Extracting left-handers, and people born on the same day
The regular Monday column in which our editor answers your questions about (almost) any aspect of cricket:
Which Test bowler has dismissed the most left-handers? I suppose it's Courtney Walsh? asked James Mitchell
It's actually Glenn McGrath, whose 430 Test wickets to date have included 127 left-handers (29.53%). Walsh (104), Shaun Pollock (103 before the second Test in New Zealand) and Waqar Younis (102) have also dismissed more than 100. Looking at bowlers with more than 100 Test wickets, the leader in percentage terms is the Indian offspinner Shivlal Yadav, with 43 left-handers out of 102 wickets (42.16%), well ahead of Phil Tufnell (41/121 - 33.88%) and Andy Caddick (78/234 - 33.33%). Bottom of that list is the old Australian captain Monty Noble, whose 117 Test wickets included only four left-handers (3.31%).
I noticed that Marcus Trescothick and Simon Jones were both born on Christmas Day? Have there been any instances - apart from the Waugh twins! - of other players in the same Test team being born on the same day? asked Rajiv Radhakrishnan from London
The Waughs (born June 2, 1965) actually played in a few Tests alongside Greg Blewett and Matthew Hayden, who were both born on October 29, 1971. Other than that there have been six other teams who have (sometimes more than once) fielded players who were born on exactly the same day. Marcus Trescothick and Simon Jones were indeed born on Christmas Day, although in different years - 1975 and 1978 respectively - but that is still a first for England. The England team that played Australia at Old Trafford in 1948 included three players who were born on October 14 - Jack Crapp and Jack Young (both 1912) and Tom Dollery (1914).
I noticed that Fidel Edwards took five wickets in an innings for West Indies on both his Test and one-day debuts - has anyone else done this? asked MB Dwarkanath from Bangalore
Edwards did indeed do it - 5 for 36 against Sri Lanka at Kingston in June 2003, and 6 for 22 on his one-day debut, against Zimbabwe at Harare last November - but he isn't quite unique. The only other man to manage the feat is the Australian Tony Dodemaide, in 1987-88, when he followed his Test-debut 6 for 58 against New Zealand at Melbourne with 5 for 21 in an ODI against Sri Lanka at Perth. He took his Test wickets on Dec 29, 1987, and the one-day ones just four days later on Jan 2, 1988. The only other bowlers to have taken at least four wickets in an innings on their Test and ODI debuts are Allan Donald of South Africa and Sri Lanka's Ashantha de Mel.
Who was the only England player to make his Test debut after the age of 40? asked Chris Potter from Hampshire
James Southerton was 49 when he made his debut in the very first Test of all, at Melbourne in 1876-77. He was an offbreak bowled who played for Surrey, Sussex and Kent - sometimes all in the same season, in those far-off days before strict registration. Southerton remains the oldest cricketer to make his Test debut - and he also holds another, less-welcome record. He was the first Test cricketer to die - in June 1880, three months before WG Grace's brother Fred. But he isn't the only man to have made his Test debut for England after passing 40 - there are three others. Rockley Wilson was almost 42 when he played against Australia at Sydney in 1920-21 (his brother Clem had played for England in 1898-99); Septimus Kinneir was 40 when he played against Australia at Sydney in 1911-12; and Harry Lee was also 40 in 1930-31, when he played against South Africa at Johannesburg. In the one-day arena Norman Gifford was only six days short of his 45th birthday when he made his ODI debut for England at Sharjah in 1984-85 - over 20 years after his Test debut in the 1964 Ashes series.
I can't remember an Indian wicketkeeper before Parthiv Patel who batted left-handed - were there any a long time ago? asked MP Saravanan from Chennai
That's a good spot, because Parthiv Patel is indeed the first Indian wicketkeeper who has batted left-handed. There have only been 22 in Test history (six of them Australians) although oddly there are four around at the moment - Patel, Adam Gilchrist, Ridley Jacobs and Kumar Sangakkara. And Hashan Tillakaratne, Sri Lanka's current captain and another left-hander, kept wicket in some of his early Tests.
What was Don Bradman's highest Test average at any point of his career? asked Matt Williams
Don Bradman famously finished with a Test average of 99.94, but his average was actually into three figures for large chunks of his amazing career. The highest it ever climbed was after his 299 not out against South Africa at Adelaide in 1931-32, when it stood at 112.29. That was his 18th Test. He forced his average back above 100 after the Second World War, in the course of his 234 at Sydney (the 11th of his 12 Test double-centuries) in 1946-47. Just before his fateful final innings at The Oval in 1948, The Don's average was 101.39. He needed just four runs to finish with an average of 100 ... but famously was out for a duck. You can see his entire 52-Test career, with the average innings by innings, by clicking here.
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.