Cricinfo XI

Off to a flier

Darren Sammy's return of 7 for 66 on his debut for West Indies at Old Trafford was not quite enough to give his side victory, nor did it put him in the top XI of best returns on debut. Here are the best of the best

Martin Williamson

June 14, 2007

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Darren Sammy's return of 7 for 66 on his debut for West Indies at Old Trafford was not quite enough to give his side victory, nor did it put him in the top XI of best returns on debut. Here are the best of the best



Bob Massie bowls John Snow on his way to 16 for 137 © The Cricketer
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Albert Trott (Australia) 8 for 43 v England 1894-95
For a few years around the turn of the last century, Trott was one of the best allrounders in the game. On his debut in the third Test at Adelaide he scored 38 not out and 72 not out batting at No. 10, and although he was only given three overs in England's first innings, he bowled almost unchanged in the second in searing heat. Promoted to No. 9 in the next match, he made 85 not out but did not bowl. Although he only took one wicket in the final Test, he was considered a certainty to tour England in 1896 under his brother, Harry. But he was left out, travelled to England under his own steam, qualified for Middlesex and played with great success for them for a decade. In 1898-99 he played two Tests for England, taking 17 for 199 against South Africa.

Bob Massie (Australia) 8 for 53 and 8 for 84 v England 1972
Rarely has one bowler made such an impression on such a big stage - an Ashes Test at Lord's - and certainly none has disappeared from the game so rapidly. Massie was suited to English conditions, a swing bowler who could move the ball both ways. And after three seasons in Scotland (where he took all ten wickets on debut for Kilmarnock) he was experienced as well. In 1971-72 he worked the scoreboard for the third "Test" against The Rest of the World before playing in the last two games. At Lord's, bowling medium-pace from round the wicket at the Nursery End, Massie was unplayable, and his outswinger to right-handers wreaked havoc under cloudy skies and in a humid atmosphere. He took 4 for 43 in the first innings of the next Test, but he later admitted that by the end of the tour his outswinger had deserted him. By the end of the following Australian season he was out of the Test side and had been dropped by his state.

Narendra Hirwani (India) 8 for 61 and 8 for 75 v West Indies 1987-88
Picked for the Chennai Test on the back of taking six second-innings wickets against West Indies Under-25s, Hirwani was fortunate in that he found himself bowling on an underprepared pitch and he exploited it to the full. He bamboozled West Indies with legspinners with googlies and top-spinners as he twice ran through them, aided in the second innings by five stumpings from Kiran More. The pick of the dismissals was Viv Richards, who failed to pick the googly. He continued his good form with another 15 wickets in two Tests against New Zealand later that season, but after 31 wickets at 13.85 in those three games, he came unstuck on less helpful surfaces. In another 13 Tests he took 30 wickets at 48.70, and in nine overseas Tests 21 at 59.00. And the arrival of Anil Kumble on the scene all but ended his international career.

Lance Klusener (South Africa) 8 for 64 v India 1996-97
In many people's minds Klusener is remembered as a one-day specialist, but he played 49 Tests as well. His debut came at Kolkata in December 1996 when he shared the new ball with Allan Donald. He failed to take a wicket in India's first innings and suffered the ignominy of being smashed for five successive fours by Mohammad Azharuddin. It all changed in the second innings. With Donald nursing a sore toe, Klusener opened the attack with Brian McMillan. By the close of the third day he had three wickets as India wobbled on 59 for 4 chasing 467, and the next morning he added another five to his haul. He never again took a Test five-for.



Alf Valentine: an unlikely-looking hero © The Cricketer
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Alf Valentine (West Indies) 8 for 104 v England 1950
When West Indies arrived in 1950, nobody had heard of Valentine who had played twice for Jamaica and taken 2 for 190. Bowling briskish left-arm spin with a whirling action, he started the tour sedately but took 8 for 26 against Lancashire on the eve of the first Test, and that won him selection on the same ground . He then took the first eight England wickets to fall - still a unique feat by a debutant - and chipped in with another three second time round but it was not enough to prevent a 202-run England win. But Valentine had only just begun. A fortnight later at Lord's he and the equally inexperienced Sonny Ramadhin humiliated England in what many believe was a watershed match, not only for cricket but for the Caribbean.

Dominic Cork (England) 7 for 43 v West Indies 1995
Cork was called up as a bowler who could bat for the Lord's Test in 1995. He made two decent scores batting at No. 7 and took one first-innings wicket. West Indies ended the fourth day on 68 for 1 chasing 293, and with reduced admission a crowd of more than 10,000 turned up to see if England could defy history and actually win. Darren Gough opened the door when he had Brian Lara caught behind, and then Cork crashed through it. Brought on at the Nursery End an hour in, two overs into the afternoon his figures read 9-5-9-3. He took two more wickets shortly before tea to check a mini-recovery, and then completed England's 72-run win with two in three after the interval. Two Tests later he took a hat-trick at Old Trafford.

John Lever (England) 7 for 46 v India 1976-77
A left-arm seamer of almost unlimited stamina with long hair ("he looks like he should be in a pop group or a football side," noted The Times) Lever began his Test career with 53 from the flattering heights of No. 9 - he never again passed fifty. He was near the end of a wicketless opening spell late on the second day when Tony Greig, England's captain, took the ball and pointed out that it had gone out of shape. The umpires agreed, and the replacement they provided immediately started swinging almost obscenely - 40 minutes later at the close India were 51 for 4 and Lever, pitching relentlessly on a length, had all four. The humid conditions the next day, allied with the same friendly ball, allowed Lever to continue where he left off. He added four more in the second innings to finish with 11 for 142. Lever finished the series atop England's averages with 26 wickets at 14.61, but there was the small matter of a Vaseline strip to unsettle the tour.

Alec Bedser (England) 7 for 49 v India 1946
Bedser made his county debut in 1939 but had to wait seven years - and endure six lost summers during the war - before he was called up at the age of 28 with only 11 first-class matches and 46 wickets to his name. Neville Cardus wrote in The Guardian: "Bedser is no heaven-sent opening bowler ...but he gives of his best." Making his debut at Lord's, he opened up from the Nursery End - which helped his awaycutter - and fully exploited a wet pitch. His nagging brisk medium-pace skittled through India's top order, and after a brief rest, he returned to mop up the tail. Four more in the second innings gace him 11 for 145 in the match. He later revealed that he was still struggling with a bad thigh strain which he hid from the selectors. A star was born.

Tom Kendall (Australia) 7 for 55 v England 1876-77
A slow-to-medium paced bowler, English-born Kendall only won two Test caps in the first two matches of all - but helped Australia to a victory which had seemed unlikely when England were set 154 to win. Kendall bowled unchanged through the second innings and earlier made 17 not out as he added a vital 29 for Australia's last second-innings wicket with John Hodges. He played in the second Test, taking another six wickets, but that was that.



Dominic Cork breaks through at Lord's in 1995 © Getty Images
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James Langridge (England) 7 for 56 v West Indies 1933
A slow left-armer whose chances were limited, mainly because of the presence of Hedley Verity. Langridge's debut appeared to be drifting uneventfully on as the last of the three days started. He had only bowled nine overs in West Indies' first innings, and even then late on, and had stood at the other end as Douglas Jardine was peppered with a dose of the Bodyline that had served him so well the previous winter. On a pitch taking spin, Jardine opened with Langridge and he repaid his faith by skittling West Indies out. It was too late to force a result, and the Test ended early to enable the players to catch trains home. Langridge's feat kept him in the side for the final Test and also earned him a place in the MCC team in India that winter.

Alf Hall (South Africa) 7 for 63 v England 1922-23
Hall was a left-armer from Lancashire who emigrated to South Africa and almost bowled them to a remarkable victory at Cape Town . With England set 173 to win, Hall reduced them to 86 for 6 at the close of the third day, at which point he had figures of 5 for 36. The next morning four catches were dropped before the first wicket fell, two off Hall, one by him off his own bowling. Hall came off but was almost immediately brought back while at the other end Buster Nupen was almost strangling England by bowling to an 8-1 leg-side field. Hal finally broke through on the stroke of lunch to leave England on 158 for 7 at the break. With six to win Hall took his final wicket and a run-out immediately followed, but England crawled over the finishing line to win by one wicket. Hall was carried shoulder-high from the field by spectators despite the team's loss.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo

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Martin Williamson Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.

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