ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2013 debutant of the year: The upright seamer

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2013 debutant of the year: The upright seamer

Shami injected a much-needed dose of pace into the Indian attack. Will he able to replace Zaheer Khan as its leader?
Sidharth Monga

related links

2013: 17 wickets at 26.17 from 4 Tests | 30 wickets at 30.06 from 20 ODIs

One hundred and twenty-six players debuted in 2014. Sixty-three of them had already played international cricket in one of the other formats before the start of 2013. That took out the likes of Quinton de Kock, James Faulkner and Mitchell McClenaghan, who made stupendous ODI debuts in 2013 but peskily made their T20 international debuts in 2012.

Of the remaining 63 who got their first taste of international cricket in 2013, there were quite a few who promised a bright future. Ashton Agar won many a heart with his 98 from No. 11 at Trent Bridge. Hamish Rutherford, son of Ken, who bagged a pair on debut, hit 171 on debut, against England in Dunedin. It took Sohaib Maqsood nine innings to finally register a single-digit score. Kyle Abbott had a stunning Test debut, taking 7 for 29 in his only Test bowling effort in the year, and disappeared from the international scene. Corey Anderson made the fastest ODI hundred a day after 2013 ended.

Mohammed Shami, though, made all his debuts in 2013, got enough chances to play for India, and made a striking enough impact for ESPNcricinfo readers to vote him newcomer of the year.

He began the year with an analysis of 9-4-23-1 to facilitate a consolation win over Pakistan after the ODI series had been lost. He fully announced himself when he got his Test debut later in the year, taking four and five wickets in his first two innings of Test cricket.

That Test debut, against West Indies, came at a ground he now calls home. It wasn't always so for Shami. Raised in Sahaspur in Uttar Pradesh, Shami showed his parents his skill at bowling in mud fields. There were no grounds, pitches or facilities in Sahaspur. Shami's father, Tousif Ali, though, didn't burden him with the pressure of earning money for the family, instead letting him pursue his cricket dream in Kolkata. The 16-year-old was skilled enough to get employment with clubs in Kolkata. He was skilled enough to hold his place in the Indian team.

The most striking aspect of Shami's bowling is the exceptionally upright seam he consistently manages, almost like in those Hawk-Eye simulations where the ball is always delivered with an upright seam. He also injected a much-needed dose of pace to the Indian attack. The accuracy, especially against left-hand batsmen, needs work, but the ingredients, as his captain MS Dhoni likes to say, are there.

"You need a bit of pace to dominate," Dhoni said of Shami. "You can get a bit of reverse swing, and he's got very good seam positioning, which means he can reverse the ball away from the right-hand batsmen. So on wickets that have a bit more bounce, I think he will be even more effective with the ball going both ways."

Against West Indies, Shami did it all with reverse swing. Eight of his nine victims in that Test were bowled, lbw or caught at short leg. The peculiar thing about these spells was that he was getting the ball to reverse from short of a length. If you didn't know how old the ball was, you would think he was actually seaming a new one back in.

You could argue that West Indies were complicit in this devastation - they didn't cut their backlifts short, nor did they try to bat out of their crease to counter the reverse swing, but Shami went to South Africa and looked like the likeliest Indian to take wickets. He showed his versatility in using the new ball effectively there.

In all, Shami took 30 ODI wickets in 2013, at an average of 30 and economy rate of 5.39. His 17 wickets in four Tests came at 26.17. Bigger tests will come in 2014. At the end of 2013, he looked the most suited to leading India's pace attack once Zaheer Khan is gone. Shami, however, will also know that he has reached a stage similar to those quite a few India quicks before him did. Some of them lost fitness, some focus, others effectiveness. In longevity lies Shami's biggest test.

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2013 home

. Your ESPN name '' will be used to display your comments. Please click here to edit this.
Comments have now been closed for this article

Posted by janardhanareddy on (March 14, 2014, 16:59 GMT)

Shami has taken 77 wickets from 29 odis and 6 test matches..emrging as a strike bowler for india.great performance by a debutant.hoping to deliver more and more match winning performances for india.

Posted by Vaughan on (March 14, 2014, 18:05 GMT)

Was there no other major contenders?

Posted by Emad on (March 14, 2014, 20:13 GMT)

@Vaughagraphic: Well, Quinten De C actually deserved the award but "There was no other INDIAN" contender, so, they had to give it to Mohammad Shami. Guy with an average of 30 in ODI receives the best debutante award. Where the heck world cricket going?

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 14, 2014, 20:21 GMT)

Errors in the article...please correct!

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 14, 2014, 20:50 GMT)

Its more like a Indian Cricket award show! Dont Falsely Identify it as a overall award show!! Seriously can a mediocre Indian bowler be a debutant of the year! pathetic

Posted by Naresh on (March 14, 2014, 22:01 GMT)

De Kock - should have walked away with this award.

Posted by Friend on (March 14, 2014, 22:18 GMT)

Shami is the best young paceman in the world and got a deserving award. It is still early days but just imagine what he could do when he gets to Mitchell Johnson's age. Good times ahead for Indian fans if they find one more Shami from the vast pool of talent.

Posted by Athul on (March 15, 2014, 5:05 GMT)

@Vaughanographic..nope..may be Jason Holder....but Jason is not a part of WI Test set up yet..Shami debuted in all format and done really well..9/118 in his first test...he is also the leading wicket taker this year in odi.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 15, 2014, 6:02 GMT)

30 wickets in 20 matches best debut? must be joking ....

Posted by Samrat on (March 15, 2014, 6:04 GMT)

@prasad perera;Seems like a case of sour grapes huh mate?Whats pathetic is actually ur comment,look at the state ur Sri Lankan cricket team is in,once Sanga and Mahela leave its all over and you know that.Pathetic!!

About The Awards

The ESPNcricinfo Awards recognise the best individual batting and bowling performances in cricket over the calendar year. They are voted on by an independent jury of former cricketers, commentators, and ESPNcricinfo's senior writers. Previous winners have included Dale Steyn, Virender Sehwag, Shahid Afridi and Kumar Sangakkara.

ESPNcricinfo@20 Cricketer of the Generation

A high-powered jury of cricketers, current and past, cricket writers and commentators picks the player of the last 20 years to cap ESPNcricinfo's 20th anniversary celebrations.

Contribution to Cricket award

This award, the winner of which is nominated by Rahul Dravid, recognises significant contributions to cricket in a non-playing role.

Statsguru Awards

Which batsman was the most consistent over the year? Who was the best bowler in the third and fourth innings? The Statsguru Awards go beyond runs scored, wickets taken, or averages, and are the result of detailed data analyses of performances. ESPNcricinfo's ball-by-ball data analysis of every international game has answers to these queries and more.