Ask Steven January 30, 2006

Ponting's double, Murali's feat, and Warne's record

Who has scored centuries in both innings of a Test the most times? I'm curious to know since we've seen Ricky Ponting do it twice this season

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

Ricky Ponting: enjoying a rich vein of form © AFP

Who has scored centuries in both innings of a Test the most times? I'm curious to know since we've seen Ricky Ponting do it twice this season! asked Susan Beale from Australia

Ricky Ponting is only the ninth batsman to score a century in each innings of a Test twice (and he was also the first one ever to do it in his 100th Test). Three of the previous ones were also Australians: Allan Border, Greg Chappell and Ponting's team-mate Matthew Hayden. The others to do it are Aravinda de Silva (Sri Lanka), Rahul Dravid (India), George Headley (West Indies), Herbert Sutcliffe (England) and Clyde Walcott (West Indies), who did it twice in the same series in 1954-55. But there is one man who has achieved this feat three times: India's Sunil Gavaskar, who managed it against West Indies (twice) and Pakistan. For a full list of batsmen scoring a century in each innings of a Test, click here.

How many people have taken 400 wickets in ODIs, like Murali? asked Sanjeewa Silva from Kandy

Muttiah Muralitharan, who took his 400th one-day wicket at Adelaide last week, is the third bowler to reach the mark. He is closing fast on Waqar Younis, who took 416 wickets in one-day internationals, but still has some way to go to catch Wasim Akram, who finished with 502. For a full list, click here.

I noticed that Alf Valentine twice bowled over 2500 balls in a Test series. Has anyone ever bowled more than that? asked Stephen Turner

You're right, Alf Valentine did twice send down more than 2500 balls in a Test series - including West Indies' 1950 series in England, in which there were only four matches. Valentine bowled 2535 balls then, but beat that with 2580 in the home series against India in 1952-53. Only one bowler has had a heavier workload in one series: Shane Warne, when he sent down 2639 balls in the six Tests in England in 1993, including his first-up "Ball of the Century" to bamboozle Mike Gatting at Old Trafford. The record for a faster bowler is Maurice Tate`s 2528 balls for England in the 1924-25 Ashes series.

In a recent column you said that Jack MacBryan was the only Test player never to bat, bowl or take a catch. Are there any ODI players that this applies to? I know that Kabir Ali's England debut was a washout, but he has played since ... asked Tim Easton

Poor MacBryan does have a one-day counterpart - the Northern Districts batsman Mark Bailey. He represented New Zealand in the 1998 Commonwealth Games, in what were not official ODIs, but then played his one and only ODI for New Zealand against Zimbabwe at Dhaka in October 1998. Bailey didn't bowl, then didn't bat either (he was down to come in next as New Zealand overhauled Zimbabwe's 258 for the loss of five wickets). Zimbabwe did bat through the whole 50 overs so it's a pretty safe bet that he did at least field the ball a few times!

Malinga Bandara of Sri Lanka made his Test debut in May 1998, but took his first Test wicket only in December 2005. Is this some sort of record? asked Syd Barrington from India

Malinga Bandara did indeed take more than seven years to take his first Test wicket, which came at Chennai last December. But, rather surprisingly, he is little more than halfway to the record, which is held by Zaheer Abbas of Pakistan, who took 13 years 11 months to take a wicket after his Test debut in October 1969 - his first one was Roger Binny of India, at Jalandhar in September 1983, in only his second match as captain. Zaheer beat, by 120 days, the previous record, set by the England opener Cyril Washbrook, who made his Test debut in August 1937, but didn't take a wicket until March 1951.

I am trying to track down details of a remarkable batting performance by an Englishman in Australia about 30 years ago - I believe the record for runs scored in a session was threatened. My recollection is a tad sketchy, and I have not been able to find mention of this on the web - can you help? asked John Pagey from New Zealand

I'm sure the person you're talking about is Colin Milburn, the rotund England opener who played only nine Tests before a car accident in 1969 cost him an eye and, to all intents and purposes, ended his career. Milburn played for Western Australia for a couple of seasons, and against Queensland at Brisbane in 1968-69 scored 243, 181 of them in the two-hour session between lunch and tea. Wisden reported that Milburn "readily responded to the calls of his captain, GAR Lock, for `crash' batting; he gave a devastating performance in scoring 243 in Brisbane. He headed the [Sheffield] Shield aggregates with 811 runs." Sadly, Milburn died in 1990, aged only 48.

Steven Lynch is the deputy editor of The Wisden Group. 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.