing debutant players to step on to the big stage and find their feet straight away. Maybe these debutants are not that young anymore so when they do get there, their game is honed to a fine degree. In Australia, you could certainly make that case with examples like Hussey, Rogers and Mark Waugh, who scored many first-class hundreds before they got their first go at Test cricket. Kepler Wessels will attest to that.

What happens in India and South Africa then? Is the apprenticeship long or does young talent get fast-tracked? Are they just that good that young?

County cricket, for all its detractors, seems to be able to produce Test-ready batsmen, if England's current top order is any yardstick by which we can prosecute this case - five of the England top six (if you include KP, that would be a full house).

So many other factors come into play. Where do we draw the line? Are cricket bats better, pitches truer, boundaries shorter? Does DRS help batsmen more than bowlers? What about improved fielding standards as a counter-balance?

Another controversial theory I'll throw in to ignite some debate is whether the proliferation of short-form cricket is actually creating better batsmen. Or is the real reason that the bowlers are more fatigued, rested or injured? So many batsmen seem to be scoring debut ODI hundreds (or producing stunning performances like James Faulkner) compared to a few decades ago. They seem to hit the ground running, batting fearlessly from day one. This must have something to do with their preparation prior to being selected, perhaps on "A" tours.

Whatever the reason, I cannot help but think that this is more than coincidence. My boyhood memories of the '70s and '80s were that Test hundreds were rare and even rarer from "green" players. Greg Chappell, Gary Cosier, Wayne Phillips, Mohammad Azharuddin, Graham Thorpe, Andrew Hudson and Lawrence Rowe come to mind.

Fascinated to hear what you think. Am I on to something here or are you going to throw a whole stack of names from the recent past to shoot me down in flames? I've been known to be wrong once but even that was a mistake!

Michael Jeh is an Oxford Blue who played first-class cricket, and is a Playing Member of the MCC. He lives in Brisbane

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Michaeljeh on July 22, 2014, 11:50 GMT

    Highveldhillbilly just reminded me that I missed Phil Hughes. I think he will return though to score big runs in his second or third coming. He might be a Matt Hayden sort of story. Dominated domestic cricket, got dropped from Tests and then when he did return, he had learned his game so thoroughly that nothing stopped him. Like Haydos, Hughes might trust himself to just bat his own way. Rohit Sharma just looks too classy to not be seen again surely? And no one who bats like Raina in short-form cricket can be accused of not being a good player. He may just need to bat with that same freedom. With attacking fields, if he gets away, watch out!

  • ygkd on July 26, 2014, 1:08 GMT

    Batsmen may be tasting Test success earlier, but there is one area where early success is becoming increasingly rare - and that's wicket-keeping, at least outside Asia. There is a paucity of pure wicket-keeping talent ready to move up. Everyone's looking at the batting so much. Buttler's selection for England is a case in point. Learn on the job is the new rule. Make some runs and keep your keeping spot. We don't accept that someone who can make runs in the U19s is a ready-made international bat, or a bowler who takes U19 wickets likewise, and yet some of the wicket-keeping that goes on, especially in domestic limited overs, is, well, no better than what should be U19 minimum standard. How is that relevant? Well, taking wickets is how you stop batsmen being successful and top keepers take wickets. I won't even say "help take wickets" because it underestimates the pressure that they can help build. If batsmen are being successful earlier maybe they're being let off a little too lightly?

  • on July 24, 2014, 15:46 GMT

    Obsessive coaching and data analyses have taken precedence over instincts when it comes to bowling. I cringe to think what modern day coaches would have done to bowlers like Shane Warne, Imran Khan, Courtney Walsh etc.

  • balajik1968 on July 24, 2014, 9:22 GMT

    Interesting analysis. I think we should also look at the domestic records of all these players. Rahane and Pujara have played a lot of domestic cricket and have a good domestic record. I would just like to see the other players domestic records.

  • N0mad on July 24, 2014, 6:15 GMT

    I guess the talent is a part of the equation, but I feel the 'unknown' factor is working in favour of these batsmen. Bowlers aren't thinking too much nowadays, as evidenced by Dhoni's comments on Ishant and other bowlers being reluctant to try things out - and they follow plans when it is presented to them by coaches/analysts. Earlier, the bowlers would try many things and succeed sometimes, it isn't the case anymore. If the batsman is good enough, then he will succeed initially, will falter for a while after being 'found out', and then if he is made of sterner stuff- will come back and succeed. Warner and Amla are good examples.

  • ygkd on July 24, 2014, 5:11 GMT

    I agree with AlexPG. I'm not sure bowlers are as good at sussing out opposition batsmen as they used to be. Too much coaching and third-party analysis perhaps? Time and again I've seen young batsmen let off the hook by pace bowling, mostly by poor use of the short ball, or it's complete absence. Youth today have never batted without a helmet (well, a few have but not in official training or games - they're not allowed to). Quite rightly we don't want them hurt but it does engender a certain over-confidence in their own abilities. We've lost some of the art of shaking them up to see how they handle it. Today, if a rising ball hits the splice of a high-held bat only to fly back down just as sharply, teens react as if they've taken a wicket! Then its back to allowing them to shove their front foot forward and swing through the line of the ball with impunity. For if the youth have never batted without a helmet, then too have the bowlers not so bowled at the helmet-less and learnt from it.

  • on July 24, 2014, 2:12 GMT

    id say tht the bowling quality has decreased and the bat sizes r a jk but batsmen have evolved and so have the bowlers. the issue is bowlers do nt think on their feet thereby allowing batsmen to score. if bhuvi and shami can score fifties against an england attack on a green pitch then there is gt to be some problem with the bowlers. even ishant attributed the short pitch tactic to dhoni which shows tht bowlers r nt thinkin. of the current seam bowlers id say bhuvi, steyn,morkel, malinga johnson zak, know wht they r bowling and where they want their fielders every over. the rest follow the plans they laid out by the management.

  • Chrishan on July 24, 2014, 1:00 GMT

    Simply scoring a Test century in your first 5 matches doesn't mean a batsman has matured quickly. What has happened to Cook and Stokes, does it mean that they have become immature now? Greats like Dravid, Sanga, Kallis, Ponting are not even on this list, but we all know they played mature resposible knocks from the word go. Looking at centuries scored in your first 5 matches is a poor indication of maturity. Scoring zero runs with your side nine down, but not giving away your wicket to draw or win a Test is a much better indication of maturity.

  • Boycotts_Bat on July 23, 2014, 23:47 GMT

    Generally, bowling quality has declined in the last decade. There's only one bowler to genuinely fear on earth now and that's Steyn. Take Alastair Cook - last 18 months notwithstanding, does anybody seriously think he'd have made double figures against the Windies in the 70's-90's or Oz in their last purple patch (Pidgeon, Gippo, Matthews , Warne)? It's laughable - players like him would have been worked out in a couple of overs and bombed out properly by the former lot (not this weak nonsense we see from Broad and Plunkett) or caught behind somewhere to the latter.

  • ygkd on July 23, 2014, 22:15 GMT

    I think modern players are more familiar and less over-awed about international cricket. Once-upon-a-time talented kids didn't see such saturation media coverage and there are so many short-form games now to go and see. Also, introversion is seen as something almost akin to mental illness in some quarters these days. Extroversion probably helps as you move up (I'm sure it helps get you noticed), but I'm not sure it's such an aid as time goes by. Bowlers, coaches and captains work you out (with the same media coverage). So, early success is no guarantee of lasting success. What I find strange is that, with all the media footage available, it takes so long for bowlers etc to change their plan of attack? Are bowlers now more reliant on coaches to do that job for them? Can they not think on their feet like bowlers of yesteryear? There is also a joker-in-the-room and that is the modern bat. Many young blokes today would struggle with old-time bats. Their technique is just not up to it.

  • Michaeljeh on July 22, 2014, 11:50 GMT

    Highveldhillbilly just reminded me that I missed Phil Hughes. I think he will return though to score big runs in his second or third coming. He might be a Matt Hayden sort of story. Dominated domestic cricket, got dropped from Tests and then when he did return, he had learned his game so thoroughly that nothing stopped him. Like Haydos, Hughes might trust himself to just bat his own way. Rohit Sharma just looks too classy to not be seen again surely? And no one who bats like Raina in short-form cricket can be accused of not being a good player. He may just need to bat with that same freedom. With attacking fields, if he gets away, watch out!

  • ygkd on July 26, 2014, 1:08 GMT

    Batsmen may be tasting Test success earlier, but there is one area where early success is becoming increasingly rare - and that's wicket-keeping, at least outside Asia. There is a paucity of pure wicket-keeping talent ready to move up. Everyone's looking at the batting so much. Buttler's selection for England is a case in point. Learn on the job is the new rule. Make some runs and keep your keeping spot. We don't accept that someone who can make runs in the U19s is a ready-made international bat, or a bowler who takes U19 wickets likewise, and yet some of the wicket-keeping that goes on, especially in domestic limited overs, is, well, no better than what should be U19 minimum standard. How is that relevant? Well, taking wickets is how you stop batsmen being successful and top keepers take wickets. I won't even say "help take wickets" because it underestimates the pressure that they can help build. If batsmen are being successful earlier maybe they're being let off a little too lightly?

  • on July 24, 2014, 15:46 GMT

    Obsessive coaching and data analyses have taken precedence over instincts when it comes to bowling. I cringe to think what modern day coaches would have done to bowlers like Shane Warne, Imran Khan, Courtney Walsh etc.

  • balajik1968 on July 24, 2014, 9:22 GMT

    Interesting analysis. I think we should also look at the domestic records of all these players. Rahane and Pujara have played a lot of domestic cricket and have a good domestic record. I would just like to see the other players domestic records.

  • N0mad on July 24, 2014, 6:15 GMT

    I guess the talent is a part of the equation, but I feel the 'unknown' factor is working in favour of these batsmen. Bowlers aren't thinking too much nowadays, as evidenced by Dhoni's comments on Ishant and other bowlers being reluctant to try things out - and they follow plans when it is presented to them by coaches/analysts. Earlier, the bowlers would try many things and succeed sometimes, it isn't the case anymore. If the batsman is good enough, then he will succeed initially, will falter for a while after being 'found out', and then if he is made of sterner stuff- will come back and succeed. Warner and Amla are good examples.

  • ygkd on July 24, 2014, 5:11 GMT

    I agree with AlexPG. I'm not sure bowlers are as good at sussing out opposition batsmen as they used to be. Too much coaching and third-party analysis perhaps? Time and again I've seen young batsmen let off the hook by pace bowling, mostly by poor use of the short ball, or it's complete absence. Youth today have never batted without a helmet (well, a few have but not in official training or games - they're not allowed to). Quite rightly we don't want them hurt but it does engender a certain over-confidence in their own abilities. We've lost some of the art of shaking them up to see how they handle it. Today, if a rising ball hits the splice of a high-held bat only to fly back down just as sharply, teens react as if they've taken a wicket! Then its back to allowing them to shove their front foot forward and swing through the line of the ball with impunity. For if the youth have never batted without a helmet, then too have the bowlers not so bowled at the helmet-less and learnt from it.

  • on July 24, 2014, 2:12 GMT

    id say tht the bowling quality has decreased and the bat sizes r a jk but batsmen have evolved and so have the bowlers. the issue is bowlers do nt think on their feet thereby allowing batsmen to score. if bhuvi and shami can score fifties against an england attack on a green pitch then there is gt to be some problem with the bowlers. even ishant attributed the short pitch tactic to dhoni which shows tht bowlers r nt thinkin. of the current seam bowlers id say bhuvi, steyn,morkel, malinga johnson zak, know wht they r bowling and where they want their fielders every over. the rest follow the plans they laid out by the management.

  • Chrishan on July 24, 2014, 1:00 GMT

    Simply scoring a Test century in your first 5 matches doesn't mean a batsman has matured quickly. What has happened to Cook and Stokes, does it mean that they have become immature now? Greats like Dravid, Sanga, Kallis, Ponting are not even on this list, but we all know they played mature resposible knocks from the word go. Looking at centuries scored in your first 5 matches is a poor indication of maturity. Scoring zero runs with your side nine down, but not giving away your wicket to draw or win a Test is a much better indication of maturity.

  • Boycotts_Bat on July 23, 2014, 23:47 GMT

    Generally, bowling quality has declined in the last decade. There's only one bowler to genuinely fear on earth now and that's Steyn. Take Alastair Cook - last 18 months notwithstanding, does anybody seriously think he'd have made double figures against the Windies in the 70's-90's or Oz in their last purple patch (Pidgeon, Gippo, Matthews , Warne)? It's laughable - players like him would have been worked out in a couple of overs and bombed out properly by the former lot (not this weak nonsense we see from Broad and Plunkett) or caught behind somewhere to the latter.

  • ygkd on July 23, 2014, 22:15 GMT

    I think modern players are more familiar and less over-awed about international cricket. Once-upon-a-time talented kids didn't see such saturation media coverage and there are so many short-form games now to go and see. Also, introversion is seen as something almost akin to mental illness in some quarters these days. Extroversion probably helps as you move up (I'm sure it helps get you noticed), but I'm not sure it's such an aid as time goes by. Bowlers, coaches and captains work you out (with the same media coverage). So, early success is no guarantee of lasting success. What I find strange is that, with all the media footage available, it takes so long for bowlers etc to change their plan of attack? Are bowlers now more reliant on coaches to do that job for them? Can they not think on their feet like bowlers of yesteryear? There is also a joker-in-the-room and that is the modern bat. Many young blokes today would struggle with old-time bats. Their technique is just not up to it.

  • on July 23, 2014, 18:37 GMT

    Its just an evidence of declining bowling quality & lack of killer instincts from opposition captains

  • on July 23, 2014, 16:19 GMT

    Stats are always an interest thing because each coin has two sides. And what is the other side? Experienced batsmen! Compare experienced batsmen of today with experienced batsmen of say 50 years ago. Whats the difference? Technology! With the increase of technology a bowler has the advantage of knowing where the key areas are to target the batsmen. Thus, the more times a batsmen plays at the international level the more chance bowlers have to work them out. Batsmen are hitting the bit time now, making it big and then going bust. There have been several Aussie batsmen that have been dropped early in their careers and come back (or on the cards to comeback). The higher rotation also means batsmen are more confident earlier on as they know they are expected to fail after a few months in the team with expectation of coming back later on. Thus, technology and expectations have changed batsmen.

  • trepuR on July 23, 2014, 15:27 GMT

    Well look, very interesting thoughts here, however a key assumption upon which you ground your argument is quite weak: simply because players are more likely to score a 100 early in their career does not mean they are more prepared for test cricket. Many players start off with a bang but go nowhere. One could just as easily make the claim that while new players enter the Test arena with greater confidence forged in franchise T20 competitions and hectic one day matches, their technique fails to live up in the long run. A good player requires consistency, not a flash in the pan in their first 5 Tests - not saying this is my opinion, merely that if this trend you identify does actually exist it is just as valid an explanation for it

    The manifold variables and alternative explanations which make up this issue necessitates a more comprehensive and fact based approach; but regardless, your article raises an interesting point which is certainly worthy of further investigation

  • on July 23, 2014, 7:50 GMT

    India could add, Amre, Sehwag, Ganguly (1), Kambli (3 and 4 both double hundreds). in 90's.

  • tpjpower on July 23, 2014, 7:06 GMT

    Interesting question, Michael. It would be very easy for one of Cricinfo's resident statisticians do conduct a complete analysis. Of course, with Tests debuts more frequent than ever, more players scoring early tons doesn't necessarily mean an increased likelihood of early tons. If they are increasingly common (i.e. early hundred:player ratio is rising out of line with ratio of hundreds:match), several explanations stand out. First, with a greater number of teams than ever before - and a substantial gulf in quality between those teams - there are more easy runs on offer. A young batsman in 1970 couldn't get a soft landing against Bangladesh. Another factor is environmental, as you mention, with flat pitches and a paucity of exceptional bowlers.

    Of the players you've listed (and based only on my dodgy recollection) many scored 100s on flat tracks (e.g. Raina, Neesham, Faf, Williamson, Shamsur) or against low-ranked teams (e.g. Bell, Rohit, Tharanga, etc.),.

  • on July 23, 2014, 6:56 GMT

    Wonderful topic!!! Not fair to say that the bowlers today are any less good. England had/have a wonderful attack- Anderson/Broad/Swann/Finn/Tremlet Australia have always had a complete battery of pace bowlers. Shane Warne is irreplacable. So are Wasim, Waqar and saqlain. But Pakistan have enough good bowlers. So do Saf.

    India and Srilanka are probably the weakest bowling line ups (even in subcontinent). So the bolwers are still decent. The pitches/ DRS/ better knowledge of the bowlers/better knolwedge of opposition plans has definitely helped. Also the mindset. More attacking, more free flowing and more courageous.

  • Udendra on July 23, 2014, 5:30 GMT

    exception is SL batsmen. The likes of Thirimanne, Chandimal never seem to mature.

  • vinjoy on July 23, 2014, 4:40 GMT

    Two primary reasons that I can think of: (A) Batsmen have greater exposure of playing with international players (domestic T20 matches); it widens their horizon of understanding the game and its challenges. (B) With due regards to Steyn, Anderson, and Johnson.. we do not have the bowlers of the past who were persistent such as Ambrose/Walsh, Donald/Pollock, McGrath/Warne, Akram/Younis, Imran, McDermott and those elite players.

  • Batmanian on July 23, 2014, 3:58 GMT

    Further to highveldhillbilly's reminder, I believe a recall would be Hughes's fifth coming in Tests.

  • JustSaying on July 23, 2014, 1:58 GMT

    Good Topic to discuss, but Mike you miss one major control here - Home and Away hundreds. Sourav and Rahul made good debuts in England. Rahane has scored well in away tests as well in his short span of career so far. Same goes for Dhawan. I am not sure about others.

    You may probably look at first 5 or 10 away tests (or Bowler friendly conditions). However, a hundred is a hundred. I agree that there is merit to your analysis as well.

  • Mike22 on July 22, 2014, 23:27 GMT

    Michael, it would be interesting to relate this to a wider social trend in that younger generations today tend to have less fear about expressing themselves no matter what the setting. My father always commented that when he was a child in a group of adults, he would be "seen but not heard"; by comparison, the youth of today (to a greater extent than previous generations) seem to have the confidence to be both seen and heard no matter who they are surrounded by. This could be compared to players (e.g. Phil Hughes) entering the test arena and expressing their talent immediately. Following on from that, and similar to alot of youth who express themselves freely among the older generation, players like Hughes seem to be "found out" quite quickly. While their talent is undeniable, they are inevitably less mature and well rounded than more experienced players; this is again comparable to the expression of a youthful opinion amongst the older generation.

  • on July 22, 2014, 22:26 GMT

    Umer Akmal is a name missing on your list.

  • DarthKetan on July 22, 2014, 22:01 GMT

    You went to the last decade for Aus.....On similar lines, for India, could add Sehwag, Ganguly, Amre, Azhar etc.

  • Anurag_Chandak on July 22, 2014, 21:54 GMT

    To test the second of your arguments, taht the first class structure is well organized, I would encourage you to see how many bowlers get a 4-for within the first 10 innings of their Test bowling career. If there is a similarly high percentage of bowlers doing it, then your second argument seems to hold.

  • AlexPG on July 22, 2014, 20:17 GMT

    Here's an alternative suggestion: Test bowlers nowadays have lost the art of being able to work out how to test out and suss out a batsman's weaknesses. This means that a fresh batsman to the international scene will have a period early in their career when opposition bowlers don't know their weaknesses (and strengths?) so get an easy ride.

    I'd say there's a couple of reasons why this happens:

    Test bowlers have a set of analysts telling them how to bowl to which batsmen.

    Test bowlers barely play any domestic cricket so don't have to suss out new batsmen week in week out. Broad and Anderson may end up playing the entire summer and only having to bowl to around twenty five different batsmen. Twenty years ago Gough and Caddick may have faced the same eleven batsmen every second week in tests, but faced a completely different set of eleven domestic batsmen every week between.

  • Thesonofg on July 22, 2014, 19:33 GMT

    Is maturity here being measured based on age or the number of games the player has played? Someone today playing for two years has experience equivalent to those of yesteryear with 4 years under their belt.

  • on July 22, 2014, 19:13 GMT

    If batsmen don't make a century in their first 5 tests they're likely to be dropped or at least the media will have decided they're not test standard...

  • on July 22, 2014, 17:34 GMT

    Azhar Ali, he score century on England

  • on July 22, 2014, 16:35 GMT

    What about fawad alam of pakistan

  • on July 22, 2014, 15:24 GMT

    To this list I can straightaway add GR Vishwanath, Alvin Kallicharan, Javed Miandad, Gordon Greenidge

  • Gwilym on July 22, 2014, 15:11 GMT

    Ed Smith wrote about this exact topic a couple of years ago, with the opinion:

    "The evidence suggests the hard thing is not making the step up to Test cricket. No, arguably the hardest challenge is retaining hunger and ambition once the novelty has worn off."

    ...which describes the current England team really rather well.

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/547997.html

  • on July 22, 2014, 14:52 GMT

    Sourav Ganguly arrived like a Maharaja in test arena by scoring a hundred on debut at the home of cricket: Lord's. Ganguly's 131 still remains the highest by any batsman on his debut at the Lord's.

  • on July 22, 2014, 14:38 GMT

    Perhaps pitches are the answer. It is common knowledge that pitches are getting slower, drier and lower. And of course anything is better than an uncovered surface

  • highveldhillbilly on July 22, 2014, 11:06 GMT

    What is interesting from the names on your list is how many of these players made 100s early only for their intl career to seemingly decline: Marsh, Hughes, Rutherford, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Marcus North spring to mind and some appear on the decline in Robson and Dhawan. Interesting that these guys looked like they had it all but haven't been able to maintain that level so far in their career. Maybe bowlers don't know much about newer batsmen and it takes sometime for them to formulate a plan?

  • Vaughanographic on July 22, 2014, 11:02 GMT

    Besides the analysis on the number of overall hundreds, I would be intrigued to see who these early hundreds were against. Whilst Stokes clearly does have some question marks as his hundred was against a really top class attack, many of the other hundred makers made their runs either on batting feather beds or against attacks which did not have out and out nasty strike bowlers.

    A batsman against the likes of a Steyn, Warne, Muri, etc would have every aspect of their technique tested during the innings and the flaws found. Nowadays it seems that it takes the average test bowler longer to find their weaknesses. If we look at the list above, Marsh, Sharma, Rutherford and Raina are not regulars in their teams at the moment. And it seems that other new players are having their weaknesses unpicked in subsequent tests (such as Ali to the short ball).

    Previously test attacks may have found those weaknesses earlier on, which is shocking if you think about it with all the video analysis

  • Vaughanographic on July 22, 2014, 11:02 GMT

    Besides the analysis on the number of overall hundreds, I would be intrigued to see who these early hundreds were against. Whilst Stokes clearly does have some question marks as his hundred was against a really top class attack, many of the other hundred makers made their runs either on batting feather beds or against attacks which did not have out and out nasty strike bowlers.

    A batsman against the likes of a Steyn, Warne, Muri, etc would have every aspect of their technique tested during the innings and the flaws found. Nowadays it seems that it takes the average test bowler longer to find their weaknesses. If we look at the list above, Marsh, Sharma, Rutherford and Raina are not regulars in their teams at the moment. And it seems that other new players are having their weaknesses unpicked in subsequent tests (such as Ali to the short ball).

    Previously test attacks may have found those weaknesses earlier on, which is shocking if you think about it with all the video analysis

  • highveldhillbilly on July 22, 2014, 11:06 GMT

    What is interesting from the names on your list is how many of these players made 100s early only for their intl career to seemingly decline: Marsh, Hughes, Rutherford, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Marcus North spring to mind and some appear on the decline in Robson and Dhawan. Interesting that these guys looked like they had it all but haven't been able to maintain that level so far in their career. Maybe bowlers don't know much about newer batsmen and it takes sometime for them to formulate a plan?

  • on July 22, 2014, 14:38 GMT

    Perhaps pitches are the answer. It is common knowledge that pitches are getting slower, drier and lower. And of course anything is better than an uncovered surface

  • on July 22, 2014, 14:52 GMT

    Sourav Ganguly arrived like a Maharaja in test arena by scoring a hundred on debut at the home of cricket: Lord's. Ganguly's 131 still remains the highest by any batsman on his debut at the Lord's.

  • Gwilym on July 22, 2014, 15:11 GMT

    Ed Smith wrote about this exact topic a couple of years ago, with the opinion:

    "The evidence suggests the hard thing is not making the step up to Test cricket. No, arguably the hardest challenge is retaining hunger and ambition once the novelty has worn off."

    ...which describes the current England team really rather well.

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/547997.html

  • on July 22, 2014, 15:24 GMT

    To this list I can straightaway add GR Vishwanath, Alvin Kallicharan, Javed Miandad, Gordon Greenidge

  • on July 22, 2014, 16:35 GMT

    What about fawad alam of pakistan

  • on July 22, 2014, 17:34 GMT

    Azhar Ali, he score century on England

  • on July 22, 2014, 19:13 GMT

    If batsmen don't make a century in their first 5 tests they're likely to be dropped or at least the media will have decided they're not test standard...

  • Thesonofg on July 22, 2014, 19:33 GMT

    Is maturity here being measured based on age or the number of games the player has played? Someone today playing for two years has experience equivalent to those of yesteryear with 4 years under their belt.