Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dual table toppers

Aubrey Faulkner may be the only man to date to have topped both Test Match batting and bowling Ratings tables, but two players have achieved the feat in One Day International matches – one man and one woman.

The man in question is Keith Stackpole. He made his Test debut for Australia against England at the Adelaide Oval in 1966 and was a good-enough batsman to play in 43 Test Matches in total, scoring 2807 runs at an average of 37.42. He was even able to topple Garry Sobers from the top spot in the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings for Test batsmen for two matches in the summer of 1972 after a match-winning innings of 79 against England at The Oval.

His ODI career was far shorter, extending to just six matches, which included the first ever staged – a hastily-arranged match at Melbourne on 5 January 1971 after the fifth Test of the Ashes series was washed out. However, over 46,000 spectators turned up to watch the spectacle, and cricket was never the same again. Stackpole took three for 40 in eight overs with his leg-breaks to help restrict England to just 190, which Australia successfully chased down with more than five overs to spare. The result of this victory was to see Stackpole top of the bowling charts with 141 points. That was as good at it got for him, as he only bowled another thirteen ODI deliveries and Ashley Mallett took over as number one.

However, Stackpole had his batting to fall back on. Successive half-centuries at Lord’s and Edgbaston over the course of three days in late August 1972 enabled him to move above Ian Chappell into the batting lead and become the first man ever to top both Test and ODI batting trees at the same time. But once England’s Dennis Amiss scored a second century in his first four matches in July 1973, the Australian’s moment in the sun had come to an end.

The other player to have reached the top spot with both bat and ball in hand is the remarkable Enid Bakewell. Arguably the finest all-rounder that the English women’s game has ever produced, she scored three Test centuries in her first five matches and signed off from the longer form of the game with a century and ten wickets against the West Indies. She continued to play for East Midlands into her fifties and in club cricket well into her sixties.

Her One Day International career started in similar fashion – scoring an unbeaten 101 for England against the International XI in the very first Women’s ODI of all on 23 June 1973. However, her opening partner, Lynne Thomas scored 134 and kept Bakewell out of the top spot. Her innings of 118 and bowling figures of two for 28 in twelve overs were instrumental in England’s victory over Australia to win the inaugural Women’s World Cup the same year. However, three years later she managed to reach the pinnacle thanks to a half-century against Australia at Lord’s and an innings of 32 four days later at Trent Bridge, both leading to England victories. Her stay at the top was relatively short – extending to just five matches – before Thomas and Rachael Heyhoe-Flint made the number one position their own personal battle for the next four years.

She continued to bowl her left-arm spin with incredible accuracy and ended her career with an economy rate of just 2.41 runs per over from her 23 matches. It was during the 1982 World Cup in New Zealand that she reached top spot after she took three for 13 against India at Wanganui and then three for 29 against the International XI at Wellington. What made the achievement all the more remarkable was the fact that she was aged 41 for the duration of the tournament and she retired from international cricket soon afterwards.