October 14, 2009

Fifty-three ODIs without a fifty or a three-for

Players who never scored a half-century, nor took three wickets in an innings, during their whole careers

Until he biffed 80 off 76 balls against Australia in the semi-final of the ICC Champions Trophy, Tim Bresnan had done little of note in his international career. In 14 ODIs before that game, Bresnan's highest score was 31 not out, his average was 27.66, and he had taken only 14 wickets at 42 apiece, and never more than two in an innings. So we dug up lists of players who never scored a half-century or took three wickets in an innings during their whole, mostly short, Test and one-day international careers. We also checked on who played the most matches before making a fifty or taking a three-for.

Matt Poore, a former New Zealand batsman and offspinner, had the longest Test career without scoring a half-century or taking more than three wickets in an innings. He played 14 matches between 1953 and 1956 and his 45 on debut against South Africa in Auckland remained his highest score. He made 170 runs in five Tests in South Africa but managed only 132 runs in his next 13 innings at home and in Pakistan and India. Poore's offbreaks were used in only 11 innings and coincidentally his best innings figures - 2 for 28 - came on debut against South Africa as well.

The most recent player in the table below is Sri Lanka's Jehan Mubarak, who played the last of his 10 Tests in December 2007. Mubarak made a steady, if unspectacular, start to his career, scoring 24, 31, 48, 15 and 34 in his first five innings. The problem of his inability to convert starts worsened and soon he was unable to get going at all. He was dropped after being dismissed for single-digit scores in five successive innings against England and hasn't been recalled since.

Never scoring a 50 or taking three wickets in a career (excluding keepers) - Tests
Player Span Mat Inns Runs HS Bat Av Balls Conc Wkts BBI BBM Bowl Av
MB Poore (NZ) 1953-1956 14 24 355 45 15.43 788 367 9 2/28 4/71 40.77
LA Stricker (SA) 1910-1912 13 24 342 48 14.25 174 105 1 1/36 1/46 105.00
LSM Miller (NZ) 1953-1958 13 25 346 47 13.84 2 1 0 - - -
WA Shalders (SA) 1899-1907 12 23 355 42 16.13 48 6 1 1/6 1/6 6.00
JMM Commaille (SA) 1910-1928 12 22 355 47 16.90 0 0 0 - - -
CS Nayudu (India) 1934-1952 11 19 147 36 9.18 522 359 2 1/19 1/19 179.50
HF Wade (SA) 1935-1936 10 18 327 40* 20.43 0 0 0 - - -
J Mubarak (SL) 2002-2007 10 17 254 48 15.87 84 50 0 - - -
Gul Mohammad (India/Pak) 1946-1956 9 17 205 34 12.81 77 24 2 2/21 2/21 12.00
CT Sarwate (India) 1946-1951 9 17 208 37 13.00 658 374 3 1/16 1/16 124.66
Sanwar Hossain (Ban) 2001-2003 9 18 345 49 19.16 444 310 5 2/128 2/128 62.00
PA McAlister (Aus) 1904-1909 8 16 252 41 16.80 0 0 0 - - -
JM Ghorpade (India) 1953-1959 8 15 229 41 15.26 150 131 0 - - -
PR Carlstein (SA) 1958-1964 8 14 190 42 14.61 0 0 0 - - -
MRJ Veletta (Aus) 1987-1990 8 11 207 39 18.81 0 0 0 - - -
Akram Khan (Ban) 2000-2003 8 16 259 44 16.18 0 0 0 - - -
Mehrab Hossain (Ban) 2000-2003 8 16 170 23 10.62 12 5 0 - - -
SH Curnow (SA) 1930-1932 7 14 168 47 12.00 0 0 0 - - -
S Wazir Ali (India) 1932-1936 7 14 237 42 16.92 30 25 0 - - -
KBJ Azad (India) 1981-1983 7 12 135 24 11.25 750 373 3 2/84 2/106 124.33
DP Samaraweera (SL) 1993-1995 7 14 211 42 15.07 0 0 0 - - -

The last player in the table above is Dulip Samaraweera, brother of the better-known Thilan. An opening batsman, Dulip played seven Tests between 1993 and 1995, but his career never took flight. He made only 211 runs in 14 innings at an average of 15.07. His younger brother did not make the same mistakes. Thilan began his career with 103 against India at the SSC in 2001 and now averages nearly 52 after 54 Tests.

The second table is of players who took the longest (in terms of matches played) to register either a fifty or a three-wicket haul in Tests. Most of the top names are also in the table above. The succession of lesser-known players is broken by the appearance of Andrew Flintoff.

Flintoff went 11 Tests at the start of his career without a fifty or three wickets in an innings. His best with bat and ball was 42 and 2 for 31 against South Africa in Port Elizabeth in 1999, and he averaged under 15 per innings and over 58 per wicket during this period. In his 12th Test, Flintoff claimed 4 for 50 against India in Bangalore 2001, and in his 13th match, in Christchurch in 2002, he went past fifty for the first time, scoring 137 in England's 98-run win.

Most matches at start of a career without scoring a 50 or taking three wickets (excluding keepers) - Tests
Player Span Mat Inns Runs HS Bat Av Balls Conc Wkts BBI BBM Bowl Av
MB Poore (NZ) 1953-1956 14 24 355 45 15.43 788 367 9 2/28 4/71 40.77
LA Stricker (SA) 1910-1912 13 24 342 48 14.25 174 105 1 1/36 1/46 105.00
LSM Miller (NZ) 1953-1958 13 25 346 47 13.84 2 1 0 - - -
WA Shalders (SA) 1899-1907 12 23 355 42 16.13 48 6 1 1/6 1/6 6.00
JMM Commaille (SA) 1910-1928 12 22 355 47 16.90 0 0 0 - - -
CS Nayudu (India) 1934-1952 11 19 147 36 9.18 522 359 2 1/19 1/19 179.50
A Flintoff (Eng) 1998-2001 11 18 259 42 14.38 1211 524 9 2/31 3/55 58.22
HF Wade (SA) 1935-1936 10 18 327 40* 20.43 0 0 0 - - -
DB Vengsarkar (India) 1976-1978 10 18 350 49 20.58 5 7 0 - - -
CPH Ramanayake (SL) 1988-1991 10 15 100 34* 10.00 2090 1116 19 2/39 4/149 58.73
SC Williams (WI) 1994-1995 10 17 294 49 19.60 0 0 0 - - -
J Mubarak (SL) 2002-2007 10 17 254 48 15.87 84 50 0 - - -
CT Sarwate (India) 1946-1951 9 17 208 37 13.00 658 374 3 1/16 1/16 124.66
Gul Mohammad (India/Pak) 1946-1956 9 17 205 34 12.81 77 24 2 2/21 2/21 12.00
IM Chappell (Aus) 1964-1967 9 15 258 49 18.42 1223 584 6 2/91 2/107 97.33
MR Ramprakash (Eng) 1991-1992 9 15 241 29 17.21 7 8 0 - - -
PV Simmons (WI) 1988-1992 9 18 296 38 16.44 96 41 0 - - -
MS Atapattu (SL) 1990-1997 9 17 182 29 10.70 30 12 1 1/9 1/9 12.00
Sanwar Hossain (Ban) 2001-2003 9 18 345 49 19.16 444 310 5 2/128 2/128 62.00
Khaled Mahmud (Ban) 2001-2003 9 17 175 45 10.93 1032 558 5 2/42 3/70 111.60

Former Australian batsman and captain Ian Chappell also had a slow start to his successful Test career. He made only 258 runs in his first nine Tests at an average of 18.42, with a high score of 49, before caning the Indian attack for 151 in Australia's innings-and-four-run victory at the MCG in 1968.

John Bracewell, the former New Zealand allrounder and coach, hit a century and four fifties during his 43-Test career, and took four five-fors and one 10-wicket haul as well. However, he didn't score a single half-century or take more than two wickets in a match in 53 one-day internationals. He averaged 16 with the bat and his highest score was 43 against England in Christchurch. His best effort with the ball was 2 for 3 against Australia in Adelaide - he averaged 57 per wicket - in New Zealand's 206-run victory.

Never scoring a 50 or taking three wickets in a career (excluding keepers) - ODIs
Player Span Mat Inns Runs HS Bat Av Balls Conc Wkts BBI BBM Bowl Av
JG Bracewell (NZ) 1983-1990 53 43 512 43 16.51 2447 1884 33 2/3 2/3 57.09
EAE Baptiste (WI) 1983-1990 43 16 184 31 15.33 2214 1511 36 2/10 2/10 41.97
Mansoor Akhtar (Pak) 1980-1990 41 35 593 47 17.44 138 110 2 1/7 1/7 55.00
RJ Peterson (SA) 2002-2007 34 15 147 36 13.36 1252 992 17 2/26 2/26 58.35
AR White (Ire) 2006-2009 32 24 421 40 18.30 503 418 14 2/5 2/5 29.85
BJ Patel (Kenya) 2001-2006 31 25 360 44 16.36 165 163 4 2/20 2/20 40.75
Enamul Haque (Ban) 1990-2002 29 26 236 32 11.23 1238 1083 19 2/40 2/40 57.00
Naimur Rahman (Ban) 1995-2002 29 27 488 47 19.52 1094 904 10 2/51 2/51 90.40
M Mbangwa (Zim) 1996-2002 29 13 34 11 4.85 1369 1140 11 2/24 2/24 103.63
Mushfiqur Rahman (Ban) 2000-2004 28 25 360 49 16.36 1332 983 19 2/21 2/21 51.73
MG Burgess (NZ) 1973-1981 26 20 336 47 16.80 74 69 1 1/10 1/10 69.00
KBJ Azad (India) 1980-1986 25 21 269 39* 14.15 390 273 7 2/48 2/48 39.00
Mohammad Akram (Pak) 1995-2000 23 9 14 7* 7.00 989 790 19 2/28 2/28 41.57
LP van Troost (Neth) 2002-2007 23 20 284 40 15.77 246 280 4 2/29 2/29 70.00
DR Chumney (Can) 2003-2007 21 21 397 48 20.89 0 0 0 - - -
R Clarke (Eng) 2003-2006 20 13 144 39 11.07 469 415 11 2/28 2/28 37.72
AG Huckle (Zim) 1997-1999 19 8 9 5* 2.25 858 661 7 2/27 2/27 94.42
Saeed Ajmal (Pak) 2008-2009 19 9 36 16 12.00 973 633 21 2/16 2/16 30.14
MW Priest (NZ) 1990-1998 18 14 103 24 10.30 752 590 8 2/27 2/27 73.75
PE McEwan (NZ) 1980-1985 17 15 204 41 13.60 420 353 6 2/29 2/29 58.83
AR Kapoor (India) 1995-2000 17 6 43 19 7.16 900 612 8 2/33 2/33 76.50
CM Kuggeleijn (NZ) 1988-1989 16 11 142 40 15.77 817 604 12 2/31 2/31 50.33
RT Lyons (Scot) 2006-2009 16 10 86 28 28.66 715 644 11 2/28 2/28 58.54
DR Flynn (NZ) 2008-2009 16 13 167 35 15.18 6 6 0 - - -
G Dymock (Aus) 1974-1980 15 7 35 14* 11.66 806 412 15 2/21 2/21 27.46
S Venkataraghavan (India) 1974-1983 15 9 54 26* 10.80 868 542 5 2/34 2/34 108.40
SI de Saram (SL) 1999-2001 15 13 183 38 16.63 0 0 0 - - -
KA Pollard (WI) 2007-2009 15 13 147 42 11.30 356 336 12 2/16 2/16 28.00

One of the greatest ODI players, Sanath Jayasuriya, also had an extremely ordinary start to his career. It was only in his 29th ODI that he picked up more than two wickets in an innings for the first time - 3 for 33 against New Zealand at the Premadasa in 1992. Until then, he averaged 61.16 for his six wickets. He now averages 36.35 for his 322 scalps. With the bat Jayasuriya went without a half-century in his first 33 innings, averaging 11.12, before scoring 58 against Pakistan in October 1993. And it wasn't until his 71st ODI, against New Zealand in Bloemfontein in 1994, that he scored his first century.

Most matches at start of a career without scoring a 50 or taking three wickets (excluding keepers) - ODIs
Player Span Mat Inns Runs HS Bat Av Balls Conc Wkts BBI Bowl Av
JG Bracewell (NZ) 1983-1990 53 43 512 43 16.51 2447 1884 33 2/3 57.09
RW Price (Zim) 2002-2009 44 24 139 20* 8.17 2266 1466 28 2/16 52.35
EAE Baptiste (WI) 1983-1990 43 16 184 31 15.33 2214 1511 36 2/10 41.97
Mansoor Akhtar (Pak) 1980-1990 41 35 593 47 17.44 138 110 2 1/7 55.00
S Matsikenyeri (Zim) 2002-2004 35 33 413 44 13.32 372 330 6 2/33 55.00
RJ Peterson (SA) 2002-2007 34 15 147 36 13.36 1252 992 17 2/26 58.35
AR White (Ire) 2006-2009 32 24 421 40 18.30 503 418 14 2/5 29.85
BJ Patel (Kenya) 2001-2006 31 25 360 44 16.36 165 163 4 2/20 40.75
JN Rhodes (SA) 1992-1993 30 28 600 46* 26.08 0 0 0 - -
Enamul Haque (Ban) 1990-2002 29 26 236 32 11.23 1238 1083 19 2/40 57.00
M Mbangwa (Zim) 1996-2002 29 13 34 11 4.85 1369 1140 11 2/24 103.63
Naimur Rahman (Ban) 1995-2002 29 27 488 47 19.52 1094 904 10 2/51 90.40
Mashrafe Mortaza (Ban) 2001-2006 29 24 287 44* 15.10 1494 1229 28 2/26 43.89
ST Jayasuriya (SL) 1989-1992 28 24 226 32 9.41 395 367 6 2/39 61.16
Mushfiqur Rahman (Ban) 2000-2004 28 25 360 49 16.36 1332 983 19 2/21 51.73
Tahir Naqqash (Pak) 1980-1985 27 14 92 23* 10.22 1074 880 15 2/35 58.66
MG Burgess (NZ) 1973-1981 26 20 336 47 16.80 74 69 1 1/10 69.00
Iftikhar Anjum (Pak) 2004-2007 26 15 89 19* 44.50 1205 925 19 2/13 48.68
DT Johnston (Ire) 2006-2009 26 22 364 45* 21.41 1034 839 15 2/37 55.93

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

George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo

Comments