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George Binoy and Travis Basevi dig into our stats database

Wicked ends to wicket droughts

Bowlers who came back from poor stretches of form with impressive performances

Travis Basevi and George Binoy

August 31, 2011

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Brett Lee appeals and Graeme Smith is out caught behind, South Africa v Australia, 3rd ODI, Port Elizabeth, March 5, 2006
Brett Lee ended a stretch of six unproductive ODIs with 4 for 48 in Port Elizabeth in 2006 Hamish Blair / © Getty Images
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Two weeks ago, after Alastair Cook converted his Test series average against India from 5.00 to 62.80 with 294 at Edgbaston, we dug up a list of batsmen who ended a run of small scores with a double-century. Harbhajan Singh had the opportunity to perform the bowling equivalent. He averaged 218 for one wicket after Lord's and 143 for 2 after Trent Bridge, but there was no average-plummeting spell from him. He hobbled out of the tour with a stomach injury. Perhaps it'll come against West Indies in November. This week's column is about bowlers who did turn it around, sometimes rather spectacularly.

Bob Holland, the Australia legspinner, was 39. His form had dipped since the five-for at Lord's in 1985 and his figures for the rest of the Ashes were 1 for 90, 0 for 69, 0 for 101 and 0 for 95. He'd been wicketless in the first Test (0 for 106 at the Gabba) of that summer's home series against New Zealand as well, which Australia lost by an innings and 41 runs. At the SCG, however, Holland ended his poor form with 6 for 106 in the first innings and 4 for 68 in the second, becoming the fifth-oldest bowler - the oldest since World War II - to take a ten-wicket haul in a Test.

During West Indies' tour of Australia in 1988-89, two players took five-wicket hauls after going 10 innings with poor results. Before the MCG Test, Steve Waugh had taken only four wickets in 10 previous innings. Waugh then took 3 for 77 in the first innings (lowering his ten-innings average to 75) in Melbourne before picking up 5 for 92 in the second. The fact that he was Australia's most successful bowler meant that West Indies won by 285 runs.

Worst bowling average in the previous 10 innings before taking a five-wicket haul - Tests
Player Figs Opp Start Date Scorecard Balls Runs Wkts BBI Ave 5 4
PA Strang (Zim) 5/106 v SL Sep 11, 1996 Test 1333 1020 483 4 1/1 120.75 0 0
AR Border (Aus) 7/46 v WI Jan 26, 1989 Test 1113 336 117 1 1/25 117.00 0 0
JW Hearne (Eng) 5/49 v SA Jan 1, 1914 Test 132 330 232 2 1/5 116.00 0 0
JC Adams (WI) 5/17 v NZ Apr 19, 1996 Test 1325 414 220 2 2/74 110.00 0 0
ME Waugh (Aus) 5/40 v Eng Jan 26, 1995 Test 1284 390 206 2 2/63 103.00 0 0
ST Jayasuriya (SL) 5/43 v Zim Jan 12, 2002 Test 1585 480 203 2 1/34 101.50 0 0
GS Chappell (Aus) 5/61 v Pak Jan 6, 1973 Test 707 490 194 2 1/28 97.00 0 0
Mudassar Nazar (Pak) 6/32 v Eng Aug 12, 1982 Test 932 210 96 0 0/1 - 0 0
FMM Worrell (WI) 7/70 v Eng Jul 25, 1957 Test 442 1164 558 6 2/114 93.00 0 0
FH Edwards (WI) 5/38 v Pak May 26, 2005 Test 1752 1052 647 7 2/61 92.42 0 0
Abdul Razzaq (Pak) 5/35 v SL Oct 28, 2004 Test 1719 960 529 6 3/70 88.16 0 0
SK Warne (Aus) 5/52 v SL Sep 9, 1999 Test 1459 1529 833 10 3/106 83.30 0 0
Mohammad Rafique (Ban) 5/62 v Aus Apr 9, 2006 Test 1797 1554 796 10 5/114 79.60 1 0
DCS Compton (Eng) 5/70 v SA Jan 1, 1949 Test 309 550 237 3 1/11 79.00 0 0
Iqbal Qasim (Pak) 6/40 v India Dec 16, 1979 Test 865 1296 542 7 4/135 77.42 0 1
SR Waugh (Aus) 5/92 v WI Dec 24, 1988 Test 1112 1044 528 7 3/77 75.42 0 0
BKV Prasad (India) 6/33 v Pak Jan 28, 1999 Test 1442 1284 600 8 2/61 75.00 0 0
Harbhajan Singh (India) 5/147 v WI Jun 22, 2006 Test 1807 1564 818 11 3/79 74.36 0 0
Mohammad Amir (Pak) 5/79 v Aus Dec 26, 2009 Test 1943 954 520 7 2/29 74.28 0 0
CS Martin (NZ) 6/54 v SL Apr 11, 2005 Test 1748 1229 811 11 5/152 73.72 1 1

In the next Test of that home series against West Indies, at the SCG, Allan Border took 11 for 96 in Australia's seven-wicket victory. In 10 innings prior to his 7 for 46 in the first innings in Sydney, Border had taken one wicket at an average of 117 in 56 overs. In 20 previous innings, he'd taken only one wicket in 91.1 overs. In 17 innings after the 4 for 50 in the second innings at the SCG, Border managed only three wickets. So his career-best was a bolt from the blue.

Daniel Vettori had been struggling for wickets when he came to Bangladesh in 2004. In his previous 19 innings, he'd taken only 20 wickets at more than 70 apiece. Six of his previous nine innings had been wicketless. In the first innings of the first Test, in Dhaka, Vettori took 2 for 26. He was only warming up. In his next three innings - the second in Dhaka and two in Chittagong - he took six wickets each time.

Worst bowling average in the previous 20 innings before taking a five-wicket haul - Tests
Player Figs Opp Start Date Scorecard Balls Runs Wkts BBI Ave 5 4
AR Border (Aus) 7/46 v WI Jan 26, 1989 Test 1113 547 233 1 1/25 233.00 0 0
FMM Worrell (WI) 7/70 v Eng Jul 25, 1957 Test 442 1788 822 8 2/114 102.75 0 0
JC Adams (WI) 5/17 v NZ Apr 19, 1996 Test 1325 773 438 5 2/74 87.60 0 0
CH Gayle (WI) 5/34 v Eng Jul 29, 2004 Test 1708 1412 613 8 2/20 76.62 0 0
CL Hooper (WI) 5/26 v SL Jun 20, 1997 Test 1371 2112 831 11 3/34 75.54 0 0
Shahadat Hossain (Ban) 5/98 v Eng May 27, 2010 Test 1958 1778 1215 18 5/71 67.50 1 0
DL Vettori (NZ) 6/28 v Ban Oct 19, 2004 Test 1715 3266 1480 22 4/158 67.27 0 1
TE Bailey (Eng) 7/34 v WI Mar 30, 1954 Test 386 2094 926 14 3/71 66.14 0 0
Mudassar Nazar (Pak) 6/32 v Eng Aug 12, 1982 Test 932 875 382 6 3/48 63.66 0 0
FH Edwards (WI) 5/38 v Pak May 26, 2005 Test 1752 2121 1458 23 4/70 63.39 0 1
DCS Compton (Eng) 5/70 v SA Jan 1, 1949 Test 309 1168 500 8 2/32 62.50 0 0
HK Olonga (Zim) 5/93 v Pak Nov 9, 2002 Test 1625 1851 1121 19 3/18 59.00 0 0
TM Alderman (Aus) 6/128 v WI Nov 9, 1984 Test 997 2671 1286 22 2/23 58.45 0 0
ME Waugh (Aus) 5/40 v Eng Jan 26, 1995 Test 1284 786 343 6 2/63 57.16 0 0
EP Nupen (SA) 5/83 v Eng Feb 4, 1928 Test 172 2685 1124 20 5/53 56.20 1 1
CL Hooper (WI) 5/40 v Pak Apr 16, 1993 Test 1220 2027 882 16 4/75 55.12 0 1
RF Surti (India) 5/74 v Aus Dec 23, 1967 Test 624 2034 990 18 3/38 55.00 0 0
M Ntini (SA) 5/19 v Ban Oct 18, 2002 Test 1619 2067 1155 21 4/93 55.00 0 1
RJ Shastri (India) 5/75 v Pak Oct 5, 1983 Test 963 3177 1308 24 4/43 54.50 0 1
RJ Bright (Aus) 5/94 v India Sep 18, 1986 Test 1052 2901 1143 21 5/68 54.42 1 0

Brett Lee has the best ODI strike rate (29.1) among bowlers with more than 100 one-day wickets. His record took a beating in February and March 2006, though, when he went wicketless in four consecutive innings, against Sri Lanka and South Africa. That streak - the only time Lee has been wicketless for more than two successive matches - was bookended by two one-wicket hauls. So he had an average of 210 in four matches before the third ODI against South Africa in Port Elizabeth, where he took 4 for 28 in Australia's 24-run victory.

Worst bowling average in the previous 10 innings before taking a four-wicket haul - ODIs
Player Figs Opp Start Date Scorecard Balls Runs Wkts BBI Ave 5 4
TM Dilshan (SL) 4/52 v SA Aug 22, 2004 ODI 2158 303 244 1 1/12 244.00 0 0
RT Latham (NZ) 5/32 v Aus Mar 28, 1993 ODI 827 138 155 1 1/27 155.00 0 0
Ijaz Faqih (Pak) 4/43 v Aus Jan 30, 1984 ODI 243 438 304 2 1/41 152.00 0 0
RR Singh (India) 5/31 v SL May 26, 1999 ODI 1463 354 287 2 2/45 143.50 0 0
SR Tendulkar (India) 4/56 v SA Mar 15, 2000 ODI 1574 252 241 2 1/39 120.50 0 0
JK Kamande (Kenya) 4/36 v Neth Jul 3, 2010 ODI 3010 372 327 3 1/37 109.00 0 0
CZ Harris (NZ) 4/40 v India Jan 19, 1999 ODI 1387 471 375 4 2/44 93.75 0 0
PV Simmons (WI) 4/18 v Aus Mar 12, 1995 ODI 987 384 279 3 1/22 93.00 0 0
Khaled Mahmud (Ban) 4/19 v Zim Mar 14, 2004 ODI 2113 496 462 5 2/67 92.40 0 0
HK Olonga (Zim) 6/28 v Kenya Dec 15, 2002 ODI 1920 384 369 4 1/30 92.25 0 0
PD Collingwood (Eng) 4/38 v NZ Feb 20, 2002 ODI 1811 307 275 3 1/31 91.66 0 0
Maninder Singh (India) 4/22 v Pak Dec 5, 1986 ODI 406 534 366 4 2/30 91.50 0 0
CJ McDermott (Aus) 4/56 v India Oct 9, 1987 ODI 453 570 447 5 1/24 89.40 0 0
RS Kalpage (SL) 4/45 v WI Dec 16, 1993 ODI 864 537 418 5 3/64 83.60 0 0
S Lee (Aus) 5/33 v SL Feb 7, 1999 ODI 1403 312 243 3 2/20 81.00 0 0
NO Miller (WI) 4/43 v Zim Mar 6, 2010 ODI 2970 493 401 5 2/24 80.20 0 0
DL Vettori (NZ) 4/14 v SL May 19, 2003 ODI 2014 534 314 4 2/18 78.50 0 0
PA de Silva (SL) 4/30 v Eng Jan 13, 2003 ODI 1934 294 232 3 2/35 77.33 0 0
XJ Doherty (Aus) 4/28 v SL Aug 20, 2011 ODI 3182 492 383 5 2/37 76.60 0 0
IR Bishop (WI) 4/38 v Pak Jan 3, 1997 ODI 1157 474 382 5 2/35 76.40 0 0

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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