First Day Blues – when multiple debutants struggled with the bat

44 Test players picked up a pair on debut. This article covers when a raft of new faces are introduced, and things don’t go to plan.

While looking at some proper analysis (“has professionalism seen an increase in the depth of batting lineups?”), I noticed the torrid time Pakistan Women had at the hands of Denmark in the 1997 Women’s World Cup. That inspired me to trawl through the records and see what we can learn from history.

This could be interpreted as being somewhat cruel – that’s not my intention. Just a bit of trivia, and the pleasure of hearing some new stories from scorecards of the past.

5. Sri Lanka vs Pakistan, 1994 Test. Pakistan won by an innings and 52 runs. Debutants scored 19-6. Average 3.2 runs per wicket.

In their defence, two of the three hapless debutants were batting at 10 and 11 (see here). Also Pakistan had Younis, Akram and Mushtaq Ahmed.

4. New Zealand vs Australia, 1946 Test. Australia won by an innings and 103 runs. Debutants scored 35-12. Average 2.9 runs per wicket.

Hard to be too critical as countries rebuilt after World War Two. New Zealand were outclassed, making just 96 runs in the match. Len Butterfield and Gordon Rowe bagged two of the 44 pairs mentioned above. 32 year old Butterfield went wicketless in his only Test, and final First Class match.

There were two silver linings. It was the only Test for Ces Burke (2-30) thus securing a career average of 15. Also, New Zealand didn’t stay in the doldrums for long: going on an unbeaten run of six draws after this defeat.

3. Turkey vs Luxembourg, 2019 T20I. Luxembourg won by 8 wickets. Debutants scored 21-10. Average 2.1 runs per wicket.

The Romania Cup in 2019 is best known for bringing Pavel Florin into the limelight. It also yielded this blowout – 21 runs off the bat, 28 all out. One boundary in 69 balls of T20, the top scorer made seven.

During the tournament Turkey were rolled for the three lowest T20I scores ever recorded. On two of these occasions they were bowled out in the first ten overs.

Luxembourg’s chase is on Youtube. Turkey look really raw – at 21:10 Serkan Kizilkaya takes a wicket while fine leg was sprinting to third man, having not noticed the single off the previous ball.

Let’s try to “take the positives”: Peshawar Zalmi of the Pakistan Super League hosted two of the Turkish team during the 2019 PSL, as part of a programme to support Turkey Developing Sports Branches Federation. One success was the development of 19-year-old Mehmat Sert, whose 42 runs were 31% of Turkey’s tally in the Romania Cup.

2. Pakistan Women vs Denmark Women, 1997 ODI. Denmark Women won by 8 wickets. Debutants scored 3-6. Average 0.5 runs per wicket.

This is my favourite of the five tales. Denmark Women, in the ’97 World Cup, beating Pakistan. There’s no writeup I can find, so crumbs from the scorecard will do:

Pakistan were inserted. From 58-4 when Asma Farzand was run out, the other five debutants contributed 0-5 from 19 balls as Susanne Neilsen and Janni Jonsson ran amok. Somehow (if Cricinfo is to be believed), Shazia Hassan managed to be LBW without facing a ball.

There were 29 extras in Pakistan’s 65 all out – 45% of the runs were sundries. Let me know if you can find a higher ratio in international adult Cricket.

Despite it being a limited overs game, Pakistan’s quickest scorer went at 28 runs per hundred balls.

1. Mali Women vs Rwanda Women, 2019 T20. Rwanda Women won by 10 wickets. Debutants scored 1-10. Average 0.1 runs per wicket.

The card: 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0* 0

Rwanda truly turned the screw. Six wicket maidens and two maidens. They knocked the target off in four balls – just think of the net run rate.

Take pity on Margueritte Vumiliya – Rwanda’s opening bowler had figures of 3-3-0-2 and got pipped to the player of the match award.

I mentioned Turkey being bowled out twice in under 10 overs. The only other international side to manage that was Mali Women. Twice.

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Just because New Zealand and Sri Lanka went on to become strong teams, doesn’t mean that Turkey or Mali Women will. Denmark Women folded in 1999. What did we learn from this? Nothing. In my excitement to say something about Denmark Women’s win in 1997, I’ve created a listicle.