The column that answers your questions

The best - and worst - travellers

The regular Monday column in which Steven Lynch, the editor of Wisden Cricinfo, answers your questions about (almost) any aspect of cricket

Steven Lynch

November 24, 2003

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The regular Monday column in which our editor answers your questions about (almost) any aspect of cricket:



Mohinder Amarnath: tremendous overseas record
© Getty Images


Which Test batsmen have the greatest difference between their average at home and their average in away matches? asks Bennett Mendes

That's an intriguing question, and one that would have taken weeks to work out in the days before handy tools like Stats Guru. Assuming a minimum of 2000 Test runs, to rule out any statistical oddities, the man with the greatest discrepancy between his home and away averages is ... Bob Cowper, the Australian left-hander of the 1960s. He averaged an impressive 75.78 in home Tests, but a more, er, average 33.33 away from home. That's a difference of 42.45. Next come Vijay Hazare of India, with 69.56 at home and 35.96 away (-33.60), the West Indian legend George Headley, 77.56 at home and 47.45 away (-30.11), another West Indian in Lawrence Rowe, 59.54 at home and 29.48 away (-30.06), and the highest current player, Hashan Tillakaratne of Sri Lanka, who averages 63.11 at home and 33.71 overseas (-29.40). At the other end of the scale are the good travellers, whose away average exceeds their home one. The leader there is Bill Ponsford, the prolific Australian of the 1920s and '30s. His home average was 40.89, but he managed 62.40 away (+21.51). Next come Mohinder Amarnath of India, 30.44 at home, 51.86 away (+21.42), England's 1960s stalwart Ken Barrington, with 50.71 at home, and an even more impressive 69.18 away (+18.47), an earlier England legend in Wally Hammond, 50.06 home, 66.32 away (+16.26), and a surprise name in Alan Knott, England's perky, quirky wicketkeeper - he averaged 26.71 in home Tests, and 42.26 away (+15.55). The man closest to parity is the pragmatic Yorkshireman Wilfred Rhodes - 30.29 at home, 30.15 away (-0.14). And in case you're wondering, Don Bradman averaged 98.22 at home ... and 102.84 overseas (all in England, in his case).

Looking at the scorecard of the exciting first Test at Harare recently, which ended in a draw with West Indies nine wickets down, I noticed that none of the 42 innings in the match had produced a duck (or even a 0 not out) - is this a Test record? asks Harry from Munich

It nearly was - actually the record is 43 innings with no ducks, in the first Test between Australia and England at Sydney in 1907-08. The recent Harare Test slots in second, ahead of the fourth Ashes Test of 1974-75, at Sydney, which had 39 innings and no ducks.

In a recent one-day match between India and Australia, two left-arm bowlers opened the bowling to two left-hand batsmen - has this ever happened before? asks Leon Very from Sydney

The match you're talking about was the one at Bangalore on Nov 12, when Zaheer Khan and Aashish Nehra of India opened the bowling to Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist of Australia. This all-left combination has happened quite a few times in ODIs - this was the 16th instance, and the seventh involving India's bowlers (three of those came against England in 2002). The first time it happened was in 1994-95, when Malcolm Jarvis and Bryan Strang of Zimbabwe opened up to Aamer Sohail and Saeed Anwar of Pakistan at Harare. Oddly, this is much rarer in Test matches: it's only happened three times. The first one again involved India, at Sydney in 1967-68, when Umesh Kulkarni and Rusi Surti opened the bowling to Bill Lawry and Bob Cowper. It didn't happened again until November 2002, when Chaminda Vaas and Ruchira Perera of Sri Lanka took the new ball against Graeme Smith and Gary Kirsten of South Africa, in the first Test at Johannesburg. And the most-recent instance was at Kingston in June, when Vaas and Thilan Thushara took the new ball for Sri Lanka against Chris Gayle and Wavell Hinds of West Indies.

Which England Test player was born in Italy? asks Chris Lee

This is Ted Dexter, who was born in Milan in 1935 - one story has it that he later played for Sussex because that was the nearest county geographically to northern Italy. Dexter, a classical right-hand batsman and a handy medium-pacer, played 62 Tests for England, captaining them in 30, between 1958-59 and 1968. In all he scored 4502 runs, with a highest score of 205 at Karachi in 1961-62 - but he is probably best-remembered as a player for a ferocious innings of 70 in the exciting 1963 Lord's Test against West Indies. Dexter was also a keen golfer, and after he retired from cricket he turned his hands to many things: journalism, public relations (he came up with the idea for the PwC player ratings), TV commentary, politics (he contested the 1964 General Election - unsuccessfully - as a Conservative candidate), cricket administration (he was chairman of the Test selectors for a while, and more recently president of MCC) ... he also owned greyhounds, preferred to arrive at Lord's on a powerful motorbike, and once flew himself to Australia in a light aircraft.

I enjoyed watching the recent series between Zimbabwe and West Indies, and couldn't help noticing how young the teams were. What is the youngest team, by average age, that has played in a Test? asks Vulu Sibanda

The average age of the Zimbabwe team for that first Test at Harare was about 25 years four months, while West Indies' average was just over 27. That turned out to be a long way from the record, which was set by Bangladesh in their second Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo in July 2002. They fielded a side that included six teenagers, and the average age was a shade under 21 and a half. That's an astonishing average of 18 months per person clear of the next-youngest side - also Bangladesh, this time against South Africa at Potchefstroom last October. Their oldest player was Habibul Bashar, who was 20 days shy of his 30th birthday when the first of those matches started. The next seven places on this list are occupied by various Pakistan sides, with India next - their team against New Zealand at Delhi in December 1955 had an average age of just under 24. On the other hand, the oldest side in terms of average age was England's in the final Test against West Indies at Kingston in 1929-30 - the presence of two 50-year-olds, in Wilfred Rhodes and George Gunn, and several other seasoned performers meant the average age of that team was 37 and a half.

Is Andrew Symonds the first cricketer of West Indian origin to play for Australia? asks Derek Wise from Alice Springs

Actually, he seems to be the second. The first was an almost-forgotten player from the 19th Century, Sam Morris. His parents were West Indian, but travelled to Australia in the gold-rush years of the 1840s. Sam was born in Hobart, Tasmania, in 1855, but played his club cricket in Victoria - for Melbourne's St Kilda club, where he later became the groundsman. In a low-key first-class career he scored 623 runs (18.32) and took 31 wickets (26.09) - that probably wouldn't have been enough to win him a place in the Australian side, but for a dispute in 1884-85. After the first Test at Adelaide, the Australian players demanded 50% of the gate receipts for the second Test, at Melbourne. The authorities refused, and selected an entirely different XI, containing nine debutants, five of whom never played again. Morris was one of those five: he scored 4 and 10 not out, and took 2 for 73 from 34 overs of medium-pace, but unsurprisingly England won convincingly, by ten wickets. Morris died in 1931, aged 78: sadly he was afflicted by blindness in his later years. Andrew Symonds was born to West Indian parents in Birmingham, England, in 1975 - but he was then adopted, and his new family moved to Australia when he was about two years old. After a successful season as an English-qualified player for Gloucestershire in 1995, Symonds was selected for an England A tour - and turned it down, preferring to take his chances with Australia, for whom he was an important cog in the team that won the 2003 World Cup.

And finally ... probably the last word on the saga of Andy Ganteaume, who scored 112 in his only Test innings from Keith Sandiford in Winnipeg, Canada

"I do not wish to appear to be clobbering a dead horse, but Andy Ganteaume's selection for the 1957 England tour underscored the whimsical nature of West Indian selections in those days. He should not have been chosen to tour England ahead of Conrad Hunte or Cammie Smith. Not only was Ganteaume already 36, but he had shown clear signs of decline after 1951, at which point his career batting average stood at 41.60. His final statistics - a batting average of 34.81 - are misleading, mainly because they are skewed by his outings in England in 1957 (he averaged 27.58, and had 32 of his overall total of 85 first-class innings on that tour). That said, the choice of George Carew over Ganteaume for the 1947-48 Indian tour was indeed baffling. George was already 38, while Andy was only 28 and in much better form. It was all very well for Jeff Stollmeyer to claim, many years later, that Ganteaume was unfortunate not to have made the trip to India, but the clear impression throughout the Caribbean at that time was that he and Gerry Gomez had failed to lobby vigorously enough for their countryman's inclusion."

Steven Lynch is editor of Wisden Cricinfo. For some of these answers he was helped by Travis Basevi, the man who built Stats Guru and the Wisden Wizard. If you want to Ask Steven a question, e-mail him at asksteven@cricinfo.com. The most interesting questions will be answered each week in this column. Unfortunately, we can't usually enter into correspondence about individual queries.

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Steven Lynch Steven Lynch won the Wisden Cricket Monthly Christmas Quiz three years running before the then-editor said "I can't let you win it again, but would you like a job?" That lasted for 15 years, before he moved across to the Wisden website when that was set up in 2000. Following the merger of the two sites early in 2003 he was appointed as the global editor of Wisden Cricinfo. In June 2005 he became the deputy editor of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. He continues to contribute the popular weekly "Ask Steven" question-and-answer column on ESPNcricinfo, and edits the Wisden Guide to International Cricket.
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