The ones that got away
Glenn McGrath dismissed Mike Atherton 19 times in Tests, the most times a bowler has taken out a batsman. Curtly Ambrose dismissed him in 17 innings, as did Courtney Walsh. Atherton was out several times to the other highest wicket-takers in Test cricket as well. He was England's opener and faced them often. In this week's column, however, we've examined which batsmen were never dismissed by the top ten wicket-takers in Test cricket, despite playing them several times - batsmen who did not contribute to Muttiah Muralitharan's 800 scalps, or Shane Warne's 708. They are the ones who got away, though due to the unavailability of ball-by-ball data from time immemorial, we can't be certain how many balls were survived.
Muralitharan did not dismiss Atherton. Not once in eight innings. No one has played more innings against Sri Lanka with Murali, and never been dismissed by him. At The Oval in 1998, when Murali dismantled England with 16 wickets, Atherton was missing, for he had withdrawn late from the Test because of back trouble. Now Atherton was a tough opening batsman, but Murali also did not dismiss one of cricket's most famous rabbits - New Zealand's Chris Martin. In fact, no Sri Lankan ever did in Tests. Martin played seven innings against Sri Lankan attacks that included Murali - and three against ones that didn't - and was unbeaten every time, surviving 59 balls in all. He faced Murali in three innings, faced ten balls and scored no runs. Sri Lanka are the only team to bowl at Martin in more than two innings and not dismiss him.
|MA Atherton (Eng)||1993-2001||4||8||0||144||44||18.00||0||0|
|CS Martin (NZ)||2006-2009||4||7||7||6||4*||-||0||0|
|MS Panesar (Eng)||2006-2007||6||7||4||30||26||10.00||0||0|
|MA Taylor (Aus)||1992-1995||4||7||1||191||96||31.83||0||1|
|DD Ebrahim (Zim)||2002-2004||3||6||1||120||70||24.00||0||1|
|NC Johnson (Zim)||1999-1999||3||6||1||162||70||32.40||0||2|
|RDB Croft (Eng)||2001-2001||3||5||1||77||33*||19.25||0||0|
|AC Hudson (SA)||1993-1993||3||5||0||202||90||40.40||0||2|
|Shoaib Malik (Pak)||2002-2009||4||5||1||251||148*||62.75||1||1|
|GC Smith (SA)||2002-2004||3||5||0||185||74||37.00||0||2|
|JE Taylor (WI)||2003-2008||4||5||2||62||27*||20.66||0||0|
New Zealand's Mark Greatbatch and Sri Lanka's Asanka Gurusinha were never dismissed by Shane Warne, despite playing several Tests against him. Greatbatch did not have much success in those 12 innings against Australia though, while Gurusinha did in nine. Greatbatch faced more than 100 deliveries in only one innings and over 50 in two, an indication that he might not have got past Australia's new-ball bowlers that often. He fell to Craig McDermott seven times and Merv Hughes thrice. Gurusinha, on the other hand, averaged 51 and had two centuries against Australian attacks with Warne, the first coming in the SSC Test in 1992. Gurusinha scored 137 in that match, but Warne claimed 3 for 0 in 13 balls to bowl Australia to a famous win.
|MJ Greatbatch (NZ)||1993-1993||6||12||0||193||61||16.08||0||1|
|AP Gurusinha (SL)||1992-1996||5||9||1||410||143||51.25||2||0|
|DW Headley (Eng)||1997-1999||4||8||2||63||22||10.50||0||0|
|MJ Horne (NZ)||1997-2000||4||8||0||208||133||26.00||1||0|
|TT Samaraweera (SL)||2004-2004||4||8||1||248||70||35.42||0||2|
|ARC Fraser (Eng)||1993-1995||4||7||0||94||28||13.42||0||0|
|RS Mahanama (SL)||1992-1995||4||7||0||236||78||33.71||0||2|
|SB O'Connor (NZ)||1997-2001||5||7||3||20||7||5.00||0||0|
|BKV Prasad (India)||1999-2001||4||7||4||29||10||9.66||0||0|
Two 21st century batsmen, AB de Villiers and Misbah-ul-Haq, have not fallen to Anil Kumble. For them, we do have ball-by-ball stats. Though de Villiers played nine innings against India with Kumble, he faced only 114 balls from him without being dismissed. He is one of only eight batsmen (since 2001) to face more than 100 balls from Kumble and survive, the others being Nathan Astle, John Crawley, Prasanna Jayawardene, Craig McMillian, Denesh Ramdin, Malinda Warnapura and Misbah-ul-Haq. Misbah is the only batsman since 2001 to have faced more than 200 deliveries from Kumble without a dismissal. He's faced 320. In six innings against India, Misbah's scored 464 runs at an average of 116.
|GD McGrath (Aus)||1996-2004||8||11||3||38||11*||4.75||0||0|
|AB de Villiers (SA)||2006-2008||5||9||1||374||217*||46.75||1||0|
|D Ramdin (WI)||2006-2006||4||8||3||166||62*||33.20||0||1|
|KLT Arthurton (WI)||1994-1994||3||6||2||164||70*||41.00||0||1|
|MW Gatting (Eng)||1993-1993||3||6||0||219||81||36.50||0||2|
|RC Russell (Eng)||1990-1996||4||6||1||186||124||37.20||1||0|
|JP Crawley (Eng)||2002-2002||3||5||1||215||100*||53.75||1||1|
|RS Kaluwitharana (SL)||1993-1999||4||5||1||86||40||21.50||0||0|
|DE Malcolm (Eng)||1990-1993||3||5||2||17||13||5.66||0||0|
|MG Vandort (SL)||2008-2008||3||5||0||39||14||7.80||0||0|
|SM Warnapura (SL)||2008-2008||3||5||1||243||115||60.75||1||2|
Seventeen batsmen played five or more innings against an Australian attack spearheaded by McGrath but did not fall to him. It is impossible to say how many balls, if any, all of them would have faced from McGrath. What is evident, though, is that there are only two openers in the table below, a sure sign that very few opening batsmen came up against McGrath several times without being dismissed at least once. Lou Vincent opened in two of his eight innings for New Zealand and Mohammad Wasim opened in four out of six. They survived McGrath. Vincent made 104 and 54 at the WACA in 2001, while Wasim had a high score of 91. Kepler Wessels did not open in his games against McGrath, batting at Nos. 4 and 6 instead.
|BM McMillan (SA)||1994-1998||6||11||1||361||84||36.10||0||4|
|Danish Kaneria (Pak)||2002-2005||5||10||5||44||15||8.80||0||0|
|Rashid Latif (Pak)||1994-2002||5||10||1||156||66||17.33||0||1|
|PR Adams (SA)||1997-2002||5||9||3||86||35||14.33||0||0|
|Mohammad Sami (Pak)||2002-2004||4||8||2||82||29||13.66||0||0|
|L Vincent (NZ)||2001-2005||4||8||0||318||104||39.75||1||2|
|Mohammad Akram (Pak)||1995-1999||3||6||2||11||10*||2.75||0||0|
|Mohammad Wasim (Pak)||1998-1999||3||6||0||130||91||21.66||0||1|
|MS Panesar (Eng)||2006-2007||3||6||1||35||16*||7.00||0||0|
|PL Symcox (SA)||1994-1998||4||6||0||98||38||16.33||0||0|
|UDU Chandana (SL)||1999-2004||3||5||0||76||19||15.20||0||0|
|PS de Villiers (SA)||1994-1994||3||5||0||27||18||5.40||0||0|
|JJC Lawson (WI)||2003-2005||3||5||1||21||14||5.25||0||0|
|CR Matthews (SA)||1994-1994||3||5||2||12||7*||4.00||0||0|
|PA Patel (India)||2004-2004||3||5||0||156||54||31.20||0||1|
|KC Wessels (SA)||1994-1994||3||5||0||42||18||8.40||0||0|
Only nine cricketers played more than five Test innings against a New Zealand attack containing Richard Hadlee without being dismissed by him. McGrath had 17. A high proportion of them were specialist batsmen, though, unlike in McGrath's case. Hadlee failed to dismiss Australian batsman John Dyson, who opened and batted at No. 3, in 11 innings. And unlike his struggles against McGrath, Ambrose and Walsh, Atherton did not suffer against Hadlee, who was playing his last Test series in England in 1990. In five innings, Atherton did not fall to Hadlee even once, and had scores of 151, 0 , 54, 82 and 70.
|J Dyson (Aus)||1980-1982||6||11||4||229||33||32.71||0||0|
|A Ranatunga (SL)||1984-1987||4||7||0||186||51||26.57||0||2|
|Wasim Bari (Pak)||1973-1979||6||7||6||99||37*||99.00||0||0|
|NS Sidhu (India)||1988-1990||4||6||1||249||116||49.80||1||1|
|MA Atherton (Eng)||1990-1990||3||5||0||357||151||71.40||1||3|
|NGB Cook (Eng)||1983-1984||3||5||0||58||26||11.60||0||0|
|NH Fairbrother (Eng)||1990-1990||3||5||1||59||33*||14.75||0||0|
|BN French (Eng)||1986-1988||4||5||2||43||21||14.33||0||0|
|Qasim Umar (Pak)||1985-1985||3||5||0||248||96||49.60||0||2|
Click here for batsmen with most innings without being dismissed by Courtney Walsh.
Click here for batsmen with most innings without being dismissed by Kapil Dev.
Click here for batsmen with most innings without being dismissed by Shaun Pollock.
Click here for batsmen with most innings without being dismissed by Wasim Akram.
Click here for batsmen with most innings without being dismissed by Curtly Ambrose.
Travis Basevi is a cricket statistician and UK Senior Programmer for Cricinfo and other ESPN sports websites. George Binoy is an Assistant Editor at ESPNcricinfo