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George Binoy and Travis Basevi dig into our stats database

Careers that took off after slow starts

Rags to riches

Last week, The List looked at players who became cricketing giants after ploughing through relatively mediocre starts to their careers. This week we look at the one-day equivalent

Travis Basevi and George Binoy

December 20, 2005

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Some stats, 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.

Last week, The List looked at players who became cricketing giants after ploughing through relatively mediocre starts to their careers. This week we look at the one-day equivalent.



Sanath Jayasuriya chose the perfect stage to make an impact in one-day cricket © Getty Images
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Before the 1995-96 season, you wouldn't have lost sleep over having to bowl Sanath Jayasuriya the next day. Unless you are Richard de Groen. Batting in the lower-middle order, Jayasuriya took 30 matches to get his average permanently out of single digits and 70 matches to score his first century. He chose the perfect stage to explode, the 1996 World Cup. Until then, he still averaged below 20 but in that tournament, he averaged 36.83 and that, coupled with a strike rate of 131.54, made him lethal. But Jayasuriya had only continued what Romesh Kaluwitharana had started in Australia a few months earlier. Kaluwithara's career stats may not be too flash but he had a strike rate of 91 in the Benson and Hedges series in 1995-96 and it was his impish and swashbuckling hitting that set the tone for what was to follow in the World Cup.

For someone who has more than doubled Desmond Haynes's then world record of 17 centuries, Sachin Tendulkar's first hundred took 79 matches to arrive. He started his career with two ducks and then went on to average around 30 for a good number of games, satisfactory for a middle-order batsman but hardly the stuff of legends. Perhaps the turning point of Tendulkar's one-day career came when Navjot Sidhu was sidelined with a neck strain. Tendulkar was asked to fill in as opener against New Zealand at Dunedin. The 49-ball 82 that followed marked the start of a prolific career at the top of the order.

Poor Starts - Comparing Career Batting Average with Average After 20 ODIs (qualification: 10 innings in first 20 ODIs, 2000 runs in career)
Player Span Inns Runs HS Ave 100 Runs Career Diff
DR Martyn (Aust) 1992-2005 18 276 51* 17.25 0 4691 41.88 24.63
ST Jayasuriya (Asia/SL) 1989-2005 17 143 31 8.41 0 10207 31.79 23.38
CH Gayle (ICC/WI) 1999-2005 19 331 58* 18.38 0 4416 38.73 20.34
Saleem Malik (Pak) 1982-1999 18 230 41 12.77 0 7170 32.88 20.11
ME Waugh (Aust) 1988-2002 19 404 67 23.76 0 8500 39.35 15.58
SB Styris (NZ) 1999-2005 14 178 43 13.69 0 2320 29.00 15.30
Javed Miandad (Pak) 1975-1996 19 423 77* 26.43 0 7381 41.70 15.26
SR Tendulkar (India) 1989-2005 19 492 62 28.94 0 13909 44.01 15.07
Imran Khan (Pak) 1974-1992 15 184 39 18.39 0 3709 33.41 15.01
Shoaib Malik (Pak) 1999-2005 11 145 44 18.12 0 2631 32.88 14.76

Muttiah Muralitharan, the man most likely to be the first to take 1000 international wickets, had mediocre starts to both forms of the game. After 30 ODIs , Murali had just 30 wickets at an expensive 37.36 apiece. It was then that Murali toured Australia in 1995-96 and was called for throwing by the umpires. In the 30 games beginning with the triangular series in Australia, Murali took 47 wickets at an astounding average of 23.42. He hasn't looked back since.

Richard Hadlee had an unhappy first few ODIs as well. With just seven wickets in his first ten games, Hadlee averaged in the early forties. He soon got into his stride after the 1975 World Cup and repaired his average steadily to finish with 158 wickets at 21.56.

Poor Starts - Comparing Career Bowling Average with Average After 20 ODIs (qualification: 500 balls in first 20 ODIs, 100 wickets in career)
Player Span Balls Wkts BBI Ave 5 Wkts Career Diff
SB Styris (NZ) 1999-2005 890 16 4/57 47.06 0 103 30.65 -16.41
M Muralitharan (Asia/ICC/SL) 1993-2005 1014 18 2/6 38.77 0 392 22.39 -16.38
RJ Hadlee (NZ) 1973-1990 1168 19 2/20 35.26 0 158 21.56 -13.69
A Kumble (Asia/India) 1990-2005 1146 17 4/50 43.82 0 329 30.76 -13.05
CH Gayle (ICC/WI) 1999-2005 709 12 2/18 40.66 0 100 31.53 -9.13
M Prabhakar (India) 1984-1996 852 14 4/19 37.35 0 157 28.87 -8.47
Azhar Mahmood (Pak) 1996-2005 825 14 3/34 46.50 0 122 38.86 -7.63
GP Wickramasinghe (SL) 1990-2002 895 14 2/29 45.64 0 109 39.64 -6.00
SP O'Donnell (Aust) 1985-1991 1047 22 2/19 34.63 0 108 28.72 -5.91
GD McGrath (Aust/ICC) 1993-2005 1073 24 4/24 28.00 0 327 22.21 -5.78

Ajit Agarkar was a one-day sensation when he first made the international stage. He was the fastest to 50 wickets, performing the feat in just 23 matches. Normalcy soon ensued and though he continued to take wickets frequently enough, they came at a high price. Agarkar's strike rate at present is an extremely impressive 32 but is offset by a poor economy rate of 5.10.

Shane Warne, unlike Anil Kumble and Murali, had a marvellous start in one-day cricket. He preyed on New Zealand and South Africa, not the most renowned players of spin, in the tri-series in 1994-95 and snared 22 wickets in just 10 games at 13.68 apiece.

Ian Bishop made his debut in 1988 and at the time, he was just another incredible fast bowler that West Indies were blessed with. But in 1993, a stress fracture of the back sidelined him for two years and then its recurrence eventually ended his career. In 53 matches before his injury, Bishop took 88 wickets at an average of just 21.29. In his first 18 Tests, he took 83 wickets at just 20.45 apiece. If his performance before his injury was anything to go by, Bishop was destined for greatness until fate dealt a cruel blow.

Great Starts - Comparing Career Bowling Average with Average After 20 ODIs (qualification: 500 balls in first 20 ODIs, 100 wickets in career)
Player Span Balls Wkts BBI Ave 5 Wkts Career Diff
CZ Harris (NZ) 1990-2004 894 24 3/15 27.87 0 203 37.50 9.62
HDPK Dharmasena (SL) 1994-2004 906 25 4/37 27.19 0 138 36.21 9.01
SK Warne (Aust/ICC) 1993-2005 1074 38 4/19 17.23 0 293 25.73 8.50
M Dillon (WI) 1997-2005 1039 32 4/20 24.50 0 130 32.44 7.94
PAJ DeFreitas (Eng) 1987-1997 1165 26 4/35 25.07 0 115 32.82 7.74
CEL Ambrose (WI) 1988-2000 1085 41 5/17 16.48 2 225 24.12 7.64
IR Bishop (WI) 1988-1997 1087 37 5/27 19.37 1 118 26.50 7.12
CL Hooper (WI) 1987-2003 564 16 3/27 29.50 0 193 36.05 6.55
AB Agarkar (India) 1998-2005 1068 44 4/35 21.22 0 232 27.26 6.03
RA Harper (WI) 1983-1996 1032 24 3/34 28.29 0 100 34.31 6.01
Great Starts - Comparing Career Batting Average with Average After 20 ODIs (qualification: 10 innings in first 20 ODIs, 2000 runs in career)
Player Span Inns Runs HS Ave 100 Runs Career Diff
IVA Richards (WI) 1975-1991 19 971 153* 74.69 3 6721 47.00 -27.69
JC Adams (WI) 1992-2001 12 275 81* 55.00 0 2204 28.62 -26.37
M Kaif (India) 2002-2005 15 563 111* 56.29 1 2431 35.23 -21.06
AL Logie (WI) 1981-1993 13 298 88 49.66 0 2809 28.95 -20.70
GS Chappell (Aust) 1971-1983 20 843 125* 56.20 1 2331 40.18 -16.01
MG Bevan (Aust) 1994-2004 18 621 78* 69.00 0 6912 53.58 -15.41
JG Wright (NZ) 1978-1992 20 745 81 39.21 0 3891 26.46 -12.74
CL Hooper (WI) 1987-2003 17 432 113* 48.00 1 5761 35.34 -12.65
SM Pollock (Afr/ICC/SAf) 1996-2005 12 180 66* 36.00 0 2556 24.34 -11.65
AC Parore (NZ) 1992-2002 16 476 96 36.61 0 3314 25.68 -10.92

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

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George Binoy Assistant Editor After a major in Economics and nine months in a financial research firm, George realised that equity, capital and the like were not for him. He decided that he wanted to be one of those lucky few who did what they love at work. Alas, his prodigious talent was never spotted and he had to reconcile himself to the fact that he would never earn his money playing cricket for his country, state or even district. He jumped at the opportunity to work for ESPNcricinfo and is now confident of mastering the art of office cricket
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