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Defending a target, debut ducks, and No. 11s top-scoring

The column where we answer your questions

Steven Lynch

February 2, 2004

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

What is the lowest target successfully defended in last innings of a Test? asked Usman Muhammad from Pakistan



Franklyn Rose: saved West Indies' bacon in Trinidad
© Getty Images

There have only been two occasions in Test history when a side has been set less than 100 to win a Test and failed to reach it. One was a long time ago - and the other was very recent. The first was at The Oval in 1882, when England were set just 85 to win, but were skittled for 77 by Australia, for whom Fred Spofforth took 7 for 44. This was the exciting match that spawned the legend of the Ashes - after the match a spoof notice appeared bemoaning the death of English cricket, and suggesting that the body would be cremated and the Ashes taken to Australia. The second instance was at Port-of-Spain in March 2000, when Zimbabwe - set 99 to win by West Indies - crumbled for just 63. Franklyn Rose took 4 for 19 and Curtly Ambrose 3 for 8.

I remember that Gundappa Viswanath scored a duck and a century on his Test debut - has anyone else done this? asked Raj Mahraj

Only two other people have repeated Vishy's feat, which he achieved for India against Australia at Kanpur in 1969-70, when he followed a first-innings duck with 137. At Bridgetown in April 1992, against West Indies in South Africa's "comeback" Test, Andrew Hudson scored 163 and 0. And, at Lahore in 1996-97, Mohammad Wasim scored 0 and 109 not out for Pakistan v New Zealand.

Further to your recent answer about batsmen scoring double-centuries but ending up on the losing side, which players have scored two centuries in a match but lost, and what's the best bowling performance that has resulted in defeat? asked Roger Scholefield from Roxby Downs, South Australia

That's a sneaky two-parter, but I'll have a go anyway! On seven occasions a batsman has scored twin centuries in a Test but ending up losing. The most recent of these was the one mentioned in the previous article, Brian Lara's 221 and 130 for West Indies v Sri Lanka in Colombo in 2001-02. Lara's aggregate of 351 broke the previous record for a loser of 341, set a couple of months before - Andy Flower's 142 and 199 not out for Zimbabwe v South Africa at Harare. The earlier instances were by Herbert Sutcliffe (176 and 127 for England v Australia, Melbourne, 1924-25); George Headley (106 and 107, West Indies v England, Lord's, 1939); Vijay Hazare (116 and 145, India v Australia, Adelaide, 1947-48); Clyde Walcott (115 and 110, West Indies v Australia, Kingston, 1954-55); and Sunil Gavaskar (111 and 137, India v Pakistan, Karachi, 1978-79). Turning to part two, the best innings bowling analysis which couldn't prevent defeat was Kapil Dev's 9 for 83 for India v West Indies at Ahmedabad in 1983-84 (Jack Noreiga of West Indies and Fergie Gupte of India also took nine wickets in an innings in vain). And the best match figures in defeat were also by an Indian - Javagal Srinath's 13 for 132 v Pakistan at Kolkata in 1998-99. Three others have taken 13 wickets in a match but lost - SF Barnes and Tom Richardson of England, and Australia's Merv Hughes.

Has a No. 11 batsman ever top-scored in a Test, or a one-day international? asked TR Kashyappan from Chennai, India

It's happened three times in Tests - and, rather surprisingly, five times in ODIs. The first Test one was as long ago as 1884-85, when Australia's Fred Spofforth spanked 50 from No. 11 against England at Melbourne (the next-highest score was 34). Bert Vogler of South Africa made 62 not out against England at Cape Town in 1905-06, just passing "Tip" Snooke's 60; and at Lahore in 1974-75 Asif Masood of Pakistan top-scored with 30 against West Indies (the next-highest was 29, in a surprisingly high total of 199). In ODIs the feat has been achieved by Joel Garner (37 for West Indies v India, Old Trafford, 1983); Chris Pringle (34 not out for New Zealand v West Indies, Guwahati, 1994-95); Peter Ongondo (36, Kenya v West Indies, Nairobi, 2001); Shane Bond (26, New Zealand v Australia, Colombo, 2002-03); and Shoaib Akhtar (43, Pakistan v England, Cape Town, 2003 World Cup).

Has there been an occasion in Test history when all 11 players bowled in the innings, including the wicketkeeper? asked Ramon Ellery from Western Australia

It's happened three times in Tests. The first one was at The Oval in 1884: England tried all 11 players as Australia ran up 551. The most successful bowler was, in fact, the wicketkeeper - Alfred Lyttelton took 4 for 19, bowling underarm lobs while WG Grace kept wicket. It happened again at Faisalabad in 1979-80, when Australia used 11 bowlers as a rain-affected match meandered to a draw. Taslim Arif of Pakistan scored 210 not out, some of them against the less-than-testing offbreaks of Rod Marsh, who sent down ten wicketless overs. And the most recent occasion was at St John's, in 2001-02, when another boring draw was enlivened when all the Indian players bowled in West Indies' second innings. The last one used was Ajay Ratra, who bowled one over: earlier in the match he had become the youngest wicketkeeper to score a Test century.

Has any Test cricketer died on his birthday? asked Aditya Bhagwate

There's only one Test cricketer who suffered this unfortunate fate (which we could call Shakespeare Syndrome, since it happened to him too). It was Keith Boyce, the exciting West Indian allrounder of the 1970s - and the possessor of the flattest, hardest throw I've ever seen - who collapsed and died on his 53rd birthday in 1996.

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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