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Luckless tossers, and 1000 runs without a fifty

The column where we answer your questions

Steven Lynch

March 21, 2005

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



Waqar Younis: no mug with the bat, but no half-century either © Getty Images
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Which Test captain is the unluckiest, er, tosser? And who's the luckiest?asked Hugo Burchell

Given a qualification of ten Tests as captain, the unluckiest captain of all with the spin is England's Freddie Brown, who won only three out of 15 tosses (20%). He's level with Glenn Turner (won two of ten), just ahead of another New Zealander in Bevan Congdon (won four out of 17, or 23.53%). At the other end of the scale the Australian Lindsay Hassett (won 18 out of 24), England's Bob Wyatt (12 out of 16) and Nummy Deane of South Africa (nine out of 12) all had a 75% success rate. One of the most impressive records is by Garry Sobers, who won 27 out of 39 tosses (69.23%) while captaining West Indies.

What's the highest score by a player making his Test debut? asked Dave Evans from Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Five players have scored a double-century in their first Test match. In ascending order of score, they are Brendon Kuruppu, with 201 not out for Sri Lanka against New Zealand at the Colombo Cricket Club in 1986-87; Mathew Sinclair, 214 for New Zealand v West Indies at Wellington in 1999-2000; Lawrence Rowe, 214 (and 100 not out) for West Indies v New Zealand at Kingston in 1971-72; Jacques Rudolph, 222 not out for South Africa v Bangladesh at Chittagong in 2003; and the record-holder, RE "Tip" Foster of England, who scored 287 on debut against Australia at Sydney in 1903-04. It was the only Test century that Foster scored (he only played seven more matches). He remains the only man to captain England at cricket and football. For a full list of players who have scored a century on Test debut, click here.

I saw India get bowled out for 42 at Lord's about 30 years ago. Is that the lowest Test total of them all? asked Colin Burgess of Bexhill

No it isn't - although that innings of 42 at Lord's in 1974 remains India's lowest in Tests. But there have been six lower totals (and two others of 42). The lowest of them all is 26, by New Zealand against England at Auckland in 1954-55. After New Zealand made 200 in their first innings England had replied with 246 - a slender lead of 46 - so were rather surprised to end up winning by an innings. For a full list of low team totals, click here.

Has anyone other than Waqar Younis made 1000 runs in Tests without scoring a half-century? asked Tahir Andrabi from China

That's a good spot, because the answer is no: Waqar Younis made 1010 runs in Tests, with a highest score of 45, against South Africa at Rawalpindi in 1997-98. Coincidentally he took 0 for 45 in the first innings of that match. Four other bowlers have made over 900 Test runs without ever quite managing a half-century - Fred Trueman (981), Craig McDermott (940), Derek Underwood (937) and Courtney Walsh (936).

Has any Test player been born in Japan? asked Bernard Wilson

Test players have been born in some weird and wonderful places - Peru, Papua New Guinea and Portugal, for a start - but never yet one in Japan. I do know of two first-class players who were born there (they may be more): firstly the Rev. Frank Gillingham, who was born in Tokyo in 1875, and died in Monaco - in between he played 210 matches for Essex, scoring just over 10,000 runs. He was probably the first man to broadcast ball-by-ball commentary on English radio, in 1927. He didn't do his prospects much good later on by filling in during an interval for rain by describing the various advertisements around the ground, much to the horror of his superiors at the commercial-free BBC. More recently Gregor Kennis, who played a few matches for Surrey in the 1990s, was born in Yokohama.

Steven Lynch is the editor of 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, contact him through our feedback form. 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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