Best performers in a final series September 12, 2006

Gloriously walking into the sunset

This week we look at best performances in the final series of a career
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Anthony Stuart disappeared after his hat-trick against Pakistan in 1996-97 © Getty Images

When is the right time to retire? Do you bow out when your team will still miss you? Or do you continue until you've used up all that you've got and wait for the nudge from the administrators? Steve Waugh's last innings denied India a series victory, Nasser Hussain called it a day after a century at Lord's but history says that precious few have retired in a blaze of glory. This week we look at best performances in the final series of a career.

Seymour Nurse, the West Indian batsman, had a stop-start pattern early in his career but had become a fixture in the side when he retired after the tour of New Zealand. He scored 558 runs in three Tests in that series including a ninety, a hundred and a double-century. In the first Test at Auckland, New Zealand's sporting declaration gave West Indies five and a quarter hours plus the 15 mandatory overs to chase 345. Nurse cracked 168 in 215 minutes and when he was dismissed on 296, West Indies were almost assured of victory. He recorded his highest Test score in his last innings. No one else apart from Joey Carew, who scored 91, passed 30 but Nurse scored 258 in the first innings at Christchurch. Before the tour of New Zealand Nurse had averaged 40.93; he retired with 47.

Best batting average in a player's last series - Tests (qualification: 3 innings, last series in 2004 or earlier)
Player Mat Inns Runs HS Ave 100 50
SM Nurse (WI) 3 5 558 258 111.60 2 1
West Indies in New Zealand, 1968/69
CS Dempster (NZ) 2 3 105 83* 105.00 0 1
England in New Zealand, 1932/33
V Pollard (NZ) 3 5 302 116 100.66 2 1
New Zealand in England, 1973
WH Ponsford (Aust) 4 7 569 266 94.83 2 1
The Ashes, 1934
CG Macartney (Aust) 5 6 473 151 94.60 3 0
The Ashes, 1926
MW Goodwin (Zimb) 2 4 178 148* 89.00 1 0
Zimbabwe in England, 2000
DM Lewis (WI) 3 5 259 88 86.33 0 3
India in West Indies, 1970/71
SG Barnes (Aust) 4 6 329 141 82.25 1 3
The Ashes, 1948
MP Donnelly (NZ) 4 6 462 206 77.00 1 3
New Zealand in England, 1949
A Sandham (Eng) 4 8 592 325 74.00 2 2
England in West Indies, 1929/30

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    England's tour of West Indies in 1929-30 was Andy Sandham's first series for five years. He had spent much of his career in the shadow of Jack Hobbs and had only one fifty and an average of 19.13 to show after ten Tests. Few could have imagined that in his last four matches, Sandham would score Test cricket's first triple-century, another hundred and two fifties. His 325 and 50 in the fourth Test set a record for most runs scored in a Test as well. Sandham, by that time in his forties, wasn't picked for that summer's Ashes and he never played for England again.

    Murray Goodwin is the only batsman since Greg Chappell, who retired in 1983-84, on the list and his retirement from Test cricket was forced by his shift from Zimbabwe to Australia. Graeme Pollock and Barry Richards both averaged above 70 in the 1969-70 home series against Australia which turned out to be their last because South Africa were subsequently banned for apartheid. Mike Proctor took 26 wickets in that four-Test series at an average of 13.57.

    Best bowling average in a player's last series - Tests (qualification: 300 balls, 2 matches, last series in 2004 or earlier)
    Player Mat Balls Runs Wkts BBI Ave 5
    SF Barnes (Eng) 4 1356 536 49 9/103 10.93 7
    England in South Africa, 1913/14
    AE Trott (Eng) 2 474 198 17 5/49 11.64 1
    England in South Africa, 1898/99
    WH Lockwood (Eng) 4 487 206 17 6/48 12.11 3
    The Ashes, 1902
    FJ Laver (Aust) 4 644 189 14 8/31 13.50 1
    The Ashes, 1909
    MJ Procter (SAf) 4 858 353 26 6/73 13.57 1
    Australia in South Africa, 1969/70
    H Dean (Eng) 3 447 153 11 4/19 13.90 0
    Triangular Tournament, 1912
    C Blythe (Eng) 2 498 168 12 7/46 14.00 1
    England in South Africa, 1909/10
    CV Grimmett (Aust) 5 2077 642 44 7/40 14.59 5
    Australia in South Africa, 1935/36
    WPA Crawford (Aust) 3 408 103 7 3/28 14.71 0
    Australia in India, 1956/57
    Iqbal Qasim (Pak) 3 623 178 12 5/35 14.83 1
    Australia in Pakistan, 1988/89

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    Whatever happened to Anthony Stuart? He made his debut in the Carlton and United series between Australia, Pakistan and West Indies in 1996-97. He took took two wickets in his first game, one in the second and a hat-trick during his 5 for 26in his third against Pakistan. That match happened to be the last of the series and Australia didn't make the final. Stuart wasn't picked for the following tour of South Africa in March and quietly faded away.

    Best bowling average in a player's last series - ODIs (qualification: 150 balls, 2 matches, last series in 2004 or earlier)
    Player Mat Balls Runs Wkts BBI Ave 5
    JA Snow (Eng) 3 216 65 6 4/11 10.83 0
    Prudential World Cup, 1975
    TG Hogan (Aust) 3 167 117 9 4/33 13.00 0
    Australia in India, 1984/85
    AM Stuart (Aust) 3 180 109 8 5/26 13.62 1
    Carlton & United Series, 1996/97
    BP Patterson (WI) 4 191 113 8 2/14 14.12 0
    Total International Series, 1992/93
    Wasim Akram (Pak) 6 285 201 12 5/28 16.75 1
    ICC World Cup, 2002/03

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    Best batting average in a player's last series - ODIs (qualification: 3 innings, last series in 2004 or earlier)
    Player Mat Inns Runs HS Ave 100 50
    IM Chappell (Aust) 3 3 131 63* 131.00 0 2
    Benson & Hedges World Series Cup, 1979/80
    AC Bedade (India) 4 3 77 51 77.00 0 1
    West Indies in India, 1994/95
    GS Chappell (Aust) 4 3 74 54* 74.00 0 1
    Australia in Sri Lanka, 1982/83
    Minhajul Abedin (Bang) 4 4 140 68* 70.00 0 2
    ICC World Cup, 1999
    WJ Cronje (SAf) 4 3 135 79 67.50 0 1
    Coca-Cola Cup, 1999/00

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    Travis Basevi is the man who built Statsguru. George Binoy is editorial assistant of Cricinfo