Great oaks from little acorns grow
Some statistics, like Bradman's average and the number of centuries Tendulkar has made are known to pretty much every cricket buff. But The List will bring you facts and figures that aren't so obvious, adding fuel to those fiery debates about the most valuable middle-order bat, and the most useless tailender. If there's a particular List that you would like to see, e-mail us with your comments and suggestions.
If you're the kind that looks at a glass and says it's quarter full, you'd have told Marvan Atapattu not to worry after his first three Tests because he could not help but improve on his average of 0.16. More than ten years have elapsed since he made five ducks in his first six innings and Atapattu, as captain of Sri Lanka, gives hope to all those who fail miserably at their first, second, or if they're lucky enough, third chance.
Even the men who make up Test cricket's second-most prolific opening pair had modest starts to eventually successful careers. Matthew Hayden was relegated to the sidelines for several years after a making a forgettable debut against South Africa in 1994. Since his comeback, cemented after striking gold in India in 2000-01, Hayden has become one of two batsmen, Brian Lara being the other, to score 1000 runs in five calendar years but he is the first to perform this feat in consecutive years. Justin Langer took five years to play his first eight Tests but thereafter his tale has only got better. The Hayden-Langer combination at the top of the Australian order has yielded 5084 runs and they're far from done. Garry Sobers had an average of 29.92 after ten Tests and that figure hovered around 30 until three consecutive hundreds - the first of which was the famous 365 not out - pole-vaulted him to greatness.
|JH Kallis (ICC/SAf)||1995-2005||15||340||101||22.66||1||7420||57.07||34.41|
|SR Waugh (Aust)||1985-2004||16||271||74||20.84||0||10927||51.06||30.21|
|ML Hayden (Aust)||1994-2005||16||413||125||25.81||1||6672||54.24||28.43|
|GS Sobers (WI)||1954-1974||17||419||64||29.92||0||8032||57.78||27.85|
|HH Gibbs (SAf)||1996-2005||19||380||54||20.00||0||5227||47.09||27.09|
|DL Amiss (Eng)||1966-1977||17||313||56||20.86||0||3612||46.30||25.44|
|MD Crowe (NZ)||1982-1995||16||331||100||20.68||1||5444||45.36||24.67|
|MS Atapattu (SL)||1990-2005||19||321||108||16.89||1||5119||38.48||21.59|
|DB Vengsarkar (India)||1976-1992||18||350||49||20.58||0||6868||42.13||21.54|
The flip side to having a sensational sequence in your first few international games is that, inevitably, normalcy and sometimes even mediocrity will ensue. Unless you are Don Bradman.
In the twilight of Bradman's career, there emerged one Neil Harvey, and after ten Tests his average was indeed Bradman-esque. But no country could be so fortunate to be blessed with two anomalies in such quick succession and sure enough Harvey's average of 95 went into freefall and he ended with a very good but mortal 48.41.
When Imran Khan, one of cricket's most athletic allrounders, had played ten tests, the stats didn't indicate any signs of greatness. In fact, they showed Imran to be, if anything, an average cricketer. He had just one half-century and a batting average of 20.57 while his bowling had begun to show more promise with a hat-trick of five-fors against Australia. Only in the latter half of his career did he blossom as a batsman and became one of five players to have more than 3000 runs and 300 wickets in Test cricket.
After Imran, the allrounder's mantle in Pakistan fell on Wasim Akram, who was extravagantly equipped in the bowling department but didn't quite fit the bill as a batsman. In 1997, Azhar Mahmood exploded into Test cricket with a heroic century against South Africa. Mahmood made 128 and put on 225 with the last two batsmen, claimed two wickets with the new ball and followed up with 50 not out in the second innings. It was as rosy as a debut could get. He averaged 90 with three centuries, all against South Africa, in his first eight Tests. Unfortunately, he played just 13 more Tests and his decline was as spectacular as his entrance. After the tour of South Africa in 1997-98 his form deserted him and in his last 12 Tests he averaged a lowly 14.33.
|RN Harvey (Aust)||1948-1963||15||1045||178||95.00||6||6149||48.41||-46.58|
|MJ Greatbatch (NZ)||1988-1996||16||786||146*||65.50||2||2021||30.62||-34.87|
|LG Rowe (WI)||1972-1980||14||955||302||73.46||4||2047||43.55||-29.90|
|SL Campbell (WI)||1995-2002||16||836||208||55.73||1||2882||32.38||-23.35|
|FMM Worrell (WI)||1948-1963||16||1008||261||72.00||3||3860||49.48||-22.51|
|KR Miller (Aust)||1946-1956||12||585||141*||58.50||1||2958||36.97||-21.52|
|KD Walters (Aust)||1965-1981||16||903||155||69.46||2||5357||48.26||-21.20|
|MA Taylor (Aust)||1989-1999||18||1088||219||64.00||3||7525||43.49||-20.50|
|ML Jaisimha (India)||1959-1971||16||706||127||50.42||1||2056||30.68||-19.74|
|JC Adams (WI)||1992-2001||15||732||137||61.00||1||3012||41.26||-19.73|
Much has been written about Andrew Flintoff's coming of age during England's tour of India in 2001-02 and the figures merely drive home that point. Flintoff's tenth Test was the first of that series and until then he had taken his wickets at 66.42 apiece, hardly the stuff that made Australia totter this summer. Against India, even though he took just six wickets in three Tests, he did so at 31.50 and a miserly economy rate of 2.05 and since that series, Flintoff averages 30.42.
If it surprises you to see Malcom Marshall among the relatively poor starters, it's only because his first series was a poor one in India, where he averaged 88.33 for 3 wickets in as many matches. Thereafter he was right on the button, and he went for more than 30 per wicket in just two of his 20 series.
|A Flintoff (Eng/ICC)||1998-2005||1031||7||2/31||66.42||0||163||31.51||-34.91|
|Intikhab Alam (Pak)||1959-1977||1884||16||2/33||54.12||0||125||35.95||-18.17|
|AK Davidson (Aust)||1953-1963||1436||13||2/22||37.53||0||186||20.53||-17.00|
|JC Laker (Eng)||1948-1959||2706||36||7/103||35.66||1||193||21.24||-14.41|
|MH Mankad (India)||1946-1959||3035||28||5/101||46.42||1||162||32.32||-14.10|
|CL Cairns (NZ)||1989-2004||1995||28||6/52||43.10||2||218||29.40||-13.70|
|BA Reid (Aust)||1985-1992||2355||30||4/90||37.33||0||113||24.63||-12.69|
|MD Marshall (WI)||1978-1991||2022||30||4/25||32.50||0||376||20.94||-11.55|
|GD McGrath (Aust)||1993-2005||2361||33||5/68||32.48||1||534||21.27||-11.21|
|GAR Lock (Eng)||1952-1968||2666||29||5/45||36.68||1||174||25.58||-11.10|
The Australia and Pakistan teams that toured England in 1977 and 1978 had lost several of their stars to World Series Cricket and Ian Botham exploited this advantage to the hilt. He took 53 wickets in his first ten tests that also included five against New Zealand, who by then had just nine Test wins to their credit. Brett Lee, too, took advantage of a pace-suspect India and a weak West Indies to burst on to the Test circuit. Which is why, Heath Streak's impressive showing in his early matches against much stronger teams such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka and New Zealand is more commendable. His haul of 22 wickets in three Tests against Pakistan in 1994-95 was his best in a series.
|JE Emburey (Eng)||1978-1995||1850||25||4/46||22.71||0||147||38.40||15.68|
|B Lee (Aust)||1999-2005||1726||48||5/47||19.37||3||179||31.82||12.45|
|PH Edmonds (Eng)||1975-1987||2341||33||7/66||22.90||2||125||34.18||11.27|
|IT Botham (Eng)||1977-1992||2217||53||8/34||17.33||6||383||28.40||11.06|
|S Venkataraghavan (India)||1965-1983||2902||37||8/72||25.18||2||156||36.11||10.92|
|RJ Shastri (India)||1981-1992||2496||27||5/125||30.40||1||151||40.96||10.55|
|W Rhodes (Eng)||1899-1930||2105||57||8/68||16.42||5||127||26.96||10.54|
|RM Hogg (Aust)||1978-1984||2664||53||6/74||18.62||5||123||28.47||9.85|
|PCR Tufnell (Eng)||1990-2001||2773||38||7/47||28.71||4||121||37.68||8.97|
|GG Arnold (Eng)||1967-1975||2006||38||6/45||19.89||2||115||28.29||8.40|
If there's a particular List that you would like to see, e-mail us with your comments and suggestions.
George Binoy is editorial assistant of Cricinfo