Cricket: Jacques of all trades proves the total master

Cricket Diary
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The Independent Online
IN A shock result which is likely to have no bearing whatever on England's winter tour, South Africans have claimed first and last places in the chart to determine the effectiveness of the counties' overseas players in the 1999 season. Jacques Kallis of Glamorgan came top and Allan Donald of Warwickshire finished bottom.

The table and the method for devising it are exclusive to this diary. Doubtless, it will be claimed in some quarters that the figures are distorted because both Kallis and Donald played so few games, making it unfair on the rest, not least the many Australians who performed so admirably this summer. True enough, and goodness, don't you feel sorry for those Aussies?

The final places, worked out before the last matches of the summer but unlikely to change, are based on performances in all competitions. Kallis's all- round impact in his brief spell in Wales was such that he beat off the stern challenge of Jamie Cox and Stuart Law, not to mention the formidable twin spin assault from Saqlain Mushtaq and Muttiah Muralitharan.

It is a rough and ready system untroubled by the complexities of the PricewaterhouseCooper rankings, but it still possesses a degree of objectivity. So, before the tables, the rules. Points are awarded as follows: one for a run; 10 for a wicket; three for a catch; 10 for a century, five for a 50, 10 for 10 wickets in a first-class match and for five in a one-day match, five for five in a first-class innings and four in a one-day match. The totals are added up and divided by the number of matches played. The combined total wins.

Kallis's first-class stats comprised: 362 runs (362 points), one hundred (10), two fifties (10), 11 wickets (110) and six catches (18) which amounts to 510. He played in six matches so averages 85 points a match. He picked up in the one-dayers with 496 runs, two hundreds, two fifties, six wickets and two catches for 592 points or 74 a match. His combined total was 159, narrowly in front of Law, who has been in supreme form for Essex.

Law, at least, finished ahead in the first-class chart with, going into the final match, 1,723 runs, eight hundreds, five fifties, three wickets and a handy 27 catches for 1,939 points in 16 matches giving him 121.2. This put him ahead of Muralitharan, the Magician of Kandy, whose 112.2 came from 30 runs, 66 wickets, eight five- for returns, five 10-fors and two catches, in a mere seven games.

Kallis is top of the one-day table with Ian Harvey in second place on 47.89 points. Harvey has been largely ineffective in the longer game but his placing in the shorter was significant. Gloucestershire won two one- day trophies.

So, to reveal finally, the effectiveness of overseas stars here is the combined first-class/one-day table: Kallis 159; Law 153; Cox 146; Matthew Hayden 132; Saqlain 126; Muralitharan 126; Michael Di Venuto 120; Justin Langer 120; Tom Moody 108; Harvey 105; Andrew Symonds 101; Vasbert Drakes 100; Mike Kasprowicz 95; David Boon 90; Michael Slater 83; Greg Blewett 79; Nixon McLean 68; Donald 21.

BOTH MUTTIAH Muralitharan and Saqlain Mushtaq had bowling averages of under 12, the Pakistani being narrowly ahead of the Sri Lankan: 11.37 to 11.77. These were great performances and we may not see their combined like again until, oh, next summer when both geniuses return.

The last to finish with lower averages were Imran Khan in 1983 who averaged 7.16 and Ian Chappell in 1972 on 10.16. Imran took only 12 wickets, Chappell had a mere 10 with his leg breaks and both qualified by bowling in the minimum requirement of 10 innings.

A more legitimate average of below 12 was achieved in 1965 by Harold Rhodes of Derbyshire (119 at 11.04), one of the three seasons in which he was no-balled for throwing, though his action was later cleared. The last average below 11 was by the great Les Jackson, also of Derbyshire in 1958 (143 at 10.99).

YES, PITCHES are a disgrace, no they cannot possibly favour confident batting. But this is the fourth consecutive season in which a triple-century has been scored, eight have been compiled this decade. There has not been a run like it since the Thirties when at least one batsman passed 300 every summer between 1932 and 1939.

BOOK MARK

"It's more than a game. It's an institution," said Tom. "Yes," said Arthur, "the birthright of British boys old and young, as habeas corpus and trial by jury are of British men." "The discipline and reliance on one another which it teaches is so valuable, I think," went on the master, "it ought to be such an unselfish game. It merges the individual in the eleven; he doesn't play that he may win but that his side may."

From Tom Brown's Schooldays, by Thomas Hughes.

AFTER 10 years Alan Mullally, a member of England's unsuccessful World Cup side, is leaving Leicestershire. He will presumably secure another county at a handsome salary, though future employers might like to bear in mind that he is likely to be centrally contracted, that there will be seven Tests and 10 one-dayers each summer, and that this season for Leicestershire he played six Championship matches, taking 17 wickets at 27 and eight one-day games in which he took 12 wickets. The carnival is over.

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