Winning without losing a wicket, and Kumble's record
The regular Monday column in which our editor answers your questions about (almost) any aspect of cricket:
Anil Kumble: heads the pack with the most caught and bowled dismissals
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In your obituary of Bill Edrich's brother Geoff there was mention of a match his side won without losing a wicket. How often has this happened? asks Ben Davidson
The match referred to - at Old Trafford in 1956 - was the first time this had happened. Lancashire (166 for 0 dec and 66 for 0) beat Leicestershire (108 and 122) by ten wickets. Geoff Edrich was actually the Lancashire captain in that game - he was down at No. 3 in the order and didn't get a bat! There have been three similar occurrences since: at Karachi in 1957-58, Karachi (277 for 0 dec) beat Sind (92 and 108); at Srinagar in 1960-61, Railways (236 for 0 dec and 16 for 0) beat Jammu & Kashmir (92 and 159); and at Chickmagalur in 1977-78, Karnataka (451 for 0 dec) beat Kerala (141 and 124). The fewest wickets anyone has lost in winning a Test is two, which has happened four times ( click here for details).
Who has taken the most caught-and-bowled in Tests and one-day internationals? asks Ashish from India
That's a topical one, because top place has just changed hands. The new leader is ... Anil Kumble, with 21. He's just gone past England's Derek Underwood (20), but that man Muttiah Muralitharan isn't far behind, with 19. Shane Warne and Richie Benaud, a handy pair of Aussie legspinners, both took 17 return catches, while the offspinners Lance Gibbs (West Indies) and Hugh Trumble (Australia) had 15 apiece. In one-dayers Chris Harris of New Zealand is well clear of the field with 29 c&bs. Murali is second with 21, one ahead of Saqlain Mushtaq.
Which fielding combination is the most common in Test history? asks Andy Dundonald from Fife
The most-frequent combination is one of Test cricket's most famous too: Australia's long-serving wicketkeeper Rod Marsh took 95 catches off his old mate Dennis Lillee. Oddly they both finished their careers with 355 victims. Next on the list, quite a way behind with 71, is c Jeff Dujon b Malcolm Marshall, ahead of the leading current combination, c Mark Boucher b Shaun Pollock (61). The leading combination not to feature a wicketkeeper is c Mark Taylor b Shane Warne, of which there were 51. The most-common scorecard entry for a single Test dismissal is probably about to change: "bowled Muttiah Muralitharan" has just pulled level, at 119, with "lbw b Wasim Akram".
Does Ajit Agarkar have the lowest batting average of anyone who has scored a Test century? asks Anand from India
Indeed he does: after the series in Australia Ajit Agarkar's average stood at 13.64, boosted by his counter-attacking 109 not out against England at Lord's in 2002. Next comes Xenophon Balaskas, the South African allrounder of Greek extraction, with 14.50, just ahead of Jack Badcock of Australia with 14.55. Badcock was a good enough batsman to score a first-class triple-century - 325 for South Australia v Victoria at Adelaide in 1935-36 - but disappointed in Tests. In fourth place, with 14.87, is another current player in Saqlain Mushtaq of Pakistan, who hit 101 not out against New Zealand at Christchurch in 2000-01. Next comes the first Englishman - Frank Hayes, with an average of 15.25 from nine Tests, despite a debut century against West Indies in 1973.
At Kingston in 1973-74 Dennis Amiss scored a double-century, and the next-highest score was less than 50. Is that unique in Test history? asks Rob from Cornwall
Dennis Amiss scored 262 not out in that match for England against West Indies at Kingston, and the next-highest score was only 38, by John Jameson (unless you count Extras, with 41). It is the highest score in any Test innings that hasn't included at least one other half-century, but there have been four other occasions when someone has scored a double-century and no-one else has managed to sneak past 50. At the Old Wanderers in Johannesburg in 1935-36 Dudley Nourse of South Africa scored 231 against Australia: the next-highest score was Bruce Mitchell's 45. At The Oval in 1950, Len Hutton carried his bat for 202 for England against West Indies, but the next-highest score was Denis Compton's 44. Less than six months later, in the 1950-51 Ashes Test at Adelaide, Arthur Morris made 206 for Australia, but the next-best was Keith Miller's 44. And finally, at Bulawayo in 1999-2000, Marvan Atapattu carried his bat for 216 for Sri Lanka against Zimbabwe - and the next-highest was his opening partner Sanath Jayasuriya's 49.
Has anyone apart from Kepler Wessels played in ODIs for two different countries? asks Charles Oosthuizen from South Africa
No. Kepler Wessels is the only man to play official one-dayers for two different countries - he played 54 for Australia between 1982-83 and 1985, scoring 1740 runs at 36.25, including his only ODI century, 107 against India at Delhi in 1984-85. He then returned to his native South Africa and, after they were readmitted to international cricket, played 55 more one-dayers for them, scoring 1627 runs at 32.54. Wessels is also the only person to score Test centuries and score over 1000 Test runs for two different countries. There have been some near-misses: Gavin Hamilton, who's just moved from Yorkshire to Durham in a bid to resurrect his career, played in the 1999 World Cup for Scotland, and less than a year later won his one and only Test cap for England. And John Traicos, the veteran Egyptian-born offspinner, played ODIs (and Tests) for Zimbabwe many years after winning three Test caps for South Africa in 1969-70.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. The most interesting questions will be answered each week in this column. Unfortunately, we can't usually enter into correspondence about individual queries.