Bangladesh’s greatest Test win

While Bangladesh has made good progress in limited-over cricket in recent years, the just-concluded Test at Mirpur is historic. To understand this clearly, we look at the the team’s 8 Test victories:

bangladesh-test-history

This is their first victory against a full-strength “regular” team, not a fellow minnow such as Zimbabwe-even if it was a 3-0 sweep as in 2014.

And we don’t count the two wins against a West Indies third XI which included many debutants who (apart from Kemar Roach) vanished without a trace. The stand-in captain Floyd Reifer witnessed clean-sweep losses in the Test as well as the ODI series. In the course of the series he talked about his team improving. A journalist asked him, “Have you been smoking something that sounds like your name?”

(Those familiar with American crime novels would know that “reefer” is one of the numerous synonyms for marijuana).

It should be remembered that Bangladesh came very close to winning their first Test back in 2003, but were thwarted by the last-wicket pair of Inzamam (138*) and debutant Yasir Ali (1*): http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/64045.html

Yasir Ali never played a Test again, but much was heard of another debutant Salman Butt in years to come.

 

Those who missed the bus at Lord’s (Revised in Aug 2018)

The honors board at Lord’s are well known-anyone who scores a century or takes a fiver or a tenner gets his name on them, even if it is a neutral Test not involving England. If you need to brush up, see

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord%27s_honours_boards

and for Indian players featured there, full details are here:

https://abn397.wordpress.com/2016/07/24/indian-cricketers-on-the-lords-honours-boards/

However, note this extract from the Wikipedia article:

“A number of very distinguished players such as Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Shane Warne, Curtly Ambrose and Brian Lara are not named on the honours boards.”

It may be recalled that there was much heartbreak when Sachin failed to score a century in 2011, which was generally understood then to be his last Test there.

We now look at the aspect of prominent players failing to reach a board-worthy performance at Lord’s despite several opportunities. And there are some visitors who simply did not get to play enough at Lord’s.

Many English players whose career lasted about 5 years would have played 10+ Tests at Lord’s. Visiting players with long careers usually manage 4 Tests, unless they miss one Test or series. So we begin by identifying those who batted in  at least 8 innings there. A further stipulation is that their batting position is 1 to 8, to eliminate tailenders without much batting ability.

So we have this for Most matches at Lord’s without a century:

Lord's batting flops

Atherton, Thorpe and Gatting played the most innings there without a century-particularly odd as Gatting played for Middlesex. Atherton did score 99 there and has the most fifties (7).

Visitors are led by Gavaskar and Tendulkar, followed by Azhar Ali,  Faulkner, AW Nourse and Ponting. Lara played in only 3 Tests and 6 innings. The highest averages here are by Dexter (51.62) and FS Jackson (47.71).

While most of the batsmen here scored at least one fifty, some did not. They include Ramprakash (HS 40 in 13 innings), bowling all-rounder Emburey, Brearley, wicketkeeper Downton, Tendulkar, Faulkner and Ponting. The lowest average here is 10.38 by Ramprakash who was a specialist batsman, unlike some of the others. Then comes all-rounder Pringle (16.11) and another famous batsman Ponting (16.87). Tendulkar at least got into the 20s.

Apart from Atherton’s 99, there are 90s by TE Bailey, JM Parks and FS Jackson.

Next, we take up bowlers who bowled at least 1000 balls (while bowling at no 1 to 5) and never took a five-for:

Lord's bowling flops-1

Hoggard has the most Tests (11) and innings (20) here with a best of 4-27. However Edmonds has the best bowling figures of 4-6, while Hoggard has the most wickets (37). Lillee (17 wkts), Kumble and Gibbs are the only visitors here.

Ambrose and Warne did not bowl enough balls here.

The best bowling average here is Laker’s 24.43, followed by Wardle’s 26.78.

And one gets similar results if we look for those who made the same effort and never took a ten-for:

Lord's bowling flops-2.JPG

Here, Anderson has the most wickets (103) with a best of 9-43. He may, of course, play a few more Tests at Lord’s. He also has the most 5-fors (6). Oddly enough Anderson has almost twice the wickets of the next bowler Willis with 47. The best bowling average is by Willis with 18.76 followed by Illingworth with 19.85.

Sir Richard Hadlee has the most wickets by a visitor (26).

 

 

Unbeaten scores of 50+ on debut

Predictably, England won the first Test at Chittagong. Less predictable was the narrow margin of victory. Had they won, this would have been Bangladesh’s first Test win against a major team. We should not count the two victories against the West Indies third XI in 2009.

Sabbir Rahman made an unbeaten fifty on his debut. We now look into all those who achieved this feat on their debut.

For convenience, we break these instances into three sections, depending on whether the debutant’s team won, lost or drew/tied the match. There are a total of 73 such instances (including two cases where the debutant scored unbeaten fifty-plus scores in each innings).

We start with instances of unbeaten 50+ when the debutant’s team won:

unb-50-debut-win

27 such instances, including the first-ever Test century and a double century (Rudolph). That is the highest unbeaten innings by a debutant, and DSBP Kuruppu (see below) is the only other batsman to score an unbeaten 200+.

SG Law and MN Nawaz were playing their only Tests. Van Zyl and Voges had contrasting careers after their debut.

We will later try to see which of them may have hit the winning runs.

Next, we consider instances of unbeaten 50+ when the debutant’s team lost:

unb-50-debut-loss

18 such instances, including two innings by GC Grant. He was also captaining the West Indies on his debut. Barrett and Javed Omar carried their bats through the innings. Some famous names of the recent past are topped off by Sabbir Rahman and his 64*. Southee added a five-for to his 77*, thus becoming one of the handful of debutants to score a 50+ and 5wi.

We will later identify those who were left stranded at the end of the fourth innings.

Finally, we consider instances of unbeaten 50+ when the debutant’s team drew or tied:

unb-50-debut-draw-tie

28 instances, including two innings by Azhar Mahmood. He is the only one to score an unbeaten hundred and unbeaten fifty on debut. Rowe is here as well, having scored 214 along with the 100* mentioned here. And Kuruppu has an unbeaten double century. Again, a few famous names from the recent past who are still going strong.

Coming back to our original query, we isolate those who scored their unbeaten fifty-plus in the 4th innings, and were thus batting at the time of victory:

unb-50-debut-win-4th

Only 8 such instances, including Gavaskar besides Gimblett, Lloyd and Lewis against India. In some cases they may have hit the winning runs. This could be checked from the ball-by-ball commentary if available, or from contemporary match reports.

Finally, we look at those who were left unbeaten with 50+ in the 4th innings when their team lost:

unb-50-debut-loss-4th

Naturally, Sabbir Rahman tops off this list. India was not involved in any of these instances.

There might have been cases of remaining unbeaten on 50+ in the 3rd innings when their team lost by an innings. The possible candidates are:

Barrett, Ranjitsinhji, Grant, Howarth, Javed Omar and Henriques.

A look at the scorecard shows only Howarth and Javed Omar being left unbeaten in the third innings, when their team lost by an innings. Howarth was at the other end when fellow debutant No 11 Ewan Chatfield suffered a potentially fatal injury when struck by a ball from Peter Lever.

The US Presidential elections and Indian place names

As the saturation coverage of the US elections will continue for a while, we may as well try to match their leader’s names to place names in India.

While the incumbent President Barack Obama came to India more than once, he does not seem to have visited this place:

barrackpore

His predecessor Jimmy Carter did indeed have a village near Gurgaon named after him. Supposedly his mother had been there with the Peace Corps at one time:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carterpuri

A halt station called Carterpuri (between Bijwasan and Gurgaon) was listed in the timetable for a few years, though it seems to have closed down long ago and no trace of it can be seen now. A new station called Palam Vihar Halt was built some years later in the same general area, though no trains appear to stop there now.

When Bill Clinton was President, the combination of him and the First Lady was referred to as Billary. Therefore, a logical place for them to visit is:

bellary-map

although it has now been renamed to:

ballari-new

If (somehow) Donald Trump wins, he could visit the small town of McDonald’s Choultry in Tamil Nadu, though the station (between Salem and Erode) was long ago renamed to:

magudan-chavadi

This name change in the 1970s was perhaps the first step against the McDonaldization of India.

We close with this one currently making the rounds on social media, presumably taken in around 1970:

bill-and-hillary

Also read this one: https://abn397.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/present-and-past-us-presidents/

A statistical tribute to Max Walker

As you would know, Australian pace bowler Max Walker passed away recently. He played an useful support role to the more flamboyant Lillee and Thomson. Oddly enough, he never played against India in his 34 Tests and 17 ODIs. Most of his teammates such as the Chappell brothers, Marsh, Lillee, Thomson and Mallett did play in at least one series against India.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/8137.html

I remembered him for a statistical quirk in his last Test, the final Test against England in 1977. This was a dead rubber match, which saw Walker and debutant Mike Malone putting on a century partnership for the 9th wicket. Being Packermen, they were not able to return to the Test team after the “amnesty”. They did get to play a few ODIs.

The scorecard of that Test: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63194.html

Now Walker (besides debutant Malone) made their highest Test scores (78 and 46) in their final Test. In fact Walker had never made a Test fifty before. This led me to study how many people had made their career-best score in their final Test.

This is not something which can be pulled out directly from Statsguru, but requires some additional work. If you stick to career-best scores of 50+, there are over 80 such instances so there isn’t much point in listing them all.

Anyway, I have listed all such cases of making their career-best score in their last Test, that score being 100 or more:

lasttest100-1

lasttest100-2

Of course, the 4 instances of 2016 should not really be here as all of them (especially Kohli and Rahane) will be playing for a long time to come. Note the strange case of Andy Sandham who made the world Test record in his last Test, though Bradman overtook it a few months later. The special cases of Ganteaume and Redmond would be familiar.

I also listed the Indian players who made their career-best score in their last Test, that score being 50 or more:

lasttestindia

The Yuvraj of Patiala (a.k.a. Yadavendra Singh) is the only Indian among the 15 who scored a fifty or more in his only Test. Leaving out Kohli and Rahane, there is only Vijay Merchant who made his highest score of 100+ in his last Test.

Cow slaughter on the tracks

While British cattle are larger and heavier than their counterparts in India and other Asian countries, they do not seem to be particularly intelligent, as we see here. Wandering onto a track which is a main route with rated speeds of 225 Km/h is not very smart. Anyway, see this news item from Peterborough in eastern England which refers to an accident on 2 Oct 2016:

https://www.rt.com/viral/361401-train-kills-cows-arsenal/

Sometimes the cows win, as we see from this accident in 1984 in Scotland where a single cow caused a push-pull diesel express to derail with the death of over a dozen humans:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polmont_rail_accident

A picture of the accident site:

http://danger-ahead.railfan.net/gallery/polmont.htm

As you can see from the above Wikipedia article, this was a significant accident in that it brought out the dangers of push-pull trains with the loco at the rear running into an obstruction. If the loco had been in front the accident and number of casualties would not have been so serious.

India has had its share of relatively minor accidents involving cattle and camels, which have caused some derailments but without major damage or casualties. However, unlike the British railways, IR does have a significant number of larger animals such as lions, tigers and elephants.

Tigers and lions do get run over quite often. The relatively small number of lions in the Gir forest may be able to cope with the slow metre gauge trains in their area. But overcrowding has caused them to disperse to areas further away which have heavy broad gauge goods traffic, notably the line to Pipavav port. The results are predictable.

Elephants have caused accidents in several parts of the country, notably in North Bengal and Assam. The worst such accident was in Jalpaiguri district in 2013 which led to deaths of 7 elephants and injuries to several several others: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Chapramari_Forest_train_accident

No humans were affected in this accident.

However, this accident in 2000 near Dehradun did cause some injuries to humans:

 May 2, 2000

18 injured as 3010 Dn Dehradun-Howrah Doon Express derailed after hitting a herd of elephants at  unmanned crossing between Raiwala and Motichur (near the  latter) on Dehradun-Haridwar section. The engine and 3 coaches were derailed. An elephant was killed.

A close look at Pakistan’s railways and their weak points

As armchair warriors are now having a field day, it is time to take a good look at Pakistan’s railway system and how its major routes could be fairly easily disrupted in the event of a major war.

We first take a look at this system map of the late 1960s, from Berridge’s “Couplings to the Khyber” published in 1969.

PWR in 1969

Metre gauge lines are not shown separately. At that time they existed in a corner of Sind, from Mirpur Khas to Khokhropar, the Jamrao-Pithoro loop and Mirpur Khas-Nawabshah.

This map shows a line under construction from Kot Adu through Dera Ghazi Khan and Kashmor which connected at Jacobabad to Karachi and Quetta sides. This was opened in the 1970s.

Now take a look at the bridge over the Sutlej between Lodhran and Bahawalpur. If something were to happen to that bridge, there is no way ANY train between northern Pakistan and southern Pakistan could run. Try, for example, to travel from Karachi to Lahore if that bridge near Bahawalpur was disabled. Also note the portion of the main line from Rohri to Khanpur which is relatively close to the Indian border and vulnerable to air and land-based attacks.

Now let us look at a more recent map. I am not sure exactly who created it, but it seems to be relatively accurate in showing today’s system when cross-checked with the online timetables on http://www.railpk.com/

pakistan_railways_network_map

Note how the system has shrunk. No metre gauge left, one line to the Indian border being converted and the rest abandoned. All those narrow gauge lines to exotic places like Thal and Fort Sandeman (Zhob) have been pulled up by the 90s. Many BG branch lines (particularly in Sind) have closed. The ambitious project on linking Gwadar does not seem to have made much progress. And the branch from Sibi to Khost has been immobilized by sabotage by Baloch militants a decade ago, and is probably not going to reopen.

The only significant addition is the line from Kot Adu to Jacobabad mentioned earlier, which works as an alternative link between the north and the south and further away from the border.

Thus, if that bridge near Bahawalpur was disrupted, you could still route trains by this branch. Let us consider a trip from Rawalpindi to Karachi. Under normal conditions it would run from Rawalpindi to Gujranwala, Lahore, Multan, Bahawalpur, Rohri and Hyderabad on the way to Karachi.This would be mostly on double line.

Minus the Bahawalpur bridge, you would have a long journey over single track most of the way through Kundian, Kot Adu, DG Khan, Jacobabad, Rohri and Hyderabad on the way to Karachi. The line from Kot Adu to Jacobabad happens to pass through a somewhat lawless area where express trains generally do not keep to timetables. Then the line crosses the Indus near Kot Adu on the Taunsa Barrage (not unlike our Farakka barrage) which is somewhat further from the Indian border but should not be impossible to disrupt-particularly if the intention was to disrupt river control over a significant part of central Pakistan.

So let us say there is disruption to our old friend the Sutlej bridge near Bahawalpur and our new friend the Taunsa Barrage near Kot Adu. Let us see if ANY train can travel from Peshawar/Rawalpindi/Lahore to Quetta/Karachi.

The Indian railway system, particularly with its dense network of BG lines in north-western India, are not so easy to disrupt. There are some fairly well-known choke points, but it would take a considerable effort to completely block traffic to the numerous railheads near the border.

The coming of unigauge may not be welcomed by everyone, but it has removed significant vulnerabilities in rail transport between Northern and Southern India. In 1991, it could be shown that disruption of the Krishna bridges near Vijayawada and near Raichur would result in complete blockage of BG traffic from the North, West and East to Tamil Nadu, Kerala, most of Karnataka and a good part of undivided AP. At that time there was no Konkan Railway, no Hubli-Bangalore BG line and no Secunderabad-Dronachellam-Guntakal BG line. Now there is some redundancy.

Coming back to Pakistan, you may like to know more about the bridges in question. First there is the Empress Bridge on the Sutlej, between Adamwahan and Bahawalpur stations. (BTW President Zia ran into trouble when something happened to his C-130 after it took off from Bahawalpur). Here is the location of the bridge:

https://www.google.co.in/maps/place/Sutluj+Railway+Bridge/@29.4466301,71.6509437,13z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x393b9991ae721695:0x45f2cf0c82819072!8m2!3d29.4466254!4d71.6531324

And here is a  TV report about the bridge, which dates back to the 19th century when Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress. It was in fact opened in 1878 soon after she had been proclaimed Empress.

The Taunsa barrage with its rail tracks is located here:

https://www.google.co.in/maps/place/Taunsa+Barrage,+Taunsa+Barrage+Rd,+Pakistan/@30.3649011,70.8420215,10z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x39253fb026194f83:0x16d64fce6e8c18bd!8m2!3d30.5128977!4d70.8497033

We also have a video of a train passing over it:

 

Similarities with the Farakka Barrage and its railway line and road can be seen.

Needless to say, there are probably heavy anti-aircraft defences around these bridges-but they wouldn’t help against something as basic as a land-based Prithvi missile or one of the numerous longer-range missiles in our inventory.

And remember that India does not have a suitable anti-missile system at present, unless one counts some kind of “jugaad” like using Patriot-type anti-aircraft missiles which might just work against primitive ballistic missiles such as Scuds. But those days are gone. But there are plenty of innovative things which our armed forces have done, such as using AN-12s as bombers or anti-aircraft guns to hit targets on the ground (which seems to be a common method of execution in North Korea).