Your questions answered March 1, 2004

Captains bagging a pair, and an illegal declaration

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

Habibul Bashar of Bangladesh recently bagged a pair in his first Test as captain, against Zimbabwe. Has anyone else suffered this unfortunate fate? asked Saurav Dey from Kolkata

Habibul Bashar: not the most successful of starts as captain

Well, it also happened to Mark Taylor, who bagged a pair in his first match as Australia's captain - at Karachi in 1994-95, in a match where Pakistan's last pair (Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mushtaq Ahmed) added 57 and dramatically won the game. Taylor did rather better after that, though - the next time he went to Pakistan (in 1998-99) he scored 334 not out at Peshawar. The only other man to collect a pair of ducks on captaincy debut was Rashid Latif (who by chance was Pakistan's wicketkeeper in Taylor's first match at Karachi) against South Africa at Port Elizabeth in 1997-98. Fifteen other men have bagged a pair during their time as a Test captain (but not on debut).

During the 1921 Ashes series, Australia's wicketkeeper Hanson Carter apparently advised his captain Warwick Armstrong that the England captain was trying to make an illegal declaration. What was illegal about it? asked Chris France from Australia

This happened in the fourth Test of 1921 at Old Trafford, when The Hon. Lionel Tennyson, captaining England, wanted to declare late on the second day of what started as a three-day match. However, as the first day had been washed out, it had become a two-day match: and under the rather strange regulations in force at the time, any declaration had to be timed so that the side about to go in could have 100 minutes' batting. Prompted by Carter, his astute Yorkshire-born wicketkeeper, Armstrong pointed out to the umpires that the declaration was illegal. After an interval of around 20 minutes, while the matter was discussed (Wisden's match report calls it "an unfortunate and rather lamentable incident"), England carried on batting, and declared first thing next morning. After the break, Armstrong mischievously bowled the next over, having bowled the last one before the interruption too.

In the recent first Test against Bangladesh Trevor Gripper had a golden duck in the first innings, then was very nearly run out without facing in the second innings. Has anyone else ever bagged a pair facing only one delivery (or even none)? asked Allan Cantlay from Harare

This is a difficult one, as going back in time we don't have very reliable data for the balls faced by individual batsmen. The closest I can find to the sort of thing you're talking about was achieved by Pakistan's Taufeeq Umar, in the second Test against Australia at Sharjah in 2002-03 - he was out second ball for 0 in the first innings, and was run out without facing in the second. There are ten known cases of "king pairs" - dismissed first ball in both innings - in Tests: by William Attewell (England v Australia, Sydney, 1891-92), Bert Vogler (South Africa v Australia, Sydney, 1910-11), Tommy Ward (SA v Aust, Old Trafford, 1912), Colin Wesley (SA v Eng, Trent Bridge, 1960), Bhagwat Chandrasekhar (India v Aust, Melbourne, 1977-78), Gary Troup (New Zealand v India, Wellington, 1980-81), Dave Richardson (SA v Pakistan, Johannesburg, 1994-95), Adam Huckle (Zimbabwe v Pakistan, 1997-98), Ajit Agarkar (India v Australia, Melbourne, 1999-2000), and Adam Gilchrist (Aust v India, Kolkata, 2000-01).

Who was the oldest man to make his Test debut for Australia? asked Alex White from Perth, WA

This is a close-run thing: offspinner Don Blackie was 46 years 253 days old when he made his debut in the second Test of the 1928-29 Ashes series at Sydney. His captain, Jack Ryder, didn't spare his venerable debutant: Blackie toiled through 59 overs, taking 4 for 148. In the first Test, at Brisbane a fortnight before, Bert Ironmonger had made his debut aged 46 years 237 days, to set the previous record. "Dainty" Ironmonger, a slow left-armer, spun the ball off the stumps of two fingers he'd lost in a disagreement with a buzzsaw as a youngster. He was actually born two days after Blackie, and they are linked by more than just that: they both played for the St Kilda club in Melbourne (Shane Warne's home club too), and the grandstand at the Junction Oval is named after the pair of them. In more recent memory Bob Holland gave hope to ageing legspinners everywhere by making his Test debut at 38, against West Indies in 1984-85.

Has any England bowler taken wickets against all nine possible Test opponents? asked John Hayes from Reading

Well, no-one has yet ... but someone is probably about to! Ashley Giles has taken wickets against eight different Test teams - including a solitary scalp in Bangladesh recently - and is only missing a West Indian victim to complete his set. Three other bowlers have managed eight - Andy Caddick, Phil Tufnell and Craig White - but haven't played against Bangladesh. Matthew Hoggard will join them if he takes a wicket against West Indies.

A few years back I took a hat-trick by getting all three wickets bowled. Some time later a friend was talking to Vivian Richards at the MCG, and he said he'd never heard of an all-bowled hat-trick before. Has it ever happened in a Test? asked Shane Marshall from Rosanna, Melbourne, Australia

It's certainly an unusual feat, so well done! There has never been an all-bowled hat-trick in a Test match. The nearest I can find is five instances when no-one else was involved in the three dismissals. Remarkably both of Jimmy Matthews's hat-tricks for Australia v South Africa at Old Trafford in 1912 were solo efforts - in the first innings he had two lbws and a bowled, and in the second it was a bowled and two caught-and-bowleds. The hat-trick victim on both occasions was South Africa's wicketkeeper Tommy Ward, who thus completed a king pair (see above). At Old Trafford in 1995, Dominic Cork's hat-trick against West Indies was made up of two leg-befores and a bowled. At Lahore in 2001-02, in the final of the Asian Test Championship, Mohammad Sami's hat-trick for Pakistan against Sri Lanka also comprised two lbws and a bowled, while Jermaine Lawson's split-innings hat-trick for West Indies v Australia at Bridgetown in 2002-03 was made up of two bowleds and an lbw. For a complete list of Test hat-tricks, click here.

And an addition to one of last week's answers, from Francis Sheahan in Australia
With regard to the question about Irish-born Test players, Australia also had one: Victoria's Tom Horan, who was born in Middleton, County Cork, played in 15 Tests, including the first one of all in 1876-77, and captained Australia in two of them. He later became a noted newspaper cricket writer.

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 The most interesting questions will be answered each week in this column. Unfortunately, we can't usually enter into correspondence about individual queries.