Record Book – The best bowling figures on ODI debut

  Even before he made his ODI debut, West Indian fast bowler Fidel Edwards had earned plaudits for his performances in the three Tests he had played. A promising youngster from Barbados, Edwards was seen as a future pace bowling hope for the West Indies to take forward the legacy of his fiery predecessors.

  Edwards made his Test debut at the age of 21 in the second Test against Sri Lanka at Kingston in 2003. In his very first innings, he recorded figures of 5/36 which paved the way for the West Indies’ series-clinching seven-wicket victory.

  Then in his next Test, against Zimbabwe at Harare, he picked up 5/133 and was the only bowler with respectable figures as Zimbabwe racked up 507 in their first innings. The West Indies were set 373 to win in the fourth innings and were on the brink of defeat at 207/9 when last man Edwards joined Ridley Jacobs at the crease with almost twelve overs to go.

  The two defied the hosts and escaped with a draw. Edwards scored a heroic 1* from 33 balls. The West Indies went on to win the second Test and the series. Thus in his first two Tests, Edwards had played a part in two series wins for his team.

  The ODI leg of the Zimbabwe tour began a few days later. Zimbabwe were leading the five-match series 2-1 when the teams squared up at the Harare Sports Club for the fourth ODI on November 29, 2003. Faced with a must-win situation, the visitors brought in Edwards into their ODI eleven for the first time.

  Zimbabwean captain Heath Streak won the toss and confidently put the West Indies to bat. The Windies batting had been poor in the defeats in the second and third ODIs, in which they mustered only 125 and 208 respectively. The onus was on the batsmen if the West Indies had to come back in the series.

  Openers Wavell Hinds and Chris Gayle did not disappoint. They added 96 at more than six an over before Gayle was out for a quickfire 51 off 34 balls. Rain in the later stages of the innings meant that the West Indian innings had to end after 45 overs.

  The score read a sturdy 256/3, with Hinds remaining unbeaten on a career-best 127. The Zimbabweans had a tough challenge – their target was revised to 223 runs from just 32 overs, i.e a required rate of nearly seven an over.

  Debutant Edwards seized the moment with a high quality exhibition of pace and swing. Off his first ball, he uprooted Barney Rogers’ woodwork to become the third West Indian bowler and 18th overall to take a wicket off his first ball in ODI cricket.

Was6349704     Fidel Edwards ripped through the Zimbabwean top order on his ODI debut in 2003-04, on his way to record bowling figures (source – roundpulse.com)

  In his second over, Edwards snapped up two wickets in two balls en route to a double-wicket maiden. Off the second ball of the over, Vusi Sibanda was caught behind by Jacobs while Craig Wishart was out leg before the very next delivery.

  By the end of the fourth over, Zimbabwe were reeling at 10/3. Edwards’ figures read 2-1-2-3 at this point. He made sure his third and fourth overs too had at least one wicket each. Off the fourth ball of his third over, he removed Mark Vermuelen thanks to a catch from Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

  Then off the fourth ball of his fourth, he claimed his fifth wicket in the form of Stuart Matsikenyeri, who was out caught by Edwards’ mentor and fellow Barbadian Corey Collymore. The hosts were in tatters at 23/5 after eight overs. Edwards’ numbers at this stage were devastating – 4-1-7-5.

  The match as a contest was over, and the only point of interest was that how many more wickets could Edwards add on his dream ODI debut. Gayle dismissed Streak to make it 47/6, at which point Tatenda Taibu (66) and Sean Ervine came together.

  The pair attempted a fightback with a valiant 99-run stand for the seventh wicket, but due to Edwards’ sensational opening burst, it was far too late in the day. Off the second ball of his final over, which was also the final over of the innings, Edwards added one more to his kitty by clean bowling Taibu.

  Zimbabwe ended at 150/7, losing by 72 runs on the D/L method. As for the series, the West Indies won it with a convincing eight-wicket win in the decider the very next day.

  Edwards’ final bowling analysis were 7-1-22-6 and he was named man of the match. With his last wicket, he became the record-holder of the best bowling figures on ODI debut, and also became the first – and till date, only – bowler to take six wickets on ODI debut.

  He broke the record of Australian fast bowler Tony Dodemaide, who had taken 5/21 on his ODI debut against Sri Lanka at Perth in 1987-88. Edwards also became the second bowler after Dodemaide to take a five-wicket haul on both Test and ODI debut.

  However, Edwards is the first to take five wickets in the first innings of his first Test as well as in his first ODI (Dodemaide had taken 6/58 in the second innings on his Test debut, against New Zealand at Melbourne in 1987-88).

  Before Edwards, five bowlers – Sri Lanka’s Shaul Karnain, Dodemaide, South Africa’s Allan Donald, Canada’s Austin Codrington and Sri Lanka’s Charitha Buddhika – had taken five-wicket hauls on ODI debut.

  Since then, two others – Zimbabwe’s Brian Vitori and Bangladesh’s Taskin Ahmed – have joined the list, bringing the membership of this exclusive club to eight. Edwards’ figures tops them all, being the only six-wicket haul in the list.

  Edwards could never really capitalise on this fantastic start to his international career. Throughout his decade-long career, he has been dogged by inconsistency and injuries. His current bowling averages are 37.87 in 55 Tests and 30.20 in 50 ODIs, underlining the fact that he has not been able to realise his potential to the fullest.

  He has not played an ODI for the West Indies since the 2009 England tour, while his most recent Test appearance came against Bangladesh in 2012-13.

  The only other time he has taken five wickets in an ODI was against England at Lord’s in 2007, when he took 5/45. In Tests, he has recorded twelve bags of five wickets or more.

  All the same, Edwards’ eleven-year old record will not be too easy to break.

Match Scorecard – http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/64851.html

Specials – Cricket’s gourmet XI

  In this post, we shall look at a team of eleven consisting of international cricketers with names having a reasonable connection with food or drink. It turned out to be an interesting mix of former and current players. Here is cricket’s fantasy Gourmet XI :-

* (International career span given in brackets)

1) Alastair Cook (England, 2006-2014) (captain)

  A couple of other Cooks have played international cricket as well, but in our eleven there is room for only one. He is the master of the team who brings together the ingredients and maximises their potential. And who better than current England captain Alastair Cook to lead the side. Since he scored a hundred on debut in India, the southpaw opening batsman has played over a hundred Tests and he will bring in all his experience to the (kitchen) table.

zcookply        Alastair Cook – the captain of the fantasy Gourmet XI (source – telegraph.co.uk)

2) Robin Uthappa (India, 2006-2014)

  Robin Uthappa has played only limited-overs cricket so far in his fragmentary career. He showed promise with an 86 – which remains his highest score – on debut, an innings which ended with a bizarre run-out. Two months back, he made an international comeback after six years. For those who are wondering what the connection with food is, ‘Uthappa’ is an Indian pancake made of rice flour and topped with vegetables.

3) Allan Lamb (England, 1982-1992)

  On to the main course. Allan Lamb was one of the mainstays of the English batting line up for nearly a decade. A confident stroke-maker, ‘Lambie’ was one of the few English batsmen who gave it back to the fearsome West Indian pace bowlers of the eighties. In 1984, when England were ‘black-washed’ at home, Lamb scored three hundreds in back-to-back Tests to provide a silver lining. He surely makes for a dependable number three in our Gourmet XI.

4) Reginald Spooner (England, 1905-1912)

  Reginald Spooner is the most ancient name on this list. This stylish Lancashire batsman played ten Tests for England and performed decently, with his only century coming at Lord’s against South Africa. His first-class career spanned 24 years, and his unbeaten 200 against Yorkshire at Old Trafford in 1910 was the first double-century in a ‘Roses’ match.

5) Clive Rice (South Africa, 1991)

  Another in this list who played only limited-overs cricket, but due to reasons entirely beyond his control. Clive Rice’s prime years coincided with South Africa’s exile from international cricket and he thus made his name plying his trade as a top all-rounder for Transvaal at home and Nottinghamshire on the county circuit. In 1991, aged 42, he captained South Africa on their return to international cricket in a three-match ODI series in India.

6) Basil D’Oliveira (England, 1966-1972)

  Basil D’Oliveira, the South African-born all-rounder, was at the centre of one of the biggest controversies in the game when pro-apartheid South Africa objected to his inclusion in the English team they were to play against. ‘Dolly’ went on to become a role model for many and had a fairly successful Test career in spite of debuting at 35. He scored 158 at the Oval in the 1968 Ashes. Today, England and South Africa compete for a trophy named after him.

7) Phil Mustard (England, 2007-2008)

  The wicketkeeper and a key ingredient of the Gourmet XI, Phil Mustard is currently a regular for Durham even though he last played for England six years ago. One of the many wicketkeeping options tried by England in the last decade, Mustard opened the innings in the handful of ODIs he played, with his only score of substance being an 83 against New Zealand in a tied game.

zonionos        Graham Onions can spearhead the bowling attack of the Gourmet XI (source – theguardian.com)

8) Graham Onions (England, 2009-2012)

  Durham do seem to have a penchant of producing ‘edible’ players in recent times. Graham Onions promised a lot when he made his Test debut five years ago, but has played only nine Tests till date. In 2013, he was the spearhead who guided Durham to the Championship title, but the selectors strangely chose to ignore him for the national team. But in our side, as his name suggests, he is an important element in his captain’s culinary mix.

9) Bob Appleyard (England, 1954-1956)

  Bob Appleyard lends a bit of fruity flavour to the Gourmet XI. Still going strong at the age of 90, this medium pace bowler (who could also bowl spin) had a late start to his playing career and was 30 when he made his Test debut. In 1951, he was seriously ill with tuberculosis and was not expected to ever play for England. But he fought back and went on to take five wickets in his first Test innings. He averaged just below 18 with the ball in his nine Tests.

10) Michael Beer (Australia, 2011-2012)

  What is a good meal without a bit of a tipple? We might not be having the luxury of fine wines, but we do have Michael Beer, who is the lead spinner of the Gourmet XI. The left-arm spinner has played only twice for Australia, making his debut at the SCG in the 2010-11 Ashes, a time when Australia were testing a myriad number of spin bowlers to be included in their struggling Test side. It is highly doubtful that he will play for Australia again.

11) Lionel Baker (West Indies, 2008-2009)

  In the mood for some sweet breads after a sumptuous meal? Here’s the specialist baker, who rounds off the Gourmet XI. The first cricketer from Montserrat to play for the West Indies, Lionel Baker is a medium-fast bowler who, like many others in this list, has played only a handful of international games. He plays for the Leeward Islands on the domestic circuit, with the faint hope of an international comeback.

Famous Test Matches – Pakistan v Bangladesh, Multan, 2003

  This was the third Test of Bangladesh’s first full tour of Pakistan. The hosts had unsurprisingly sealed the series by winning the first two Tests, but it did not come as easy as expected.

  In the first Test at Karachi, Pakistan were set a tricky 217 to win while in the second Test at Peshawar, Bangladesh had taken a 66-run lead in the first innings before imploding in the second.

  This third Test was played at the Multan Cricket Stadium from September 3-6, 2003. The ground had hosted only one Test before, which was also between Pakistan and Bangladesh (part of the Asian Test Championship) in 2001. While the 2001 game had resulted in a hiding by an innings and 264 runs for Bangladesh, the one in 2003 was completely in contrast, as it went way down to the wire.

  As it happened, the result was a heart-breaking one for Bangladesh, who missed out on what has been, till date, their best chance to upset a full-strength top-eight nation in a Test match.

  On a pitch assisting the seamers early on, Bangladesh captain Khaled Mahmud – star of Bangladesh’s win against Pakistan in the 1999 World Cup – decided to bat after winning the toss.

  Umar Gul removed Hannan Sarkar early, but Javed Omar and Habibul Bashar applied themselves very well to put on 74 runs for the second wicket. Bashar went on to make a solid 72 before being fourth out at 166. He was caught behind by Pakistan’s wicketkeeper-captain Rashid Latif off 17 year-old debutant fast bowler Yasir Ali, who took his maiden Test wicket.

  Rajin Saleh – who made his debut in the first Test of the series – and Khaled Mashud kept up the good work by sharing a 62-run stand for the sixth wicket. Bangladesh ended the first day at a healthy 248/6.

  Gul (4/86) removed Mashud early on the second day to get his fourth wicket, before Shabbir Ahmed cleaned up the tail. Bangladesh finished with a total of 281, losing their last five wickets for 40 runs. Captain Mahmud then handed the advantage to his side by nipping out three wickets to leave Pakistan at 50/3.

  Yasir Hameed – who enjoyed a sensational Test debut in the series opener at Karachi by making 170 and 105 – and Younis Khan put on 71 for the fourth wicket before Mahmud (4/37) returned to claim his fourth wicket in the form of Younis, who was caught behind.

  Fourteen runs later, the reliable left-arm spinner Mohammed Rafique bowled Hameed, which sparked a collapse. From a relatively secure 135/4, the hosts were dismissed for 175. Rafique punctured the middle and lower order and returned figures of 5/36. The top score of the innings was 39 by Hameed.

zrafuq       Mohammed Rafique engineered a batting collapse in Pakistan’s first innings en route to figures of 5/36 (source – teamoftiger.com)

  With a lead of 106 runs, Bangladesh had every reason to feel optimistic of a historic first ever Test win. But just like the Peshawar Test – where they were bowled out for 96 in the second innings – the Bangladeshi batsmen began to lose the plot in the face of some effective fast bowling from Gul and Shabbir.

  Within thirteen overs, Bangladesh were reduced to 41/4. They suffered a further blow when Alok Kapali was forced to retire hurt after being hit on the helmet by Shabbir with the score at 71. The second day ended with Bangladesh at 77/4, and in spite of that, they held the edge over Pakistan with a 183-run lead.

  Kapali returned to bat on the third day, only to be dismissed through a controversial catch by Latif. With the score at 91/5, Kapali edged one off Yasir Ali to the Pakistan captain, who dived and claimed the catch. The umpires, believing the catch to be clean, gave it out.

  However, television replays later showed that the ball had clearly rolled on to the ground before Latif gloved it. It can be said that this incident did have a bit of an effect on the final result, as Kapali was battling well with Saleh for company. Saleh top-scored with 42 before he too was caught by Latif, this time cleanly.

  Bangladesh could eventually muster 154 runs in their second innings. Once again, Gul and Shabbir were the pick of the bowlers, with 4/58 and 4/68 respectively. Pakistan were faced with their highest target of the series, that of 261 runs with ample time remaining.

  Openers Salman Butt and Mohammed Hafeez began well, putting on 45 runs at more than five runs an over. Left-arm fast bowler Manjural Islam provided the breakthrough by removing Butt, who was caught by Kapali’s substitute Mashrafe Mortaza for 37.

  Islam also removed Hafeez while Mahmud accounted for Hameed – both caught by Mortaza as well – as Pakistan were suddenly 78/3. Three runs later, Younis Khan was unnecessarily run out for a duck thanks to a direct hit from Mohammed Ashraful, leaving the Bangladeshis ecstatic. Rafique then scalped debutant Farhan Adil to leave the hosts tottering at 99/5 and staring at defeat.

  Their only hope was Inzamam-ul-Haq, who came in to bat at 62/2. Late in the day, Mahmud had Latif leg before to further dent Pakistan. After a highly eventful third day, Pakistan were 148/6, still needing 113 runs to win and with Inzamam unbeaten on 53.

  Before the start of the fourth day, Bangladesh would have been aware that just one wicket separated them from achieving the win which they so desperately wanted. Given the rawness of the Pakistani tail, all that the Tigers needed was to see the back of Inzamam. But Inzamam, playing in his hometown, was a man on a mission.

  The gentle giant was in the midst of one of his worst phases when he strode out to bat in the second innings. In the 2003 World Cup in South Africa, he had scored just 16 runs in six games, while in the Test matches against Bangladesh, he had scores of 0, 43 and 35* and 10. His place in the team was under scrutiny, and he could not have asked for a better platform to prove a point to his critics, that too in front of his home crowd.

zzinzi     Inzamam-ul-Haq acknowledges his home crowd after reaching his century which paved the way for Pakistan’s thrilling win (source – espncricinfo.com/AFP)

  The partnership between Inzamam and Saqlain Mushtaq had grown to 32 before the latter was out caught behind off Mahmud. Next man Shabbir was dropped by Sarkar at second slip when on nought, a miss which would prove to be costly for the Tigers. Even though Shabbir scored only five, he aided Inzamam in a crucial 41-run stand for the eighth wicket.

  Rafique castled Shabbir to make it 205/8, at which point Gul joined Inzamam, who was batting on 89. The tension was growing by the minute as Inzamam and Gul steadily whittled down the target. With 49 runs still required, Gul just escaped being run out off a direct hit.

  In the same over, Rafique opted not to run Gul out when the latter was backing up too far. These incidents contributed towards a 52-run partnership for the ninth wicket. Inzamam redeemed himself with a hundred when the score was 217/8, but the job for his team was still to be done.

  With luck against them, it was all slowly slipping from Bangladesh’s grasp when a poor call from Inzamam led to Gul’s run out, the score now being 257/9. For the eighth and ninth wickets, 93 runs were added, of which 74 were scored by Inzamam. Four runs needed, one wicket in hand.

  Out came Yasir Ali – the teenager on debut who had never played a first-class match previously. In the ninety-first over of the innings (bowled by Mahmud), Yasir managed to play out the first three balls he faced before taking a single to give Inzamam the strike for the final ball.

  The big man cracked the winning boundary as supporters rushed on to the field to congratulate him. Bangladesh were shattered, as they lost a gripping battle against a man determined to win it for his nation.

  Inzamam remained unbeaten on 138 off 232 balls, batting for five hours and 17 minutes and scoring 20 fours and a six. Pakistan secured a series whitewash by the thinnest of margins.

  This was to be Latif’s final Test appearance for Pakistan. Due to the catching controversy, match referee Mike Procter banned him for five ODI matches. In 2009, he himself admitted that he was aware that the catch was not cleanly taken, yet appealed for it. Latif’s replacement as captain was Inzamam, who stayed at the helm till March 2007. With one of his best innings, he had resurrected his career.

  The series-winning Pakistan team had many debutants and the inexperience perhaps contributed to the closeness of the games. Regarding the three debutants of the Multan Test, Yasir Ali and Farhan Adil never played a Test again, while Salman Butt put paid to his career after the spot-fixing episode in 2010. Gul, Hameed, Hafeez and Shabbir all debuted in the first Test of this series.

  As for Bangladesh, they have never come this close to winning a Test against a stronger team, although their three-wicket defeat to Australia at Fatullah in 2005-06 was equally hard to digest. They are still waiting for that elusive Test win against a full-strength top-eight nation.

Match Scorecard

Specials – Jehangir Warden: One of India’s earliest all-round stars

  In the third part of this series, we shall revisit the career of one of the top Parsi all-rounders to have graced the game before India attained Test status.

  Born in Bombay on January 13, 1885, Jehangir Sorabji Warden was a slow left-arm orthodox bowler and a useful left-handed batsman who played 41 first-class matches in a career spanning from 1905 to 1925. He made his debut for the Parsis against the Europeans in the 1905-06 Presidency match played in Poona, and immediately made an impact. Facing a huge first-innings total of 503, the Europeans were all out for just 137, thanks to Warden who destroyed the middle-order with figures of 5/45. He further went on to take 4/50 in the second innings, enabling the Parsis to win by a crushing margin of an innings and 226 runs. The 20 year-old debutant caught the attention of all with his match return of 9/95.

  In the 1907-08 Bombay Triangular final at the Bombay Gymkhana, Warden recorded sensational figures of 6/11 in just four overs as the Europeans were dismissed for a paltry 63 in pursuit of a stiff target of 207. Then less than a month later, he was again the scourge of the Europeans in the Presidency match at Poona – he picked 8/93 in the match (3/38 and 5/55) to bowl the Parsis to victory by an innings and 23 runs. Having started his career primarily as a bowler, Warden began to pay attention to his batting as well during this period by playing in the middle-order and at times, opening the innings.

  His impressive bowling performances earned him a spot in the All-India team for the historic tour of England in 1911. In his first innings on English soil, he made a valiant 33 from number eight against Oxford University. In a drawn game against Scotland, he took 7/94 after opening the bowling. Then against Sussex, he took 5/74 in the second innings to give the Indians a chance of a rare win. However, the Indian batsmen failed to chase the target of 170 and Sussex won by a narrow margin of ten runs. In the final first-class match of the tour against Gloucestershire played at Bristol, Warden recorded his best ever figures in an innings – 8/91 – in a match that was drawn.

z977     Members of the all-India team on the 1911 tour of England. Warden is the standing bespectacled man wearing a hat (source – inloughborough.com)

  On that 1911 tour, Warden displayed his batting abilities as well, albeit in a match without first-class status. Against minor county Northumberland, Warden struck a fluent 116 from number five in the first innings. In the same game, he recorded match figures of 11/173 (3/85 and 8/88). However, his eight-wicket haul in the second innings was not enough as the Indians, defending 158 runs, endured a heart-breaking one-wicket defeat. Against Durham, another minor county, he did have the satisfaction of finishing on the winning side. At the start of the second innings, the Indians were trailing by five runs, but Warden took 5/42 to help bowl out the opposition for 87 and eventually secure an eight-wicket win for his team. In 14 first-class matches on the tour, Warden scored 429 runs and took 44 wickets.

  In the 1911-12 Triangular final at the Bombay Gymkhana, Warden again showed his penchant for the big occasion. In their two innings, the Europeans could muster just 104 and 85 respectively as they were completely dominated by the guile of Warden. He took 6/51 and 6/45 to play a major role in the Parsis’ eight-wicket win. His best showing as a batsman came in the 1912-13 Bombay Quadrangular match against the Hindus. Out of a total of 183, he scored a career-best unbeaten 115 – the only score above 30 in a match which the Parsis won by an innings and 40 runs.

  In 1915-16, he was part of an Indian XI which took on an England XI – captained by Lord Willingdon – at the Bombay Gymkhana. Even though the home team went down by a massive innings and 263 runs, Warden was the best bowler for his side with figures of 4/156. Another amazing bowling performance came against the Muslims in the 1916-17 Bombay Quadrangular, when he took 12/90 (7/37 and 5/53) to guide the Parsis to a 156-run win.

  After a hiatus of five years from the first-class scene, Warden returned for the 1921-22 Bombay Quadrangular. In his very first match upon his comeback, he collected 12/106 (5/62 and 7/44) against the Muslims. Then needing 169 to win, the Parsis were in trouble at 88/5 when Warden came out to bat. He used all his experience to score an unbeaten 43 which secured an exciting two-wicket win for his team.

  After this, he played only two more first-class matches in his career, the last of which was against the Muslims in 1924-25. In 1922, he achieved the rare feat of taking ten wickets in an innings while representing the Parsi Cricket Club in a club-level game against Mohun Bagan Cricket Club. In another club game in 1920, he took five wickets off the first five balls of the match while playing for Jorah Bajan against Customs at Calcutta.

  In his two decade-long first-class career, Warden played 41 matches in which he scored 1208 runs from 71 innings at an average of 18.87 with one century; and more importantly, took 183 wickets – including 17 five-wicket innings hauls and four ten-wicket match hauls – at an average of 15.87. Later, he became an umpire – he even stood in a first-class game in Colombo in 1925-26 – and also authored a popular book named ‘Knotty Cricket Problems Solved’.

  Warden passed away at the young age of 43 on January 16, 1928 in Bombay.

 

IN FOCUS – ICC women’s championship, a step in the right direction

  The newly-conceptualised ICC Women’s ODI Championship, which commenced on 21st August with matches at Brisbane and Scarborough, is a positive development in the women’s game. This event will serve as the qualifiers for the 2017 World Cup.

  The top eight ODI teams will play each other either at home or away in series of three ODIs each in the next two-and-a-half years, all of which will be counted towards the final league table. The top four teams will secure direct qualification to the 2017 World Cup, while the bottom four will undergo another qualifying tournament along with the lower-ranked nations. The 2017 event is slated to be held in England.

  It is a fact that the limited-overs game is the most viable format as far as women’s cricket is concerned. Since 2000, a mere 27 Women’s Tests have been played, which indicates that the five-day game is almost non-existent on the women’s circuit. Thus, it becomes all the more important to nurture the 50-overs format, and the Women’s Championship can prove to be a much-needed boost to women’s cricket.

  On the first day of the Championship, Australia scored a four-wicket win over Pakistan at Brisbane’s Peter Burge Oval while England, riding on Heather Knight’s all-round performance, prevailed by 42 runs under the D/L method against India at the North Marine Ground in Scarborough in their respective opening matches. In the next two months, West Indies will host New Zealand while Sri Lanka will host South Africa to complete the first of seven rounds.

zheather        England’s Heather Knight took three wickets and scored a half-century to help her team beat India in their opening match of the ICC Women’s Championship (source – newslocker.com)

   The 2013 Women’s World Cup suggested that the competition in the 50-overs format is growing. In that tournament hosted by India, Australia were crowned champions after they defeated the West Indies in the final. It was a great achievement by the West Indians to enter the final, underlining the steady progress they have made in recent times. Another path-breaking story of that tournament was the performance of Sri Lanka, who recorded maiden wins over heavyweights England and India. It is good to see such teams challenge the traditional big four of England, Australia, New Zealand and India.

  England and India will play their third ODI at Lord’s on 25th August and that will no doubt be a great occasion for all the women involved in that game. The concept of the league structure and thus an equal opportunity to all the eight teams makes this Championship one of the most meaningful limited-overs tournaments in recent times. “It is great that the ICC is supporting a stronger structure for the game leading into the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017”, said Mithali Raj, India’s veteran captain, echoing the sentiments of many other women cricketers.

  Surely, each and every game will be relevant as the eight teams battle it out for World Cup qualification. At the end of it all, the consistent teams will be rightfully rewarded. On the other hand, the men’s World Cup does not stipulate any qualification criteria for the full members – who all gain automatic qualification due to their ‘status’.

  As a result, we see a plethora of pointless men’s one-day internationals played year after year, and the glut is only set to increase in the next few months as the 2015 World Cup approaches. Will it not be more sensible to have a qualification process for all the teams for the men’s World Cup as well? This will also make ODI cricket more keenly-awaited. But unfortunately, that is unlikely to happen as the 2019 World Cup is proposed to have only ten teams – ludicrous indeed.

  So who will be the players to watch out for in the Women’s Championship? As always, Australia and England start as favourites to top the table. The Southern Stars, led by the impressive Meg Lanning, may have come second-best in the Women’s Ashes last season, but they do hold an edge over England when it comes to multi-nation tournaments. Besides Lanning, who bats at number three, the other players expected to shine include middle-order batswoman Jess Cameron (who struck 58* in the opening game against Pakistan), star all-rounder Ellyse Perry and pace bowler Rene Farrell.

zzxd   Stefanie Taylor, the world’s leading woman all-rounder, will be the key to West Indies’ chances of finishing in the top four in the Women’s Championship (source – zimbio.com

  England’s charge will be lead by the experienced batting duo of skipper Charlotte Edwards and Sarah Taylor, not to mention Katherine Brunt, Anya Shrubsole and Jenny Gunn – three potent pace bowlers. In Mithali Raj, India have the world’s highest-ranked batswoman and she will be supported in the top-order by youngsters Smriti Mandhana and Thirush Kamini. Jhulan Gosawmi will lead the bowling attack. Pakistan’s all-rounder captain Sana Mir is the pivot of her inconsistent team, but young batswoman Bismah Maroof is an upcoming talent too.

  New Zealand captain Suzie Bates is another top performer with the bat and will be key for the White Ferns along with pacer Sian Ruck and all-rounder Nicola Browne. The West Indies possess some exciting talent and have a great chance of finishing in the top four ahead of one of the more-fancied teams. In Stefanie Taylor, they have perhaps the best all-round women cricketer in the world today. The hard-hitting Deandra Dottin and spin bowler Anisa Mohammed are impressive as well.

  Sri Lanka surprised many with their showing in the 2013 World Cup, but it will be tough to replicate that in the Championship. Attacking batswoman Eshani Kaushalya will be expected to perform for them. South Africa too are bogged by inconsistency, but the likes of wicketkeeper Trisha Chetty and leg-spinner Dane van Niekerk are capable of dishing out strong  individual performances.

  As the tournament goes on, it is likely that some unknown names too begin to establish themselves as reliable performers for their respective teams. It is unfortunate that the games are not being televised in most of the nations. Hopefully, at some stage, broadcasters will take note.

  The ICC has shown admirable foresight in initiating the Championship – one of the few good decisions taken by the game’s governing body since the controversial changes to its administrative structure.

IN FOCUS – Indian women return to Test cricket in style

  The Indian Women’s team did not let an eight-year hiatus from Test cricket come in their way as they completed a convincing six-wicket victory against England Women in the one-off four-day Test at the Sir Paul Getty’s Ground in Wormsley yesterday.

  It was indeed a great achievement for a team with eight debutants to defeat undoubtedly the most professional women’s cricket team in the world. With this win, India Women have maintained their unbeaten record in Tests in England, which is nothing short of remarkable. In eight Tests in England, India Women have now won two and drawn six.

  The other victory had come in 2006, which was incidentally the last time India Women had played in a Test before this. On that occasion at Taunton, the margin of victory was five wickets which enabled India to win the two-match series 1-0. It is quite perplexing that India did not play a single Women’s Test for eight years since that historic win. Whatever may be the reasons, the Wormsley win should serve as a powerful message to the administrators who treat the women’s game with apathy more often than not.

England Women v India Women Test Match 2014 - Day Four       The victorious Indian team celebrate after defeating England in the one-off Women’s Test at Wormsley. This was India’s first Test in eight years (source – rediff.com)

  Coming to the match, it was India’s bowlers who set the tone on the first day itself. After captain Mithali Raj – who also led the side in 2006 – won the toss and opted to field, her pace attack, led admirably by debutant Niranjana Nagarajan, proceeded to jolt the usually solid English batting line-up. The Tamil Nadu medium pacer finished with outstanding figures of 4/19 as the home team were bundled out for a paltry 92. When she took a breather, the likes of Jhulan Goswami and Shubhlakshmi Sharma kept things tight. All the bowlers maintained a disciplined line and length and exploited the conditions to the fullest.

  Indian openers Thirush Kamini and Smriti Mandhana replied with a gritty 40-run stand, but India were then in danger of losing the initiative when they slipped from 40/0 to 64/6. Niranjana came to the rescue and starred with the bat as well, top-scoring with 27 to help India gain a 22-run lead – a very valuable one on a pitch where every run mattered. In the second innings, it was Goswami – reputed as the fastest woman bowler – who was the pick of the bowlers. She returned figures of 4/48 while her fellow pacewomen Sharma and Shikha Pandey, and left-arm spinner Ekta Bisht all took two wickets apiece. England recovered from 84/6 to 202 all out.

  The target of 181 was a tricky one, but the openers Kamini and Mandhana again gave a confident start, this time adding 76. 18 year-old debutant Mandhana batted like an assured veteran and went on to score 51 runs, studded with nine fours. A minor wobble saw India get reduced to 115/4, but captain Raj was certainly not going to give an inch further to her opponents. With the impressive Pandey for company, she steadily took charge of the situation, and ended up with an unbeaten 50. In the 2006 victory, it was Raj who had struck the winning runs. This time around, she was at the non-striker’s end as she watched Pandey (28*) hit the winning boundary off Natalie Sciver to spark off the celebrations in the Indian camp.

  In testing conditions, both the teams made commendable efforts to make a match out of it. The run-rates in the four innings read 2.22, 1.77, 2.09 and 1.91, which suggests that these women do have the temperament to put a price on their wickets and to play Test cricket on a regular basis.  On the English side, pace-bowling all-rounder Jenny Gunn was excellent with both bat and ball. She took 5/19 in the first innings, and then scored an unbeaten 62 in the second innings. Wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor, regarded as one of the best current players, scored 30 and 40 in her two innings.

zzzy      Pace bowler Nagaranjan Niranjana, on Test debut, laid the platform for India’s win with a four-wicket haul on the first day (source – yahoo.com)

  Considering many factors, this is a victory which deserves much more than attention for a few days. As mentioned above, India Women had not played a Test for eight years, and eight of the eleven were playing in whites for the first time. In spite of that, they have won against a team which has much more Test experience, and over the past one year, won two back-to-back Women’s Ashes series. The Englishwomen have had regular multi-day cricket through the structured county competition. By contrast, the Indians came into this match playing nothing but the World T20 in the last five months. But will this victory translate into further Test fixtures for India Women?

  Former cricketer Diana Edulji – India Women’s highest Test wicket-taker – is completely right in suggesting that at least one Test should be included in all of the Indian team’s future series, be it home or away. But unfortunately, Women’s Tests have had few takers for quite some time now. Since 2007 until this match, only Australia and England had played Women’s Tests. New Zealand, West Indies and Pakistan all played their last Test more than a decade back. Since 2000, only 27 Tests have been played. Even the Women’s Ashes is now a combined affair played according to a points system, with one Test plus a string of limited-overs matches.

  The new Ashes model is suitable to the Women’s format, and could be tried by other countries. India’s win at Wormsley should be a strong enough signal to the BCCI to take steps towards professionalism of women’s cricket. The biggest disappointment was that the match was not telecast. It is quite a shame, given the numerous sports channels in India, who instead keep on broadcasting irrelevant T20 competitions or highlights of Indian batsmen piling the runs on home pitches ad nauseam. The BCCI is the bigwig of the so-called Big Three and it would do well to show some much-needed interest in the women’s game, just like England and Australia have.

  For now, Mithali Raj’s team can bask in the glory of their delightful victory and hope that their next Test match is not too far away.

Specials – K.M Mistry: The first great Indian all-rounder

  In the second part of this series, we look at another famous Parsi cricketer who made his name in the days before India attained Test match status.

  Colonel Kekhashru Maneksha Mistry is widely regarded as the first great Indian all-rounder. Born in Bombay on November 7, 1874, he was remarkably skilled with both bat and ball. He was a left-hand batsman who usually batted in the middle order, and a left-arm medium-pace bowler. The legendary Ranjitsinhji once called him the ‘Clem Hill of India’. Hill was one of the best Australian batsmen of that era.

  Mistry made his first-class debut for the Parsis in the 1893-94 Bombay Presidency match against the Europeans at the Bombay Gymkhana. In the 1894-95 Presidency fixture at Bombay, he showed what he was capable of with the ball as he recorded figures of 5/11 in the second innings to help the Parsis beat the shell-shocked Europeans – who were bowled out for just 24 – by 120 runs. A month later in the second Presidency match at Poona, he returned his career-best figures of 8/70 in the Europeans’ first innings, but a poor showing by the Parsi batsmen resulted in an 87-run win for the Europeans.

  Mistry was a regular in the Presidency matches of forthcoming years. In the 1897-98 match at Poona, he made his first-class best score of 95 in the second innings and later took 3/19 as the Parsis consigned the Europeans to a 308-run defeat. In the 1902-03 match at Bombay, he single-handedly bowled the Parsis to a 44-run win. In the first innings, he took 7/28 to help the Parsis gain a narrow 19-run lead. In the second innings, he added a further six wickets for 44 runs as the Europeans were all out for 98. Of his 13 wickets, nine were either bowled or LBW.

  Then in the 1903-04 match at Bombay, Mistry produced the best all-round performance of his career. He top-scored in the first innings with 56 runs and then destroyed the European batting line-up with figures of 7/26 to help the Parsis to a 101-run lead. In the second innings, he top-scored again, making 40 runs before taking 4/42 to complete a memorable match. The Parsis won the game by 149 runs. Mehallasha Pavri, who was the first great Indian fast bowler, used to call Mistry the ‘Parsi Champion’ because of his consistent performances in the Presidency matches.

  Thanks to his impressive displays, Mistry earned a place in the All-India squad for the 1911 tour of England. Being one of the most dependable players of the team, he ought to have played in most of the matches. Unfortunately, his talent was greatly wasted on the tour, as he was the personal secretary of the Maharaja of Patiala (the captain of the team). Due to the commitments related to that job, he hardly found time for net practice. He ended up playing only three matches on the tour. But even in that brief opportunity, he created an impact, that too on the hallowed Lord’s turf. Opening the innings against a quality Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) bowling attack, he top-scored with 78 even though his team suffered an innings defeat.

zkeku      Members of the all-India team on the 1911 tour. Mistry is seated to the left of the Maharaja of Patiala (source – magnoliabox.com)

  In Wisden’s review of the 1911 tour, it was said – ”though the tour of Indian cricketers was a complete disappointment, a better result might have been obtained if Mistry – unquestionably a high-class batsman – had been able to play right through the summer, but his duties kept him in close attendance to the Maharaja of Patiala, and only took part in three matches. His innings at Lord’s against the MCC, however, was sufficient in itself to establish his reputation.”

  Mistry often played for the Maharaja’s Patiala team in India. Though these matches were not of first-class status, he was a prolific run scorer. In a famous match against Ambala in 1898, he scored a mammoth 255 and shared a 376-run partnership for the third wicket with Ranji. In first-class cricket, he did not have the satisfaction of making a hundred, his best being 95 as mentioned above. In the 1922-23 Bombay Quadrangular final, 47 year-old Mistry scored a crucial 56 in the Parsis’ second innings against the Hindus after his team’s first-innings lead was restricted to just five runs. The Parsis eventually won by 121 runs.

  Age did not deter Mistry from continuing to give his best on the field. In 1926-27, Arthur Gilligan’s MCC team toured India. Though he had long ceased bowling and was in the team solely due to his batting, Mistry was named the captain of the Indian team which played Gilligan’s side at the Bombay Gymkhana. Batting at number nine, he made a gutsy 51 and shared an eighth-wicket stand of 88 with Dinkar Deodhar to help draw the game. His last first-class appearance was for the Parsis against the Muslims in the 1927-28 Bombay Quadrangular, and he scored 36 runs in his final innings.

  Mistry’s first-class career spanned 34 years, but he played in only 39 matches. In 69 innings, he scored 1600 runs at 23.52 – a good average for that era – with ten half-centuries. He took 104 wickets at a brilliant average of 13.17, a tally that included six five-wicket innings hauls and two ten-wicket match hauls. Besides playing for the Parsis, the Indians and the Patiala team, he also represented Southern Punjab in a match in 1926-27. He later umpired in a few matches and was the chairman of the Indian Selection Committee for a brief period. He died on July 22, 1959 at the age of 84.

  In its obituary of Mistry, The Cricketer noted – “Colonel K. M. Mistry, the Grand Old Man of Indian cricket, died on July 22, 1959, at the age of 84. A brilliant stroke player, he was India’s finest left-handed batsman. Nearly all of Mistry’s first-class cricket in India was played for the Parsis in the annual Presidency matches, his first appearance being in 1893. These games were held in Bombay and Poona in the monsoon season, under conditions favourable to bowlers – and heavy scoring was at a premium. Mistry played many fine innings…”

  Mistry was known throughout his career as a highly confident and graceful cricketer, admired and respected by his team-mates as well as by the followers of the game.