It's been a year like no other for Test-match debutants. Yesterday in Durban, Marchant de Lange became the eighth bowler to return five wickets in his first taste of the game's highest form to join an eclectic collection – three Australians, two South Africans, an Indian, a New Zealander and a Bangladeshi called Sunny – in making 2011 the year of the rookie.
It is comfortably the most in the sport's history, bettering the five first-timers in 2003 and 1962, and De Lange's addition to the list will be of particular interest to Andy Flower with South Africa due in England next summer (their erratic batting – yesterday they were dismissed for 168, and a first-innings deficit of 170, by Sri Lanka – will also not have gone unnoticed). The 6ft 2in, 21-year-old's spectacular start – he finished with 7 for 81 – gives South Africa a potent seam attack when added to Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander, the other South African among the 2011 debutants. Fast bowling has been a traditional strength of South African cricket but just months ago Allan Donald was voicing concerns. He isn't any more.
Like Steyn, De Lange comes from Limpopo province where cricketing facilities are scarce. They both played club games as teenagers in the small town of Tzaneen, where De Lange went to school. An all-round sportsman he was a promising javelin thrower – his short run-up and speed have been in part put down to his athletic background.
In Melbourne, Sachin Tendulkar threatened to bring up his long-awaited 100th international century but was dismissed late on day two after helping put India in command of the first Test against Australia. Tendulkar was bowled by Peter Siddle for 73 from just 98 deliveries, three balls before stumps at the MCG. He and Rahul Dravid (68 not out) helped the tourists reach 214 for 3, in response to Australia's 333.
2011: Year of the rookie
Nathan Lyon (Australia) 5-34 v Sri Lanka
Elias Sunny (Bang) 6-94 v Zimbabwe
Doug Bracewell (NZ) 5-85 v Zimbabwe
Ravi Ashwin (Ind) 6-47 v West Indies
Vernon Philander (SA) 5-15 v Australia
Pat Cummins (Aus) 6-79 v South Africa
James Pattinson (Aus) 5-27 v New Zealand
Marchant de Lange (SA) 7-81 v Sri Lanka