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George Binoy and Travis Basevi dig into our stats database

Strong first impressions, and some weak ones

How batsmen fared in terms of average in their first outings against different teams

Travis Basevi and George Binoy

June 8, 2011

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Kumar Sangakkara drives as Sri Lanka pile on the runs, England v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Lord's, June 5, 2011
Kumar Sangakkara had a terrific start against most teams in Test cricket © Getty Images
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Some batsmen have had extraordinary success when playing a team for the first time - Sunil Gavaskar, Marcus North and Kumar Sangakkara to name three. Perhaps they were unknown quantities, perhaps they had lots of beginner's luck, or perhaps they were just high-class players. Others have fared poorly under similar circumstances. Sachin Tendulkar, for instance, was a prodigiously talented teenager but a slow starter in his career. This week's List looks at how batsmen fared in terms of average in first outings against different teams.

We've only considered batsmen who played against at least five teams, which is why Don Bradman isn't in our tables. In his first Tests against the four teams he played against, Bradman made 434 runs at an average of 86.80, though he fared poorly against England and West Indies, he filled his boots against South Africa and India. India's little-known Hemu Adhikari, however, averaged 141.50 in his first Tests against four teams. He made 283 and was not out in four out of six innings.

Sangakkara had a terrific start against most teams in Test cricket, amassing 848 runs in 11 innings at an average of 94.22. He made 23 against South Africa, 58 against England, 105 not out against India, 54 against Bangladesh, 140 against West Indies, 128 against Zimbabwe, 230 and 14 not out against Pakistan, 67 against New Zealand and 22 and 7 against Australia, whom he played for the first time in 2004, despite debuting in 2000.

Best batting average on debut against each team - Tests (qualification: 5 matches, excluding multi-country teams)
Player Span Mat Inns Runs Ave HS 100 50 Career Mat Ave
AI Kallicharran (WI) 1972-1975 5 9 606 101.00 124 2 4 1972-1981 66 44.43
KC Sangakkara (SL) 2000-2004 9 11 848 94.22 230 4 3 2000-2011 95 56.63
G Boycott (Eng) 1964-1967 6 9 535 89.16 246* 1 2 1964-1982 108 47.72
DI Gower (Eng) 1978-1982 6 10 624 89.14 200* 2 2 1978-1992 117 44.25
SM Gavaskar (India) 1971-1982 6 12 712 89.00 155 3 4 1971-1987 125 51.12
GS Chappell (Aus) 1970-1983 6 7 522 87.00 204 2 2 1970-1984 87 53.86
JH Edrich (Eng) 1963-1969 6 9 598 85.42 310* 2 1 1963-1976 77 43.54
MJ Greatbatch (NZ) 1988-1992 6 12 655 81.87 146* 2 4 1988-1996 41 30.62
GC Smith (SA) 2002-2005 9 15 1146 81.85 277 4 3 2002-2011 91 49.71
NC O'Neill (Aus) 1958-1963 5 9 480 80.00 181 1 2 1958-1965 42 45.55
MA Taylor (Aus) 1989-1993 7 12 858 78.00 170 4 3 1989-1999 104 43.49
Zaheer Abbas (Pak) 1969-1982 6 10 777 77.70 274 3 1 1969-1985 78 44.79
MJ North (Aus) 2009-2010 6 8 456 76.00 125* 3 1 2009-2010 21 35.48
KF Barrington (Eng) 1955-1963 6 8 524 74.85 139 3 1 1955-1968 82 58.67
BL D'Oliveira (Eng) 1966-1969 5 9 445 74.16 109 1 3 1966-1972 44 40.06

Sangakkara and Gavaskar, who averaged 89 in first Tests against six opponents, went on to build tremendously on those bright starts. North is an example of someone who didn't. He scored 456 runs at an average of 76 in eight innings, with hundreds against South Africa, England and New Zealand, and a half-century against West Indies. Unfortunately for him, his bad days outnumbered his good ones and his form against most countries deteriorated. He presently averages 35 and has not had his central contract renewed by Cricket Australia.

Tendulkar scored only one half-century in 13 innings in his first matches against each of the nine other Test countries. He made 258 runs at an average of 19.84, so some of the opponents might have wondered what the fuss was about. They were to find out soon enough, though.

Tendulkar followed the 15 in his first Test against Pakistan in 1989 with 59 in the second, his 0 and 24 against New Zealand with 88, and his 10 and 27 at Lord's with 68 and 119 not out at Old Trafford in 1990. In his first game against Australia, Tendulkar made 16 and 7 at the Gabba in 1991-92, but a match later he was celebrating a century at the SCG. He made a duck in Harare in 1992, but scored 62 the next time he played Zimbabwe, in Delhi the following year. He began against South Africa with 11 in Durban but bounced back to score 111 at the Wanderers. He followed his 11 against Sri Lanka in Chandigarh 1990 with 104 not out at the SSC in 1993, and his 34 and 85 against West Indies in 1994, with 179. Only against Bangladesh, in 2000, was he already an established great, and he made 18. Four years later he scored his highest Test score - 248 - in Dhaka.

Worst batting average on debut against each team - Tests (qualification: 5 matches, career average of 35, excluding multi-country teams)
Player Span Mat Inns Runs Ave HS 100 50 Career Mat Ave
Aamer Malik (Pak) 1987-1989 5 7 79 15.80 32 0 0 1987-1994 14 35.31
PJP Burge (Aus) 1955-1959 5 7 98 16.33 35 0 0 1955-1966 42 38.16
RM Cowper (Aus) 1964-1966 5 8 148 18.50 81 0 1 1964-1968 27 46.84
A Symonds (Aus) 2004-2008 6 11 216 19.63 44 0 0 2004-2008 26 40.61
SR Tendulkar (India) 1989-2000 9 13 258 19.84 85 0 1 1989-2011 177 56.94
WJ Edrich (Eng) 1938-1954 6 7 143 20.42 71 0 1 1938-1955 39 40.00
Majid Khan (Pak) 1964-1982 6 9 184 20.44 63 0 1 1964-1983 63 38.92
Mushtaq Mohammad (Pak) 1959-1972 5 10 210 21.00 76 0 1 1959-1979 57 39.17
MW Gatting (Eng) 1978-1993 6 9 168 21.00 51* 0 1 1978-1995 79 35.55
BP Nash (WI) 2008-2011 6 9 189 21.00 64 0 2 2008-2011 20 35.25
JG Wright (NZ) 1978-1983 6 11 237 21.54 55 0 1 1978-1993 82 37.82
Imran Khan (Pak) 1971-1982 6 8 179 22.37 48 0 0 1971-1992 88 37.69
JV Coney (NZ) 1974-1983 6 11 250 22.72 84 0 1 1974-1987 52 37.57
RJ Shastri (India) 1981-1992 8 12 207 23.00 42 0 0 1981-1992 80 35.79
MD Crowe (NZ) 1982-1994 8 14 324 23.14 83 0 2 1982-1995 77 45.36

An average of 47 in one-day cricket would be a rather sought-after statistic in modern cricket. Glenn Turner had it at the end of a ten-year career that ended in 1983, after scoring 1598 runs in 40 innings. He had an average of 111.25 from all his first games against teams, though he began poorly against Pakistan, Australia and England. He had success against India - one century, two fifties, three unbeaten innings and an average of 272 in four matches.

Best batting average on debut against each team - ODIs (qualification: 7 innings, excluding multi-country teams)
Player Span Mat Inns Runs Ave HS 100 50 Career Mat Ave
GM Turner (NZ) 1973-1979 7 7 445 111.25 171* 2 1 1973-1983 41 47.00
MEK Hussey (Aus) 2004-2011 13 12 534 89.00 109* 1 4 2004-2011 158 51.41
KP Pietersen (Eng) 2004-2011 14 12 550 78.57 91* 0 5 2004-2011 114 40.98
A Ranatunga (SL) 1982-1996 10 10 375 75.00 88* 0 3 1982-1999 269 35.84
CG Greenidge (WI) 1975-1985 7 7 374 74.80 106* 2 2 1975-1991 128 45.03
Basit Ali (Pak) 1993-1994 8 7 218 72.66 75* 0 2 1993-1996 50 34.18
RR Sarwan (WI) 2000-2011 14 13 492 70.28 56* 0 1 2000-2011 169 43.18
N Hussain (Eng) 1989-2003 11 10 406 67.66 95 0 2 1989-2003 88 30.28
LRPL Taylor (NZ) 2006-2011 13 12 594 66.00 128* 1 5 2006-2011 107 36.80
G Kirsten (SA) 1993-2003 13 13 589 65.44 188* 1 4 1993-2003 185 40.95
MD Crowe (NZ) 1982-1992 9 7 327 65.40 97 0 3 1982-1995 143 38.55
Yuvraj Singh (India) 2000-2007 16 13 587 65.22 102* 1 4 2000-2011 274 37.62
KJJ van Noortwijk (Neth) 1996-2003 7 7 315 63.00 134* 1 1 1996-2003 9 46.00
JEC Franklin (NZ) 2001-2011 12 9 186 62.00 72* 0 1 2001-2011 89 24.02
SC Ganguly (India) 1992-2007 15 14 673 61.18 112* 1 6 1992-2007 311 41.02

Allan Border had a poor start against every team in his one-day career - 80 runs in eight innings, with a high score of 25 (in his only game against Canada). Only West Indies' Runako Morton has fared worse - an average of 5.25 in eight innings. Border, however, went on to forge a 273-ODI career alongside a glittering Test record. Had Morton been in a previous West Indian era, he might never have had the opportunity to make an international debut.

Worst batting average on debut against each team - ODIs (qualification: 7 innings, career average of 30, excluding multi-country teams)
Player Span Mat Inns Runs Ave HS 100 50 Career Mat Ave
RS Morton (WI) 2002-2008 11 8 42 5.25 17 0 0 2002-2010 56 33.75
AR Border (Aus) 1979-1992 10 8 80 10.00 25 0 0 1979-1994 273 30.62
ADR Campbell (Zim) 1992-1997 10 8 81 10.12 29 0 0 1992-2003 188 30.50
VVS Laxman (India) 1998-2004 11 11 139 13.90 25 0 0 1998-2006 86 30.76
SHT Kandamby (SL) 2004-2010 8 7 101 14.42 53 0 1 2004-2010 33 32.56
Saleem Malik (Pak) 1982-1999 13 10 161 17.88 41 0 0 1982-1999 283 32.88
CL White (Aus) 2005-2011 13 11 167 18.55 42 0 0 2005-2011 87 35.12
AP Kuiper (SA) 1991-1992 8 7 113 18.83 43 0 0 1991-1996 25 33.68
Imran Farhat (Pak) 2001-2006 10 10 174 19.33 38* 0 0 2001-2010 37 30.94
Mahmudullah (Ban) 2007-2011 12 10 160 20.00 42 0 0 2007-2011 68 30.90
ST Jayasuriya (SL) 1989-2007 15 14 264 20.30 44 0 0 1989-2009 444 32.43
MA Taylor (Aus) 1989-1996 10 9 188 20.88 66 0 1 1989-1997 113 32.23
AB de Villiers (SA) 2005-2008 13 13 275 21.15 62 0 2 2005-2011 119 45.68
SM Gavaskar (India) 1974-1983 8 8 151 21.57 65* 0 1 1974-1987 108 35.13
A Flintoff (Eng) 1999-2008 14 8 174 21.75 50 0 1 1999-2009 141 32.01

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

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George Binoy Assistant Editor After a major in Economics and nine months in a financial research firm, George realised that equity, capital and the like were not for him. He decided that he wanted to be one of those lucky few who did what they love at work. Alas, his prodigious talent was never spotted and he had to reconcile himself to the fact that he would never earn his money playing cricket for his country, state or even district. He jumped at the opportunity to work for ESPNcricinfo and is now confident of mastering the art of office cricket

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