27 December 2009

As he meant to go on

This post responds to a couple of letters contributed by (my favourite cricket writer) David Frith to The Cricket Statistician (journal of the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians). In his first letter, Frith wondered whether any batsman has ever made such an instant impact as Neil Marks – a cricket writer, administrator and, for little more than a few weeks in 1959, New South Wales's star batsman. In particular, Frith highlighted the fact that Marks batted for a total of 644 minutes – spread across his first two innings – before being dismissed in FC cricket. Due to the paucity of minutes-batted data in the FC record, I can't answer the question of how exceptional a feat this is (though I share Frith's hunch that it must be pretty extraordinary). However, his follow-up letter raises a second – much more tractable – query: what is the greatest number of runs scored before a batsman's first FC dismissal?

In that second letter, Frith is right to identify Ray Watson-Smith as a leading candidate; indeed, it turns out that he is right at the top of the list. The 308 undefeated runs he made in his first two FC innings, for Border in 1969/70, are made all the more remarkable by the contrast with the rest of his brief career: he managed just 136 more runs in his remaining 6 innings. All in all, 22 cricketers have amassed 200 or more runs before losing their wicket in the FC game.

Table 1: Most runs before dismissal in first-class cricket

Name Team(s) Year(s) M I R Inn(s) 1. R Watson-Smith Border 1969 3 3 310 183*; 125*; 2 2. SJE Loxton Victoria 1946 2 2 305 232*; 73 3. NG Marks New South Wales 1958 2 2 283 180*; 103 4. Aftab Baloch Public Works Dept. 1969 3 3 281 77*; 100*; 104 5. JJM McMullan Otago 1918-1920 2 3 267 157*; 85*; 25 =5. GHG Doggart Cambridge U 1948 2 2 267 215*; 52 7. AA Muzumdar Bombay 1994 1 1 260 260 8. Aamer Malik Lahore City A 1980 1 2 242 132*; 110 9. WFE Marx Transvaal 1920 1 1 240 240 10. GR Viswanath Mysore 1967 1 1 230 230 11. DW Barrick Northamptonshire 1949 2 4 228 34*; 36*; 147*; 11 12. MJ Powell Glamorgan 1997 2 2 224 200*; 24 13. JS Solomon British Guiana 1956 2 2 222 114*; 108 14. Fawad Hussain Rawalpindi 2007-2008 2 2 211 103*; 108 =14. BW Malcolm Bengal 1939 2 2 211 181*; 30 16. AV Pandey Madhya Pradesh 1996 2 2 209 209*; 0 =16. CT Tyson Yorkshire 1921 2 3 209 100*; 80*; 29 18. NF Callaway New South Wales 1915 1 1 207 207 19. A Maynard Trinidad 1935 2 3 206 200*; 2*; 4 20. TR Arasu Tamil Nadu 1998-1999 5 5 203 54*; 56*; 11*; 67*; 15 21. Haroon Malik Sargodha 1999 2 2 202 67*; 135 =21. J Hallebone Victoria 1952 1 1 202 202

Just before Neil Marks comes allrounder and some-time Invincible Sam Loxton, who opened his FC account with an unbeaten double-century, and was most of the way to three figures before being dismissed in his second visit to the crease. He and Watson-Smith stand alone as batsmen whose FC tallies exceeded 300 runs before they first lost their wicket.

A related line of enquiry is to ask how many innings a batsman has had under his belt before suffering a FC dismissal. In total, nineteen cricketers made it at least as far as their seventh FC knock before their average could be calculated.

Table 2: Most innings before dismissal in first-class cricket

Name Team(s) Year(s) M I R Inn(s) 1. KSN Karunadasa SL Navy Sports Club 2009 9 13 14 0*; 0*; 0*; 3*; 2*; 4*; 2*; 0*; 2*; 0*; 1*; 0*; 0 2. JCJ Dye Kent 1962-1963 9 11 20 4*; 1*; 3*; 5*; 0*; 2*; 0*; 1*; 2*; 1*; 1 3. GE Brown Surrey 1986-1987 7 9 49 0*; 2*; 13*; 5*; 1*; 8*; 8*; 4*; 8 =3. ND Kambli Goa 1992 5 9 22 0*; 2*; 0*; 7*; 0*; 0*; 8*; 4*; 1 5. ESM Kentish Jamaica; West Indies 1947-1953 7 8 52 15*; 2*; 1*; 1*; 8*; 13*; 10*; 2 =5. ME Collins Eastern Province B 1979-1980 5 8 47 11*; 9*; 0*; 3*; 3*; 0*; 7*; 14 7. IA Nicolson Midlands; Zimbabwe A 2004-2005 4 7 65 17*; 5*; 11*; 0*; 1*; 5*; 26 =7. JE Emburey Middlesex 1973-1975 9 7 58 1*; 0*; 4*; 25*; 6*; 0*; 22 =7. D Schaffter Moors Sports Club 1995 5 7 43 1*; 9*; 5*; 10*; 0*; 18*; 0 =7. PHL Wilson Surrey 1978-1979 18 7 29 9*; 0*; 0*; 0*; 1*; 4*; 15 =7. AE Moss Middlesex; Comb. Servs. 1950-1951 8 7 28 11*; 5*; 7*; 0*; 2*; 3*; 0 =7. K Treiber N Districts; Young NZ 1979-1981 7 7 20 2*; 4*; 4*; 2*; 4*; 4*; 0 =7. SF Madon Parsees 1908-1911 5 7 19 2*; 2*; 0*; 0*; 2*; 10*; 3 =7. MB Owens Canterbury; NZ 1992 7 7 15 5*; 1*; 5*; 0*; 4*; 0*; 0 =7. WG Peare Warwickshire 1926 6 7 15 0*; 0*; 1*; 2*; 12*; 0*; 0 =7. RS Herman Middlesex 1965 9 7 10 0*; 0*; 0*; 2*; 8*; 0*; 0 =7. A Sen Himachal Pradesh 1988 5 7 8 1*; 4*; 3*; 0*; 0*; 0*; 0 =7. LD Cooper Queensland 1959-1960 6 7 6 1*; 0*; 0*; 4*; 0*; 0*; 1 =7. S Badhwar Haryana 2006 5 7 6 2*; 0*; 0*; 0*; 3*; 0*; 1

The record-holder is a very recent addition to the list. Sudeera Karunadasa, a Sri Lankan off-spinner, only made his FC debut in 2nd October 2009 but, although he amassed just 14 runs along the way, he wasn't dismissed until his most recent innings, his thirteenth (all of them at number 11). One player who does not appear here is New Zealander James Burrows; he does not qualify for a list of most innings before dismissal because, throughout his nine-match, twelve-innings FC career, he was not dismissed at all. Note that Hugh Wilson did not get out until his eighteenth FC match (the record by a large margin), although he was only required to bat on seven occasions in that time.

Here's a final piece of trivia. According to one – slightly mischievous – interpretation of Frith's original question, the man with the longest interval between his first ball in FC cricket and the first time he lost his wicket is James Thomson. Thomson made his FC debut for Scotland v. Ireland in July 1962, making 1* in the first innings. He was out for a duck in his next FC knock, but that did not come until the corresponding fixture 22 years later. The total of 8,075 days between first ball and first dismissal is a record by several years (although over 500 cricketers have seen at least a year go by between FC bow and first dismissal, including some familiar names such as Mohinder Amarnath, Curtly Ambrose, Brett Lee, and both Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith).

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