The Dickwella phenomenon

Niroshan Dickwella is sometimes the subject of jokes involving his surname, but has attracted the attention of cricket enthusiasts for his puzzling inability to score a century.

Let us first look at:

Most 50+ scores without a century (8 and above):

Dickwella tops this list with 22 fifties, going far ahead of the previous record held by India’s CPS Chauhan which stood since 1981 until the 2020s. MA Starc is the only current player here, and may yet make a hundred near the end of his Test career.

Also note Shane Warne whom we will meet again in this post.

Now we look at the

Most runs without a century (1500 and above):

Dickwella is 2nd here after Warne. Chauhan is in 3rd place. Current players are Southee and Starc.

Next we look at:

Highest batting averages without a century (Minimum 20 innings and 30.00):

This is headed by the lesser-known Asim Kamal, who made 99 on his Test debut. Dickwella is further down this list, in 10th place. His neighbours include current players C Green (Aus), HE vd Dussen (SA) and Faheem Ashraf (Pak). S Gill (Ind) also has an average above 30.

Still, Dickwella has made 96 in a Test. But there is a surprisingly large number of Test players whose top score is between 96 and 99:

9 players have a top score of 99, besides AJ Tudor who was left on 99 not out in a winning 4th-innings chase. Similarly there are many with 96, 97, 98 and 99. There are a few current players here such as MA Starc (again !), van der Dussen, Nauman Ali and newcomer J Overton who made 97 in his debut innings. They are followed by W Sundar and N Dickwella.

But the current players who have not made a Test century yet should not lose heart. Some have made their maiden centuries after a long wait. (This list may not be exhaustive):

1000 runs in Tests without a fifty

For a long time, Waqar Younis was the only who had crossed this barrier. Later. “GOAT” Lyon caught up, and now Kemar Roach:

There are as many as 54 Test players who have made 1000 runs without scoring a century. Some have managed a century practically at the end of their Test career (e.g. Kumble, Vaas).

Today there are three players with 2000 runs and no centuries:

Warne’s 3000+ looks safe here, unless Dickwella plays long enough without a century. He does hold the record of 18 fifties without a century, ahead of Chauhan with 16.

Chetan Chauhan R.I.P.

Chetan Pratap Singh Chauhan (1947-2020) appears to be the first international cricketer to fall victim to Covid-19.

At the time of his death, he was a state minister in Uttar Pradesh. He had earlier been a member of the Lok Sabha (Parliament).

A quick look at his cricketing career :https://www.espncricinfo.com/india/content/player/27619.html

He started on a low key in 1969 against New Zealand. By 1973 he had appeared in 5 Tests without a fifty, and most cricket followers in India thought they would not see him play Tests again. However, strong domestic performances got him a place on the 1977-78 tour to (Packerized) Australia. He made a century in a tour match, 88 and 32 in his comeback Test and was then a regular in the side until 1981. Openers who followed him (such as Srikkanth) usually failed to match his consistency.

He did possess an odd record of the most Test runs without a century. He was the first to score 2000 without a century, and held this record until Shane Warne crossed it in March 2002 and went beyond 3000 until he ended with a top score of 99.

Here is a list of those who crossed 1000 without a century. Many of them are tailenders (including many regular No 10s and 11s) who played enough Tests to reach 1000:

(Up to Jul 31 2020. Does not include the ICC XI v Aus Test).

1000 without century

We can see that Warne and Chauhan are the only ones to cross 2000 without a century. The current player N Dickwella will probably join them soon. But he would probably prefer to score a century and get off this list!

The lowest average here is by JM Anderson (9.68) followed by Waqar Younis (10,20)

Waqar and NM Lyon are the only ones to cross 1000 without a fifty. Lyon has a slightly better average of 12.27.

Chauhan has the most 50s here (16) and is followed by Dickwella with 15 and Mackay with 13.

We take a look at the

Same players ranked by batting averages (for averages above 20):

1000 without cemtury, avg above 20

This table is headed by the relatively unknown BM Laird (an opener), KD Mackay (all-rounder) and TD Paine (wicketkeeper). Chauhan is 4th on this list. There are several other Indian players in this category who averaged above 20, ranging from Surti to Abid Ali.

Finally, let us look at

Indian opening batsmen (who played at least 20 innings at No 1 or 2):

Indian openers by average

The first two names are easily guessed, though you might not have expected Shastri and Gambhir to be the next two. Chauhan does not fare too well here, being 20th out of 28. However he is above some well-known names such as Pankaj Roy and K Srikkanth.

Even non-flashy openers have a place, although they often do not get a long enough run.

Cricketer-politicians at various levels

We are generally aware of international cricketers who have been in Parliament. In recent years, there have been Kirti Azad, M Azharuddin, CPS Chauhan and now Gautam Gambhir. For non-international cricketers there are:

Ashwini Minna (FC player for Punjab), who was a potential Test player in the mid-70s and was tried out against various touring teams.

Ultimately he became a journalist, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather who had fallen to assassin’s bullets:

https://www.espncricinfo.com/india/content/player/31556.html

He did play some role in the struggle against terrorism in Punjab. And later became a BJP MP from  Karnal (Haryana) in 2014-19. He died earlier this year.

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

Then there is the slightly better-known Laxmi Rattan Shukla, who played in a handful of ODIs in the late 1990s:

https://www.espncricinfo.com/india/content/player/34019.html

He became a TMC MLA in 2016 and is currently West Bengal’s Minister of state  for youth services and sports: http://wbcmo.gov.in/ministers.aspx

(Look around the middle of the list of Ministers of State.)

The last example may be somewhat unexpected. See this clipping from a Hyderabad paper of around 1990:

Asad Owaisi final

Asad Owaisi took 6-79 against Bangalore U.

Look more closely at this clipping:

Asad Owaisi and Prasad

You can see that Venkatesh Prasad, opening bowler of the opposing team, did not do well in this match. Anyway he was to play for India later in the 90s.

Further details of Asad Owaisi’s cricket career are not readily available as he did not play in first-class and List A matches. Some details are mentioned here:

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

(Thanks to Abhijit Sen Gupta for the Hyderabad material).

Finally, there are a few guest appearances.

Anurag Thakur, currently a Minister of State:

https://www.espncricinfo.com/india/content/player/842245.html

Tejashwi Yadav, opposition leader in Bihar:

https://www.espncricinfo.com/india/content/player/344286.html