Saturday, December 29, 2007

Playing Tests but not other first-class matches

In the history of Test cricket, there are nine men whose entire first-class careers comprised Tests. All of these Test careers happened in South Africa against England in the 19th century, with six (two English, four South African) being in the dubiously classified Test series of 1888/9.

These early matches weren't classified as Tests at the time, and I don't know when this decision was made (Does anyone here know?). Certainly it was after 1917, when Basil Grieve died. According to his Cricinfo player profile, Wisden's obituary didn't mention him playing Test matches for England.

Another one of these Test cricketers was Joe McMaster, whose Cricinfo profile incorrectly states that he "holds a unique place in cricket history in that his only first-class appearance came in a match later designated a Test". In fact, there are four others with this distinction, one of whom (Dicky Richards) played in the same Test as McMaster.

If you put a qualification of 10 Tests, the list of players with the highest percentage of first-class matches as Tests is dominated by modern players, whose schedules are crowded with ODI's, and whose tours rarely involve many tour matches. And even when those tour matches are played, they're often not first-class.

There are nine players for whom over 60% of their first-class career are/were Tests:

name tests fc % tests
Yousuf,Mohammad 79 119 66,39
Mortaza,Mashrafe 25 38 65,79
McGrath,Glenn 123 189 65,08
Boucher,Mark 105 163 64,42
de Villiers,AB 32 51 62,75
Lee,Brett 60 97 61,86
Edwards,Fidel 27 44 61,36
Smith,Graeme 57 93 61,29
Vettori,Daniel 74 123 60,16

(Figures do not include the current/just-finished Boxing Day Tests.)

Of players from a earlier eras, there's Kapil Dev at 47,64%, Frank King at 45,16%, and Dilip Vengsarkar at 44,62%.

At the other end of the table is Charlie Parker, who played 635 first-class matches in a career spanning 32 years, and one Test for England in 1921. With a qualification of 10 Tests, Lucky Denton finishes last. He played 741 first-class matches but just 10 Tests, the latter all in the early 1900's.

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