The column where we answer your questions May 3, 2004

Shahid Afridi's hundred, and Arthur Fagg's double

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

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

Shahid Afridi in typical pose. His 37-ball hundred remains the fastest in one-day internationals © AFP

I read that Shahid Afridi holds the record for the fastest one-day century in an ODI. How many deliveries did it take, and since it apparently came in his debut innings, is that some sort of record too? asked Sabrina Siddiqui from Rome

Shahid Afridi's amazing blitz came against Sri Lanka in Nairobi in October 1996, when he was supposedly only 16. He hadn't batted in his first match, but after some sparkling displays in the nets was pushed up to No. 3 for this game. He whacked 11 sixes on his way to reaching his hundred in 37 balls - 11 faster than the previous record by Sanath Jayasuriya (Brian Lara has since scored a one-day hundred in 45 balls, to lie second). Click here for the rest of the list. Afridi was, and remains, the fifth batsman to score a century in his first ODI innings: the others all did it in their first match, and the highest was by Desmond Haynes, who spanked 148 for West Indies against Australia at St John's in 1977-78. Click here to see that list.

Who has played the most one-day internationals without winning a Man of the Match award? asked Anthony Clack from Perth, Australia

I suspected that the answer would be one of that neglected breed, a wicketkeeper ... and that guess turned out to be right. Nayan Mongia played 140 ODIs for India without ever attracting the attention of the adjudicator. Actually the top four are all wicketkeepers: after Mongia come South Africa's Dave Richardson (122), Ian Smith of New Zealand (98) and India's Kiran More (94). The non-keeper with the most is England's Nasser Hussain, with 88.

Has anyone ever scored two double-centuries in the same match? asked Peter Fraser from Glasgow

The only man to do this in first-class cricket was Arthur Fagg, for Kent against Essex at Colchester in 1938. He scored 244 in the first innings, and 202 not out in the second. That included a century before lunch on the first day, and 98 in 90 minutes before lunch on the third. Not surprisingly, that was Fagg's best season for Kent: he ended up with 2456 runs at 52.25. He played on for Kent until 1957, and also won five England caps in the late '30s. After retiring he became an umpire until his death at 62 in 1977, and stood in 18 Tests. John Arlott, the famous radio commentator once drily observed that "Arthur Fagg is better than none".

When Pakistan played some Tests recently in Sharjah, were they the first ones played on neutral territory? asked Rajesh Bhonsle from Bangalore

The first "neutral" Tests were actually played as long ago as 1912, when Australia and South Africa met three times as part of the first - and only - Triangular Tournament in England. The experiment wasn't a success: the weather was awful, and the Australian team was weakened by the absence of six senior players who were in dispute with their board (sounds familiar!). One highlight of those three stateless Tests was the performance of the Australian legspinner Jimmy Matthews against South Africa at Old Trafford - he took a hat-trick in each innings, a unique feat in Test history. Since then there have been a few Tests on neutral territory as part of the Asian Test Championship, and Pakistan's matches in Colombo and Sharjah while teams were reticent about travelling to Pakistan for security reasons. In all there have been nine Test matches on neutral soil.

I noticed that Sir Garry Sobers has a Test average of more than 57, but a one-day average of 0. Which batsmen have the greatest differences between their averages? asked Simon Leitch

That's cheating a bit, because Garry Sobers only ever played one ODI (in 1973) and got out for 0. Even so he's not the record-holder, as Naveed Nawaz of Sri Lanka has a Test average of 99 (from one match) and an ODI one of 15.50, from three games, a difference of 83.50. Of people who have played a reasonable number of games in both formats, the biggest difference comes from another Sri Lankan: Thilan Samaraweera currently averages 63.40 in 16 Tests, but 17.50 (-45.90) in 14 ODIs. Michael Bevan's difference is notable too: he averaged 29.07 in 18 Tests, but 53.58 (+24.51) in 232 one-dayers.

Did Garry Sobers ever play in the World Cup? asked Dane Smith from London

He didn't - but he was supposed to. Sobers was selected in the West Indian squad for the first World Cup, in England in 1975, but had to pull out injured. His place was taken by Rohan Kanhai, who ironically had succeeded him as captain before being replaced himself by Clive Lloyd. Kanhai played his part in the first final at Lord's, anchoring the innings with a solid 55 after a poor start, and putting on 149 with Lloyd, who rampaged to a memorable century. It's a shame about Sobers, who, as mentioned above, only ever played one official one-day international - a form of the game that might have been invented for a player like him.

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.