The real Knights of cricket

We have grown accustomed to hearing jokes about Sir Ravindra Jadeja. Let us see who are the genuine Knights of cricket.

Firstly, the British sovereign proclaims someone a knight based on the recommendations of the government of the day. The gentleman concerned would be a citizen of the U.K. or one of the other countries which presently regard the British sovereign (presently Queen Elizabeth II) as their head of state. The countries of interest here are Australia, New Zealand and some (but not all) of the countries of the West Indies. Canada is also included, although it has not produced any famous cricketers yet. Those countries who do not regard the  Queen as the Head of State include many Commonwealth countries such as India and its neighbours, besides South Africa. This should make it clear:

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

So here is a list of those who were knighted for their services to cricket, besides some cricketers who were knighted for other reasons:

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

Another article on cricketing knights from the West Indies:

http://www.bbc.com/sport/cricket/26392726

Another general article which summarizes the topic:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/60096.html

 

The saga of Uton Dowe

You might not have heard of the West Indian cricketer  Uton Dowe. Not surprising, as he played only 4 Tests in the early 1970s without great success. As we will see, he did lend his name to some of the better remembered PJs in cricket.

A summary of his cricket career:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/westindies/content/player/51653.html

At least his picture is there, unlike in many of the Cricinfo profiles of lesser-known players.

It is evident that he was not much of a batsman, so we move to his Test bowling performances:

dowe-bowling

His first Test was at Bridgetown vs India in 1970-71, the series which marked India’s first Test and series wins against the West Indies. This was the 4th Test of the series, and it is worthwhile to look at the scorecard: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63069.html

Dowe took the wickets of Gavaskar (1), Krishnamurthy (1) and Jaisimha (0) to help reduce India to 70/6 facing a WI total of 501. This was the only time in 8 innings in this series that Gavaskar scored less than 50, so this was quite an achievement on Dowe’s part.

In those days the Indian lower order were not expected to stage comebacks, but times had changed and Sardesai (150), Solkar (65) and even Venkat and Bedi contributed to a total of 347. The match ended tamely with Gavaskar making his second Test century (117*). Dowe finished with 4/69 and 1/22. He again played in the 5th Test with less success, with 2/99 and 0/55. West Indies narrowly escaped defeat and a 2-0 series loss here.

Now we come to the Gavaskar calypso:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0V2UUuKcIeA

Note this stanza in which our friend Uton Dowe figures:

“Govindraj and Durani
Solkar, Abid Ali
Dilip Sardesai and Viswanath
They make West Indies bowlers
Look like second raters
When those fellas came out here to bat
West Indies tried Holder and Keith Boyce
They had no other choice
They even try with Uton Dowe
But ah sure that they sorry they bring him now

Anyway, he played 2 more Tests. Against NZ in the first Test of the 1971-72 series, he took 3-75 and 1-46 and was not seen again in the Test side for that series. Incidentally that 5-Test series was all-drawn. This is the 4th and last time this has happened, and the only such series not involving India.

He was to play one more Test, which was against Australia in 1972-73. This time he took 1-96 and 0-72, while Keith Stackpole took a particular liking to his bowling:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63100.html

It was not surprising that this ended up in his Cricinfo profile:

Prone to being wildly erratic, he was mauled by Keith Stackpole to such an extent in the Jamaican Test of 1971-72 that the crowd erected a series of banners proclaiming an 11th commandment: “Dowe shalt not bowl.”

He did not play international cricket after that. But he should have the satisfaction of having his name immortalized in a calypso and an entry in any book of famous cricketing slogans.

A more detailed account of cricket calypsos (the 1950 one and the 1971 one) can be seen here: https://abn397.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/down-memory-lane-the-cricket-calypsos-of-1950-and-1971/

Review of West Indies-India Test series, 2016

As we all know, India won “only” 2-0 with 2 drawn which meant it is not the No 1 Test team any longer. Fear not, India has many home Tests coming up while Pakistan has to visit New Zealand and Australia in the coming months.

A total of 94 Tests have been played between the two countries. WI leads 30-18 with 46 draws. In WI there have been 49 Tests, where WI lead 16-7 with 26 draws. Even in the 45 Tests in India, WI lead 14-11 with 20 draws.

However, the last time WI defeated India in a Test was over a decade ago, in May 2002 at Kingston. That 2001-02 series was the last time WI won a Test series against India. India have since won in India in 2002-03, in WI in 2006, in India in 2011-12, in India in 2013-14, and now in WI in 2016.

And the last time WI won a Test in India was at Mohali in Dec 1994. They last won a Test series in India in 1983-84. The series in India in 1987-88 and 1994-95 were drawn.

Now for the specifics in 2016:

Batting:

Most runs (850 and above):

Batting (overall)

No current players in this list.The most centuries are 13 by Gavaskar, followed by 8 for Richards and Sobers. The most scores of 50+ are 20 by Gavaskar, followed by 19 (Lloyd), 18 (Dravid) and 17 (Chanderpaul).

Highest innings scores (175 and above):

Batting innings

Not much high scoring in recent years in WI, though Kohli made 200 in this series.

Highest batting averages (minimum 20 innings and average 35.00):

Batting average

Sobers is far ahead of Gavaskar and three others who have averages above 60. ED Weekes scored over 1000 runs and had a batting average over 100 but played less than 20 innings. Similarly Walcott had an average of almost 70 but did not play enough innings. (See the first table above).

Now to bowling, which includes the best match bowling by a debutant in all Tests.

Most wickets (30 and above):

Bowling-overall

Kapil has a comfortable lead over the next-placed Marshall and Kumble.

Marshall has the most fivers (6) followed by Harbhajan with 5.

No one has more than one tenner.

Best innings bowling (7wi and above):

Bowling-innings

Kapil leads here, followed by the long-forgotten Jack Noreiga whose 9-wicket haul is still a record for WI in all Tests. Hirwani’s debut can be seen here. Ashwin’s 7-83 at North Sound is the new record for India in WI, surpassing SP Gupte’s 7-162 in 1952-53.

Best match bowling (9wm and above):

Bowling-match

Hirwani’s 16-136 is the best debut performance in all Tests, just ahead of RAL Massie’s 16-137 in 1972. Newcomer ML Cummins had the best match bowling in this series. Also note Shami’s debut in 2013-14. It may be surprising to see that Ishant Sharma has the best match bowling for India in WI.

Best bowling averages (Minimum 2000 balls bowled, all instances):

Bowling-average

Ashwin and Harbhajan have the best averages for India.

The best economy rates are 1.68 by GE Gomez (not Larry Gomes), 1.83 by Gibbs and 1.87 by Valentine. The best for India is 2.38 by Bedi.

The best strike rates are 42.6 by Hall, 43.8 by Ashwin and 45.2 by Roberts.

Now for fielding, which includes some world stumping records in the Hirwani and More show at Chennai in 1987.

Most dismissals (15 and above):

Fielding overall

Note Walcott’s dual role.

Most stumpings: 9 by More.

Most catches by a keeper: 58 by Dujon

Most catches by a non-keeper: 39 by Richards.

Best innings fielding: 6 by W Saha at North Point in 2016. Several others have 5 dismissals, including Sammy (non-keeper and share in world record) and More (5 stumpings, a world record).

Best match fielding: 8 by Dhoni, followed by More and Saha with 7. More’s 7 included 6 stumpings (another world record). The most by a non-keeper is 6 by Solkar, during India’s first win over WI in March 1971.

Best dismissal rate (Minimum 20 innings fielded, 0.400 and above):

Fielding average

While Dhoni and Dujon lead this table, the best averages by a non-keeper is by Azharuddin followed by Lara.

All-round overall performances (note the criteria):

AR-overall

Sobers is far ahead of the others.

All-round match performance (at least one 50+ and one 5wi):

AR-match

Several instances of a century and 5wi here including 2 by Ashwin. In this series Ashwin and newcomer Chase achieved this. Perhaps Ashwin’s feat in 2011 would be the best. Umrigar’s feat in 1962 is also notable as he did not bowl regularly.

 

Review of Test matches between Australia and the West Indies

Australia won the recent 3-Test series 2-0 with one draw, with the drawn match being badly affected by rain. After this series, a total of 116 Tests have been played between these countries. Australia leads 58-32 with one tie and 25 draws.

For the 66 Tests in Australia, the hosts lead 37-18 with one tie and 10 draws. In the 50 Tests in the West Indies, Australia still lead 21-14 with 15 draws.

A look at various statistical records at the end of the series:

Most runs (1000 and above):

Most runs

Nobody from the present sides, the most recent entries being that of Ponting and Chanderpaul.

Highest scores (175 and above):

Highest scores

Here newcomer AC Voges made the highest score for Aus v WI, surpassing the 242 by KD Walters in 1968-69. That was an important landmark as Walters became the first to score a century and double century in the same Test, a feat which was soon repeated by SM Gavaskar and others.

Now to highest averages (for a minimum of 20 innings batted):

Batting Avg

The top two names might be a little surprising, as well as the relatively low positions of Richards, Sobers and Greenidge who were prolific scorers against most teams.

The most centuries are 9 by BC Lara and RB Richardson, followed by 7 by RT Ponting and SR Waugh.

The most 50-plus scores are 20 by BC Lara, followed by 19 by DL Haynes and IVA Richards and 18 by CH Lloyd.

Bowling: Most wickets (40 and more):

Most wickets

The most 5-fors were 8 by Ambrose and McGrath, while McGrath was the only one to take two ten-fors. It can be seen that McGrath is the most recent entrant in this table.

Now we look at bowling averages (for a minimum of 2000 balls bowled):

Bowling average

This is on expected lines.

The best economy rates are 2.06 by LR Gibbs, followed by 2.27 by MHN Walker and 2.33 by R Benaud and GD McGrath

The best strike rates are 42.2 by B Lee, 44.7 by JR Thomson and 47.0 by J Garner.

Fielding: (20 or more dismissals):

Most dismissals

The most stumpings were 9 by the now-forgotten GRA Langley. The most catches by non-keepers were 45 by ME Waugh and 38 by CL Hooper.

The most dismissals in an innings was 7 by RD Jacobs, and in a match it was 9 by DA Murray and RD Jacobs.

Highest dismissal rate (for a minimum of 20 innings fielded):

Best fielding rate

Note that RB Simpson has the highest rate among non-keepers.

All-round performances (overall):

As usual, we have to use some semi-arbitrary criteria to identify all-rounders here. However, this has got most of those who are generally considered to be better all-rounders (though one may say that AR Border’s second place is surprising).

All-round overall

And finally, best all-round performances in a match:

Allround match

DS Atkinson and Mushtaq Mohammed are the only ones (in all Tests) who have scored a double century and taken a five-for in the same match.

 

Refrigerated trains-an afterthought

For many years, refrigerated rail wagons and ships have been carrying freight across the world while refrigerated containers have come in more recently. The generic term for them is “reefers”.

Anyone familiar with 20th century American slang would know that reefer is another popular slang term for marijuana. It does seem to have a remarkable number of synonyms such as ganja, grass, Mary Jane, pot, cannabis etc. There is a well known ‘public service film’ produced on behalf of the US government in the 1930s called “Reefer Madness”, which film historians consider to be a rather clumsy attempt at educating the young about the dangers of drugs.

It has been nominated for awards for “worst film of all time”, though there are more deserving candidates such as “Plan 9 from Outer Space”, “Manos-the Hands of Fate” and “The Beast of Yucca Flats”. There was also a companion film called “Sex Madness” which has a similar reputation. You can see these films of ill-repute on Youtube.

Someone in the US started the Razzie Awards (for raspberry) for worst film, worst actor etc exactly on the lines of the Oscar awards. This continues to thrive. Some stalwarts like Sharon Stone have won multiple awards. Bollywood caught on to this later and someone started the “Ghanta awards” which are still awarded each year. The initial symbol of this was a prominent Bollywood villain in the nude with a strategically placed ghanta (though this picture seems to have vanished from the net now). Well, it was photoshopped from this picture:

http://s742.photobucket.com/user/veerupaaji/media/top_rapists_bolly_55.jpg.html

Also see this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghanta_Awards

There is also a rival Golden Kela award ceremony.

Back to reefers and the unfortunately named West Indian Test cricketer named Floyd Reifer. (Yes, you can see a PJ coming but this time it was not devised by me). He started off his Test career (as a specialist batsman) with 29 versus Sri Lanka in 1997. That was to be his career best score. His Test career seemed to be over in 1999 by when he had made a total of 63 runs at 7.87 (not too different from Vizzy’s career average). Even the more nerdish followers of Test cricket thought they had seen the last of him, although he continued to score heavily in domestic cricket.

Over 10 years later, he got another opportunity to play for the West Indies and that too as a captain when, in one of their periodic crises, the WI first XI and most of the second XI decided to boycott a 2-Test series against Bangladesh. A hurriedly put together third XI took the field. The captain made some brave speeches about his team beating Bangladesh in these circumstances, prompting local journalists to ask if he had been “smoking something sounding like his name”. Here you can see the sum total of his career:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/52808.html

As you know, Bangladesh won the series 2-0 and the captain and most of the West Indies players of that team vanished without a trace. Their only new face from this series who is still around is Kemar Roach.

Make mine a double…..No, a triple (Part 1)

The most satisfying moment in a Test batsman’s career would be when he scores his maiden century-particularly when it is on debut, even if he never scores another century. This aspect was covered recently in this blog.

Then there are those whose maiden effort was a double century. This is somewhat more common than one may think. More about this shortly.

And there are two who went even further and made their first Test century a triple, and went on to score many more. More recently KK Nair became the third member of this exclusive club.

The first was Sir Garfield St Aubrun Sobers, generally known as Gary Sobers. He made his Test debut against England at Kingston on March 30, 1954 a few months before he turned 18. This was a relatively strong England team which had Len Hutton scoring 205 and defeating WI by 9 wickets. Young Gary batted at No 9 in both innings, scoring 14* and 26 besides taking 4-75 an 0-6 in the brief second innings. His first wicket was Trevor Bailey and the other three were tailenders (but famous names, Wardle, Lock and Laker). The scorecard is here: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/62772.html

In his next few Tests he batted at various positions including opening and more often at No 6, besides chipping in with a few wickets. Essentially he came to be regarded as a bowling all-rounder who wasn’t a particularly good batsman. By the middle of February 1958 he had played 16 Tests, with these career figures:

Sobers1

He had scored 856 runs at 34.24 with 6 50s, though he had scored 52 and 80 in the last Test against Pakistan which then had an useful opening pair in Mahmood Hussein and Fazal Mahmood supported by spinner Nasim-ul-Ghani. The West Indies won by 120 runs, with the 22-year old Sobers batting at No 3 and 6. He had also scored a fifty in the first Test of that series, which is remembered for Hanif Mohammed’s epic 337 which drew the Test. There was some thought that the then world record of 364 by Len Hutton in 1938 would be overtaken. Hanif did not manage this, but the peak was scaled in a most unexpected manner in the third Test at Kingston, starting on Feb 26, 1958.

By the second day Pakistan had scored an apparently respectable 328 and the West Indies had replied with 147/1 for Kanhai’s dismissal. Hunte was batting on 100 and Sobers on 20.

While Pakistan could not be called a bad bowling side, in this innings Mahmood Hussein was injured while bowling his first over and Nasim could not bowl after his 15th over. The brunt of the bowling then fell on Fazal Mahmood, Khan Mohammed and Kardar (who was hardly a strike bowler and was also injured) and various part-timers.

By the end of the third day (Feb 28), Sobers had got past his century hoodoo and was batting on 228 and Hunte was on 242, with the score on 504/1. On the 4th day (Mar 1), Hunte was soon dismissed for 260 but Weekes and Walcott kept things going. Sobers got past Headley’s 270 to claim the West Indies record, then 300, and ultimately Hutton’s record which had stood since 1938. Once he made 365 not out, there was a crowd invasion which resulted in the West Indies declaring at 790/3, with Walcott on 88 at the other end.

Then came the rest day. After that a dispirited Pakistan batted with two men short and collapsed to a large innings defeat early on the 6th day: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/62837.html

Sobers then made up for his earlier drought of centuries by scoring 125 and 109* in the very next Test. The West Indies won that series 3-1 and then dominated the 1960s. Sobers played an important role in this dominance. By the time he played his last Test in 1974, he had scored 26 centuries (including one more double) and a then record 8032 runs besides taking 235 wickets and 109 catches in 93 Tests.

He also had a long if not very successful stint as captain. He was arguably the best all-rounder in Tests. But who would have imagined this before this Test at Kingston?

There were two other batsmen who made their first Test century a triple, though perhaps the circumstances there were less dramatic. More about them later.

Tail Piece: Sobers’s Test record of 365 lasted for 36 years before it was overtaken by Lara, then briefly by Hayden and again by Lara. But there were other unwanted records made by bowlers in this Test. Pakistan’s Khan Mohammad still holds the record of conceding the most runs in an innings without taking a wicket, while Fazal Mahmood is also high on the list of runs conceded in an innings:

KhanMohd