Stats: Captains who have bagged a pair in Tests
The recently completed tussle between South Africa and Pakistan at Centurion is the only instance in Test cricket history that both captains bagged a pair. However, small solace for Faf du Plessis and Sarfraz Ahmed is that they are not the only captains to get the dreaded pair. There have been numerous other captains who have faced a similar fate.
Former Australian captain Joe Darling was the first skipper to bag a pair in Test cricket. Sydney Barnes got him in both innings. But, Australia managed to win that game. In fact, he is one of only five captains who have won the game in spite of scoring a pair (Faf du Plessis being the latest).
There was no such luck for the South African captain Louis Tancred. He was leading the team in absence of the regular captain Frank Mitchell and South Africa got bowled out for 95 and 93 against England in that match. He was dismissed by Sydney Barnes in the first innings and by Frank Woolley in the next for ducks.
Vijay Hazare, one of the two Indian captains in the list, got a pair in Kanpur in 1952 and that was the only test match in the series which India lost against England. The five match series was drawn 1-1.
Harry Cave, the New Zealand bowler and captain, got a pair on his last test match as captain, against West Indies. He was replaced by legendary John Reid after this Test. As a captain, Harry Cave did not win any test match. However, in the fourth and final test of the same series, Cave would take 4 wicket in each innings for a memorable victory for New Zealand. This was their first Test match win.
The next one in the list is a surprise. Frank Worrell started his captaincy career for West Indies with a sensational Tie Test against Australia. The next match was in Melbourne and Worrell got a pair there and West Indies lost to Australia.
Now, if Worrell’s name is there in the list, how Richie Benaud would not be there. Somehow, their names are intertwined in the pages of history. So, Benaud got a pair in a 1961 Ashes test. Fred Trueman did breathe fire and got 11 wickets in the match. He dislodged Richie in both the innings without scoring. England won the match.
Imtiaz Ahmed is the next in the list from Pakistan. He captained Pakistan 4 times in Test and did not win any. In this match, in 1962, Tony Lock would dismiss him twice. England inflicted the same pain on Bishen Bedi in 1976 at Delhi. A pair for Bedi would not have mattered much. But, an innings defeat at home for India was rare. England fast bowler John Lever did the most of the damage by taking 7 wickets in an innings.
Ian Botham was out on a pair at Lord’s in 1981. He resigned from the captaincy on the same day and never captained again. His walk back to pavilion (after scoring the second duck) was met with complete indifference by the MCC members. Botham would turn around in such a way that the same series is now known as “Botham’s Ashes”.
Allan Border - who would believe that even he got out on pair once? But, the opposition was West Indies and the last test match of the series was at Perth in 1993. Curtley Ambrose took 7 for 25 in the first innings and Ian Bishop got six in the second, to dismantle Australia. This was a rare failure for Border.
Mark Taylor started his captaincy career in Pakistan and got a pair. Wasim Akram and Waqar took care of the Australian opener and captain very early in both the innings. But, the match itself was one of the greatest in the Test history. Inzamam carried Pakistan home (315 for 9 in a great 4th innings chase) in an absolute pressure cooker situation.
Stephen Fleming got a pair against Australia in 1997. The match was brought to life by very sporting declarations from both the captains. New Zealand was set a target of 288 in about 60 overs and they held on to a tense draw after being reduced to 223 for 9.
No such surprise to see Courtney Walsh in this list. The gentle giant Courtney is one of the players who scored 4 pairs in their career (second position behind Chris Martin of New Zealand, who got 7). He got a pair in Pakistan in 1997 and his team was whitewashed in the series. He did not captain West Indies after that game.
Rashid Latif from Pakistan scored a pair against South Africa in 1998 in a very important test match. Pakistan was 1-0 up in the series and needed just a draw to clinch their first series win there. They lost the opportunity after losing the match by 259 runs.
Nasser Hussain was in very poor form against West Indies at home in 2000. But, his team did well to score a 3-1 series victory. In the match where he scored a pair, Mike Atherton played brilliantly to see England through. Jimmy Adams, next name in the list, was not so lucky. Along with a pair, there was a whitewash ignominy (0-5), inflicted by the great Australian team in 2001.
Waqar Younis, another skipper from Pakistan, met the same fate in 2002 against Australia in Sharjah. To make it worse, Shane Warne spun his team out for 59 and 53 in the two innings and Australia won by a big margin.
Habibul Bashar and Marvan Atapattu are the only ones in the list from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka respectively. Atapattu is the only recognized batsman who had scored four pairs in test cricket. The fact that he still averaged almost 40 in test, shows his class.
AB de Villiers was the last captain to get a pair before Centurion. He captained in only two test matches for South Africa and did not score a run in the second. South Africa still came on top against England in this match though. The young Kagiso Rabada would bowl inspired spells to take 13 wickets in the match.
The list shows that there are some great names in world cricket who have gone through the pain of scoring a pair in Test cricket as captains. Faf du Plessis and Sarfraz Ahmed definitely won't be the last. But, as long as they can bounce back, as many in this list had done, their teams would not mind much.