14/07/2024

Duanne Olivier is 8 balls away from making Test cricket history!

Proteas paceman Duanne Olivier is just 8 balls away from making Test cricket history.

When Olivier delivers his 2000th ball in Test cricket, he will appear on Cricinfo’s list of Best Career Test Strike Rate for bowlers (https://stats.espncricinfo.com/…/records/283274.html).

But he won’t just be appearing… he will be slotting into the number two slot. What does that mean? In the history of Test cricket, since 1877, Duanne Olivier is the bowler with the second-fastest strike rate ever!

EVER!

Let that sink in. Especially because the guy above him, England’s George Alfred Lohmann, made his Test debut in 1886 when wickets were uncovered (just like batters’ thighs and heads!). Teams scored less and wickets fell quicker – especially the tail-enders.

Lohmann’s strike rate was an incredible 34.1, followed by another 1800s bowler, John James Ferris on 37.7.

Ferris was an Australian who played Tests for England and died in South Africa. Ya… that’s right!

Olivier will slot in between Lohmann and Ferris, but if he picks up a few quick wickets he might even knock George to the top of the list!

Fifth on the list (currently fourth) will be South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada with a wicket every 40.7 balls, followed by the terrifying Englishman Syd Barnes from the pre-World War I years with a wicket every 41.6 balls.

And then… in seventh spot will be South Africa’s greatest ever cricketer, Dale Steyn… with a wicket every 42.3 balls.

South Africans don’t realise how lucky we are to have had these three bowlers playing in the same Test side together, even though it was for a very short period of time.

What is so important about strike rate? Well, obviously you want to get the opposition out as quickly as possible, because usually that will mean they don’t score many runs. The longer the opposition remains at the crease, the more they get their eye in and the more likely they are to get a big score as a team.

What difference does it make if you bowl a side out quickly but they score runs super fast and still get a big score? Well, that’s a great point… however, in the case of Steyn, KG and Duanne, they each average 22 runs per wicket at an economy rate of 3.24 to 3.78 runs per wicket… so they get their wickets fast AND quick.

Part of the secret of getting wickets quickly is being fast and doing a lot with the ball, but it’s also getting the batters to play shots and testing them with a variety of different deliveries. In the short term this means they sometimes seem to get hit for a lot of runs, but fans, selectors and captains need to keep their eye on the record books, because these are the players who win Test matches – the strike bowlers!

It seems like the majority of South African fans don’t appreciate the value in Duanne as a Test bowler, which is sad because in terms of statistics he is literally a world-beater. And perhaps his captains need to also give him a lot more chances with the ball because he often gets a lot less of a run than his team-mates.

Congrats on a magnificent effort, Duanne! Now go and claim that top spot!

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