S Rajesh
Numbers Game Numbers GameRSS FeedFeeds  | Archives
ESPNcricinfo's stats editor S Rajesh looks at the stories behind the stats

The Friday column

The travails of Mohammad Sami

Five years ago he was touted as Pakistan's next big fast-bowling hope, but since then it's been one steady downward slide for Mohammad Sami

S Rajesh

July 28, 2006

Text size: A | A



Such moments have been rare in the Test career of Mohammad Sami © Getty Images
Enlarge

Five years ago he was touted as Pakistan's next big fast-bowling hope, but since then it's been one steady downward slide. At Lord's in the first Test against England last week, Mohammad Sami's stock went down even further, when he leaked 139 runs from 34 overs, and had only one wicket to show for his efforts. It was the seventh time in his fledging 26-Test career that Sami had gone past the century mark at the bowling crease with a wicket or less as his reward. Contrast that with his match haul of 8 for 106 in his debut Test - a performance which won him the Man-of-the-Match award - and it gives you an idea of just how far he has slipped.

Sami's latest debacle at Lord's means that he is fast hurtling towards a landmark which cherished by a batsman, but isn't such an encouraging sign for a bowler - an average of 50. If Sami gives away 96 more runs without taking a wicket in the Old Trafford Test - or gives away an additional 50 runs for every wicket he takes - he will break the 50 barrier. That he continues to be part of Pakistan's Test match set-up is an indication of just how highly he is still rated, or just how threadbare Pakistan's bowling cupboard is after injuries to many of their frontline bowlers.

Over the years, Sami's career has progressed along very similar lines to another wiry fast-bowling talent from whom much was expected. Ajit Agarkar has played in exactly as many Tests as Sami, taken eight fewer wickets, and averages only marginally lower. There are more similarities too - both have a strike rate of exactly 83.7 deliveries per wicket, and while Sami's best Test figures read 8 for 106 (against New Zealand on his debut), Agarkar's is 8 for 160, against Australia at Adelaide in 2003-04.

The table below lists the fast bowlers who have the worst averages after playing at least 25 Tests and taking at least 50 wickets. The two names mentioned above figure on top of the list, and by quite some distance too - the next in the list, Pramodya Wickramasinghe, averages less than 42 per wicket. The table also excludes those who are primarily batsmen - Nathan Astle, Guy Whittall, Mudassar Nazar and Wally Hammond all make the cut according to the criteria, but none of them were in the team primarily for their bowling ability.

Worst averages for fast bowlers (at least 25 Tests, 50 wickets)
Bowler Tests Wickets Average Strike rate
Mohammad Sami 26 66 48.54 83.7
Ajit Agarkar 26 58 47.32 83.7
Pramodya Wickramasinghe 40 85 41.87 85.4
Madan Lal 39 71 40.08 84.4
Bryan Strang 26 56 39.33 97.0
Mahmood Hussain 27 68 38.64 86.9
Henry Olonga 30 68 38.52 66.2
Martin Snedden 25 58 37.91 86.0
Lance Klusener 49 80 37.91 86.0
Chris Lewis 32 93 37.52 73.6

The problem for Pakistan and for Sami has been that Sami has shown little signs of improving - in fact, as the table below shows, his average has progressively worsened over each five-Test period. In his last six Tests, for example, Sami has managed 16 wickets at an exorbitant 51.63. Both of Sami's five-wicket hauls have come in New Zealand, against whom he averages 35; against the other teams the figure balloons up to 52.17. According to the ICC's Future Tours Program, Pakistan aren't supposed to go to New Zealand again till December 2010. If Sami doesn't deliver against some of the other teams in the interim, it's highly unlikely he will be on the plane to New Zealand in four years' time.

Sami - from bad to worse
After Test no. Wickets Average 5WI/ 10WM
5 14 40.50 1/ 0
10 26 44.23 1/ 0
15 39 46.94 2/ 0
20 53 47.84 2/ 0
26 66 48.54 2/ 0

Harmison finds his groove again
Sami hasn't had much to cheer about lately, and the picture was somewhat similar for England's spearhead before the first day of the second Test. He'd missed much of the early part of the season due to injury, and when he returned, he lacked rhythm, control and confidence, and was once even taken for 97 runs by the Sri Lankans in an ODI.

No-one doubted Harmison's matchwinning ability, but it was in need of some urgent reinforcement - in the last two years, he had dropped from taking four-and-a-half wickets per Test to just over three, and the average, which has hovered in the mid-20s for much of his career, was nudging dangerously close to 30. His 6 for 19 - at a ground where he had previously managed only seven in two matches - proves he is back near his best. Now, if only Sami can conjure up a similarly inspirational performance before the Old Trafford Test is done.

Break-up of Harmison's career (before the ongoing Manchester Test)
Wickets Average 5WI/ 10WM
First 23 Tests 102 24.73 4/ 0
Last 19 Tests 61 36.54 2/ 0

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo.

RSS Feeds: S Rajesh

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
S RajeshClose
S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.

    Ranji in Ireland, Hazare in Mumbai

Diary: Our correspondent takes in Dublin, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Chennai. By Subash Jayaraman

    A year of triumph and disaster

Martin Crowe: Misbah, McCullum, and the ICC's efforts against chucking were the positive highlights in a year that ended with the tragedy of Phillip Hughes' death

    Two fortresses called Brisbane and Centurion

Numbers Game: Australia haven't lost at the Gabba since 1988, while South Africa have a 14-2 record in Centurion

Zimbabwe's decade of hurt

The Cricket Monthly: Ten years ago 15 white Zimbabwean cricketers went on strike. The game has not been the same since
Download the app: for iPads | for Android tablets

Would Brearley have picked Cook as captain?

Nicholas Hogg: Cook lacks certain qualities the ex-England captain listed as those fitting of an ideal leader, in particular, charisma

News | Features Last 7 days

The perfect Test

After the tragedy of Phillip Hughes' death, this match showed that cricket and life will continue to go on. This time Test cricket dug in and got through to tea.

Kohli attains batting nirvana

Virat Kohli's innings on the final day transcended the conditions, the bowlers and his batting partners, and when it was all in vain, he displayed remarkable grace in defeat

Australia in good hands under proactive Smith

The new stand-in captain has the makings of a long-term leader, given his ability to stay ahead of the game

What ails Rohit and Watson?

Both batsmen seemingly have buckets of talent at their disposal and the backing of their captains, but soft dismissals relentlessly follow both around the Test arena

Karn struggles to stay afloat

The failed gamble of handing Karn Sharma a Test debut despite him having a moderate first-class record means India have to rethink who their spinner will be

News | Features Last 7 days

    BCCI's argument against DRS not 100% (164)

    Turning your back on a system that the whole cricketing world wants a discussion on, refusing to discuss it because it is not 100%, is not good enough

    Karn struggles to stay afloat (114)

    The failed gamble of handing Karn Sharma a Test debut despite him having a moderate first-class record means India have to rethink who their spinner will be

    Kohli attains batting nirvana (110)

    Virat Kohli's innings on the final day transcended the conditions, the bowlers and his batting partners, and when it was all in vain, he displayed remarkable grace in defeat

    When defeat isn't depressing (57)

    After a long time we have seen an Indian team and captain enjoy the challenge of trying to overcome stronger opposition in an overseas Test

    What ails Rohit and Watson? (51)

    Both batsmen seemingly have buckets of talent at their disposal and the backing of their captains, but soft dismissals relentlessly follow both around the Test arena