New Delhi: Debutant Test bowlers have never had it better. When South Africa's latest pace prospect, Marchant de Lange, ran through Sri Lanka on the second day in Durban, he emulated his team-mate Vernon Philander and Australians James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins in taking a five-wicket haul on Test debut to help his team to victory. Incredibly, de Lange became the eighth bowler in the last three months to take five wickets in an innings on debut, and his achievement took the tally for wickets taken in a calendar year by debutants to a whopping 109, a record (the previous best was in 1948, when rookies took 83).
Here’s a look at the debutants who have shone with the ball with five-wicket hauls this year:
Nathan Lyon, 5 for 34 v Sri Lanka
On September 1 in Galle, Lyon - who a year ago had not made his first-class debut and was looking forward to starting a job as an Adelaide Oval groundsman - netted five wickets on debut as Sri Lanka crashed out for their sixth-lowest total in Test history. Lyon’s five-wicket haul, including a wicket with his first delivery in Test cricket, came on a dramatic day when 16 wickets fell on a crumbling pitch. With the wicket of Kumar Sangakkara, Lyon became the 14th bowler overall and the second Australia bowler to pick up a wicket off his first ball in Tests, and added four more in a stellar spell.
Elias Sunny, 6 for 94 v West Indies
In a Test in which two entire days were lost to rain, Bangladesh’s Elias Sunny had a shining debut and gave the home team plenty to be happy about. Following an impressive showing on the fourth day, Sunny finished with a six-wicket haul on the fifth - becoming the fourth Bangladesh bowler to take a five-for on debut - and set the stage for a sizeable lead. Having seen two chances go down in his first three overs in Test cricket, Sunny continued to create chances and kept plugging away with appreciable flight. His 6 for 94 was followed by a seventh in West Indies’ second innings. After nine years on the domestic circuit, Sunny had been given a chance and justified that with a Man-of-the-Match performance.
Doug Bracewell, 5 for 85 v Zimbabwe
November 5, 2011 will be remembered as the day a Brendan Taylor-inspired Zimbabwe’s so nearly chased down a target of 366 on the final day in Harare. In between the drama, however, was fast bowler Doug Bracewell - son of former New Zealand offspinner James Bracewell - who took 5 for 85 to help New Zealand seal a 34-run win. Having taken two at the top, Bracewell mopped up the tail to become the seventh New Zealand bowler to pick up a five-wicket haul on Test debut, and the fifth by a bowler making his debut against Zimbabwe.
R Ashwin, 6 for 47 v West Indies
Having made a name for himself in the IPL with bold opening spells and winning a World Cup before he had played even 10 ODIs, Tamil Nadu offspinner R Ashwin entered the Test scene and left an immediate mark. Sharing the new ball with Pragyan Ojha, Ashwin struck timely and significant blows to set India on their way to victory on the third day of the first Test in Delhi. He took 6 for 47 to finish with a match performance of 9 for 128, the second best figures for an Indian bowler on debut. The Man-of-the-Match award was justified.
Vernon Philander, 5 for 15 v Australia
November 10, 2011 in Cape Town was just the third time in the history of Test cricket that all four innings of a match took place on the same day, and having a hand in the madness was South African allrounder Vernon Philander. On Test debut, Philander claimed five wickets for 15 runs, with Australia at one stage reduced to 18 for 6 and then 21 for 9. Bowling a stump-to-stump line and getting the ball to deviate significantly, Philander ripped through the heart of Australia’s bowling as the hosts were skittled for 47, their lowest total since 1902. His match figures of 8 for 78 earned Philander the Man-of-the-Match award, as well as Man of the Series.
Pat Cummins, 6 for 79 v South Africa
As the series moved to Johannesburg, another debutant Test bowler burst into the limelight. Despite suffering a heel injury on the opening day of the second Test, 18-year-old Pat Cummins bowled through the pain to claim six wickets on Day Four and hit the winning runs on a gripping final day in a Man-of-the-Match debut performance. An injury to Ryan Harris had opened the door for Cummins and he grabbed it with 6 for 79 off 29 overs of sustained pace to become the youngest Australian to grab five Test wickets in an innings. At one stage he was on a hat-trick, and in the process set Australia up for victory. His confidence with the ball was channelled into Cummins’ batting too, when he displayed a maturity beyond his years in scoring 13 of the last 18 runs Australia needed for a dramatic two-wicket win.
James Pattinson, 5 for 27 v New Zealand
Oddly enough, an injury to Cummins helped Pattinson get his first Test cap and like Cummins in Australia’s previous Test, the emerging fast bowler was named Man of the Match on debut. Thanks largely to an inspired spell from the 21-year-old Victorian, Australia clinched the opening Test by ten wickets on Day Four in Brisbane. New Zealand were disastrous on the fourth morning, playing a series of rash strokes to help Pattinson reap the rewards. He bagged four wickets in his first three overs before dismissing Dean Brownlie three overs later for incredible figures of 5 for 27 from seven overs. In his first over of the day, Pattinson bagged the wickets of Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor, each with steaming deliveries, to be on a hat-trick. Jesse Ryder evaded the hat-trick ball, but New Zealand had no answer to Pattinson.
Marchant de Lange, 7 for 81 v Sri Lanka
Rounding off the year of stellar debutant bowling performances was South Africa’s Marchant de Lange, who snared seven wickets as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 338 on the second day of the second Test at Kingsmead. The tall right-hand fast bowler, who debuted after an injury to Philander, grabbed headlines with his amazing achievement. It was all the more stunning considering de Lange, 21, has just 14 first-class matches to his credit before he debuted for his country. His figures placed him at second place in the list of best analysis on debut for a South African, following Lance Klusener’s 8 for 64 against India in 1996. Though South Africa lost the match, de Lange’s success offered plenty of hope.
Aside from these bowlers, there have been other debutants to make a mark in their first Tests. They are:
- Pakistan's Aizaz Cheema took four in each innings against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo in September to finish with match figures of 8 for 103.
- Zimbabwes’ Kyle Jarvis and Brian Vitori took five wickets each against Bangladesh in Harare in August
- Sri Lanka's Shaminda Eranga took four in Australia’s first innings in Colombo in September and finished with match figures of 5 for 127
- India’s Praveen Kumar took a match haul of 6 for 80 against West Indies in Jamaica in June
- West Indies’ Devendra Bishoo took 4 for 68 in Pakistan’s first innings in Guyana in May
- Bangladesh’s Suhrawadi Shuvo took four wickets in his first Test, against West Indies in Dhaka in November