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George Binoy and Travis Basevi dig into our stats database

Sammy's first-Test advantage

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

Travis Basevi and George Binoy

June 15, 2011

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Darren Sammy is clearly thrilled at taking the wicket of Taufeeq Umar, West Indies v Pakistan, 1st Test, Providence, 2nd day, May 13, 2011
Darren Sammy usually takes several wickets in his first Test against a particular team © AFP
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India had better be wary of Darren Sammy in that first Test at Sabina Park next week. He has impressive bowling stats against teams he plays for the first time in Tests, but not so much thereafter. This week's List looks at how bowlers fared in terms of average in maiden outings against different teams.

Sammy has played only 13 Tests since making his debut in 2007 but they have been against six countries. In his first matches against each team, Sammy took a total of 24 wickets, which include three five-wicket hauls, at fewer than 18 apiece. He began with 8 for 98 against England, 1 for 35 in 11 overs against South Africa, 2 for 88 against Australia, 6 for 108 against Bangladesh, 0 for 55 against Sri Lanka and 7 for 45 most recently against Pakistan. His medium-pace inswingers may not seem threatening but numbers indicate otherwise. His career average, however, is nearly ten runs higher at 27.66.

The only West Indian ahead of Sammy in the table below is Curtly Ambrose, who claimed 34 wickets in first Tests against eight opponents at an average of 16.64. His career average was only 4.35 runs higher.

Best bowling average on debut against each team - Tests (qualification: 5 matches, 400 balls, excluding multi-country teams)
Player Span Mat Balls Runs Wkts Ave BBI 5 10 Career Mat Ave
MS Nichols (Eng) 1930-1935 5 915 328 26 12.61 6/35 2 0 1930-1939 14 28.09
DL Underwood (Eng) 1966-1982 6 1640 454 31 14.64 7/32 3 1 1966-1982 86 25.83
KR Miller (Aus) 1946-1956 6 986 323 22 14.68 7/60 2 0 1946-1956 55 22.97
Shujauddin (Pak) 1954-1959 5 450 106 7 15.14 3/18 0 0 1954-1962 19 40.05
SR Clark (Aus) 2006-2008 7 1437 608 40 15.20 5/32 2 0 2006-2009 24 23.86
ND Hirwani (India) 1988-1996 5 1025 481 29 16.58 8/61 3 1 1988-1996 17 30.10
CEL Ambrose (WI) 1988-2000 8 1642 566 34 16.64 6/34 1 0 1988-2000 98 20.99
MG Johnson (Aus) 2007-2009 7 1619 675 40 16.87 8/61 2 1 2007-2011 42 29.71
IWG Johnson (Aus) 1946-1956 6 636 230 13 17.69 4/50 0 0 1946-1956 45 29.19
Waqar Younis (Pak) 1989-2001 9 1742 832 47 17.70 7/91 4 1 1989-2003 87 23.56
PJ Loader (Eng) 1954-1958 5 1190 426 24 17.75 6/36 1 0 1954-1959 13 22.51
GG Arnold (Eng) 1967-1973 5 1119 444 25 17.76 6/45 2 0 1967-1975 34 28.29
JE Emburey (Eng) 1978-1987 6 880 250 14 17.85 6/33 1 0 1978-1995 64 38.40
DJG Sammy (WI) 2007-2011 6 1084 429 24 17.87 7/66 3 0 2007-2011 13 27.66
WR Hammond (Eng) 1927-1932 5 608 199 11 18.09 5/36 1 0 1927-1947 85 37.80
J Garner (WI) 1977-1983 5 1318 482 25 19.28 4/30 0 0 1977-1987 58 20.97
LF Kline (Aus) 1957-1960 5 1044 312 16 19.50 7/75 1 0 1957-1961 13 22.82
Fazal Mahmood (Pak) 1952-1958 5 1356 454 23 19.73 7/80 2 1 1952-1962 34 24.70
PS de Villiers (SA) 1993-1996 5 1154 475 24 19.79 6/81 1 1 1993-1998 18 24.27
AK Davidson (Aus) 1953-1960 5 1182 457 23 19.86 6/34 3 1 1953-1963 44 20.53

Australian fast bowler Stuart Clark had an impressive first Test against most teams. He had match figures of 9 for 89 on debut in Cape Town in 2006, 1 for 77 in Fatullah, 7 for 93 against England at the Gabba, 4 for 121 against Sri Lanka, 5 for 48 against India, 8 for 91 against West Indies and 6 for 89 against New Zealand. In all, he took 40 wickets in seven Tests at an average of 15.20. His returns in remaining games were not as prolific, though, 54 wickets in 17 Tests. He had a career average of 23.86 after 24 Tests, when Australia's selectors dropped him for good in 2008.

New Zealand's John Reid was a powerful batsman, predatory fielder, and a versatile bowler. He became a national selector, did some coaching in South Africa and served as an ICC Match Referee. A complete allrounder. As a bowler, though, Reid didn't make a strong first impression against the five countries he played. He went without a wicket in the first Tests against all of them. In fact, Reid didn't take a wicket in his first five Tests either, against England, West Indies and South Africa, even though he bowled 59 overs. He finally broke through in Auckland 1953, taking 2 for 76 in 35 overs against South Africa.

Worst bowling average on debut against each team - Tests (qualification: 5 matches, 400 balls, excluding multi-country team)
Player Span Mat Balls Runs Wkts Ave BBI 5 10 Career Mat Ave
Khaled Mahmud (Ban) 2001-2003 6 672 394 2 197.00 1/40 0 0 2001-2003 12 64.00
JR Reid (NZ) 1949-1955 5 486 172 0 - - 0 0 1949-1965 58 33.35
Alok Kapali (Ban) 2002-2004 7 606 383 3 127.66 2/122 0 0 2002-2006 17 118.16
CG Borde (India) 1958-1965 5 528 241 2 120.50 1/18 0 0 1958-1969 55 46.48
NG Cowans (Eng) 1982-1984 5 675 417 4 104.25 2/109 0 0 1982-1985 19 39.27
RF Surti (India) 1960-1965 5 592 298 3 99.33 1/55 0 0 1960-1969 26 46.71
Hasibul Hossain (Ban) 2000-2001 5 780 571 6 95.16 2/125 0 0 2000-2001 5 95.16
Mohammad Sharif (Ban) 2001-2007 5 700 565 6 94.16 3/114 0 0 2001-2007 10 79.00
IM Chappell (Aus) 1964-1974 6 762 357 4 89.25 2/21 0 0 1964-1980 75 65.80
WJ Cronje (SA) 1992-1995 8 612 177 2 88.50 1/22 0 0 1992-2000 68 29.95
Akram Raza (Pak) 1989-1995 6 932 431 5 86.20 2/37 0 0 1989-1995 9 56.30
MF Maharoof (SL) 2004-2007 8 1194 631 8 78.87 2/52 0 0 2004-2011 22 65.24
MLC Foster (WI) 1969-1977 5 906 307 4 76.75 2/41 0 0 1969-1978 14 66.66
CPH Ramanayake (SL) 1988-1993 6 890 443 6 73.83 2/39 0 0 1988-1993 18 42.72
GS Ramchand (India) 1952-1956 5 884 295 4 73.75 2/61 0 0 1952-1960 33 46.31
W Watson (NZ) 1986-1992 5 1105 515 7 73.57 4/121 0 0 1986-1993 15 34.67
Abdur Razzak (Ban) 2006-2010 5 1188 691 10 69.10 3/93 0 0 2006-2010 8 67.43
Tapash Baisya (Ban) 2002-2005 9 1547 1023 15 68.20 3/133 0 0 2002-2005 21 59.36
RO Hinds (WI) 2002-2009 6 491 204 3 68.00 1/18 0 0 2002-2009 15 66.92
GW Flower (Zim) 1992-2001 9 468 203 3 67.66 1/8 0 0 1992-2004 67 61.48

Joel Garner, with his relentless yorker delivered from the skies, was an exceptional ODI bowler. He took 146 wickets at an average of 18.84 and a strike-rate of 36.50. He also had an economy of 3.09. He went for more than five an over in only four out of 98 games. And in his first ODIs against each of his seven opponents, Garner took a total of 18 wickets at an average of 11.83. He took 3 for 27 against Pakistan, 3 for 29 against Australia, 1 for 42 against India, 2 for 45 against New Zealand, 5 for 38 against England (the best figures in a World Cup final), 2 for 13 against Zimbabwe, and 2 for 19 against Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka's Ajantha Mendis, former mystery spinner, also had similar results when teams played him for the first time. He took 25 wickets in 12 matches at an average of 12.04, with a four-wicket haul against Pakistan and a best of 6 for 13 against India. Mendis has played 52 matches to date with 89 wickets at 19.56 apiece. His strike-rate is 27 and economy is 4.27. With those stats he'd be a certainty in any side, but not Sri Lanka. He's missed 22 of their last 38 ODIs.

Best bowling average on debut against each team - ODIs (qualification: 7 matches, 200 balls, excluding multi-country team)
Player Span Mat Balls Runs Wkts Ave BBI 5 Career Mat Ave
J Garner (WI) 1977-1985 7 414 213 18 11.83 5/38 1 1977-1987 98 18.84
BAW Mendis (SL) 2008-2011 12 542 301 25 12.04 6/13 2 2008-2011 52 19.56
AME Roberts (WI) 1975-1983 7 467 220 17 12.94 4/32 0 1975-1983 56 20.35
Waqar Younis (Pak) 1989-2003 13 588 300 23 13.04 5/20 2 1989-2003 262 23.84
DA Reeve (Eng) 1991-1992 7 238 135 10 13.50 3/20 0 1991-1996 29 41.00
AA Donald (SA) 1991-2003 13 676 369 27 13.66 6/23 2 1991-2003 164 21.78
RGD Willis (Eng) 1973-1982 7 405 174 12 14.50 4/11 0 1973-1984 64 24.60
Wasim Akram (Pak) 1984-2003 14 706 421 29 14.51 5/21 2 1984-2003 356 23.52
CM Old (Eng) 1973-1979 7 324 218 15 14.53 4/8 0 1973-1981 32 22.20
AR Cusack (Ire) 2007-2011 13 405 291 20 14.55 5/20 1 2007-2011 38 22.50
JDP Oram (NZ) 2001-2008 14 562 393 27 14.55 5/36 1 2001-2011 151 29.54
Abdul Qadir (Pak) 1983-1986 7 433 264 18 14.66 5/44 2 1983-1993 104 26.16
Shoaib Akhtar (Pak) 1998-2003 13 569 403 27 14.92 4/46 0 1998-2011 163 24.97
Saqlain Mushtaq (Pak) 1995-2003 13 636 448 30 14.93 5/29 2 1995-2003 169 21.78
RMH Binny (India) 1980-1983 7 364 239 16 14.93 4/41 0 1980-1987 72 29.35
GI Allott (NZ) 1997-1999 10 516 381 25 15.24 4/35 0 1997-2000 31 23.21
MF Maharoof (SL) 2004-2007 12 510 322 21 15.33 4/23 0 2004-2010 94 25.89
GD McGrath (Aus) 1993-2007 15 750 423 27 15.66 7/15 1 1993-2007 250 22.02
Sarfraz Nawaz (Pak) 1973-1983 7 443 299 19 15.73 4/44 0 1973-1984 45 23.22
RA Harper (WI) 1983-1996 9 468 225 14 16.07 3/15 0 1983-1996 105 34.31

Adam Huckle nearly didn't play for Zimbabwe, and only returned to his homeland after losing his place in a South African provincial side. He made his Test debut against New Zealand in Harare in September 1997 and took five wickets in the match. A one-day debut followed a month later but Huckle went wicketless against Bangladesh. It set a precedent for he was wicketless in his first games against all the eight teams he played against. He eventually ended his career with seven wickets in 19 matches at an average of 94.

Worst bowling average on debut against each opposition - ODIs (qualification: 7 matches, 200 balls, excluding multi-country opposition)
Player Span Mat Balls Runs Wkts Ave BBI 5 Career Mat Ave
AG Huckle (Zim) 1997-1999 8 342 267 0 - - 0 1997-1999 19 94.42
AR Kapoor (India) 1995-2000 7 390 248 1 248.00 1/41 0 1995-2000 17 76.50
Enamul Haque (Ban) 1990-2000 10 404 340 3 113.33 2/45 0 1990-2002 29 57.00
ML Nkala (Zim) 1998-2001 9 293 299 3 99.66 1/32 0 1998-2006 50 71.36
DR Pringle (Eng) 1982-1992 7 344 283 3 94.33 2/50 0 1982-1993 44 38.11
AJ Traicos (Zim) 1983-1992 8 468 271 3 90.33 1/28 0 1983-1993 27 51.94
E Chigumbura (Zim) 2004-2011 13 280 344 4 86.00 2/21 0 2004-2011 128 39.00
MV Nagamootoo (WI) 2000-2002 8 378 331 4 82.75 2/47 0 2000-2002 24 55.44
GD Drummond (Scot) 2007-2010 8 298 238 3 79.33 1/10 0 2007-2010 21 31.05
Naimur Rahman (Ban) 1995-2000 10 379 314 4 78.50 2/51 0 1995-2002 29 90.40
Mudassar Nazar (Pak) 1977-1986 8 332 232 3 77.33 2/56 0 1977-1989 122 30.91
AD Mathews (SL) 2008-2011 11 312 225 3 75.00 2/43 0 2008-2011 43 31.03
GR Robertson (Aus) 1994-1998 7 279 221 3 73.66 3/32 0 1994-1998 13 53.75
Aftab Ahmed (Ban) 2004-2008 14 257 221 3 73.66 2/55 0 2004-2010 85 54.66
RDM Leverock (Ber) 2006-2008 9 522 420 6 70.00 2/34 0 2006-2009 32 33.02
KR Pushpakumara (SL) 1994-1996 8 332 277 4 69.25 2/51 0 1994-1999 31 49.20
Mushfiqur Rahman (Ban) 2000-2004 8 359 276 4 69.00 2/21 0 2000-2004 28 51.73
U Bhatti (Can) 2006-2010 11 542 413 6 68.83 2/35 0 2006-2010 36 34.81
M Hayward (SA) 1998-2001 7 306 270 4 67.50 1/19 0 1998-2002 21 40.85
SG Peall (Zim) 1992-1996 9 384 266 4 66.50 3/54 0 1992-1996 21 84.75

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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