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You're my series bunny

Michael Clarke has fallen to Ravindra Jadeja five times in the current series. Here are other instances when one bowler has had the wood on a batsman over a tour

S Rajesh

March 22, 2013

Comments: 43 | Text size: A | A

Ben Hilfenhaus roars a successful, if fortuitous, appeal for the wicket of Ravi Bopara, England v Australia, 1st Test, Cardiff, 4th day, July 11, 2009
In the 2009 Ashes series, Ben Hilfenhaus' domination of Ravi Bopara was complete: 16 runs, five dismissals, average 3.20 © Getty Images
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If someone had suggested before the start of the India-Australia Test series that Michael Clarke would have serious problems against one bowler in the series, you'd probably have guessed R Ashwin, or Harbhajan Singh, or perhaps Pragyan Ojha. As it has turned out, none of those answers have been the correct one. Against all bowlers other than one left-arm spinner, Clarke has creamed 214 runs in 374 balls, and been dismissed once by them collectively. What should have been a smashing series with the bat has been spoiled by that one bowler, who wasn't even rated highly by Indian pundits till a few weeks ago: against Ravindra Jadeja, Clarke has been dismissed five times in 190 balls, scoring only 72 runs - an average of 14.40.

This week's column examines other instances when one bowler has dominated a top-order batsman in a series, dismissing him five or more times. The table below lists all such instances since the 2001 Ashes, which marks the start of the period over which ESPNcricinfo has complete ball-by-ball data for all Tests. It excludes a couple of instances of lower-order batsmen being dismissed repeatedly by a bowler.

One of the first things that jumps out from the table is the company that Jadeja finds himself in. Almost without exception, the bowlers are top-class, from Muttiah Muralitharan to Shane Warne to Glenn McGrath to Anil Kumble and Brett Lee. Ajantha Mendis hasn't lived up to all the early hype, but in 2008, in home conditions, he was good enough to dominate an in-form VVS Laxman, while for Ajit Agarkar, dismissing Justin Langer five times in a series would have been the highlight of a not-so-impressive international career.

The last column in the table lists the overall series average for that batsman, and in several of these cases, one bowler has ruined the series for him. Ravi Bopara, for instance, scored 16 runs and was dismissed five times by Ben Hilfenhaus in the 2009 Ashes for an average of 3.20, which is the lowest for a batsman who has been dismissed at least five times by a bowler during this period. Against other bowlers Bopara did all right, achieving an average of 44.50, but it wasn't enough to lift his series average to anything near respectable.

Wasim Jaffer's 2007-08 tour of Australia was made miserable by Brett Lee, who allowed him almost no scoring opportunities, and also got him out five times. In 93 deliveries - that's 15.3 overs - Jaffer scored only 18 runs off Lee. The 2001-02 tour of Sri Lanka was similarly miserable for Marlon Samuels (courtesy Muralitharan) and Chris Gayle (courtesy Chaminda Vaas). Murali Vijay has been reeling off big hundreds in the current series against Australia, but on the 2011 tour to the West Indies Ravi Rampaul so dominated him that Vijay averaged 5.40 against him, and was subsequently dropped from the Indian team for 18 months.

There are other cases, though, in which batsmen have made up for the failures against one bowler by scoring runs against others, and finishing the series with reasonable - or even impressive - averages. Laxman's stats in Australia in 2007-08 are a classic example: against Lee, he averaged 10.40, getting out five times for 52 runs, but he made up by scoring 314 for three dismissals against the other bowlers, which lifted his series average up to a respectable 45.75. Clarke's performance in this series runs along similar lines - struggling against one bowler, but dominant against the others, thus ensuring a respectable overall average. Brian Lara's stats were more than respectable in South Africa in 2003-04: despite averaging 20.80 for his five dismissals against Andre Nel, his overall series average was 66.38, thanks to a whopping average of 142.33 against the other bowlers, which included Makhaya Ntini and Shaun Pollock. However, the series numbers didn't look so good for Graham Thorpe (against Sri Lanka in 2003-04) and Yasir Hameed (in India in 2007-08), despite their impressive stats against all bowlers except one.

In the current series, Clarke has been dismissed by Ashwin once, but there have been other series in which a batsman has been out only to one bowler. On the tour to South Africa in 2005-06, Matthew Hayden was dismissed by Ntini in each of the six innings he played. Laxman was similarly dismissed by Mendis in each of the five innings in which he was dismissed in Sri Lanka in 2008, while Ian Bell fell to Murali five times in 2007-08 and was run-out once, which means no other bowler dismissed him in that series.

Bowlers who dismissed a batsman at least five times in a Test series since Ashes 2001
Batsman Bowler Series Runs/ Balls Dismissals Average Others-R/ D* Average Series ave
Ravi Bopara Ben Hilfenhaus Ashes 2009 16/ 56 5 3.20 89/ 2 44.50 15.00
Wasim Jaffer Brett Lee Ind in Aus 2007-08 18/ 93 5 3.60 31/ 1 31.00 8.17
Marlon Samuels Muttiah Muralitharan WI in SL 2001-02 20/ 94 5 4.00 56/ 1 56.00 12.67
Chris Gayle Chaminda Vaas WI in SL 2001-02 23/ 49 5 4.60 31/ 1 31.00 9.00
Murali Vijay Ravi Rampaul Ind in WI 2011 27/ 75 5 5.40 45/ 1 45.00 12.00
Devon Smith Jason Gillespie Aus in WI 2003 38/ 109 5 7.60 151/ 3 50.33 23.63
Yasir Hameed Anil Kumble Pak in Ind 2007-08 39/ 53 5 7.80 119/ 1 119.00 26.33
Daren Ganga Makhaya Ntini WI in SA 2003-04 50/ 171 6 8.33 72/ 2 36.00 15.25
Sourav Ganguly Muttiah Muralitharan Ind in SL 2008 51/ 90 5 10.20 45/ 1 45.00 16.00
Graham Thorpe Muttiah Muralitharan Eng in SL 2003-04 51/ 266 5 10.20 132/ 1 132.00 30.50
VVS Laxman Brett Lee Ind in Aus 2007-08 52/ 138 5 10.40 314/ 3 104.67 45.75
Matthew Hayden Makhaya Ntini Aus in SA 2005-06 74/ 131 6 12.33 157/ 0 - 38.50
Ashwell Prince Shane Warne SA in Aus 2005-06 63/ 225 5 12.60 142/ 1 142.00 34.17
Michael Atherton Glenn McGrath Ashes 2001 86/ 210 6 14.33 135/ 4 33.75 22.10
Michael Clarke Ravindra Jadeja Aus in Ind 2012-13 72/ 190 5 14.40 214/ 1 214.00 47.67
Ricky Ponting Darren Gough Ashes 2001 75/ 103 5 15.00 263/ 3 87.67 42.25
VVS Laxman Ajantha Mendis Ind in SL 2008 81/ 176 5 16.20 134/ 0 - 43.00
Ian Bell Muttiah Muralitharan Eng in SL 2007-08 84/ 238 5 16.80 177/ 0 - 43.50
Marcus Trescothick Shane Warne Ashes 2005 85/ 112 5 17.00 346/ 5 69.20 43.10
Andrew Strauss Shane Warne Ashes 2005 123/ 196 6 20.50 270/ 4 67.40 39.30
Brian Lara Andre Nel WI in SA 2003-04 104/ 220 5 20.80 427/ 3 142.33 66.38
Justin Langer Ajit Agarkar Ind in Aus 2003-04 115/ 174 5 23.00 254/ 3 84.67 46.13
Marcus Trescothick Jason Gillespie Ashes 2001 157/ 208 5 31.40 164/ 5 32.80 32.10
Marcus Trescothick Makhaya Ntini SA in Eng 2003 179/ 255 5 35.80 308/ 3 102.67 60.88
* Runs and dismissals against other bowlers in that series

For Clarke himself, falling five times to the same bowler in a series is a new experience: he has never been dismissed more than three times by a single bowler in a series. Of the ten occasions when he has been dismissed by the same bowler three times, four have been against England, and as many against India. Rangana Herath is the only left-arm spinner among those ten bowlers.

Bowlers who have dismissed Clarke most often in a series
Bowler Series Runs/ Balls Dismissals Average
Ravindra Jadeja Aus in Ind 2012-13 72/ 190 5 14.40
James Anderson Ashes 2011 32/ 91 3 10.67
Steve Harmison Ashes 2006-07 69/ 130 3 23.00
Rangana Herath Aus in SL 2011 98/ 136 3 32.67
Matthew Hoggard Ashes 2005 78/ 129 3 26.00
Simon Jones Ashes 2005 47/ 69 3 15.67
Anil Kumble Ind in Aus 2007-08 81/ 142 3 27.00
Anil Kumble Aus in Ind 2004-05 158/ 258 3 52.67
Amit Mishra Aus in Ind 2008-09 52/ 121 3 17.33
Ishant Sharma Aus in Ind 2008-09 44/ 89 3 14.67
Dale Steyn Aus in SA 2008-09 48/ 77 3 16.00

This series has also dented Clarke's career stats against left-arm spinners: his career average against them has dipped to 41.04, from 47.42 before the series began. When India's home season began, it would have been a fair punt to expect Kevin Pietersen to struggle the most against left-arm spin in India, but he had a reasonable time against them, averaging 33.60 (168 runs, five dismissals). Clarke, reckoned to be one of the finest players of spin going around at the moment, has done much worse.

Clarke in Tests against each bowler type, before the India tour and overall
Bowler type Overall-outs Average Before Feb'13-outs Average
Right-arm pace 73 52.91 73 51.79
Right-arm spin 29 64.24 28 62.25
Left-arm spin 24 41.04 19 47.42
Left-arm pace 9 62.11 9 62.11

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

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Posted by   on (March 25, 2013, 8:38 GMT)

Had it been minimum of four, Phil Hughes' struggles against NZ recently made for funny reading. He will always be known to us as "c Guptill b Martin"

Posted by gujratwalla on (March 24, 2013, 18:02 GMT)

I think it would be appropriate to say Mohammad Hafeez has been Dale Steyn's bunny in the recently concluded Tests and ODIs...the man simply seemed petrified of Steyn.

Posted by   on (March 24, 2013, 16:39 GMT)

@BCG Yeah, read that. What now? You don't need ball by ball details to know who dismissed a batsman. If it is needed for other tables in the article, then just restrict it to those tables. Are we going to deny Bannerman's century in Test No. 1 or Bradman's 99.94 because ball by ball details were not available at the time?

Posted by   on (March 24, 2013, 16:33 GMT)

@LourensGrobbelaar As far as I know, the record of who took the batsman's wicket is available right from Test No.1. You don't need ball by ball details to know that Harbhajan dismissed Ponting 5 times out of 5 in the 2001 series.

Posted by Leggie on (March 24, 2013, 16:22 GMT)

@Jasmeet, I agree. For some reason, Ajit Agarkar is always rated poorly, and it is quite baffling. Agarkar deserved a better treatment - especially so if the likes of Ishant can play for so long with an average close to 40!

Posted by   on (March 24, 2013, 3:24 GMT)

"while for Ajit Agarkar, dismissing Justin Langer five times in a series would have been the highlight of a not-so-impressive international career." now this is just ridiculous for the writer to say not so impressive international bowler, he is the second leading odi wicket taker for india till date. having better strike rate, thank all the indian pacers, which includes zaheer, srinath, pathan , nd even a better econ. rate than most bowlers,akhtar, , srisanth, irfan, ishant, nd few more, and he is the only bowler from india who can still clcok in more than 140+ kms at indian pitches he does that in ranji, with ball swinging both ways, none of the bowlers can clock 138+ these days . other fast bowlers in india that clocks 140 + are already injured after their 5th odis, he is a very underrated fast bowler for india, i feel sorry for him , and the way bcci never give him second chance.

Posted by krishay on (March 24, 2013, 0:18 GMT)

Mohammed Hafeez had Devon Smith out six times in a row during Pakistan's Tour of WI in 2011.

Posted by   on (March 23, 2013, 18:57 GMT)

I came to know about this concept of 'bunny' for the first time when Wasim Akram demolished Srikaanth in 1989-90 test series in Pakistan. I think, a historical overview should be presented to know how some great bowlers dominated the great batsmen of their era

Posted by shillingsworth on (March 23, 2013, 14:31 GMT)

It doesn't qualify for the list but Swann to Prince in South Africa 2009-10 reads 6 balls, 3 dismissals. Prince was opening the innings at the time and fell to the new ball in his other 4 innings in the series, before Swann came on to bowl. What if Swann had opened the bowling? @TontonZolaMoukoko - That's a good one. He played pretty much the same shot each time as far as I remember.

Posted by   on (March 23, 2013, 14:14 GMT)

laxman in 2003-04 vs bowlers other than lee is remarkable... :)

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.

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