The column where we answer your questions November 8, 2004

Above-average performers, and both sides passing 600

Steven Lynch answers your questions

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

The Don: best average in the first, second and third innings of a Test ... but not the fourth © Getty Images

Who has the best Test batting average in the fourth innings only? Would it still be Bradman? asked Adrian Raftery from Cairns, Australia

This is an interesting question, with an unexpected answer. Don Bradman has the best batting average for the first (113.67), second (85.56) and third innings (130.42) of a Test - but he lies only fourth on the list for the fourth innings, with a more modest 73.40. He's not even the leading Australian on that one: given a minimum of 10 innings played, in third place is Peter Burge (76.50). In second is the old West Indian opener Jeff Stollmeyer, with 86.33, but he's shaded to top spot in the fourth-innings averages by Bruce Mitchell, of South Africa, with 89.86. Of current players, before the final Test at Mumbai Virender Sehwag lay second to Bradman in the alltime list of averages in the first innings of a Test, with 87.33, a touch ahead of the old England captain Stanley Jackson (85.82). Graeme Smith (76.20) is high on that first-innings list at the moment too.

I heard on the radio the other day that Virender Sehwag has an average in the second innings of only around 20, whereas his first-innings average was around 70. What's the biggest difference between the two? asked Siddhartha Ramasubbu from Perth

Before the Mumbai Test against Australia Virender Sehwag averaged 69.85 in the first innings of a Test, and 26.31 in the second - a difference of 43.53 (we're talking here about both sides' first innings, rather than the very first innings of the match as in the first question). That put him, at the time, third in that list - and another Indian is top. Vinod Kambli averaged 69.13 in the first innings, and a scarcely credible 9.40 in the second - a difference of 59.73. And John F. Reid, the New Zealander, had a difference of 56.32 between his averages for first innings (68.41) and second (12.09). Other current players with big discrepancies are Jacques Rudolph (61.79 and 28.00), Thilan Samaraweera (58.52 and 26.25) and Ricky Ponting (64.48 and 33.78). Turning the question around, the great KS Ranjitsinhji averaged 70.00 in the second innings and only 33.27 in the first, a difference of -36.73, just ahead of another England batsman in Phil Sharpe (34.64 and 67.50), and Colin Bland of South Africa (36.95 and 68.69).

Were India's first official one-dayers during the 1975 World Cup? asked Mahesh Gupte from London

Actually India's first official ODIs were in England the year before the first World Cup - at Headingley and The Oval in 1974. England won both of those 55-overs matches, by four and six wickets. One oddity was that twelve Indian-born players made their one-day debuts in the first match - all 11 Indians and Robin Jackman of England, who was born in Simla.

What is the most runs conceded by a bowler in a Test, and any first-class innings? asked John Southwell from Melbourne

The record for a Test innings is 298, by the left-arm spinner "Chuck" Fleetwood-Smith of Australia at The Oval in 1938, when England ran up the then-record total of 903 for 7 declared. Fleetwood-Smith's full figures were 87-11-298-1. The record for first-class cricket was set by an earlier Australian slow man, the witty legspinner Arthur Mailey. Bowling for New South Wales at Melbourne in 1926-27 as Victoria scored the record first-class total of 1107, Mailey bowled 64 eight-ball overs, didn't manage a maiden, and took 4 for 362. He said his figures would have been much better if a man in a trilby hat hadn't dropped a couple of sitters in the back of one of the stands.

How often have both sides passed 600 in the same Test? asked Jeremy Adams from Leeds

Rather surprisingly, this has only happened once - at Old Trafford in 1964, when England made 611 in reply to Australia's 656 for 8 declared. Bob Simpson grafted his way to 311 for Australia - in 762 minutes - and Ken Barrington replied with 256 for England. It wasn't exactly the most exciting of Tests ... there was only time for two overs in Australia's second innings before the match was left drawn. The nearest approach to 600 apiece was at Bridgetown in 1957-58, when Pakistan, following on after West Indies had made 579 for 9, totalled 657 for 8 themselves.

We were stumped by this question in a recent quiz: "What was the Reverend Gilbert Harrison's contribution to cricket?" - can you help? asked Gloria Baxter from Hampton Court

I didn't think we could help, but then one of my colleagues spotted the answer in the obituary section of an old Wisden Almanack. The 1959 edition includes this entry: "Bartlett, Rev. Gilbert Harrison, who died in a Norwich nursing home on October 10 [1958], aged 76, invented the cradle universally used for fielding practice. When at Cambridge he represented Corpus Christi at rowing and lawn tennis. He was Rector of Fulmodeston, Norfolk, and had been Rector of Cley-next-the-Sea." So the Rev. Harrison invented the slip-catching cradle - and has thus probably been responsible for more injured fingers than any fast bowler ...

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

The Wisden Cricket Quiz Book, compiled by Steven Lynch, was published on November 1 by John Wisden & Co., priced £7.99. To save £2 by ordering a copy through Cricshop, click here.