Ask The Spider #89

Last week you answered a question which involved Richard Hadlee towering over other Kiwi bowlers in terms of ODI five-fors. This reminded me – I thought I heard somewhere that no other Kiwi bowler took a five-for in the format during Hadlee’s career. Is this true?

Well, not quite, but Hadlee’s 5 five-fors were indeed the only five-fors for his side during the period in which they occurred – though only just. Ewan Chatfield took 10-34-5 against Australia at Adelaide Oval in the opening match of the B&H Series in 1980/81; Hadlee grabbed 9-32-5 against India in the 5th game a couple of weeks later. Hadlee was already 8 years into his ODI career by then and that was his maiden five-for, but no-one else took one for New Zealand until Rod Latham’s 10-32-5 against Australia at Eden Park in 1992/93, by which time Hadlee had been retired for a couple of years.

And, pertaining to that same question, did any of the 18 Kiwis who have so far taken five-fors take them in games which were not of the now-standard 50-overs format?

Yes, several – Richard Collinge, who as we mentioned took the first, was playing in a match still conducted under the eight-ball-over rule which was used in Australia and New Zealand for a time; a 35-over affair, in which bowlers could bowl 7 overs each, saw Collinge take 7-23-5 (that equates to a six-ball-over equivalent economy-rate of 2.46-an-over). The next, Bernard Lance Cairns’ 11-28-5, came in a 55-over game in 1978 (55-overs was the norm in England outside World Cups from the first-ever games in 1972 and 1995); Chris Pringle took 11-45-5 in 1994. In between there was one of Hadlee’s 5 which came in a 60-over World Cup game in England – 10.1-25-5 against Sri Lanka.

I’ve noticed that the scoring-rate in the 1975/76 Australia vs. West Indies series was much, much quicker than would generally be expected in that decade. Could you give it for both sides?

Certainly – the touring West Indies scored their runs that Test series at 5.02 runs per eight-ball-over; the hosts scored at 4.17. In six-ball-over equivalent scoring-rates, this works-out at 3.77-per-over and 3.12-per-over respectively.

And, just to check that this was indeed out-of-the-ordinary, what was the average Test match scoring-rate between 1970/71 and 1977 (i.e., in that decade pre-WSC)?

It was 2.7-an-over (all in six-ball-over terms). So yes, both sides scored at well above-average pace that series.

Apart from Muttiah Muralitharan, Chaminda Vaas and now (in no time) Ajantha Mendis, is there any Sri Lankan bowler who has taken more than one five-for in ODIs?

Yes, though just one could really be called a bowler, in terms of being picked in a specialist role. Sanath Jayasuriya, who became much better known for his blistering opening batting salvos (though he did start his career – long before either Murali or Vaas – as a left-arm fingerspinner who batted in the lower-middle-order), has actually taken as many ODI five-fors as Vaas has – they both currently have 4, and it must be regarded as relatively unlikely that either will add to the tally. The only other man to take more than one did so a fair while ago – Ashantha de Mel took a couple in 1983, and they came in the space of 3 days. 10 others have so far taken a single five-for for the country; Angelo Mathews at least has to be regarded as a fair chance of adding to his tally at some point.

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