Which end of the bat do I hold?

Batsmen who went through spells of wretched form

Steven Lynch

May 28, 2012

Comments: 21 | Text size: A | A

Australian cricket captain Greg Chappell bats in the first Test, Australia v England, Perth, November 1982
Greg Chappell: in 1981-82, he made guest appearances on the pitch Adrian Murrell / © Getty Images
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Mark Waugh
One of the most graceful of batsmen, Waugh often made it look easy, starting with a fine century on debut for Australia against England in 1990-91. But a couple of years later, in Sri Lanka, he ran into trouble, bagging successive pairs in Colombo and Moratuwa. Four ducks in a row earned him the temporary nickname "Audi", after the car-maker's four-circle logo. Waugh's team-mates generously pointed out that if there had been another Test he had a chance to be renamed "Olympic".

Mohinder Amarnath
Few Test batsmen have experienced a year quite like Amarnath did in 1983. After warming up with a couple of centuries against Pakistan, he enjoyed a fabulous tour of the West Indies, scoring 598 runs - including two more hundreds - in the Tests. Not long afterwards he was Man of the Match when India won the World Cup final. And then the wheels fell off: against the same bowlers he'd caned in the Caribbean, Amarnath stumbled at home, collecting just a single run in six innings, and the temporary moniker "Mr Amarnought".

Greg Chappell
Chappell, another stylish Aussie, averaged nearly 54 in Tests - but it might have been even higher than that, were it not for a horror trot at home in 1981-82, when he bagged seven ducks in all internationals, including four in a row at one stage. He also acquired a new temporary nickname: Chappello.

Ken Rutherford
It was Rutherford's misfortune to make his Test debut in the Caribbean in 1984-85, against the fearsome West Indian bowling attack of the time. Just to make it worse, Rutherford - who spent most of the rest of his 56-Test career in the middle order - was asked to open. His debut couldn't have gone much worse: out to Malcolm Marshall for a duck, then run out without even facing in the second innings. The rest of the series wasn't much better, bringing scores of 4, 0, 2, 1 and 5.

Seymour Clark
Clark was a railwayman called up by Somerset in 1930, when their regular wicketkeeper was ill. Though a fine keeper, his batting was, to say the least, underwhelming. He had nine innings in his five first-class matches, and failed to score a run in any of them (he did manage to remain not out twice). Peter Smith of Essex apparently tried to feed Clark a run so he could get off the mark: the inviting delivery bounced twice and then bowled him. Wisden remembered that "Clark thought his highest score in club cricket was three, and two of them came from overthrows". Somerset still offered him a contract, but Clark thought he'd be better advised to go back on the railways.

Pankaj Roy
The well-rounded figure of Roy was a fixture at the top of India's batting order in the 1950s. He made 173 - the highest of his five Test centuries - during a record opening partnership of 413 with Vinoo Mankad against New Zealand in 1955-56. But Roy was vulnerable to extreme pace (his ever-present glasses probably didn't help), and in England in 1952, when the young Fred Trueman was unleashed for the first time, Roy's seven innings included five ducks, four of them in successive innings. He wasn't alone in struggling against Fiery Fred and friends: at Headingley India slumped to 0 for 4 - still a unique scoreline in Tests - while at The Oval they were 6 for 5 at one stage.

Marvan Atapattu
The Sri Lanka batsman made a terrible start in Tests: his first three matches, scattered between 1990 and 1994, produced innings of 0 and 0, 0 and 1, and 0 and 0. It could have been even worse: it's said the one run he did score was actually a leg-bye that wasn't signalled. But to the credit of Atapattu - and the selectors - he recovered and built a fine career, finishing with 5502 runs and 16 centuries in 90 Tests.


Ajit Agarkar discovered his Australian batting form of old, Australia v India, 3rd Test, Melbourne, 4th day, December 29, 2003
Ajit Agarkar aka Bombay Duck William West / © AFP
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Bobby Peel
The Yorkshire slow left-armer Peel was a good enough batsman to score seven first-class centuries - one of them a double - but he was also bad enough to become the first man to collect consecutive pairs in Tests, in Adelaide and Sydney early in 1894-95, contriving to be stumped in each innings at the SCG. Peel rounded off his 20-Test career with another pair of spectacles, at The Oval in 1896.

Ajit Agarkar
Scoring a Test century at Lord's, as he did in 2002, should have ensured Agarkar a degree of immortality: after all, Sachin Tendulkar* isn't on the honours board there. But mention Agarkar's batting to most people and you'll get the same response... five ducks in a row. That was in Australia in 1999-2000: the first four were first-ballers, including a pair in Melbourne. In the second innings in Sydney, Agarkar earned a big round of applause for surviving his first delivery, from Glenn McGrath, only to nick the next one through to Adam Gilchrist to complete a run of six dismissals (including the one before the first duck) in seven balls.

Shadab Kabir
The Karachi left-hander Kabir had a unique one-day international record for a batsman: three matches, three innings, three ducks. Remarkably, though, he did win a Man-of-the-Match award - after Kabir's debut, against England at Trent Bridge in 1996, the adjudicator, unusually, gave the award to the entire Pakistan side, after what he thought was a fine team effort.

Tommy Ward
The one-time South Africa wicketkeeper Ward is the only man known to have bagged a king pair (out first ball in both innings) on his Test debut, against Australia at Old Trafford during the Triangular Tournament of 1912. More than that, though, he managed to round off a hat-trick each time, lbw in the first innings and caught and bowled in the second as the legspinner Jimmy Matthews became the only man to take two in the same Test. Ward didn't get a run in his second match, either (he was not out in the second innings), but things did get a little better: he finished his 23-Test career with a couple of fifties.

*06:11:50 GMT, 29 May 2012: Originally said Sunil Gavaskar is not on the Lord's honours board as well. Gavaskar features for his hundred for the Rest of the World in 1987

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2012.

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Posted by RyanHarrisGreatCricketer on (May 30, 2012, 14:17 GMT)

What about mark taylor?

Posted by   on (May 30, 2012, 0:09 GMT)

Lynchers, I think its a bit tough adding Rudds to this list. I understand this was a bad run. But he was making his Test debut in the Carribean against Marshall, Garner and Holding in the mid 80's! Poor fella, i think most would have battled against this attack at that time, especially in thier debut series.

Posted by IndianInnerEdge on (May 29, 2012, 12:53 GMT)

Nice article...but u coud have credited the 'bombay Duck' with a sense of humour....on the 2003 OZ tour when he finally 'opened' his account against Aus @ adelaide with a single (after that horror run) the crowd cheered, and he actually raised his bat with a wry smile on his face...and that brought the house down.....But the next day, he bowled his best, got a six-fer and put india on the road to a famous victroy, which they did on the Back of Rahul's fab batting......!

Posted by Erosoval on (May 29, 2012, 12:53 GMT)

The writers of cricinfo don't have very good cricketing knowledge. The internet has promoted substandard 'journalism' where quality is lacking, although thoughts are good. The lack of knowing cricket is shown in this article by Steven Lynch. If a list such as this has to be made, then Dennis Compton, one of only two bats with a century in each innings against a Bradman side with Lindwall and Miller, other being Vijay Hazare, must be included. In the 1950-51 Ashes his scores were 3 & 0, 0 & 23, 5 & 0, 11 & 11, in the the 1st 3rd, 4th, and 5th Tests respectively. He did not play the 2nd Test at the 'G.' Of any great batsman that is the most wretched run. Also Steven Lynch needs a correction - Mohinder Amarnath scored three hundreds in the 1982-83 debacle in Pakistan where Imran using reverse swing too 40 wickets and ended Vishy's Test Career. He followed it with three more on the Windies tour of the spring of 1983.

Posted by skepticaloptimist on (May 29, 2012, 10:50 GMT)

Wait, Sehwag is also another player to have collected a King's pair, against Anderson, the last year, in England, no?

Posted by kamal_lak on (May 29, 2012, 9:00 GMT)

Ricky Ponting's 0,DNB,6,0,0 and 11 against India, 2001 (Yeah, THAT series) deserves a mention too. Wish this list focused only on Batsmen rather than the Agarkars and the Clarks.

Posted by EverybodylovesSachin on (May 29, 2012, 1:44 GMT)

KiwiRocker -- You said last one year Sachin (tendlya) aeverage 18. Sachin averaged 37 in 2011 and 47 from 25 may 2011 to 28 may 2012..Please mention the year he averaged 18 in test cricket...last year I do no think so..

Posted by   on (May 28, 2012, 18:52 GMT)

Bombay Duck scored another duck at home against SA right after that Aussie tour! So, that makes it 6 ducks in a row.

Posted by Jonathan_E on (May 28, 2012, 16:46 GMT)

Graham Gooch went through two spells of wretched form right when he should have been at the top of his career.

In 1987, after the success of his replacement Broad in Australia the previous winter, the opening partnership should have been Gooch and Broad for the next year... but Gooch lost form so badly he was not only dropped from the Test side but dropped himself from his own county side, even played for Essex 2nds to try and get some form back.

He regained his touch by August, scored a hundred in the MCC Bicentennial, toured in the winter, had a decent 1988 series against Windies and Sri Lanka, became captain... then was stripped of it for non-cricketing reasons after the 1988-9 tour of India was cancelled.

he then had a shocker of a series in the 1989 Ashes, again being dropped (at his own request) in the 5th test of 6.

Miraculously, his batting ability came back once he was returned to the captaincy that he should never have been stripped of in the first place...

Posted by bigime on (May 28, 2012, 15:08 GMT)

How about Mark Robinson of Yorkshire?

A world record 12 successive 0s in first class cricket in 1990, a season average of 0.5 with a high score of 1*.

Posted by BnH1985Fan on (May 28, 2012, 14:55 GMT)

@ srriaj317 -- You remember Agarkar's '50', and Mr. Lynch remembers 5 '0's -- so its the same and yet different!

Posted by padmal on (May 28, 2012, 11:28 GMT)

Keith Artheton scored just 02 runs in 05 innings in 1996 WC.....Awesome..

Posted by padmal on (May 28, 2012, 11:10 GMT)

What about Keith Atherton of WI in 1996 world cup. Terrible/////// He scored something like 17 runs throughout the series.......

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (May 28, 2012, 11:08 GMT)

You missed world cricket's most over rated batsman Tendulya for last one year where he averaged 18!

Posted by srriaj317 on (May 28, 2012, 7:26 GMT)

Hmm, when people mention Ajit Agarkar's batting to me, the first thing in my head is the fastest 50 by an Indian in ODIs when he smashed WI around! But I found Seymour Clark's story the most unfortunate (just like my batting stats)!

Posted by Balumekka on (May 28, 2012, 6:11 GMT)

For a batsman with supreme technique, Atapattu's one run in 6 innings was hard to imagine. He scored 6 double centuries later in the career.

Posted by   on (May 28, 2012, 5:33 GMT)

Inzamam and Mahela's records in WC 2003 were also notable.

Posted by   on (May 28, 2012, 5:31 GMT)

did u miss on out on kallis at the start of his career?

Posted by its.rachit on (May 28, 2012, 4:54 GMT)

bad list .. the article says spells of wretched form ... tommy ward made 3 ducks ... how is that a spell .. shud have included ricky ponting's 17 tuns in India in 2001 .. now that was a wretched spell ... or shaun marsh's 17 runs in 4 tests in australia ... or inzy's 17 something runs in 2003 WC ... those are real wretched spells by top class batsman ... including bowlers in this list does not make a lot of sense ... i can agree with agarkar's inclusion tho ... or i may b wrong in interpreting the article ... if it is about bagging ducks or pairs of them ...

Posted by akshay1994 on (May 28, 2012, 3:40 GMT)

Shaun Marsh in the recent series against India?

Posted by   on (May 28, 2012, 3:35 GMT)

How about Adam Gilchrist in the Final Frontier (2001) series in India? After a rampaging hundred in Mumbai, he made 0, 0, 1 and 1 in Kolkata and Chennai, falling to Harbhajan thrice. Famously, Australia's fortunes in the series mirrored Gilly's...

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Steven LynchClose
Steven Lynch Steven Lynch won the Wisden Cricket Monthly Christmas Quiz three years running before the then-editor said "I can't let you win it again, but would you like a job?" That lasted for 15 years, before he moved across to the Wisden website when that was set up in 2000. Following the merger of the two sites early in 2003 he was appointed as the global editor of Wisden Cricinfo. In June 2005 he became the deputy editor of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. He continues to contribute the popular weekly "Ask Steven" question-and-answer column on ESPNcricinfo, and edits the Wisden Guide to International Cricket.

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