Rudolph tames Tigers, Massie tears through England - five of the best Test debuts

By Sports Desk April 26, 2020

It is 17 years to the day since Jacques Rudolph announced himself on the Test stage with a magnificent debut double-century for South Africa against Bangladesh.

Rudolph crafted a brilliant 222 not out on day three of a crushing innings-and-60-run win in Chittagong aged only 21.

Australia's Charles Bannerman was the first cricketer to score a century on his Test bow against England way back in 1877, while the great W.G. Grace also hit a debut hundred.

We pick out five of the best debuts in the longest format over the years.

 

TIP-TOP FOSTER MAKES AUSTRALIA SUFFER

Reginald Erskine Foster, or 'Tip' as he was known, grasped his opportunity with both hands after being selected for the first Ashes Test in 1903.

Business commitments prevented Foster from making his England debut earlier, but he made up for lost time in Sydney with a record-breaking innings.

He made 287 - more than Australia's first innings total - after coming in at number five in the tourists' first innings, finding the boundary on 37 occasions.

England went on to win by five wickets thanks to Foster's knock, a Test record on debut. 

 

SWEET 16 FOR MASSIE

Bob Massie could not have dreamed of a better start to what proved to be a short Australia career.

The seamer tore through England in both innings of the second Test at Lord's in June 1972, claiming an incredible 16 wickets in the match.

Massie took 8-84 in the first innings and 8-53 second time around, setting up an emphatic eight-wicket victory.

His match figures of 16-137 are the fourth-best in Test history, not bad for a bowler who went on to play in only nine matches for his country.

 

ROWE THE KING OF SABINA PARK

Big things were expected of Lawrence Rowe ahead of his West Indies debut on his home ground Sabina Park against New Zealand in 1972.

The Jamaican batsman lived up to the hype in spectacular fashion, striking a flawless 214 in the first innings in Kingston.

Rowe inflicted more punishment on the tourists' attack in the second innings with 100 not out, becoming the first man to score a double-century and a hundred on his Test debut.

New Zealand salvaged a draw, but that did not take the gloss of the exploits of Rowe, who said: "This is my home ground, and I have no right to get out here."

 

TEENAGER HIRWANI TEARS THROUGH WINDIES

Narendra Hirwani hit the ground running with a sensational India bow against West Indies in Chennai 32 years ago.

The bespectacled leg spinner took 16 wickets in the fourth Test, with 8-61 in the first innings and 8-75 to put the seal on a 255-run thumping.

The 19-year-old claimed the scalps of greats such as Viv Richards, Desmond Haynes and Richie Richardson on a pitch that he would have loved to have rolled up and taken with him.

Hirwani played only 17 Tests, with his staggering debut proving to be something of a false dawn but his match figures of 16-136 versus the Windies are the third-best in the longest format.

 

RUDOLPH TAMES TIGERS

Rudolph was just 21 when he got his chance to showcase his talents in the longest format and he showed his class in MA Aziz Stadium.

The left-hander shared an unbroken third-wicket stand of 429 with Boeta Dippenaar, a South Africa record and the 10th highest in Test history.

Rudolph hit two sixes and found the rope 29 times in a masterful innings, laying the platform for a huge victory along with Dippenaar.

Bangladesh were unable to take a wicket on day two and were eventually put out of their misery when Graeme Smith declared on the third day.

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  • Mesut Ozil leaves Arsenal: How an ideal relationship ended in a necessary divorce Mesut Ozil leaves Arsenal: How an ideal relationship ended in a necessary divorce

    Mesut Ozil and Arsenal have officially gone their separate ways after seven and a half years together. 

    What was once a seemingly ideal football marriage has come to an end. Long since removed from the pedestal where he was once placed by Arsenal fans, Ozil has cut short his stay with the Gunners.

    Having coveted him for so long, Fenerbahce have got their man. The 32-year-old heads to Turkey, aiming to kick-start a career that had not so much stagnated of late but come to a complete standstill.

    Left out of Arsenal's squads for domestic and European duties this season, his most telling contribution in the final months of his career at the club was seemingly offering to cover the wages of mascot Gunnersaurus.

    The union had become broken to the point of no return in the closing stages, but there were plenty of good times before the inevitable break-up.

    FALLING HEAD OVER HEELS

    Ozil arrived at Arsenal in September 2013. The Gunners did not just break their transfer record to sign him from Real Madrid, they shattered it by paying around £42.5million.

    "This is an exciting day for all of us. We have signed a world-class player who is one of Europe's brightest young talents," said Ivan Gazidis, Arsenal's chief executive at the time, when the deal was announced.

    Gazidis was right: Ozil was 24, a Germany international and someone who had played regularly during three seasons in LaLiga. His departure from Madrid was not popular with players and fans alike in the Spanish capital, but a necessary consequence of a spending spree that included bringing in Gareth Bale from Tottenham.

    Arsenal's big-name recruit did not take long to make an impact, setting up a goal for Olivier Giroud 11 minutes into his Premier League debut away at Sunderland. It would be the first of many laid on for the Frenchman, who benefited more than any other team-mate from the playmaker's abilities.

    Ozil's eye for a pass and talent for producing subtle moments of skill saw him quickly enchant the club's fanbase. How could they possibly do anything but fall for him?

    His opening year in England saw him score five goals and contribute nine assists in 26 league appearances. He won the FA Cup, helping Arsene Wenger's side rally from an early 2-0 deficit to defeat Hull City 3-2 in the Wembley final. Two months later, he was lifting the World Cup in South Africa.


    THE GOLDEN YEARS

    Ozil's second season included a lengthy spell on the sidelines, restricting him to 22 outings in the Premier League. He did help them retain the FA Cup though, this time with a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Aston Villa.

    However, the Gunners saw the best of him in the two years that followed. In 2015-16, he laid on 19 assists – one shy of Thierry Henry's record – and created 146 chances, the latter number the most by any player in the competition for a single season since 2003-04. He was also the subject of seemingly thousands of Twitter memes, too.

    Arsenal ended up second in the final table, 10 points behind surprise champions Leicester City. The glass half-full type pointed to it being their best finish in 11 years, while the less optimistic sort strongly suggested it was more a missed opportunity.

    The following season was Ozil's best in terms of Premier League goals – eight in 33 games – but another possible title challenge faded after the turn of the year, leading to a finish outside the top four. There was yet another FA Cup success to at least ease the pressure on Wenger, but their streak of participating in the Champions League was over.

    Then, in February 2018, came Ozil's new contract. "I signed dat thing," he tweeted at the time, having committed through to 2021. Wenger was with him in the picture, though nobody knew at the time that the manager was coming towards the end of his tenure.

    A lucrative deal handed out to ward off potential suitors and tie down one of the club's leading names appeared a necessity at the time but would quickly become a millstone around the player's neck. The reported weekly salary was referenced so often in the media it should have been added to his name by deed poll.

    In terms of his future output, Ozil managed a mere six goals and five assists in 48 league games after the moment he put pen to paper for three more years.


    DRIFTING APART AND THE INEVITABLE SPLIT

    Relations became strained as Ozil shifted from eye-catching centrepiece to expensive luxury. The focus had switched from how much he produced on the ball to what he didn't do without it. The phasing-out process began during the Unai Emery reign, then led to him being completely ostracised by former team-mate Mikel Arteta.

    Yet it is easy to forget that he did start in the Spaniard's first game in charge, away at Bournemouth. "To be fair, his attitude in training since the day that I walked in the building has been incredible," Arteta told reporters after the 1-1 draw on Boxing Day in 2019.

    Still, six months later, when the Premier League returned following the coronavirus-enforced break, Arteta's tune had changed somewhat. After completely omitting Ozil from the squad to face Manchester City in June in the first game back, Arteta said: "I'm going to put him on the pitch when I think he can give his best.”

    There were two more fixtures when Ozil made the bench, only to be an unused substitute on both occasions. The 2019-20 season saw him play 18 times in the league and he managed a solitary goal and two assists. His final outing for the club came on March 3, 2020 – a 1-0 home victory over West Ham.

    Across his Arsenal career, Ozil provided 54 assists. Only Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne (75) and David Silva (62), plus Tottenham's Christian Eriksen (62), contributed more assists for their teams since Ozil's arrival in England. When it comes to chances created, only Eriksen (571) beats Ozil's total of 558 – and the Dane played over 40 games more.

    And yet, as the divorce is confirmed, there is a sense of relief for all involved that it is all over. It was fun, for a while, but the time is right to move on.

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