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Come in Number 11
... in which our hero makes 28 batting at number 10
Jasprit Bumrah surprised some people by whacking 28 at Trent Bridge last week. He went into the match with Test career batting numbers of 43 runs at 2.26. His 28 took that average up to 3.55. Not quite Everest for him, but perhaps Ben Nevis. As a team, India have scored an average of 16.55 runs per Bumrah dismissal while he has been at the crease, which suggests that he has had a level of stickability with the bat that is more useful than the actual runs he has scored. On average a batsman can be expected to score 47.2% of a team’s runs while they are at the crease. 47.2, huh? Well, 5.6% of Test runs accrue in the extras column. So, 94.4% are scored off the bat, and on average each batsman scores half of that, or 47.2%. So, for a batsman who averages 3.55 the expected team runs while they are batting is 3.55/47.2*100, which is about 7.5. At 16.55 runs per dismissal Bumrah’s batting contribution to the team is worth more than double what you would expect.
Apart from the India team management who may have suspected something and promoted him to number 10, Bumrah himself may be one of the few people not surprised by his batting at Trent Bridge. His recent form, notably a maiden first-class fifty (55* against Australia A on the tour there last season) has hinted at upward mobility potential in the batting average department. One of cricket’s great folklore inspiring memes is the ‘more wickets than runs’ club. After Trent Bridge, Bumrah has 71 Test career runs to go with his 92 wickets. Now seems as good a time as any to look at Bumrah’s contribution to this club, given that it is beginning to look like it is just a matter of time before he joins the likes of Glenn McGrath in rescinding membership.
The only time Bumrah had more runs than wickets in his Test career was after India’s first innings of his debut. At that point he had two runs and one wicket. By the end of his debut Test and at the end of every other one of his 21 Tests to date he has had more wickets than runs. There is only one other player who had more wickets than runs at the end of each of his first 21 Tests: Alf Valentine of ‘two little friends of mine’ fame. That’s right, even the likes of McGrath were not permanently in the club for that long into their careers. In his 3rd Test for Australia against South Africa at Sydney in 1994 he scored 9 in the 1st innings. While this innings is not as famous as his 2nd innings of that Test which ended ‘ct & bowled De Villiers 1’ to lose the match by 5 runs, it meant that he had 10 runs and 8 wickets after 3 Tests. What about Chris Martin, I hear you say? Well, as all Chris Martin batting aficionados should know, he scored 7 in his first Test innings and took only 4 wickets in that match. He scored 5* in his 2nd Test but did not score another run until his 13th by which stage wickets had built up a substantial and ultimately unsurpassable lead.
But back to Alf Valentine. He is the only player to have taken eight wickets on his first day in Test cricket, which he did for West Indies against England at Old Trafford in 1950. With wickets getting off to a good lead from the start for him it was always going to be a challenge for runs to catch up. The London Times report on that 8-wicket first day notes soberly in its penultimate paragraph: “If tribute to Valentine’s bowling is left to the end of this description it must be ascribed to the anxiety felt as to whether he would take all 10 wickets; as it was his figures were remarkable enough and tribute to the virtue of a left-handed bowler pitching the ball well up to the middle and off stumps with just that amount of spin to take the edge of the bat.” If anyone were to take eight wickets on their first day in Test cricket now, the inevitable excitement and hype would break the internet. All social media sites would have collapsed, with the possible exception of LinkedIn. For the record, it was the other ‘little friend’, Sonny Ramadhin, who took the last two wickets in that innings.
The fun bit about Valentine is that he doesn’t feature on the ‘More Test Career Wickets Than Runs’ list. He had more wickets than runs from the first day of his first Test until he scored 7 in West Indies 2nd innings against India at Kingston in 1962 to take his career runs to 141 and past his 139 wickets on the 3rd day of his 36th and final Test. Bumrah’s recent spike in batting suggests that Valentine’s record of having more career wickets than runs at the end of each of his first 35 Tests may be safe for a while longer.
On reflection maybe even LinkedIn might have been overwhelmed by an 8-wicket first day. I can just imagine the deluge of articles with career advice to follow Valentine’s example and make a big impact on the first day of the start of your new job as a banking clerk.
Here is the list (it is a short one) of players with more wickets than runs in Test cricket, having played 20 or more Tests:
And now for a look at what the Cricket Fact Randomizer has gurgled out today:
The captain who has dismissed the opposition’s captain most often in Test cricket is good old Richie Benaud. He got his opposite number out 18 times when he was captain. I was disappointed when Jason Holder was removed as West Indies captain as he had 15 such wickets and so was on course to go past Richie. That list continues as follows 15 Imran Khan, 12 Garry Sobers, 11 Daniel Vettori, 9 Shaun Pollock, 8 onwards – logjam. Freddie Calthorpe deserves a mention as he has a 100% record of all his Test wickets being as a captain dismissing a captain. His only Test wicket was Teddy Hoad caught by Ewart Astill at Bridgetown in 1930, while captaining England in the first Test match to be played in West Indies.
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