A half-century of defeats, and five-fors against everyone
The regular Monday column in which our editor answers your questions about (almost) any aspect of cricket:
Alec Stewart faces up to yet another defeat
© Getty Images
Which player has been on the losing side most often in Test history? I'm guessing Gower or Gooch, or even Botham, or possibly Kapil Dev? asked Robert Bishop from Northampton
None of those, I'm afraid: the winner (if that's the right word) is Alec Stewart, who had to smile through the after-match presentations after losing 54 times in Tests. Allan Border is next with 46, just ahead of Mike Atherton and Brian Lara (44), Courtney Walsh (43), and your two guesses Graham Gooch and David Gower, with 42 apiece.
We heard a lot about Steve Waugh scoring hundreds against every other Test team - but has any bowler ever taken a five-for against everybody else? asked James Blackburn from Brisbane, Australia
That's a good question, because almost unnoticed Muttiah Muralitharan has completed a full set - five wickets in an innings at least once against all nine possible opponents. Anil Kumble is next with eight - he's done it against all the countries he's opposed, but hasn't actually played a Test against Bangladesh yet. Six players - Ian Botham, Fred Trueman and Derek Underwood of England, New Zealand's Richard Hadlee, and Imran Khan and Iqbal Qasim of Pakistan - took at least one five-for against all the six countries they played against.
I believe that Gundappa Viswanath scored 14 Test centuries, and India never lost when he scored one. Is this a record? asked VT Narendra
A couple of famous Englishmen actually head this list. Wally Hammond and Geoff Boycott both scored 22 Test centuries - and England never lost when they reached three figures. Gordon Greenidge made 19 for West Indies, and never lost either, while those on 15 are Salim Malik, Alec Stewart, Doug Walters, Everton Weekes and Jacques Kallis. Vishy and Michael Slater both scored 14 Test centuries, and never lost when they reached 100.
Which batsman has reached 90 most often in Tests without making it to 100? asked Amit Gadkari from Mumbai, India
This is another list that Steve Waugh, Test cricket's most-capped player, sits on top of. He reached 90 ten times without making it to 100, once being stranded on 99 not out when his brother was run out. His sometime team-mate Michael Slater is second with nine nineties, ahead of Alvin Kallicharran of West Indies (8). Rahul Dravid currently has seven unconverted nineties, and Inzamam-ul-Haq six.
I'm sure I read somewhere that someone played first-class cricket in England before the First World War and after the Second - is this true? asked James Tappin
This unlikely record is held by Bill Ashdown, a batsman who made more than 20,000 runs for Kent. Born in 1898, Ashdown made his first-class debut in 1914, for GJV Weigall's team against Oxford University in The Parks. Although he was only 15, he scored 3 and 27. He played for Kent regularly until 1937 - he passed 1000 runs in a season 11 times, and his 332 against Essex in 1934 remains the highest score for them - but came out of retirement in 1947, when he was 48, to play for Maurice Leyland's XI against the Rest of England in a festival match at Harrogate. He finished in some style, with 42 and 40. After that he became an umpire, and stood in four Tests in 1949 and 1950. He also coached Leicestershire, and was their scorer for a time as well. He died in 1979.
As a Kent fan I am excited about Mohammad Sami playing for us next season. In the recent first Test against New Zealand he took 0 for 126 in the first innings, but 5 for 44 in the second - how often has a bowler had 0 for 100 in one innings and a five-for in the other? asked Tony Pope
It had happened only twice before Mohammad Sami did it at Hamilton - and the first bowler was another famous Pakistani. At Melbourne in 1976-77 Imran Khan toiled for 0 for 115 in the first innings - Greg Chappell and Gary Cosier both scored centuries - but in the second he took 5 for 122. And at St John's, Antigua, in 1995-96 New Zealand's Danny Morrison followed up 0 for 124 (Jimmy Adams 208 not out) with 5 for 61.
And a footnote to one of last week's answers:
In connection with the question about batsmen scoring more than 900 Test runs in a season in Australia, a couple of readers have pointed out that, since Cricket Australia has decided to count the July 2003 series against Bangladesh as part of the 2003-04 Australian season, then both Ricky Ponting and Matthew Hayden actually exceeded 1000 Test runs in that time.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. The most interesting questions will be answered each week in this column. Unfortunately, we can't usually enter into correspondence about individual queries.