My mother tongue has a saying that roughly translates to a statement, “The future crop is known in the germ.” Remember Sachin Tendulkar’s firm stand against a bowling unit comprising Wasim Akram, Imran Khan, Aaqib Javed, and Waqar Younis on his debuting series? It was a teaser of what followed (as they say, the rest is history).

A debuting youngster put into bat in a match-saving situation in a most foreign venue against a threatening opponent’s bowling lineup will always be a scene to witness. It could go either way. One can disappear in the pressure cooker’s whistle or scintillates. We will, in this article, focus on those sparkling debuts in the world of cricket.

Before getting into the lineup, here are a few things you should know.

  1. This is not a stat list where we see the top scores by debuting players in a format; these are hand-picked by me among the top match-saving innings played by debuting players.
  2. There are no rankings in the list; rather, I made them in a chronologically ordered list.
  3. I also omitted the debuts of players who were already a star in other international formats. Remember ‘germ’?
  4. Finally, the entrants are picked majorly based on the game situation they walked into bat. The venue and the opposition are also given the right consideration.

Well, let’s get on the list.

Desmond Haynes (WI) – 148 vs Australia (St. John’s, 1978)

Even though West Indies were the World Champions in the format during the late 1970s, the ODI debut of Desmond Haynes didn’t eventuate in a fruitful scenario. Opening the batting with Richard Austin, Haynes was soon seen in the middle with a scorecard of 78/4 and then 121/5. He also had to face Jeff Thomson, who was at his prime best. But this is when the frustrated Caribbean audience witnessed a dance of the skilled youngster who will go on to score almost 7500 runs in the format for them.

The 22-year-old exploded in a way that no one has ever seen many played the game. The Australian attack was good. It had the likes of Jeff Thomson, Wayne Clark, Ian Callen, Trevor Laughlin, Bob Simpson, and Garry Cosier. But Haynes believed it was his best opportunity and dealt only with boundaries. He hit 16 fours and 2 sixes in that innings of 148, which is still the highest ODI score of a debutant.

This, to me, is the great innings ever played by a debutant batsman. Haynes scored 47.28% of his team’s runs, aiding WI to post a mammoth total of 313 in their fifty overs.

It ended as a successful debut for Haynes, as WI eventually won the match by 45 runs.


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