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Most ODIs without a Test, and the luckiest captains

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

Steven Lynch

March 15, 2004

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

Andrew Symonds: a Test cap at last © Getty Images

Now that Andrew Symonds has played in a Test, who has played the most one-day internationals without winning a Test cap? asked Adrian Sanders from Twickenham

Andrew Symonds actually played 94 one-day internationals for Australia before winning his first Test cap, against Sri Lanka at Galle. The previous record was 76 ODIs before playing a Test, by his team-mate Adam Gilchrist. And the man who now takes over this slightly unwanted record is another current Australian - Ian Harvey, who has so far won 71 tight-yellow caps without getting a sniff of a baggy-green one. For obvious reasons there are a lot of Kenyans near the top of this list - Steve Tikolo has played 63 ODIs, Thomas Odoyo, Maurice Odumbe and Kennedy Otieno 61, Martin Suji 59 and Hitesh Modi 53. Brendon McCullum, who also made his Test debut in the past week, had played 48 ODIs beforehand - and Dinesh Mongia, of India, has also played 48 ODIs without winning a Test cap. Shane Lee, Brett's brother, appeared in 45 ODIs but never played in a Test. Besides Symonds and Gilchrist, the following also played in more than 50 ODIs before they eventually appeared in a Test: Yuvraj Singh (73 ODIs), Shahid Afridi (66), Robin Singh (60) and Gavin Larsen (55).

Who has been the luckiest captain of all time - by which I mean who has won the highest percentage of tosses? Similarly who has been the unluckiest? asked Sabir Shaikh from Lahore

Given a minimum of 20 Tests as captain, the man with the highest percentage is Lindsay Hassett, who followed Don Bradman as Australia's captain after the 1948 England tour. Hassett, who was also one of the most popular captains of them all, won 18 of his 24 coin-tosses, or 75%. Just behind him, with 15 out of 21 (71.43%) is Zimbabwe's Alistair Campbell. The great Garry Sobers lies third (27/39 - 69.23%). Then come Carl Hooper (15/22 - 68/18%), Sanath Jayasuriya (25/38 - 65.79%), Peter May (26/41 - 63.41%), Colin Cowdrey (17/27 - 62.96%) and Heath Streak (13/21 - 61.90%). The unluckiest, winning the toss only seven times in his 23 Tests (30.43%) was England's Len Hutton, just ahead (or maybe behind) of Bill Lawry and Wasim Akram, who both won eight out of 25 (32%). In ODIs the leader is Jimmy Adams of West Indies, with 18 wins in 26 attempts (69.23%), ahead of Rameez Raja (15/22 - 68.18%) and John Wright (21/31 - 67.74%). The unluckiest is Pakistan's Aamer Sohail (7/22 - 31.82%). Carl Hooper, high on the Test list, is next-to-bottom on the ODI one with 17 out of 49 (34.69%). New Zealand's Geoff Howarth and Aasif Karim of Kenya are also below 40%.

You had a question recently about the highest totals not to include an individual century. What's the opposite - the lowest totals that did include a ton? asked David Gower ("No, not him!") from Canberra, Australia

In Tests the lowest total to include a century is 135, by Pakistan v India at Lahore in 1982-83: Mohsin Khan made 101 not out in a second-innings total of 135 for 1. I suspect you actually meant a completed innings, and the answer there is 159, by New Zealand v England at Christchurch in 1962-63. John Reid made 100, but the next-highest was Graham Dowling's 22. In ODIs, Dennis Amiss made 100 of England's 159 for 3 against New Zealand at Swansea in 1973, while the lowest completed one-day innings to include a century was Australia's 191 against New Zealand at Auckland in 1999-2000, in which Damien Martyn carried his bat for 116.

How long has it been since there wasn't a Waugh in the Australian Test team? asked Jackson from Perth, Western Australia

Since Steve Waugh made his Test debut against India on Boxing Day in 1985, either he or his twin Mark appeared in each of Australia's Tests until now ... except one. That was the fifth Test against India at Perth in 1991-92 - Steve didn't play at all in that series, and Mark was dropped for the final match after making only 83 runs in the first four.

How many players have collected more wickets than runs in Tests and ODIs? asked Chandramouli Rajamani from Chennai

Actually there are no fewer than 115 players who fit this bill in Tests, but that's slashed to 14 if you impose a minimum of 10 Tests. The biggest difference is 75, by the Indian legspinner Bhagwat Chandrasekhar - 242 wickets in 58 Tests, but only 167 runs - ahead of 40, shared by England's Bill Bowes (28 runs, 68 wickets) and Jack Saunders of Australia (39/79). The others are: Danish Kaneria (53/65), Ken Farnes (58/60), Narendra Hirwani (54/66), Eric Hollies (37/44), Bert Ironmonger (42/74), Jeff Jones (38/44), David Larter (16/37), Cuan McCarthy (28/36), Chris Martin (12/34), Bruce Reid (93/113) and Roy Tattersall (50/58). Kaneria and Martin, as current players, might get a chance to redress the balance. The difference is more marked in ODIs, where the tailenders get less of a chance to bat. Top of the pile here (with a qualification of 50 matches) is Glenn McGrath, with 284 wickets but only 94 runs from 185 matches. Allan Donald (95 runs, 272 wickets) is close to him. Bruce Reid is in this list too: 49 runs, 63 wickets. The others are Terry Alderman (32/88), Ewen Chatfield (118/140), Maninder Singh (49/66), Makhaya Ntini (122/149), Patrick Patterson (44/90), Carl Rackemann (34/82) and Venkatapathy Raju (32/63).

There's been a lot of talk recently about the abandoned Test at Kingston in 1997-98. Was that the shortest match in which there was actually some play? asked Dave Farrant from Irthlingborough

Yes it was, in terms of balls bowled, anyway: there were only 10.1 overs at Sabina Park in 1997-98 before the match was abandoned, with England already 17 for 3. However, they did have 61 minutes of play, punctuated by several onfield excursions by the overworked physio: but on the first day at Trent Bridge in 1926, England made 32 for 0 in 50 minutes (17.2 overs) against Australia before it rained. No more play was possible after that. There was also only 50 minutes of play, on the second day, in the first Test between Sri Lanka and India at Kandy in 1993-94.

And finally some more on Test cricketers born in Ireland, from Paul Whitcroft

"Apart from Tom Horan, there was another early Australian Test player who was born in Ireland: Thomas Kelly, who was born in Waterford in 1844." This is true: Kelly played in the second and third Tests of all - alongside Horan and opposite Leland Hone, one of England's Irishmen, in the third, at Melbourne in 1878-79. He emigrated to Australia when he was 19 and, according to Christopher Martin-Jenkins's Biographical Dictionary of World Cricketers, he "startled Australians by wearing a blazer, the first to set the trend in his adopted country". Steve Waugh would have approved.

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.

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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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