ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

Mitchells hog the show

Also: pairs on debut, players with most team-mates, and most overs bowled in a day in Tests

Steven Lynch

December 11, 2012

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England players  and support staff (from left): Robin Smith, David Capel, Jack Russell, Angus Fraser, Chris Lewis, Micky Stewart, Alec Stewart, Nasser Hussain, Graham Gooch celebrate their nine-wicket victory, West Indies v England, 1st Test, Jamaica, 5th day, March 1, 1990
Graham Gooch (far right) had 113 team-mates during his Test career © Getty Images

All South Africa's wickets in their second innings at Perth were taken by left-armers - and all by people with the same first name! How often have either of these things happened in Tests? asked Ross Cambray from the UK
Rather surprisingly, perhaps, the feat of the two Mitchells - Johnson and Starc - in taking all ten wickets in the second innings of South Africa's victory at the WACA last week was the first time two (or more) bowlers with the same first name have combined to take all ten wickets in a Test innings. I suspect you could have got long odds on "Mitchell" being the first such name! There have of course been all-ten instances by Jim (Laker) and Anil (Kumble). As for all ten wickets in an innings being taken by left-handers, this had happened on only eight previous occasions, the last one being in January 2006, when Irfan Pathan (5 for 61), Zaheer Khan (2 for 75) and RP Singh (3 for 66) took all the wickets in Pakistan's first innings in Karachi. That was the match which Pathan started by taking a hat-trick in the first over - but from 0 for 3, and later 39 for 6, Pakistan fought back to win by a whopping 341 runs! Sri Lankan left-armers (Chaminda Vaas, Sajeewa de Silva and Jayantha Silva) took all Pakistan's first-innings wickets in Colombo in April 1997, but the previous instance before that was in 1909, when it actually happened twice in the same match: in the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston George Hirst took 4 for 28 and Colin Blythe 6 for 44 as Australia were skittled for 74, then in the second innings Hirst and Blythe claimed 5 for 58.

What is the oldest Test match to feature a player who is still alive? asked Bipin Mendis from Sri Lanka
That's a relatively easy one, since there is only one cricketer still alive - as I write with fingers firmly crossed - who played in a Test match before the Second World War. That is Norman Gordon, the South African fast bowler, who played throughout the 1938-39 home series against England (which ended with the famous ten-day Timeless Test in Durban). Gordon, who celebrated his 101st birthday in August, was the first Test cricketer known to have made it to three figures. There is also one survivor of the first post-war Test, in Wellington in New Zealand in March 1946 - the Australian opener Arthur Morris, who's now 90. There are currently five other nonagenarian Test cricketers: for the full list, click here.

Dean Elgar made a pair on Test debut at Perth - how many players have done this? asked Savo Ceprnich from South Africa
The unfortunate Dean Elgar was the 38th man to start his Test career with a pair of ducks: notable others to have done so include Graham Gooch, Ken Rutherford, Marvan Atapattu and Saeed Anwar. The last before Elgar to start with two zeroes was Mark Gillespie of New Zealand, in Centurion in November 2007 (he did at least have the compensation of taking five wickets in South Africa's only innings). Nine of them never played another Test: let's hope Elgar doesn't join that list. For the full list of debut pairs, click here.

Which Test player has had the most team-mates, and who has played against the most different opponents? I'm guessing Sachin Tendulkar for both... asked Rohit from India
Sachin Tendulkar has had 104 different team-mates (so far), but actually three Englishmen outdo him in this regard: Walter Hammond had 106 team-mates and Frank Woolley 111 (despite playing only 64 Tests); the record-holder is Graham Gooch, who shared a dressing room with 113 different England players during his 118-Test career, which stretched almost 20 years from 1975. When you look at opposition players, though, Tendulkar does indeed have a big lead, with 477. The only other man to have faced over 400 different opponents in Tests is Muttiah Muralitharan, with 405 (exactly 300 of whom he dismissed at least once). Tendulkar leads the way in both lists in one-day internationals, with 123 team-mates (Rahul Dravid is next with 115, and there are eight others over 100) and 743 opponents (next comes Sanath Jayasuriya with 701).

With regard to last week's question about the most runs scored in a full day of Test cricket, how many overs were bowled the day India and England combined for 588 runs? And how many overs were bowled when Don Bradman made 309 in a day in the 1930 Headingley Test? asked AR Hemant from India
I'm afraid I can't have more than an educated guess at these answers, as Wisden doesn't divulge how many overs were bowled each day, and the reports in the Times, which I have unearthed, don't give the bowling figures at the end of the day. Anyway, after India were all out for 203 in 68.1 overs on the first day at Old Trafford in 1936, England reached 173 for 2, and carried that to 571 for 8 the next day before declaring. In all, England faced 142 overs and scored (according to Wisden at an average rate of 91 runs per hour. The innings lasted six and a quarter hours, so the Indians were bowling more than 22 overs an hour! India, left about two and a quarter hours to bat, reached 190 for 0 by the end of the second day - on which a record 588 runs were scored all told, from what I should think was about 125 overs - and finished with 390 for 5 from 115 overs. As for Don Bradman at Headingley in 1930, Australia were all out about half an hour before lunch on the second day... for 566, with England having bowled 158 overs in about seven and a half hours - so on the first day, when Australia scored 458 for 3 (Bradman 309 not out of his eventual 334), they would also have faced around 125 overs.

What have there been more of in Test cricket - centuries or five-wicket hauls? asked Dhanushka Edussuriya from Sri Lanka
When I did the calculations (before the match in Kolkata, the 2066th in Test history), there had been 3583 centuries and only 2637 instances of five of more wickets in an innings (and 387 ten-wicket matches). So, as any bowler will no doubt tell you, it's more difficult to take a five-for than score a ton in a Test!

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2013

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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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