ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

Solkar's catches, and an unrelated record

Also, the oldest Pakistan Test debutant, biggest stands in one-day defeats, largest gaps between caps, and the youngest to 7000 Test runs

Steven Lynch

October 29, 2013

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Eknath Solkar takes a brilliant catch to dismiss Alan Knott, England v India, The Oval, 1971
Eknath Solkar takes a catch to dismiss Alan Knott in India's historic Test win at The Oval in 1971 © Getty Images

Eknath Solkar played only 27 Tests, but took 53 catches - very nearly two per game. Is this the highest ratio by any fielder? asked Rohit Shinde from India
Eknath Solkar's ratio of catches per match is easily the best for a fieldsman who played a significant number of Tests. Here's what I wrote in his Wisden obituary after his untimely death in 2005:

"Statistically, Solkar remains Test cricket's most successful fielder, with 53 catches in just 27 matches - of those who played at least ten, the next-best is Bob Simpson's 110 in 62 Tests, or 1.77 per match to Solkar's 1.96. The top catchers are usually firmly camped in the slip cordon, but most of Solkar's came at forward short leg, where he lurked uncomfortably up close and personal to the batsman. Bishan Bedi, one of the great Indian spinners of the time whose menace was greatly enhanced by this, confirmed: 'His close-in catching was really intimidating. We would not have been the same bowlers without him.' Tony Greig, an opponent in the 1972-73 series in India, said: 'Ekki was the best forward short leg I have ever seen.' His catching was often preceded by some very idiosyncratic sledging: 'I'll get you, bloody,' he advised Geoff Boycott, and he once told Garry Sobers to mind his own business."

In 2009, the two Jayawardenes added 351 in a Test against India. A comment in the Cricinfo commentary said it had to be a record for the highest partnership between two unrelated people with the same surname. What was the previous record? asked Stephen Anderson from Australia
That partnership of 351 between Mahela and Prasanna Jayawardene was for Sri Lanka's sixth wicket against India in Ahmedabad in 2009-10: it's actually the highest Test partnership by any two players with the same surname, whether related or not. The previous record was 269 by the brothers Andy and Grant Flower for Zimbabwe v Pakistan in Harare in 1994-95. The previous highest partnership between unrelated players who shared the same second name appears to be 151, by Majid and Mohsin Khan, for Pakistan's second wicket against Sri Lanka in Lahore in 1981-82. If you want to stretch the point a bit, then Viv Richards and Richie Richardson added 308 for West Indies v Australia in St John's in 1983-84, and Darren Sammy and Marlon Samuels put on 204 for West Indies v England at Trent Bridge in 2012.

Zulfiqar Babar was 34 when he made his Test debut for Pakistan earlier this month. Is he the oldest Pakistani Test debutant? asked Liaqat Ahmed Siddiqui from Pakistan
Left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar, who took five wickets in Pakistan's upset victory over South Africa in Abu Dhabi earlier this month, was 34 years 308 days old at the start of his first match. Only one Pakistani has made his overall Test debut when older: offspinner Miran Bakhsh was 47 when he played in two matches of their first home series, against India in 1954-55. Amir Elahi was 44 when he took part in Pakistan's very first Test, against India in Delhi in October 1952, but he had previously played a Test for India (in Australia in 1947-48). And Gul Mohammad celebrated his 35th birthday during his only Test for Pakistan - against Australia in Karachi in 1956-57 - after previously winning eight caps for India. Only 11 further players, including Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Irfan of the current squad, have made their Test debuts for Pakistan after turning 30.

What's the highest partnership in a one-day international defeat? asked Gordon Carpenter from London
The biggest partnership in a losing cause in a one-day international is 235, for South Africa's first wicket, by Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs against India in Kochi in March 2000. That big opening stand lifted South Africa to 301, but India overhauled that with two balls to spare. There have been ten further stands of 200 or more which weren't enough to bring victory in an ODI, five of them against India.

I read that Younis Ahmed reappeared for Pakistan in 1986-87 after a gap of 17 years and 104 Tests. Are these gaps both records? asked Waqas Mohammad
Neither is quite a record, although both are high up the respective lists. Younis Ahmed played two Tests in 1969-70, then two more in 1986-87: the actual time gap between his appearances was 17 years and 111 days. George Gunn, the old Nottinghamshire opener, had a slightly longer gap (17 years 316 days) between the 1911-12 Ashes and his recall, aged 50, for the series in West Indies in 1929-30. Gunn held the record for more than 60 years, until John Traicos made his Test debut for Zimbabwe in 1992-93, some 22 years 222 days after his previous Test, for South Africa in 1969-70. For the full list, click here.In terms of matches missed, Younis is again third on the list with 104. The England seamer Derek Shackleton missed 103 Tests between 1951-52 and 1963, and West Indies played 109 between Floyd Reifer's fourth Test (in South Africa in January 1999), and his recall for the fifth, as captain during a contracts dispute against Bangladesh at home in July 2009. But the leader on this particular table is another long-serving county seamer, Martin Bicknell, who missed 114 England Tests between the 1993 Ashes series and a brief recall against South Africa ten years later. For that list, click here.

Who was the youngest batsman to reach 7000 runs in Tests? asked Colin McLean from England
I expected the answer here to be Sachin Tendulkar - he was the youngest to 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000 and 6000 - but actually he was shaded by England's Alastair Cook, who was 27 years 347 days old when he reached 7000, in the course of his 190 against India in Kolkata in December 2012. Tendulkar was about seven months older when he got there, in November 2001.

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2013. Ask Steven is now on Facebook

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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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