August 13, 2008

Mendis beats a Bedser best

Which bowlers have taken the most wickets in debut series of varying length


A rare feat: Ajantha Mendis outbowled Muttiah Muralitharan in the series against India © AFP
 

The last time a Sri Lankan bowler took more wickets than Muttiah Muralitharan in a Test series - barring the one at home against South Africa in 2004 where he played only one match - was when West Indies visited in 2001-02. Murali would have topped the wickets tally again against India had it not been for a record-breaking performance from Ajantha Mendis in his debut series. Mendis' 26 wickets at 18.38 apiece was the record for most wickets by a debutant in a three-Test series. This week's List looks at bowlers with the most wickets in debut series of varying length.

The record that Mendis broke belonged to Alec Bedser, which he set during a three-Test rubber against India in 1946. Bedser took 24 wickets in five innings at 12.41, including 11-wicket hauls in the first two Tests. His 7 for 49 at Lord's was the second-best performance in an innings on debut, after Albert Trott's 8 for 43 against England at the Adelaide Oval in 1895.

Does anyone remember Franklyn Saliya Ahangama? He was a Sri Lankan medium-pacer fast-tracked into the Test side less than two weeks after his first-class debut with Sri Lanka Colts in 1985. He dismissed Mohammad Azharuddin with his fourth ball in Test cricket - the first of his 18 wickets at 19.33 apiece in the three-Test series against India. He took five wickets in his second match, at the P Saravanamuttu Stadium, which was Sri Lanka's maiden Test victory. Injuries, combined with the short supply of Tests, curtailed Ahangama's career and though he toured England in 1988 and 1991, the 1985 series against India remained his only Test appearances.

Most wickets in a three-Test series on debut
Player Mat Balls Runs Wkts BBI Ave 5 10 Series Season
BAW Mendis (SL) 3 979 478 26 6/117 18.38 2 1 v India 2008
AV Bedser (Eng) 3 866 298 24 7/49 12.41 2 2 v India 1946
SR Clark (Aus) 3 708 317 20 5/55 15.85 1 0 v South Africa 2005/06
J Cowie (NZ) 3 839 395 19 6/67 20.78 1 1 v England 1937
FS Ahangama (SL) 3 801 348 18 5/52 19.33 1 0 v India 1985
Shabbir Ahmed (Pak) 3 714 341 17 5/48 20.05 1 0 v Bangladesh 2003
MRCN Bandaratilleke (SL) 3 960 339 16 5/36 21.18 1 0 v New Zealand 1998
RO Collinge (NZ) 3 655 265 15 3/41 17.66 0 0 v Pakistan 1964/65
RJ Shastri (India) 3 882 277 15 5/125 18.46 1 0 v New Zealand 1980/81
BKV Prasad (India) 3 855 375 15 5/76 25.00 1 0 v England 1996

The West Indian spinners Alf Valentine and Sonny Ramadhin are first and third on the list of highest wicket-takers on debut in a four-Test series. Both played their first Test at Old Trafford during the tour of England in 1950, which West Indies won 3-1. Valentine finished the series with 33 wickets while Ramadhin took 26. John Goddard was West Indies' next highest wicket-taker, with six. Valentine and Ramadhin bowled 800.2 overs between them and, bizarrely, finished with the same economy-rate of 1.59 per over. Their performances helped West Indies secure their maiden Test and series victory in England.

Most wickets in a four-Test series on debut
Player Mat Balls Runs Wkts BBI Ave 5 10 Series Season
AL Valentine (WI) 4 2535 674 33 8/104 20.42 2 2 v England 1950
FS Trueman (Eng) 4 718 386 29 8/31 13.31 2 0 v India 1952
S Ramadhin (WI) 4 2267 604 26 6/86 23.23 3 1 v England 1950
W Ferguson (WI) 4 1296 567 23 6/92 24.65 3 1 v England 1947/48
S Venkataraghavan (India) 4 1545 399 21 8/72 19.00 1 1 v New Zealand 1964/65
JC Laker (Eng) 4 1120 548 18 7/103 30.44 1 0 v West Indies 1947/48
W Voce (Eng) 4 1130 584 17 7/70 34.35 1 1 v West Indies 1929/30
GAE Paine (Eng) 4 1044 467 17 5/168 27.47 1 0 v West Indies 1934/35
NGB Cook (Eng) 2 812 275 17 5/35 16.17 2 0 v New Zealand 1983
W Bates (Eng) 4 964 334 16 4/52 20.87 0 0 v Australia 1881/82

Australian legspinner Arthur Mailey's 36 scalps during the 1920-21 Ashes is the record for most wickets by a debutant in a five-Test series. He beat Frank Foster's tally of 32 against Australia during the 1911-12 Ashes. Mailey did not bowl in the second Test, in Melbourne. He took six wickets in Sydney, ten in Adelaide, 13 at the MCG (in the fourth Test), and seven more at the SCG. His haul of 9 for 121 in Melbourne is the best in an innings by an Australian bowler.

Most wickets in a five-Test series on debut
Player Mat Balls Runs Wkts BBI Ave 5 10 Series Season
AA Mailey (Aus) 5 1465 946 36 9/121 26.27 4 2 v England 1920/21
CEH Croft (WI) 5 1307 676 33 8/29 20.48 1 0 v Pakistan 1976/77
FR Foster (Eng) 5 1660 692 32 6/91 21.62 3 0 v Australia 1911/12
AS Kennedy (Eng) 5 1683 599 31 5/76 19.32 2 0 v South Africa 1922/23
WW Hall (WI) 5 1330 530 30 6/50 17.66 2 1 v India 1958/59
GB Lawrence (SA) 5 1334 512 28 8/53 18.28 2 0 v New Zealand 1961/62
WM Clark (Aus) 5 1585 701 28 4/46 25.03 0 0 v India 1977/78
AE Hall (SA) 4 1505 501 27 7/63 18.55 2 1 v England 1922/23
MW Tate (Eng) 5 1304 424 27 6/42 15.70 1 0 v South Africa 1924
WS Lees (Eng) 5 1256 467 26 6/78 17.96 2 0 v South Africa 1905/06

Terry Alderman has the highest wicket-aggregate for a debutant in a six-Test series, a mark unlikely to be bettered for there hasn't been a series of such length since 1998. Alderman took 9 for 130 on debut at Trent Bridge during the 1981 Ashes and went on to take 42 wickets in the series, beating Lillee's 39. Alderman bettered Rodney Hogg's record of 41 wickets, set in the 1978-79 Ashes, and his 42 wickets is the second highest series-tally for an Australian after Clarrie Grimmett's 44 in five Tests against South Africa in 1935-36.

Most wickets in a six-Test series on debut
Player Mat Balls Runs Wkts BBI Ave 5 10 Series Season
TM Alderman (Aus) 6 1950 893 42 6/135 21.26 4 0 v England 1981
RM Hogg (Aus) 6 1740 527 41 6/74 12.85 5 2 v England 1978/79
DR Doshi (India) 6 1838 630 27 6/103 23.33 2 0 v Australia 1979/80
DG Cork (Eng) 5 1106 661 26 7/43 25.42 1 0 v West Indies 1995
NS Yadav (India) 5 1407 577 24 4/35 24.04 0 0 v Australia 1979/80
PM Such (Eng) 5 1439 541 16 6/67 33.81 1 0 v Australia 1993
DW Headley (Eng) 3 788 444 16 4/72 27.75 0 0 v Australia 1997
Ehteshamuddin (Pak) 3 748 270 14 5/47 19.28 1 0 v India 1979/80
RMH Binny (India) 6 725 399 11 3/53 36.27 0 0 v Pakistan 1979/80
MA Holding (WI) 5 1125 614 10 4/88 61.40 0 0 v Australia 1975/76

In one-day internationals, the most wickets by a debutant in a series is 13. Shaun Pollock broke the 11-wicket mark, set by South Africa medium-pacer Eric Simons against the visiting Australians in 1993-94, when he took 13 in the seven-match series in 1995-96. That was equalled in 2008 by New Zealand medium-pacer Tim Southee, who took 13 wickets during the five-ODI series in England.

Shane Bond made the biggest splash on debut in a multi-nation one-day tournament. He took 21 wickets at 16.38 apiece in nine matches during the tri-series in Australia in 2001-02, beating established bowlers such as Glenn McGrath and Makhaya Ntini by seven wickets. The previous record was held by Simon Davis and Tony Dodemaide of Australia, who took 18 wickets each in the 1985-86 and 1987-88 World Series Cup.

Most wickets in a multi-team ODI tournament on debut
Player Mat Wkts BBI Ave 5 Series Season
SE Bond (NZ) 9 21 5/25 16.38 1 VB Series 2001/02
SP Davis (Aus) 12 18 3/10 16.61 0 World Series Cup 1985/86
AIC Dodemaide (Aus) 10 18 5/21 16.05 1 World Series Cup 1987/88
MC Snedden (NZ) 10 17 3/27 21.94 0 World Series Cup 1980/81
BA Reid (Aus) 12 17 5/53 25.17 1 World Series Cup 1985/86
GD McGrath (Aus) 8 16 4/24 17.25 0 World Series 1993/94
B Lee (Aus) 9 16 5/27 20.00 1 Carlton & United Series 1999/00
IK Pathan (India) 10 16 4/24 31.06 0 VB Series 2003/04
DR Doshi (India) 10 15 4/30 20.86 0 World Series Cup 1980/81
CG Rackemann (Aus) 6 15 4/39 16.46 0 World Series Cup 1982/83
CJ McDermott (Aus) 11 15 3/30 32.13 0 World Series Cup 1984/85
SP O'Donnell (Aus) 13 14 2/19 37.35 0 World Series Cup 1984/85
MG Hughes (Aus) 9 14 4/44 22.07 0 World Series 1988/89
DR Gilbert (Aus) 9 13 5/46 28.92 1 World Series Cup 1985/86
SR Gillespie (NZ) 8 13 4/30 20.38 0 World Series Cup 1985/86

Click here for the full tables.

If there's a particular List that you would like to see, email us with your comments and suggestions.

George Binoy is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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