Test matches are all about bowlers maintaining their lines and lengths, and trying to coax the batsman into making a mistake. The bowlers' primary objective in Tests is to force a batsman into playing a shot, rather than letting them leave balls that are outside the line of the stumps. Bowlers like Glenn McGrath have made careers out of being disturbingly accurate with their lines, despite not having express pace. Captains also provide the bowlers with attacking fields- a full slip cordon.
Despite Test cricket being a game of balance between bat and ball, it is easier said than done to either make a batsman edge a ball or go past their defences. In this article, we take a look at five very famous figures in Test cricket, who took just one ball to do dismiss batsmen.
Here are five bowlers who have taken a wicket on the first ball of a Test match.
Note: This list is not exhaustive. The most well-known players have made the list, in reverse order of occurrence.
5. James Anderson
English pacer James Anderson became the latest entrant on this list in 2019.
In the Centurion Test between England and South Africa in December last year, Anderson dismissed Dean Elgar with the first ball of the game. South Africa were put in to bat by England, and Anderson got them off to as good a start as it gets.
Anderson was back into the team after an absence of 5 months owing to a calf injury, and he was playing his 150th Test. The pacer celebrated his return in style, getting Dean Elgar caught by keeper Jos Buttler.
Anderson became the 4th Englishman to take a wicket on the first ball of a Test, after Maurice Tate, Geoffrey Arnold, and Ryan Sidebottom.
The video can be seen here.
4. Mitchell Starc
Australia's spearhead Mitchell Starc has already taken 244 wickets in Tests, in just 85 innings. The Aussie frontman's ball to James Vince made headlines in the Ashes last year as the 'ball of the summer'.
Starc achieved also achieved the feat that finds him a place on this list back in 2016. He dismissed Sri Lankan batsman Dimuth Karunaratne on the first ball of the 2nd Test of the series at Galle.
He bowled a good length ball bang on middle stump, and the batsman shuffled to play a flick. The ball flew straight into the hands of Joe Burns at square leg. The game provided another milestone for Starc, as he took a total of 11 wickets in that match- 5 wickets in the first innings and 6 in the second.
3. Dale Steyn
Only two Protea bowlers have taken a wicket on the first ball of a Test match in this century. Inevitably, Dale Steyn is one of them. Steyn achieved this feat on the turn of the last decade against England. It was in the 4th Test at Johannesburg, in which England captain Andrew Strauss decided to bat.
Ironically, it was Andrew Strauss taking guard, with the red cherry in the hands of Dale Steyn. Although it wasn't a spectacular ball, Strauss played a glance to the delivery bowled at his hips, and it went straight to Hashim Amla at short leg.
It was Strauss' decision to bat first. Dale Steyn not only dismissed him on the very first ball, he also wrecked the whole batting order with a fifer. England went on to lose the Test by an innings margin.
The video can be seen here.
2. Mohammad Amir
The Pakistani swing bowler was only 17 years old back in 2009, when he wrote his name among those who have taken a wicket off the first ball in Test matches. Although he was later banned from cricket in a match-fixing scandal, there was never any doubt regarding the quality of Mohammad Amir's lethal swing.
In the 1st Test against New Zealand at Dunedin, Amir dismissed Tim McIntosh with the first ball of the game. He bowled a full swinging yorker, which cleaned up the Kiwi batsman's stumps.
Amir is back in the national team now after a long absence. He has his name on the Lord's honours board as well, and achieved the feat as a 18-year-old.
1. Glenn McGrath
Australian quick Glenn McGrath is one of the all-time best fast bowlers in cricket history. Just like his compatriot Mitchell Starc, McGrath also achieved this feat against Sri Lanka at Galle, but way back in 1999. He also dismissed a very high-profile batsman- Sanath Jayasuriya.
McGrath bowled a good length ball on middle and off stump, which Jayasuriya looked to defend with a straight bat. It kissed the edge and flew to Mark Waugh in the slips. McGrath became the fourth Australian bowler to take a wicket off the first ball of a Test match, and the first after the 1970s.