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The column where we answer your questions
February 23, 2004
The regular Monday column in which our editor answers your questions about (almost) any aspect of cricket:
Who has taken the most complicated hat-trick in Tests? asked Jane Howley from Sittingbourne
Merv Hughes - a three-act hat-trick
It's one of Test cricket's delightful oddities that it wasn't till over 1100 Tests had been played that there was a "complicated" hat-trick - and then there were two in successive matches. The first 17 Test hat-tricks were fairly straightforward: the bowlers all took three wickets with successive balls in the same innings. Then, at Brisbane in 1988-89, Courtney Walsh of West Indies dismissed Australia's Tony Dodemaide with the last ball of the first innings, and Mike Veletta and Graeme Wood with his first two deliveries in the second. Walsh started something, for in the very next Test at Perth Merv Hughes took an even more complicated one: he had Curtly Ambrose caught behind with the last ball of one over, ended West Indies' first innings by removing Patrick Patterson with his first ball of the next over, and more than a day later completed his hat-trick by trapping Gordon Greenidge lbw with the first ball of West Indies' second innings, to complete a hat-trick in three different overs. Since then Jermaine Lawson of West Indies has also taken a Test hat-trick spread over two innings (v Australia at Bridgetown, 2002-03). For the full list of Test hat-tricks click here.
Which came first, the WACA or the Gabba? I've got a bet with a mate that Brisbane staged a Test before Perth did ... asked Joe Cooper from Townsville, Queensland
You've won your bet. The Woolloongabba ground in Brisbane staged its first Test in 1931-32 - Don Bradman hammered 226 as Australia beat South Africa by an innings. There had been two previous Tests in Brisbane, at the Exhibition Ground, in 1928-29 (Bradman's first Test, which England won by the little matter of 675 runs) and 1930-31. The first Test at the WACA in Perth wasn't until 1970-71 - Greg Chappell made his debut in that one, a draw against England, and made 108.
Have any Irishmen played Test cricket? asked Jerome Scott from Cork
There were two Irish-born cricketers who played for England in the early days of Test cricket. The first, Leland Hone, played in the third Test of all, at Melbourne in 1878-79. As the team didn't have a regular wicketkeeper, he was presented with the gloves (he did take two catches, but allowed 19 byes). He never represented an English county, but played a lot of cricket at home in Ireland. The other was Timmy O'Brien, a tall Oxford Blue who played a lot for Middlesex (a big hitter, he cracked 202 for them against Sussex at Hove in 1895). He played five Tests between 1884 and 1895-96, by which time he had inherited a baronetcy and was known as Sir Timothy. He captained England in the first Test of that 1895-96 series, at Port Elizabeth, and later fathered ten children. More recently Martin McCague, the former Kent fast bowler, played three Tests for England. He was born in Larne, in Northern Ireland, although he was brought up in Australia. Someone who might join their ranks soon is Ed Joyce, the exciting Middlesex left-hander who, like Hone and O'Brien, was born in Dublin.
Who reached 1000 Test runs in the fewest innings? asked Barry Ross from London
This is one Test batting record that Don Bradman doesn't hold. The answer is that England's Herbert Sutcliffe and Everton Weekes of West Indies reached 1000 runs in their 12th Test innings. Bradman took 13, but he does hold the records for being fastest to 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000 and 6000 ... and if he'd been out for 4 rather than 0 in his last Test innings he would have the record for the fastest 7000 too, as well as an average of exactly 100. More recently Vinod Kambli, of India, threatened the record: he took only 14 innings to pass 1000 runs.
Has anyone ever taken a wicket with his first ball in Test cricket, and then never taken another one? asked Sarah Harris from Melbourne
There's only one - Dennis Smith of New Zealand, who played in the first Test against England in 1932-33. A fastish bowler who was actually born in Australia, Smith bowled Eddie Paynter for a duck with the first ball of the second over of the match, to reduce England to 4 for 2. They recovered, thanks to Wally Hammond's 227, and made 560 for 8. Smith suffered after his first-ball excitement, finished with 1 for 113, was dropped for the next match (in which Hammond made 336 not out, to finish with a series average of 563), and never played again. For a while it looked as if the Indian slow left-armer Nilesh Kulkarni might join this club - he dismissed Marvan Atapattu with his first ball on debut, at Colombo's Premadasa Stadium in 1997-98, then bowled 419 more balls without success, finishing with 1 for 195 in 70 overs as Sri Lanka ran up the Test record of 952 for 6. It wasn't until 2000-01 that Kulkarni managed to add a second wicket (against Australia), and he hasn't been selected again. Actually only two of the 13 bowlers who have taken a wicket with their first ball in Tests have had long and successful Test careers - England's Maurice Tate took 155 wickets in 39 Tests, and Intikhab Alam of Pakistan took 125 in 47 matches. Three of the others - Arthur Coningham of Australia, New Zealand's Matt Henderson, and Tyrel Johnson of West Indies - never played again after their Test debut. For the full list click here.
There were four double-centuries in the recent Australia-India Test series - is this a record? asked Amit Gadkari from Mumbai, India
Actually the record is five, in the four-match Ashes series of 1938 (the third Test that year, at Old Trafford, was completely rained off). In the first Test, at Trent Bridge, Stan McCabe of Australia replied to Eddie Paynter's 216 not out with 232 of his own. In the second Test, at Lord's, England's captain Wally Hammond made 240, only to see Bill Brown carry his bat for 206 not out. And in the final Test at The Oval, Len Hutton broke the Test record at the time with 364. Apart from the recent series, there have been two others which featured four double-centuries: West Indies v England 1929-30 (Clifford Roach 209 and George Headley 223 for WI; Andy Sandham 325 and Patsy Hendren 205 not out for England), and India v New Zealand 1955-56 (Polly Umrigar 223, Vinoo Mankad 223 and 231 for India; Bert Sutcliffe 230 not out for NZ).
I was flummoxed by this quiz question recently: When was the England batting opened in a Test by a rugby and a soccer international? asked John Canning from London
This one sounds as if it should be from the dim, distant past ... but actually it's from 1958, when England's opening pair in the third Test against New Zealand at Headingley was Arthur Milton, the Gloucestershire batsman and Arsenal winger who played one full international for England (against Austria in October 1951), and Warwickshire's Mike Smith, who won one rugby cap as England's fly-half against Wales in 1956. England won that Test by an innings and 71 runs - in fact they lost only two wickets during the match - and Milton scored a debut century, which turned out to be his only one in six Tests. Smith had a rather more successful international career - he eventually scored 2278 runs, and captained England in exactly half his 50 Tests.
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 email@example.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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Plays of the day from the fourth ODI between India and Sri Lanka in Kolkata
Plays of the day from the fifth ODI in Ranchi
Plays of the day from the fourth ODI between India and Sri Lanka in Kolkata