After seeing the travails of Adil Rashid, Jason Krezja and others we turn to something more positive-the best bowling figures on debut. We have already seen that a poor debut does not always stand in the way of a long and successful career (Bradman with his 18 and 1 and Hutton with 0 and 1 would be prime examples).
These figures are up to the end of the recent Tests at Abu Dhabi and Galle.
Best innings bowling on debut:
First on the list is Australia’s Albert Trott, who added 38* and 72* to his 8-wicket haul. He also scored 85* in the next Test. However, he played only 3 Tests for Australia, 2 more for England and died in tragic circumstances (an euphemism for depression leading to suicide).
Another Australian Bob Massie made an unexpected 16-wicket haul at Lord’s but could not do much afterwards, though his tailend batting did help to win one Test against Pakistan. He did not take a 5-for after his debut and ended with 6 Tests.
India’s Narendra Hirwani was somewhat more fortunate than Massie, but never could repeat anything close to his devastation of a fairly strong West Indies team. He even went on to become a national selector.
Lance Klusener’s debut was somewhat similar to that of Rashid as he took 0-75 followed by 8-64. However, for most of his career he was considered more of a batting all-rounder. He was the man of the tournament in the 1999 World Cup.
TK Kendall took 7/55 in the very first Test. Note the 4-ball overs.
Then we have our old friends Krezja and Valentine whose bowling could not prevent defeats for their teams. Some other famous names like Bedser, Laker and Sammy of more recent vintage are there. South Africa’s WH Ashley played in only one Test; he is the only one to take a five-for in his only innings.
We now look at match bowling figures on debut:
Hirwani heads this list, though his analysis is just one run ahead of Massie’s. The record of 12-102 by Fred “Nutty” Martin was the best by a debutant from 1890 to 1972, though his career ended after 2 Tests. Well-known names such as Grimmett, Bedser, Valentine, Peter Pollock, Alderman and Laker are well represented here, besides current players like M Shami and R Ashwin.
One curiosity is CS Marriott, who is the only one to take a 10-for in his only Test. JK Lever is the only one to add a fifty to his 10 wickets on debut. And HHH Johnson is the only Test player to have three repeating initials in his name; coincidentally he played in only 3 Tests.
R Berry made his debut along with Ramadhin and Valentine. Though he was instrumental in winning that Test, the other two ensured that the West Indies won the next three Tests.
In general, it appears that performance on debut has relatively little to do with long-term performance both for batsmen and bowlers. I suppose that a rigorous statistical analysis with t-tests and the like would prove this more conclusively.