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Horror starts

Batsmen who have been out to the first ball of a Test

Martin Williamson

June 20, 2007

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Daren Ganga's dismissal off the first ball of the match at Chester-le-Street puts him in a small club of those who have headed off to the pavilion before most spectators have even taken their seats. Here are XI others.



Hannan Sarkar with that familiar trudging-off feeling © Getty Images
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Hannan Sarkar (Bangladesh) v West Indies, Kingston, 2003-04
The king of the first-ball-of-the-match dismissal, Sarkar has managed it three times, but leads the pack as he did it in successive Tests in the Caribbean in 2003-04, both times falling leg-before to Pedro Collins. Clearly rattled, Sarkar made Javed Omar take the first ball in the second innings. Restored to opener for Bangladesh's next Test, at home to New Zealand he edged the third ball of the match to first slip for another duck. To nobody's surprise, the selectors called time and he has yet to convince them he is worth another crack.

Sunil Gavaskar (India) v England, Edgbaston, 1974
The first of three occasions that Gavaskar fell to the first ball of the match, nicking Geoff Arnold to Alan Knott, and it set the tone for a wretched game for India as England won by an innings, losing two wickets in doing so, completing a 3-0 series whitewash. Gavaskar fared little better in the second innings, lasting eight balls for 4.

Jimmy Cook (South Africa) v India, Durban, 1992-93
You have to feel for Cook. One of the most prolific and talented batsmen of his generation, South Africa's return to the international fold came too late for him and when he was finally given a chance he was almost 40 and the form which had bludgeoned attacks in South Africa and England was on the wane. He edged the first ball of the game from Kapil Dev to Sachin Tendulkar at slip and wrote his name in history as the first man to be dismissed from the first ball of the match on his debut. He made 43 in the second innings but that was to be his best effort in three Tests.

Leon Garrick (West Indies) v South Africa, Kingston, 2000-01
Garrick was called up less than 24 hours before the final Test on the back of a big hundred against the tourists and a superb domestic season. The first ball he faced from Allan Donald was no more than a loosener outside off stump, but Garrick slashed it to Shaun Pollock in the gully. As South Africa celebrated Garrick stood rooted to the spot for several seconds, almost disbelieving, before being sent on his way. He made 27 in the second innings but almost immediately joined another club - the one-Test wonders.

Keith Stackpole (Australia) v New Zealand, Auckland, 1973-74
Stackpole had been a fixture at the top of the order for Australia for a decade, but his career ended when he made 40 runs in six innings in New Zealand. He edged Richard Hadlee to John Parker in the slips off the first ball of the deciding third Test and then made a seven-ball 0 second time round. Australia won the match and so levelled the series, but by the time England arrived in November Stackpole had lost his place.

Archie MacLaren (England) v Australia, Melbourne, 1894-95
MacLaren's second Test appearance was personally forgettable as he fell to the first ball but he was hardly alone in failing. On a poor wicket, 20 wickets tumbled on the opening day as Australia made 123 in reply to England's 75. Despite that, England went on to win the match, and in the fifth Test MacLaren's maiden hundred was key in England taking the game, and with it the series.

Herbert Sutcliffe (England) v New Zealand, Christchurch, 1932-33
After winning the Ashes in the infamous Bodyline series, New Zealand should have been a walk in the park for England's batsmen. But Sutcliffe, who made 440 runs at 55.00 against Australia, was caught behind off Ted Badcock for a first-baller and then the other opener, Eddie Paytner, was bowled for a golden duck with the first delivery in the second over. New Zealand's celebrations were short-lived. England closed the day of 418 for 5 on their way to 560 for 8.



Wasim Jaffer gets that sinking feeling against Bangladesh © AFP
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Wasim Jaffer (India) v Bangladesh, Chittagong, 2007
Getting out to the first ball of the match is embarrassing. When it involves losing your off stump offering no shot, it's even more so. In fairness, it was a superb ball from Mashrafe Mortaza, pitching outside off and cutting back in. When India batted again Jaffer had a chance to redeem himself. He left the first two deliveries, then top-edged a pull and lobbed the ball to mid-on for a three-ball duck. Jaffer bounced back with 138 in the second Test before retiring ill. In the second Test of the same series, Javed Omar, Bangladesh's No.1, was out to the first ball in both innings.

SS Das (India) v West Indies, Bridgetown, 2001-02
Poor old Rahul Dravid at No. 3. When Jaffer failed, Rahul Dravid twice walked out in the first over of the innings with the score 0 for 1. Six years earlier he was in the middle alongside Jaffer after one ball as SS Das swished at a loosener from Merv Dillon and was bowled through a very large gap between bat and pad. It followed a duck in his previous innings, and was part of a wretched tour where Cricinfo wrote Das "was a forlorn figure". In five Tests he managed 124 runs at 15.50 and has not been called upon since.

Warren Bardsley (Australia) v England, Headingley, 1926
Australia had dominated the Ashes since World War One - winning 12 Tests out of 15 - and few expected anything other than more of the same in 1926. Bardsley, their 43-year-old captain, carried his bat for a Test-best 193 not out in a draw at Lord's, dropping himself down the order to give his team-mates a chance in the second innings. In the next game at Headingley he went from one extreme to the other, snicking Maurice Tate's first ball to Herbert Sutcliffe at first slip. Australia still dominated, closing the day on 366 for 3, in another drawn match. But Bardsley's last four innings of the summer aggregated 38 runs and England won the decider at The Oval to regain the Ashes. It was a low-key end to a long and distinguished career.

Stan Worthington (England) v Australia, Brisbane, 1936-37
Not only the first ball of the match but also the first ball of the series, and an Ashes one at that. He was in good company - shortly after he was caught behind off Ernie McCormick, England's No. 4 Wally Hammond, second in the world only to Don Bradman, also fell for a golden duck. And in Australia's second innings, Jack Fingleton, their opener, was bowled by Bill Voce off the firs ball. Dropped for the second Test, Worthington was recalled for the third ... and made a four-ball blob. Worthington had started his Test career six years earlier with a first-baller against New Zealand, but on that occasion he was batting at No. 7.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo

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Martin Williamson Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.
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