The Tim Brooks Column
Wisden: Cricket's Bible and testament to the global game
The Tim Brooks Column: Previous Articles
There are few days in the calendar as eagerly anticipated as the sun-dappled morning in Spring when you first turn over the yellow cover of the world’s most cherished almanac. This year was particularly poignant for me as the 149th edition included my own modest contribution, a brief description of the St George's Oval in Hungary, a spectacular eco cricket ground carved out of a Hungarian quarry, where spectators enjoy an elevated view of the action from a verdant cliff-top.
If cricket is an establishment game, as many delight in it being, then Wisden is its revered, statesmanlike orator. But though it is steeped in tradition and cricketing folklore it is, under the editorship of the affable and erudite Lawrence Booth at least, anything but a paean to the game’s over-bearing oligarchy. Short of selecting Kevin O’Brien as one of the five cricketers of the year he has provided a truly global perspective and not flinched in confronting contentious topics such as ICC Governance and the Woolf Report.
Though there are 105 cricketing nations only a small proportion play matches that are officially recognised as First Class, List A, or List A T20 fixtures. For instance, though the World Cricket league features eight divisions, only the top two are awarded List A status. It follows then that associate and affiliate nations are under-represented. However, in spite of this limitation to exposure the level of coverage of non full members came as a pleasant surprise. In addition to the Cricket Round the World section, featuring pithy summaries from all corners of the sport’s hinterlands, it features lengthy essays on the six High Performance Programme nations and a detailed summary of the Intercontinental Cup. It is disappointing that there is no coverage of the World Cricket League and a summary of programmes and progress from each development region would be a welcome addition. I very much hope these will be considered for the landmark 150th edition next year.
And so to the records. Below I set out references to associate players and coaches that feature in the Almanac. Given there are 1552 pages and the font size is barely detectable with the human eye I have no doubt missed a few, but I hope to have captured most of the pertinent ones.
First Class Cricket
Michael Di Venuto, the Tasmanian stalwart who recently made his debut for Italy in the T20 qualifiers in Dubai, is seventh in the list of current leading century makers with 60. Geraint Jones, of Papua New Guinea, also enjoying an international swan-song in that tournament, features among the current players with over 500 dismissals.
The Associate player with the most references in the almanac is Ireland’s irrepressible Kevin O’Brien. His first is in the list for most sixes in an innings with his 12 in an undefeated 171 against Kenya in 2008. Andy Bichel, Australian international and former coach of Papua New Guinea, features among the highest eighth wicket partnerships (257 with Nic Pothas for Hampshire in 2005).
Zubin Surkari, of Canada, is one of the 23 recorded players to have been given out obstructing the field, against Afghanistan in Sun City last year. His fellow countryman Jon Davison, famous for his bombastic world cup century, is included in the best bowling analysis claiming 17-137 against the USA in Fort Lauderdale in 2004. Peter Connell, of Ireland, is one of 18 players since the war to claim a hat-trick on debut, against the Netherlands in Rotterdam in 2008.
Turning to List A records and the pickings are far richer. The Netherlands have the unenviable distinction of being on the wrong end of the second highest score in limited overs cricket, conceding 443 runs against Sri Lanka in Amstelveen in 2006. I remember it well as I was there. Also in that list is India’s 413-5 made against Bermuda in 2006-07. The highest score made by an associate at List A level is 412-4 made by UAE against Argentina in the World Cricket League (at last, a reference) in 2007-08.
In the lowest innings totals Canada posted an abject 36 against Sri-Lanka in 2002-03 and Ireland were skittled for 39 by Sussex back in 1985.
List A T20
Elder Statesman of the global game are often quoted as championing T20 as the best format of cricket for aspiring nations to develop. And it is true that it is a format associate players have made a name for themselves in. Three feature in the highest innings list: Namibian Louis Van der Westhuizen’s 145 against Kenya last year, countryman Craig William’s 125 in the same series and Orange all-rounder Ryan Ten Doeschate’s undefeated 121 playing for Zimbabwean franchise Mashonaland Eagles.
Kevin O’Brien features once again with the highest ever first wicket partnership, making 192 with Hamish Marshall, who qualifies for Ireland, playing for Gloucestershire against Middlesex last year. Malaysian Arul Suppiah, who has a handful of international caps, has the best bowling analysis with the extraordinary figures of 6-5, representing Somerset against Glamorgan last year. Also in that list is Tim Murtagh, now qualified for Ireland and flown out as a replacement player for the recent T20 qualifiers, with 6-24 for Middlesex against Surrey in 2005. The leading T20 wicket taker is former Dutch international Dirk Nannes with 164 in 131 matches.
Kenya were given quite a hiding in conceding the highest ever total in the format, 260, against Sri Lanka in 2007-08 and in an all associate affair Namibia feature in the list of lowest totals, making a meagre 55 against Scotland on home soil last year.
Lou Vincent, currently a batting coach with Hong Kong, is one of the players to have scored a century on test debut, with 104 against Australia in 2001-02. Geraint Jones took nine catches in a test against Bangladesh in 2005.
Paul Stirling of Ireland is 15th on the list of highest ODI scores, with 177 against Canada in 2010. Associate players feature strongly in the top career strike-rates. Rizwan Cheema of Canada is top of the list with 114.95 (above Boom Boom Afridi no less) with countryman Jon Davison (104.17) and Stirling (96.01) also featuring.
Kevin O’Brien features has one of the fastest ODI hundreds with his star-making 50 ball century against England at last year’s world cup. Richie Berrington, the Scotland all-rounder, features in the list of fastest fifties, reaching the milestone in a mere 20 balls against Ireland last year.
Ryan Ten Doeschate is fourth on the list of best bowling strike rates with 28.72 in 33 matches.
Of the 18 highest totals in ODIs associate sides conceded four of them, with the Netherlands at the top leaking 443-9 in that blistering summer’s day in Amstelveen. That game is 7th in the list of highest aggregate scores with 691 runs amassed in those frantic hundred overs. Sixteen year old debutant Alexei Kervezee made an accomplished 47 in reply.
An associate is spared the blushes of recording the lowest ever ODI total, that dubious honour falls to Zimbabwe (who were once associate, lest we forget). However, three associate sides feature in the list: Canada (36 and 45), Namibia (45) and the USA (65 - in one of the two ODIs they have ever played).
Ireland suffered the largest ever defeat, losing by 290 runs to New Zealand in 2008. Despite only playing four ODIs Hong Kong feature, losing by 256 runs to the 2008 Asian Cup.
Ireland feature in the list of tied matches, with the nail-biting world cup encounter with Zimbabwe in 2007.
Eight associate teams (Canada, Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands, Kenya, UAE, Namibia, Bermuda) and four former associates (Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and East Africa) have featured in world cups. The current associates have played 104 matches, winning 15.
Kevin O’Brien and Alex Cusack hold the record 6th wicket partnership with 162 against England in Bangalore. It was a record breaking match (and one of mixed Emotions for me as an Englishman). Ashish Bagai, of Canada, is among the eleven wicket-keepers to claim more than 20 world cup dismissals.
Bermuda have the distinction of conceding the most runs in a world cup match, haemorrhaging 413-5 against India in 2007. Kenya are second on the list with 398-5 against Sri Lanka in 1996.
Associates hold seven of the ten lowest innings totals, with Canada’s paltry 36 the lowest. They have also suffered four ten wicket defeats.
T20 Internationals (excluding the recent qualifiers in Dubai)
Kenyan seamer Nehemiah Odhiambo has the fifth best bowling analysis in international T20 taking 5-26 against Scotland in Nairobi in 2009-10. Niall O’Brien, of Ireland, shares the record for the most dismissals, with three catches and a stumping against Sri Lanka at Lords in 2009.
Kenya have both conceded the most runs in a match (260 against Sri Lanka in 2007-08) and posted the lowest total (67 against Ireland in 2008). This means Ireland have the distinction of bowling a team out for the lowest total.
Next year look out for the inclusion of Paul Stirling’s whirlwind half century and Shakti Gauchan’s hat-trick.
I’ll finish with this cricketing oddity. The second longest recorded throw of a cricket ball took place in Toronto, Canada, measured at 140 yards and nine inches in 1872.
2011 saw Wisden commemorate three former associate players, all with an Americas connection. Cecil Marshall was a Trinidadian who played an influential role in Canada’s qualification for the 1979 World Cup. Sheridan Raynor, a Bermudan batsman once recommend for a test trial by Sir Garfield Sobers (who was informed that Bermuda wasn’t within the WICB), plundered runs against touring teams to the Ireland. Derek Wight was a pioneer and champion of the game in the Cayman Islands.
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