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Heard the one about the one-eyed Norwegian?

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

Steven Lynch

December 8, 2003

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



Ricky Ponting launches into yet another six. How about some fours, mate?
© Getty Images

I recently had a quiz question about a one-eyed Norwegian who once captained his country in a Test - is this a trick question? asks Tom Martin from Liverpool

Prepare yourself for a shock: it's true ... the man in question is Eiulf "Buster" Nupen , who played 17 Tests for South Africa, and captained them in one. His parents were Norwegian, although he himself was born in Johannesburg in 1902, and he lost an eye after an accident in his youth - he was banging two hammers together and a splinter flew off into his eye. That didn't stop him becoming a very handy fast-medium bowler, especially on the matting pitches they used in South Africa during most of his career. In all he took 50 Test wickets at 35.76, his finest hour coming in the first Test against England in 1930-31, at Johannesburg, when he followed his first-innings 5 for 63 with 6 for 87 to set up victory by 28 runs. That was the Test he captained, so at this distance it's hard to fathom why he was replaced for the second Test of that series, although he was never the same danger as a bowler on turf pitches.

Ricky Ponting hit a hundred in the recent TVS Cup that included seven sixes, but only one four - is that a record low? asks Chris Coleman from Dubbo

Ponting's solitary four in that match at Bangalore is indeed the lowest amount of fours in any ODI century - the previous record was two, by Nathan Astle in his 104 for New Zealand v Zimbabwe at Napier in 1997-98, and by Ponting again, in his 101 against Bangladesh at Darwin in August 2003. But Ponting hit four sixes in that innings at Darwin, making six boundaries in all, and Astle hit three sixes, making five boundaries: the lowest amount of boundaries in any one-day hundred is three - all fours - by Ramiz Raja in his 107 for Pakistan against Sri Lanka at Adelaide in 1989-90.

What's the highest score anyone has made in a first-class match entirely in boundaries? asks John Mallett from Surrey

An unlikely name tops the list: it's John Emburey, the former Middlesex and England offspinner, whose 46 for the England XI against Tasmania at Hobart in 1986-87 was made up of ten fours and a six, many of them using Emburey's unique batting technique, which involved limited foot-movement and rather a lot of falling over. The previous record was 44, which had happened twice: by Peter Marner (five fours and four sixes) for Lancashire against Nottinghamshire at Southport in 1960, and by Mike "Pasty" Harris, for Nottinghamshire v Yorkshire at Bradford in 1976.

In the 1989 Ashes series in England, Merv Hughes took 19 wickets - but that included 17 different batsmen (the only players he dismissed twice were Robin Smith and Devon Malcolm). Has any other bowler dismissed more individual batsmen in a Test series? asks Clinton O'Toole from Canada

The record was set in that 1989 Ashes series - but amazingly it wasn't by Merv. Terry Alderman's 41 wickets in that same series included 23 different batsmen. Alderman also dismissed 17 different players in the course of taking 42 wickets in the 1981 Ashes series. This record obviously depends on a high turnover of players: next to Alderman comes Ted McDonald, who dismissed 20 different Englishmen during the 1921 Ashes series, when England used a record 30 players (as you might have guessed, the 1989 series comes next, with England using 29 players).

Usually you have to take 20 wickets to win a Test - but not if someone declares and still loses. What's the least number of wickets taken by a side which actually won a Test? asks Saad Shafqat

The fewest wickets lost by a side which still lost a Test is eight, in that rather strange match between South Africa and England at Centurion in 1999-2000, when Hansie Cronje, with the series already in the bag, forfeited an innings and earned himself a leather jacket from a friendly bookmaker by maximising the chances of a result. Another controversial decision, Garry Sobers's declaration at Port-of-Spain in 1967-68, led to a West Indian defeat even though they only lost nine wickets. And at Kingston in 1975-76 India only lost 11 actual wickets in losing to West Indies - but Bishan Bedi declared his first innings closed early to prevent injuries, and in all there were seven men absent or retired hurt.

Last week you wrote about Frank Woolley, who had 14 different Test captains. I spotted that Sudhir Naik, of India, played three Tests - all under different captains. Is this a record? asks Dr NT Rao from Botswana

That's a good spot, and I was surprised to find that it wasn't the record. Naik is actually one of eight players who played three Tests under different captains, but there are three others who played four Tests under four different leaders. One of them is a recent player - Fazl-e-Akbar of Pakistan, whose four Tests in the space of three years (1998 to 2001) were under Aamer Sohail, Wasim Akram, Moin Khan and Inzamam-ul-Haq. The other two are Harry Wood, the old Surrey wicketkeeper, whose four Tests (the first in 1888) were under the captaincy of WG Grace, Aubrey Smith, Monty Bowden and Walter Read, and EAV "Foffie" Williams, a West Indian fast bowler who spanked one of Test cricket's fastest fifties, in only 30 minutes, against England at Bridgetown in 1947-48. His four Tests came under the captaincies of Rolph Grant, George Headley, Gerry Gomez and John Goddard.

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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