The column where we answer your questions May 16, 2005

The best bowler-captains, and the unluckiest keepers

The column where we answer your questions

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



Imran Khan: most successful bowler/captain © Getty Images

You wrote in a recent column about Don Bradman's amazing batting average while captain (101.50) - but which captain has the best bowling average? asked Shahzaib Quraishi from the USA

If you use a minimum of 100 wickets taken while captain, the leader is Pakistan's Imran Khan of Pakistan, with 187 wickets at 20.27, just ahead of Shaun Pollock (103 at 21.37). Only seven bowlers have taken 100 Test wickets as captain, though, and if you relax the qualification to 10 wickets then Eiulf "Buster" Nupen, the one-eyed South African, comes out on top with 11 wickets at 13.64 - he took 11 for 150 in his one and only match in charge, on the mat against England in Johannesburg in 1930-31. Stanley Jackson (13 wickets at 15.46), Hugh Trumble (11 at 17.36) and Fazal Mahmood (41 at 19.15) also edge in front of Imran when you use the 10-wicket qualification.

Did Ridley Jacobs, who retired recently, appear on the losing side in Tests more often than any other wicketkeeper? asked Raghuveer from India

At first I thought that Alec Stewart held this unwanted record - he has lost more Tests than anyone else (54), although Brian Lara is hard on his heels with 53 as I write. But Stewart only kept wicket in 34 Test defeats, and Ridley Jacobs actually lost 36 - so he does indeed hold the record. Andy Flower had the pads on for 30 defeats, and Ian Healy, rather surprisingly, for 29. Khaled Mashud, the polished Bangladesh keeper, has so far finished on the losing side in 28 of his 33 Tests.

How often have both captains scored centuries in the same Test, as happened in Antigua recently? asked Imran Al-Amin

That match at St John's, in which Shivnarine Chanderpaul scored 127 and Graeme Smith 126, was the 31st occasion that both captains had scored centuries in the same Test. All but four of them have happened since the Second World War, but the first instance was back in 1913-14, when Herbie Taylor made 109 for South Africa and John Douglas replied with 119 for England in the first Test at at Durban. There have been two instances of the captains contributing three centuries between them in a match - at Wellington in 1973-74, when Ian Chappell made 145 and 121 for Australia, and Bevan Congdon replied with 132 for New Zealand, and at Lord's in 1990, when Graham Gooch hammered 333 and 123 for England and India's Mohammad Azharuddin made a silky 121.

One of your recent answers talked about batsmen who have scored centuries against all nine possible Test opponents. But how many bowlers have taken a five-for against nine different teams? asked Vignesh from Sri Lanka

The only one so far is Muttiah Muralitharan, who has managed five wickets in an innings against all nine of his possible opponents - he completed the set when he took 5 for 13 against Bangladesh in Colombo in 2001-02. There are three bowlers with eight out of nine: Anil Kumble and Shaun Pollock, who are both lacking Bangladesh, and Saqlain Mushtaq, whose best in five Tests against New Zealand is 4 for 24.

I've been posted to Germany for two years, and I was wondering whether any Test players had been born here? asked Stephen Moore from Berlin

Actually there have been two - both of them, I believe, born there while their fathers were serving in the British Army. The first was Donald Carr, born in Wiesbaden in 1926, who played two Tests for England in 1951-52, including one as captain (the match at Madras in which India recorded their first Test victory). He later became the secretary of the Test & County Cricket Board, the ruling body of English cricket before the ECB. The second one was Paul Terry, the Hampshire batsman, who was born in Osnabruck in 1959 and also played two Tests - both against West Indies in 1984. His Test career ended abruptly when his arm was broken by Winston Davis in the Old Trafford Test.

How long was Rachael Heyhoe captain of the England women's team? asked Jacqueline Abbott from Worcester

Rachael Heyhoe-Flint captained England for ten years - from 1966 to 1976, although the infrequent nature of women's Tests meant that she only skippered in 12 Tests in that time. She had made her debut in South Africa in 1960-61, in 1963 hit the first six in a women's Test - against Australia at The Oval - and in her last Test in charge, in 1976, hit 179, also against Australia at The Oval. She played three more Tests in 1979, under Sue Goatman's captaincy. She also played 23 ODIs, and captained England to victory in the first women's World Cup, in 1973. She recently became the first women member of MCC's committee.

Steven Lynch is the editor of 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

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