Euro 2020 Special

Four Players With Five-Wicket Hauls In Opening Session of Their Test Debut

A five-wicket haul in Test cricket is considered a great achievement for any player, with the feat earning the player a spot in the record books. Many players over the past 150 years have achieved a five-wicket haul in their Test debut itself – mainly because players who are selected for the longest format of the game already have plenty of experience in the domestic game.

But picking up five wickets in the opening session of a Test match is a rare feat, as the conditions of the pitch and caution among the batsmen do not create ideal conditions for the same. Only four players have managed to combine both of the unique records in Test history – picking up five wickets in the opening session of their very first Test.


Charlie Turner – Australia

The first such record has been established by Australia’s Charlie Turner against England, even before cricket took on its more formal roots. Back then, cricket was confined to England and Australia, with each team visiting the other regularly. The Ashes was established just five years before Charlie Turner’s feat, with England visiting Australia in 1887 for a two-match Test series.

Charlie Turner made his debut in the first Test, with the right-arm fast bowler piercing through the English middle order at the Sydney Cricket Ground. He went on to pick six wickets in the innings, confining England to a measly 45 runs. Nevertheless, Australia lost the match due to the brilliance of England’s bowlers.

Charlie Turner went on to become the first Australian bowler to pick up 100 wickets in Tests, earning him a place among Australia’s greats.


Fred Martin – England

Frederick Martin’s Test career lasted for just two matches with England, but the left-arm spin bowler earned a place in the history books by becoming the first bowler to pick up two five-wicket hauls in Tests. His 12 wickets for 102 runs in the second Test of the 1890 Ashes series were the best bowling figures for a debutant in Test cricket until 1972.

England swept the series 2-0, banking on Frederick Martin’s brilliant performance in the series. While his international career was short-lived, his domestic career was quite successful. Fred Martin was selected as Wisden’s Cricketer of the Year in 1892.


Alf Valentine – West Indies

The true globalisation of cricket took place in the 1950s – with former colonies preparing to break the dominance that England and Australia had on the game. The biggest challengers to this hegemony were the West Indies – who truly internalised the game as a way to beat their colonisers. The breakthrough came in 1950 when a West Indies squad defeated England for the first time on English soil.

The 20-year-old Alf Valentine was a surprise pick for the West Indies – with the youngster failing to impress with his performance in the first few matches of the tour against county sides. But he was given a spot in the Test team nevertheless. In the first Test at Old Trafford, the debutant picked up five wickets before lunch on the first day, picking up three more later that day.

Alf Valentine continued to impress with the ball in the series, picking up seven wickets in the second Test at Lord’s – giving West Indies a famous victory. He took 33 wickets in the four-match Test series, at an average of 20.42, being chosen as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year.


Abrar Ahmed – Pakistan

Pakistan’s mystery-spinner Abrar Ahmed became the latest entry to the list, achieving the unique feat after a gap of 72 years. Losing their first Test owing to a daring approach by England, Pakistan had to alter their strategy for the second Test. Abrar Ahmed was given his debut, and the youngster impressed everyone with his brilliance with the ball before lunch on an opening day.

On a track that was quite supportive for spinners, the 24-year-old tore through the English top order, picking up all seven of England’s batsmen. By picking up five wickets in an innings on his debut, he became just the second Pakistani bowler to achieve that feat after Wahab Riaz. Abrar Ahmed would go on to pick four more wickets in the second innings, but England outclassed Pakistan on the final day to win both the second Test and the series.




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