There are two main contenders for this week’s Cricket World Player of the Week award. South Africa’s Kyle Abbott broke records by ending with figures of seven for 29 after his first bowl in Test cricket, while MS Dhoni’s maiden double-hundred looks to have helped India take an early lead in the series against Australia.
It is Abbott who just pips Dhoni to the award as his figures came on debut after he was a late replacement for the injured Jacques Kallis in the Proteas line-up. The 25 year-old Dolphins seamer returned the second best innings figures by a South African on debut behind Lance Klusener, who took eight for 64 against India in 1996. Klusener’s haul, though, came in the fourth innings of that match - his second bowl in Test cricket - whereas Abbott’s were in Pakistan’s first innings - his first bowl - meaning that his seven for 29 is a national record for bowling figures on first innings of Test debut.
In fact, worldwide only four men have bettered his haul on their first bowl in Test cricket in the game’s 2075-game history. In addition, his final match figures of nine for 68 were the third best recorded by a South Africa debutant, behind Alf Hall and Sydney Burke.
Admittedly, Abbott did benefit from an unusually weak Pakistan lower-order to claim four of his seven wickets. Nonetheless he gave off the air of a man at home in Test cricket and should have a bright future.
His bowling style is not too dissimilar from team-mate Vernon Philander in that he doesn’t bowl at any great pace and relies more on extreme accuracy and movement off the seam to pick up wickets. Like Philander, he also came into Test cricket off the back off an exceptional record on South Africa’s domestic circuit.
Elsewhere in international cricket last week, there were series in New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Grenada. James Anderson and Steven Finn helped England win the ODI series in New Zealand and were the tourists’ star performers, while Brendon McCullum was exemplary for hosts with fifties in all three games.
Over in the Caribbean, centuries from Johnson Charles, Darren Bravo and Ramnaresh Sarwan, as well as six wickets from Dwayne Bravo, have helped the West Indies wrap up the ODI series against Zimbabwe with a game to spare. In Sri Lanka, whose women are hosting World Cup finalists West Indies, special mention must go to Shemaine Campbell who registered her maiden century in the second ODI, albeit in a losing cause.
© Cricket World 2013
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