Domestic bowlers who didn't make it in Tests May 10, 2006

Flying first class - Part II

Last week's column was about prolific first-class batsmen who never made it in Test cricket, this week it's the bowlers' turn
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Don Shepherd (right) took 2218 first-class wickets in 668 games but didn't play a single Test, along with Glamorgan team-mate Alan Jones (centre), the highest run-scorer who never played in a Test. Pictured with them is Tony Lewis, who captained England in eight of his nine appearances © Playfair Cricket Monthly
Shane Warne has 1185 first-class wickets, Muttiah Muralitharan 1134, Glenn McGrath 814, and they are the top three wicket-takers in Test cricket. Now consider these numbers, 4204 wickets for Wilfred Rhodes (127 in Tests), 3776 to Alfred Freeman (just 66 in Tests) and 3278 for Charlie Parker (only two Test wickets). Well, at least they won Test caps. Last week's column was about prolific first-class batsmen who never made it in Test cricket, this week it's the bowlers' turn.

Glamorgan have achieved a unique double; in Alan Jones they have the highest first-class runscorer never to play a Test, and in Don Shepherd, they have the highest uncapped wicket-taker. Shepherd, a medium-pacer who later bowled fast offcutters, toured Ceylon with the MCC in 1969-70 and was even one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Year in 1970.

Gloucestershire's George Dennett, the second on the list, had several highlights during his 2151-wicket career but none worthier than his 8 for 9 that helped rout Northamptonshire for 12, the lowest total in first-class cricket. He finished with match-figures of 15 for 21, all taken in a single day.

Most First-class wickets without playing a Test
Player Span Mat Wkts BBI Ave 5wi
DJ Shepherd 1950-1972 668 2218 9/47 21.32 123
EG Dennett 1903-1926 401 2151 10/40 19.82 211
JA Newman 1906-1930 541 2054 9/131 25.02 134
GR Cox 1895-1828 634 1843 9/50 22.86 111
TG Wass 1896-1820 312 1666 9/67 20.46 159
J Mercer 1919-1947 457 1591 10/51 23.40 104
FW Lillywhite 1825-1853 237 1576 10/? 10.15* 155
FA Tarrant 1898/99-1936/37 329 1512 10/90 17.49 133
WR Hillyer 1835-1853 230 1482 8/26 11.00* 149
GS Boyes 1921-1939 504 1472 9/57 23.51 74

  • Click here for the full tables.



    Vince van der Bijl © The Cricketer
    Nineteenth-century Englishmen dominate the list of bowlers with the lowest averages to not play a Test with John Wisden , who finished 186 matches with an average of 6.66, on top. The three players on the list from outside England are Otago's Alexander Downes, South Africa's Vince van der Bijl, who also played for Middlesex, and most intriguingly, Bart King from the United States of America. King, who is USA's premier cricketer by some distance, took 415 wickets in 65 matches and also toured England with the Philadelphians in 1897, 1903 and 1908.

    However, if we exclude players before World War I, the result is a mix of players from the subcontinent and England, with van der Bijl right leading the way. van der Bijl, a medium-fast bowler of 6ft 7½ inches, was considered by some to be one of the leading bowlers of his time. He was included in the South African squad for the tour of Australia in 1971-72 that was subsequently cancelled.

    Best career First-class bowling average without playing a Test (qualification: 200 First-class wickets, excluding players prior to World War I)
    Player Span Mat Wkts BBI Ave 5wi
    VAP van der Bijl 1967/68-1982/83 156 767 8/35 16.54 46
    S Luthra 1965/66-1980/81 67 262 9/70 16.92 14
    AM Ismail 1969/70-1977/78 75 244 7/26 18.04 13
    BK Bose 1940/41-1963/64 45 210 8/43 18.18 15
    AG Ram Singh 1930/31-1946/47 56 265 8/14 18.56 24
    R Goel 1958/59-1984/85 157 750 8/55 18.58 59
    PNG Ranjith 1997/98-2005/06 69 260 7/37 18.84 18
    AB Jackson 1963-1968 149 457 8/18 18.94 17
    Ahad Khan 1962/63-1980/81 55 214 9/7 19.29 12
    P Sitaram 1952/53-1967/68 69 288 8/29 19.30 19

  • Click here for tables including pre-World War I bowlers.

    If you look at Test wickets as a proportion of first-class wickets, most of the bowlers with the highest percentages, with the exception of Ashantha De Mel and Kapil Dev , played in the 21st century. It was a similar case with the batsmen, all of whom made their debuts after 1990, a result of central contracts and packed international schedules that allow national cricketers only the rare domestic appearance.

    In fact, Courtney Walsh, ranked 49th with 1807 wickets, is the only bowler from the 1990s among the top 50 bowlers with the most first-class wickets.

    Highest proportion of Test wickets as FC wickets (qualification: 50 Test wickets)
    Player Span FC Wkts Ave Tests Wkts Ave %
    Mashrafe Mortaza 2001/02-2005/06 27 69 35.72 20 50 37.42 72.46
    GD McGrath 1992/93-2005/06 184 814 20.77 119 542 21.55 66.58
    A Flintoff 1995-2005/06 150 266 31.53 59 174 31.45 65.41
    SM Pollock 1991/92-2005/06 177 634 23.36 101 394 23.20 62.14
    DL Vettori 1996/97-2005/06 114 365 32.52 71 219 34.96 60.00
    JH Kallis 1993/94-2005/06 188 334 30.64 102 200 31.71 59.88
    M Ntini 1995/96-2005/06 131 458 29.19 67 269 28.09 58.73
    SK Warne 1990/91-2006 266 1185 25.63 140 685 25.25 57.80
    B Lee 1994/95-2005/06 89 372 27.36 54 211 31.45 56.72
    FH Edwards 2001/02-2005/06 37 107 36.12 23 60 43.43 56.07

  • Click here for the full tables.

    Biggest difference of a lower First-class average than a Test average (qualification: 50 Test wickets)
    Player Span FC Wkts Ave Tests Wkts Ave Diff
    HDPK Dharmasena 1988/89-2005/06 155 495 20.77 31 69 42.31 21.539
    CG Borde 1952/53-1972/73 251 331 27.32 55 52 46.48 19.157
    AB Agarkar 1996/97-2005/06 69 207 29.14 26 58 47.32 18.187
    PI Pocock 1964-1986 554 1607 26.53 25 67 44.41 17.879
    EP Nupen 1920/21-1936/37 74 334 18.19 17 50 35.75 17.565
    Mohammad Sami 1999/00-2005/06 70 242 30.68 25 65 47.15 16.467
    GRJ Matthews 1982/83-1997/98 190 516 31.80 33 61 48.22 16.421
    DVP Wright 1932-1957 497 2056 23.98 34 108 39.11 15.129
    AMB Rowan 1939/40-1951 58 273 23.47 15 54 38.59 15.120
    DG Phadkar 1942/43-1959/60 133 466 22.04 31 62 36.85 14.811

  • Click here for tables showing differences between Test and first-class average.

    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