International Golf needs to return to Jamaica’s shores

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published January 23, 2017

Jamaica, once a mainstay on the international golf circuit, has not hosted an international golf tournament in over 20 years. International golf desperately needs to return to Jamaica’s shores if Jamaica is going to maximise its sports tourism potential.

Ernie Els (right) is seen pulling a donkey across the Tryall Golf Course at the 1994 Johnnie Walker World Golf Championship. (Photo credit: Unknown)

Ernie Els (right) is seen pulling a donkey across the Tryall Golf Course at the 1994 Johnnie Walker World Golf Championship.
(Photo credit: Unknown)

Years ago as a youngster, I watched ‘The Big Easy’ better known as Ernie Els bring his easy and laid-back style to the shores of Jamaica, in what was then, the richest golf tournament in the world, the Johnnie Walker World Golf Championship. He drove and putted his way to the 1994 World Championship title at age 25 on the fairways and greens of the Tryall Golf Club. His imposing six-foot-three-inch South African frame, almost as if still asleep, slumbered across the golf course, making ridiculous shot after ludicrous shot, as he secured his first world championship title by six strokes over Mark McCumber and former champion Nick Faldo.

In 35 events that year, across five continents, he captured five titles, 16 top-five finishes, and 19 top-10 finishes. Unsurprisingly, he was also crowned the 1994 PGA Rookie of the Year title. This white South African became a black boy’s favourite player all because he won this golf tournament in his homeland. This black boy has been hooked on golf ever since.

If Ernie Els made me fall in love with the game of golf, Tiger Woods made me crazy in love with his deft touch on the greens.

Ernie Els: Cricket Ernie Els played beach cricket in Jamaica with fellow pros Craig Parry, Mark McCumber and Nick Price at the Johnnie Walker World Championship of Golf in 1994. A natural athlete, Els excelled in tennis, rugby and cricket as a youngster in South Africa.

Ernie Els played beach cricket in Jamaica with fellow pros Craig Parry, Mark McCumber and Nick Price at the Johnnie Walker World Championship of Golf in 1994. A natural athlete, Els excelled in tennis, rugby and cricket as a youngster in South Africa.
(Photo credit: Unknown)

Jamaica was once a mainstay on the calendar of events on the tours of the United States PGA (US PGA) and the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). From 1989 to 1991, the LPGA tournament, the Jamaica Classic was held at the Tryall Golf Club and similarly from 1991 to 1995, Tryall Golf Club hosted the golf tournament that crowned the world champion of golf, the Johnnie Walker World Golf Championship.

Tragically, since 1995, Tryall Golf Club has vanished from the map as a destination for official PGA or LPGA golf tournaments. And since 1995, no other golf course in Jamaica has hosted an official international golf tournament. The Jamaica government in recent times has spoken about the importance of a synergy between the sports and tourism industries, with several sports and tourism ministers from successive administrations overusing the term, ‘sports tourism’.

Sports Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange and Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett, along with successive governments have been talk about sports tourism and it's ability to boost the Jamaican economy.

Sports Minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange (left) and Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett (right), along with successive governments have talked about sports tourism and it’s ability to boost the Jamaican economy. More action and less talk are needed.
(Photo credit: Jamaica Observer)

Last week, the Jamaica Open, which was on a hiatus for four years, returned to the calendar of events on the local golf circuit for its 50th staging. The United Kingdom’s Paul Eales won the tournament by a single stroke at the Half Moon Golf Course with 72 golfers from seven countries taking part in the event. It was there that I quickly realised the enormous ‘sports tourism’ potential if Jamaica returns to the calendars of the PGA or LPGA by hosting an international tournament again, like the defunct Jamaica Classic or the Johnnie Walker World Golf Championship.

I am convinced that international golf needs to return to Jamaica’s shores. Mr Godfrey Dyer, chairman of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), informed me at the just-concluded Jamaica Open that over the past two years, the TEF has contributed 93 million Jamaica dollars (US$ 720,000) to upgrade golf courses in St. Catherine, St. Andrew and Manchester, and to sponsor the return of the 2017 Jamaica Open event. Though that much has been spent, much more needs to be invested by the government and the private sector in golf courses and up-and-coming golfers if Jamaica is to attract the eyes of the international golf world again.

Godfrey Dyer, the chairman of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), revealed that the TEF has contributed 93 million Jamaican dollars over the past two years to the development and sponsorship of golf in Jamaica. (Photo credit: Zaheer E. Clarke)

Godfrey Dyer, the chairman of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), revealed that the TEF has contributed 93 million Jamaican dollars over the past two years to the development and sponsorship of golf in Jamaica.
(Photo credit: Zaheer E. Clarke)

Major international sponsors must be wooed with first-class business plans and organisation, and the major players in the tourism industry need open their pockets and understand how beneficial an international golf tournament or tournaments could be to the industry.

In a frank interview with Mr Dyer, he said, “My (tourism) minister always says ‘anything that brings more heads to bed,’ and when you bring (the) golfers’ heads to bed, the (amount of cash they) spend is higher. So, we like that and we will always support (golf).”

Bernhard Langer of Germany tracking his tee shot during the Johnnie Walker World Golf Championship held at the Tryall Golf Club, Jamaica, circa December 1993. (Photo by Phil Sheldon/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

Bernhard Langer of Germany tracking his tee shot during the Johnnie Walker World Golf Championship held at the Tryall Golf Club, Jamaica, circa December 1993.
(Photo by Phil Sheldon/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

I agree. Golf will bring more heads to beds and with more heads on beds, everyone in the sector will benefit, including the local players and their development.

Strategic planning by the Jamaica Golf Association (JGA) and the individual courses along with the major support from local and international companies and the government will be required to make this possible. Whatever were the problems, which resulted in the Jamaica Open not being held over the past four years, I encourage the JGA to get their house in order because enormous things are on the horizon. Jamaica cannot afford another 20 plus years lying in the out of bounds section of the international golf circuit.

Kenny Goodykoontz tees off at the Jamaica Open golf tournament held at the Half Moon Golf Course on Saturday January 14, 2017. (Photo: Zaheer E. Clarke)

Kenny Goodykoontz tees off at the Jamaica Open golf tournament held at the Half Moon Golf Course on Saturday, January 14, 2017.
(Photo: Zaheer E. Clarke)

On the last day of the Jamaican Open, there were whispers abound that at least one of the nine 18-hole golf courses locally might try to bring international golf back to Jamaica in the next two years. From my point of view, there is no ‘might’, it must happen if we are remotely serious about ‘sports tourism’. International golf has to return to Jamaica’s shores.

Until next time…

© Zaheer Clarke

Zaheer E. Clarke is a multi-award-winning freelance sportswriter, whose golf swing may be more insipid to the eyes than Charles Barkley’s.

Zaheer’s articles have been published by ESPN Cricinfo, The Western Mirror, The Jamaica Observer, Trinidad Express, Essentially Sports and many others.

He can be reached at zaheer.clarke@gmail.com. Follow him on Facebook at Zaheer Facts, Lies & Statistics, or on Twitter at @zaheerclarke.

This blog article was also published in the Western Mirror on January 23, 2017.

TEF donates 93 million to golf

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published on January 18, 2017

Godfrey Dyer reveals that the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) has contributed over 93 million Jamaican dollars to develop and sponsor golf in Jamaica over the past two years.

Chairman of the Tourism Enhancement Fund, Godfrey Dyer, is pleased with the outcome of the Jamaica Open golf tournament (Photo: Zaheer E. Clarke)

Chairman of the Tourism Enhancement Fund, Godfrey Dyer, is pleased with the outcome of the Jamaica Open golf tournament
(Photo: Zaheer E. Clarke)

Godfrey Dyer, the chairman of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), revealed at the 2017 Jamaica Open golf tournament at the Half Moon Golf Club that the TEF has contributed 93 million Jamaican dollars over the past two years to the development and sponsorship of golf in Jamaica.

In an exclusive interview with ZFLS, Dyer claimed that individuals have alluded in the past that the TEF has not paid enough attention to the sponsorship of golf. However, he mentioned that in the past 24 months, the TEF has assisted with the improvement of several golf courses across the island and the sponsorship of the 2017 Jamaica Open golf tournament.

He indicated that the TEF has provided specific assistance to upgrade the courses at the Caymanas Golf & Country Club, the Constant Spring Golf Club and the Manchester Club. In addition, he underlined TEF’s role as a platinum sponsor of the 2017 Jamaica Open golf tournament, which concluded with Englishman Paul Eales securing the title by one shot.

“We are serious about helping,” Dyer reiterated.

The 2017 Jamaica Open golf champion, Paul Eales hoists the sterling silver championship trophy after winning the 50th staging of the tournament by one shot over the 1993 champion Tom Gillis.
(Photo: Zaheer E. Clarke)

Dyer also revealed his burning desire to witness international golf return to Jamaica’s shores, similar to the Johnnie Walker World Golf Championship, which was last played in Jamaica in 1995.

“I certainly would love to see a Johnnie-Walker-type thing come back to Jamaica and if that does, we (the TEF) certainly would be a great participant with respect to sponsorship.”

Stressing the importance of the synergistic relationship between golf and the tourism industry, which was clearly on display at the 2017 Jamaica Open, Dyer stated, “I think it’s a great thing. It is a great thing. I would love to see more of these things happen.”

Quoting the Honourable Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett in part of his interview, Dyer detailed, “My Minister always says ‘anything that brings more heads to bed,’ and when you bring (the) golfers’ heads to bed, the spend is higher. So, we like that and we will always support (golf).”

Kenny Goodykoontz tees off at the Jamaica Open golf tournament held at the Half Moon Golf Course on Saturday January 14, 2017. (Photo: Zaheer E. Clarke)

Kenny Goodykoontz tees off at the Jamaica Open golf tournament held at the Half Moon Golf Course on Saturday, January 14, 2017.
(Photo: Zaheer E. Clarke)

Dyer professed his newfound love for golf and the Jamaican Open tournament, “I only saw the last hour of it and I loved it! I was lucky to see the last shot that (won the tournament).”

He remarked that the Jamaican Open comes at the right time for the industry when occupancy is usually lower than other periods of the year. “It’s filling a great gap,” he declared.

When pressed if the TEF will be on board next year to sponsor the 2018 Jamaica Open, Dyer curtailed offering any guarantees. However, he simply stated that if the TEF was approached, “we would look at (it) very seriously.”

The Jamaica Golf Association held its 50th edition of the Jamaica Open golf tournament at the Half Moon Golf Club on January 12-14, 2017. The Tourism Enhancement Fund was one of the two platinum sponsors.

© Zaheer Clarke

This blog article was republished in the Western Mirror on January 25, 2017. 

UK’s Paul Eales narrowly wins the Jamaican Open

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published on January 16, 2017

The 2017 Jamaica Open golf champion, Paul Eales hoists the sterling silver championship trophy after winning the 50th staging of the tournament by one shot over the 1993 champion Tom Gillis (Photo: Zaheer E. Clarke)

The 2017 Jamaica Open golf champion, Paul Eales hoists the sterling silver championship trophy after winning the 50th staging of the tournament by one shot over the 1993 champion Tom Gillis
(Photo: Zaheer E. Clarke)

In an exciting finish, United Kingdom’s Paul Eales won the 50th staging of Jamaica Open golf tournament by one-shot at the Half Moon Golf Course last Saturday.

Despite scoring a three over par 75 on the final day, Eales held off the persistent challenge of 1993 Jamaica Open champion Tom Gillis as the tournament went down to the last hole of the 54-hole golf tournament.

1993 Jamaica Open champion Tom Gillis narrowly misses out on another title at the 2017 Jamaica Open. He lost the title to Paul Eales of the United Kingdom by one-shot (Photo: Zaheer E. Clarke)

1993 Jamaica Open champion Tom Gillis narrowly misses out on another title at the 2017 Jamaica Open. He lost the title to Paul Eales of the United Kingdom by one-shot.
(Photo: Zaheer E. Clarke)

Eales, who shot a four under par 68 on day one and an even par 72 on day two, led the tournament wire-to-wire to capture his first Jamaica Open title.

With a one-shot lead over American James Hazen after round one, Eales extended his lead to four shots over the American trio of John Bloomfield, Kenny Goodykoontz and eventually runner-up Gillis by the end of day two.

Eventual joint-third place finisher, Kenny Goodykoontz tees off at hole number one in the final round of the Jamaica Open golf tournament held at the Half Moon Golf Course on Saturday January 14, 2017. (Photo: Zaheer E. Clarke)

Eventual joint-third place finisher, Kenny Goodykoontz tees off at hole number one in the final round of the Jamaica Open golf tournament held at the Half Moon Golf Course on Saturday, January 14, 2017.
(Photo: Zaheer E. Clarke)

The last group on the final day featured Eales, Gillis and Kenny Goodykoontz, with Gillis storming to a share of the lead with Eales by the seventh hole. However, double bogeys on the ninth and fifteenth holes twice stymied Gillis surge and gave Eales what should have been comfortable three-shot leads to coast home and win the tournament. When Gillis birdied the 16th and Eales scratched a bogey on the 17th, Eales imposing lead had hurriedly shrunk to a fragile one-shot lead. As both men walked to the 18th tee, the tension rose and the gallery grew with diehard and casual golf fans, players and caddies, all expecting a glorious end to the 50th Jamaica Open. Fittingly, the final round drama had prolonged to the 18th and last hole to decide the champion.

Both Eales and Gillis hit second shots on the par-four 18th green, which found the right and left bunkers respectively. Gillis desperately needed a birdie out of the left sand trap to ante up the pressure on Gillis. Gillis’s third shot from the left sand trap came within three feet of the hole, leaving him a relatively easy par putt. However, Eales produced his most sublime shot for last; hitting a chip out of the right sand trap that slowly crawled within a foot of the hole for an easy tap-in for par, and the championship title.

Easton Williams (let), Lennox Aldred (centre) and third-placed amateur Sean Morris (right) are engrossed with the thrilling action in the final group on the 18¬th green at the 2017 Jamaica Open golf tournament at the Half Moon Golf Course on Saturday, January 14, 2017. (Photo: Zaheer E. Clarke)

Easton Williams (let), Lennox Aldred (centre) and third-placed amateur Sean Morris (right) are engrossed with the thrilling action in the final group on the 18¬th green at the 2017 Jamaica Open golf tournament at the Half Moon Golf Course on Saturday, January 14, 2017.
(Photo: Zaheer E. Clarke)

When asked about Gillis’s unrelenting challenge in the final round, Eales remarked, “Tom, he is never going to go away. It was just the question of hanging on. I was shipping a bit of oil, but we managed to get the job done.”

As he walked off the 18th hole, Eales showered spontaneous praise on the organisers and the hospitality of the Jamaican people. He added further heartfelt commendations on the quality of the golf course.

“The golf course has been the winner this week. We’ve had a strong wind but I’m the only guy to shoot under par. So that’s testimony to how great this golf course is and everyone in Jamaica should be proud of it”, Eales remarked.

Owen Samuda (left) collects his cheque and trophy as the top-finisher amateur at the 2017 Jamaica Open held at the the Half Moon Golf Course on Saturday January 14, 2017. (Photo: Zaheer E. Clarke)

Owen Samuda (left) collects his cheque and trophy as the top-finisher amateur at the 2017 Jamaica Open held at the Half Moon Golf Course on Saturday, January 14, 2017.
(Photo: Zaheer E. Clarke)

Though shooting an eight-over par 80 on the final day, Florida and New Jersey-based Jamaican Owen Samuda copped the amateur title. Samuda led the amateur section of the tournament, like Eales in the pro section,  from start to finish. He carded a three over par 75 on day one of the tournament to lead another Jamaican Oshae Haye by three shots. However, all the talk on day one was about Haye’s miraculous shot on the par-3 14th hole, which gave him the tournament’s sole hole-in-one. By the end of day two, which saw winds gusting at approximately 30 miles per hour, Samuda amazingly extended his lead to an imperious seven shots with a six over par 78 in howling conditions.

In an interview with the ZFLS, Samuda declared, “The golf course was very tough – very, very, very tough. Everyone had their troubles on it, but you had to stay focused and keep going until the day was over.”

Jamaica's number one local-based amateur, Sean Morris sinks this two-foot putt to finish third among the amateurs after hitting a beautiful chip shot 70 yards out on the 18th hole during the 2017 Jamaica Open golf tournament. (Photo: Zaheer E. Clarke)

Jamaica’s number one local-based amateur, Sean Morris sinks this two-foot putt to finish third among the amateurs after hitting a beautiful chip shot 70 yards out on the 18th hole during the 2017 Jamaica Open golf tournament.
(Photo: Zaheer E. Clarke)

Haye and Sean Morris ended up second and third respectively behind Samuda, with both shooting 74, the low round of the final day among the amateurs.

Morris, Jamaica’s number one local-based amateur, who is optimistic of going pro on the senior PGA or European tours this year, declared, “Today was the best of all three days.”

In all aspects, it was.

© Zaheer Clarke

Cricket returns to Trelawny Stadium

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published January 16, 2017

The Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium hosted warm-up matches and the opening ceremony of the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup. Thereafter, it hosted its first international matches, two ODI games in 2016 between West Indies Women and England Women.

The Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium hosted warm-up matches and the opening ceremony of the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup. Thereafter, it hosted its first set of international matches in 2016, two ODI games between West Indies Women and England Women.

 

The Pakistan cricket team will be playing a three-day match at the under-utilized Trelawny Multipurpose Stadium on Saturday, April 15, 2017.

The three-day match is part of the scheduled 2017 Pakistani tour of the West Indies which comprises two Twenty20 Internationals, three One-Day Internationals and three Test matches.

The series will commence on March 31 with the first of two T20Is at West Indies’s largest capacity cricket ground, Queens Park Oval, in carnival crazy Trinidad. The second T20I will be held two days later on April 2.

Jason Holder (M) of the West Indies takes the wicket of Younis Khan of Pakistan on day three of the third test between Pakistan and West Indies at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on November 1, 2016 in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Chris Whiteoak/Getty Images)

Jason Holder (M) of the West Indies takes the wicket of Younis Khan of Pakistan on day three of the third test between Pakistan and West Indies at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on November 1, 2016, in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.
(Photo by Chris Whiteoak/Getty Images)

Providence Stadium, Guyana’s national stadium, will be next on the itinerary and will host three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) on April 7, 9 and 11.

The three-day match in Trelawny on April 15th will be followed by three Test matches, with the first at Sabina Park on April 22. The second match will move to the home of cricket in the Caribbean, Kensington Oval, in Barbados on April 30. Dominica will host the final match of the series, the third Test match, starting on May 10.

Last October in the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan won the T20I series 3-0, the ODI series 3-0 and the Test series 2-1 against The West Indies.

© ZFLS

This blog article was also published in the Western Mirror on January 16, 2017.

Who are cricket’s great and not-so-great walls?

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published January 16, 2017, in the Western Mirror.

A purely statistical look at the batsmen who were the hardest and easiest to dismiss in Test cricket.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul has batted over 1000 minutes between dismissals on four occasions in his career. No other batsman has done it more than twice. © WICB

Shivnarine Chanderpaul batted for over 1000 minutes between dismissals on four occasions in his career. No other batsman has done it more than twice.
© WICB

Three weeks ago, a few of my friends engaged me in a debate about batsmen who were a menace for teams in Test cricket. This were players who once they walked from the pavilion to the middle, teams knew that it would require extreme luck and/or enormous skill to make them return – and even sometimes, with all that, nothing seemed to work. These were players who displayed yogic powers of concentration at the crease and treasured their wickets above all else.

The intense discussions had several cricket lovers nominating their favourite yeoman-like players and describing their invaluable service to their respective teams. Names bandied about include retired players such as Australia’s Steve Waugh and Allan Border, West Indies’ Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Jimmy Adams, India’s Rahul “The Wall” Dravid and Sunil Gavaskar, South Africa’s Jacques Kallis, and the England’s Geoffrey Boycott. In addition to those retired, players of current vintage were also mentioned, including South Africa’s Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla and Pakistan’s Younus Khan.

 

However, this also got me thinking about the small or not-so-great walls of Test cricket and the answer to the question of who were the easiest scalps in Test cricket. In all likelihood, these players would be tailenders or specialist bowlers who paid more attention to getting wickets with the ball than getting runs with the bat.

Swiftly, several of my friends who are West Indian fans of 1990s cricket quickly nominated one of the most stylish or eyesore tailenders – depending on how you look at it – in Test cricket, Courtney Walsh. Walsh earned several records at the end of his career with the ball. However, those records garnered with the bat were the ones seared in the minds of my friends when we had this discussion. Walsh’s ‘comical incompetence’ with the willow -as described by Simon Briggs – is what brought both laughter and fear to many of West Indian hearts in the 1990s. However, was his wicket the easiest to fleece in Test cricket?

Allan Border

Allan Border

An investigation of this magnitude would be best served if the number of balls faced by every batsman during every innings in Test cricket history was available. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Several legends of the game, particularly gifted in mind-numbing concentration, had a few innings in their careers where the number of balls they faced in an inning was not recorded. This is highly popular among a few players who started their careers prior to 1990/91. As such, for this analysis, only the players who we have the complete number of balls faced during their careers are included in the analysis.

Regrettably, legends such as Sir Donald Bradman, Sachin Tendulkar, Allan Border, Sunil Gavaskar, and many others had to be excluded. Nevertheless, from the available data of the players whose ever ball in Test cricket was recorded, who were cricket’s greatest and smallest walls in Test cricket? Let us have a look at the numbers of the players who have played at minimum 40 Test matches in their careers.

GREAT WALLS

India's Rahul Dravid ducks under a bouncer from Australia's James Pattinson during the first cricket test match, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground December 27, 2011. (Photo credit: Reuters/Tim Wimborne)

India’s Rahul Dravid ducks under a bouncer from Australia’s James Pattinson during the first cricket test match, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground December 27, 2011.
(Photo credit: Reuters/Tim Wimborne)

Rahul Dravid is one of the greatest batsmen the game has ever seen. For his career in Test cricket, Dravid has amassed over 13,000 runs at an average of 52.31 runs per dismissal. On 99 occasions in 164 matches, he has scored 50 runs or more in an inning, which including 36 centuries. Dravid is not the best of all-time in any of those categories mentioned, however, in terms of the average balls faced per dismissal, Dravid tops all with 123 balls per dismissal. In layman terms, it took, on average 20 and a half overs being bowled by a team solely to Dravid for him to be dismissed. Astounding! Henceforth, it is unsurprising why he was nicknamed “The Wall” as he stood in the way of many teams cartwheeling India in Test matches.

Jacques Kallis © Independent UK

Jacques Kallis
© Independent UK

Mister Class himself, Jacques Kallis is number two on the list with an average of 120 balls faced per dismissal. Telford Vice described Kallis as a batsman whose “looming presence inspired calm in some and dread in others.” Indeed, for teams seeing Kallis walk to the crease after South Africa had lost two early wickets would know that the job was far from complete. Kallis is one of the greatest batsmen and one of the greatest all-rounders of all time, with no equal but Sir Garfield Sobers. Kallis’s career also saw him score over 13,000 runs at an average of 55.37 runs per dismissal with over 103 scores of 50 plus, including 45 centuries in 166 matches.

The Tiger from Guyana, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, rounds off a colossal top-3 of stalwarts that prized their wickets above all else. Chanderpaul, the sole line of defence during his career against teams walking through the inept batting line-ups for the West Indies, averaged 118 balls per dismissal. During his career, he accumulated over 11,000 runs, including 96 scores of 50 or more with an average of 51.37 runs per dismissal in 164 matches.

The top-10 great walls of Test cricket is completed by Andy Flower, Azhar Ali, Jimmy Adams, David Boon, Kumar Sangakkara, Steve Waugh and Mark Taylor.

Table 1. The Hardest Batsmen to Dismiss in Test cricket (Minimum 40 Test matches)

Rank Batsman Balls per dismissal
1 Rahul Dravid (INDIA) 123
2 Jacques Kallis (SA) 120
3 Shivnarine Chanderpaul (WI) 119
4 Andy Flower (ZIM) 114
5 Azhar Ali (PAK)* 112
6 Jimmy Adams (WI) 110
7 David Boon (AUS) 107
8 Kumar Sangakkara (SL) 106
9 Steve Waugh (AUS) 105
10 Mark Taylor (AUS) 105

*Pakistan’s Azhar Ali is the only active player to make this top-10 list.


NOT-SO-GREAT WALLS

Muttiah Muralitharan

Muttiah Muralitharan

Surprising for some, but not for me, Chris Martin, was the easiest scalp in Test cricket. He required on average just fewer than 12 balls for him to return to the pavilion. Brydon Coverdale describes Martin’s batting as “outrageously feeble” and “comically inept” while Steven Lynch summarises it as “endearingly useless”.  In 71 Tests, spanning 102 innings, Martin reached double figures only once, and that was in his 36th Test, which brought a “riotous applause” from the Bangladeshi spectators.

Equally maladroit with willow in hand was Jamaican-born English cricketer, Devon Malcolm. Malcolm, who was a bowler of raw pace, had a cult status in world cricket. However, his cult-like following was not for his bouncers or pace beating the bat, but for his “court-jester standard”  in batting and fielding which was a sight or an embarrassment for sore eyes. In Test cricket, he faced on average only 13 balls between him putting on his pads in the pavilion and him taking them off on his return.

Glenn McGrath: not the most elegant of batsmen© Getty Images

Glenn McGrath: not the most elegant of batsmen © Getty Images

Pakistan’s Danish Kaneria, Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan and England’s Monty Panesar round up the top-5 smallest walls. Interestingly, of players to play 40 or more Test matches, Walsh is the sixth-smallest overall and the smallest West Indian with the bat during his career. On one hand, the six-foot-five-inch Walsh was one of the smallest walls in Test cricket, but on the bright side I guess, he wasn’t the smallest of them all.

 

 Table 2. Easiest Batsmen to Dismiss in Test cricket (Minimum 40 Test matches)

Rank Batsman Balls per dismissal
1 Chris Martin (NZ) 12
2 Devon Malcolm (ENG) 13
3 Danish Kaneria (PAK) 15
4 Muttiah Muralitharan (SL) 17
5 Monty Panesar (ENG) 17
6 Courtney Walsh (WI) 17
7 Glenn McGrath (AUS) 18
8 Pramodya Wickramasinghe (SL) 19
9 Tim Southee (NZ)* 19
10 Stuart MacGill (AUS) 20

*Tim Southee is the only active player to make the list.

Until next time…

WRITER’S NOTE: All data for this article was obtained from ESPN Cricinfo Database prior on January 12, 2017.

© Zaheer Clarke

Zaheer E. Clarke is a multi-award-winning freelance sportswriter. In two innings during a tournament at the Lucaya Cricket Club in The Bahamas in 1997, he was thankfully dismissed in fewer than half the balls it took to dismiss Courtney Walsh or Chris Martin on average in Test cricket.

Zaheer’s articles have been published by ESPN Cricinfo, The Western Mirror, The Jamaica Observer, Trinidad Express, Essentially Sports and many others.

He can be reached at zaheer.clarke@gmail.com. Follow him on Facebook at Zaheer Facts, Lies & Statistics, or on Twitter at @zaheerclarke.

This blog article was first published in the Western Mirror on January 16, 2017. A corrected version was reprinted on January 30, 2017.