Ask Steven July 10, 2006

Unmasked: the slowest batsmen, and the worst

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

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

Brearley: great captain, and a bit of a tortoise with the bat © AFP

Who is the most boring ODI batsman ever - I mean the one with the slowest strike rate? asked Samuel Yoganathan

Given a minimum of 20 innings, the slowest batsman around in ODIs is the West Indian fast bowler Reon King, whose 65 runs came at a rate of 32.02 per 100 balls. Allan Donald is next (34.05). The first ten names on the list are all specialist bowlers, but in 11th place is David Obuya, the Kenyan wicketkeeper/batsman (45.41), just ahead of England's Mike Brearley (45.53). Other specialist batsmen who scored their ODI runs at less than 50 per 100 balls are Zimbabwe's Mark Dekker (47.49), Sidath Wettimuny of Sri Lanka (48.04), Australia's John Dyson (48.62), Chris Tavaré of England (48.95) and the New Zealander Bruce Edgar (49.23).

I was just looking at my first-class record, and wondered if anyone had played more than 13 first-class games without scoring a run, as I managed?! asked John Howarth

Well, it's nice to get a question from the horse's mouth, as it were - John Howarth played 13 matches for Nottinghamshire as a fast-medium bowler in 1966 and 1967, taking 19 wickets, but never once managed a run, in seven innings (average: 0.00). This appears to be the most first-class matches in a career by anyone, anywhere, who failed to make a run, although Seymour Clark, a wicketkeeper and famously inept batsman, had more innings without scoring - nine in five matches for Somerset in 1930.

Which bowler has dismissed the most batsmen for ducks in the same Test innings? asked Thomas Woods from New Zealand

There have been five instances of a bowler inflicting five ducks in the same Test innings. The first was in 1947-48, when Ray Lindwall's 7 for 38 for Australia against India at Adelaide included five batsmen who failed to score. The next instance was also in Australia, at Melbourne in 1978-79, when Sarfraz Nawaz polished off the Aussies with a spell of 7 for 1 - 9 for 86 in all - including five ducks. The most recent instance came in 2002-03, at Dhaka, when Jermaine Lawson dismissed five batsmen for 0 in the course of taking 6 for 3 for West Indies against Bangladesh.

How often have both wicketkeepers scored hundreds, in Tests and ODIs? asked Samit Patel from Calcutta

Rather surprisingly, it's only happened twice - once in each format - and India have been involved both times. The Test instance was in 2001-02, in Antigua: Ajay Ratra scored 115 not out for India, and Ridley Jacobs replied with 118 for West Indies. The ODI occurrence was more recent - at Jaipur in October 2005 Kumar Sangakkara batted through Sri Lanka's innings for 138 not out, but was trumped by Mahendra Singh Dhoni's amazing blitz for India. His unbeaten 183 included 120 in boundaries, a record at the time (since surpassed by Herschelle Gibbs).

What's the lowest total in Test history that led to an innings victory? asked Mahesh Singham from Delhi

There have been three totals of less than 200 that were sufficient to set up an innings victory in a Test. In the fifth Test at Melbourne in 1931-32 Australia made only 153 - but still won by an innings, as they bowled South Africa out for 36 and 45, with the 49-year-old left-arm spinner Bert Ironmonger taking 11 for 24 in the match. In what turned out to be a two-day Test at Old Trafford in 1888, England were bowled out for 172, which proved more than enough as they then shot Australia out for 81 and 70. And at Wellington in 1945-46 Australia declared at 199 for 8: they'd already bowled New Zealand out for 42, and then rolled them over again for 54. That was the first Test played between the two sides - and there wasn't another one for almost 28 years.

I'm sitting here watching Wimbledon, and was wondering if any Test cricketers have played there? asked Jeremy Browne from Streatham

One I know of is "Buster" Farrer, the Border batsman who played five Tests for South Africa in the 1960s. Before that he played at Wimbledon, with limited success. A later South African batsman, Kepler Wessels, was a fine tennis player in his youth - he beat Johan Kriek, who later won the Australian Open, in age-group tennis - but Wessels later concentrated on cricket. Two Test players - India's Cotar Ramaswami and Ralph Legall of West Indies - have also played in the Davis Cup, tennis's international competition (by coincidence Ramaswami was the Indian tour manager in the Caribbean in 1952-53, when Legall made his Test appearances), but I don't think either of them ever played at Wimbledon. One other oddity is that when Virginia Wade, who went on to win the women's title in 1977, first played at Wimbledon in 1962, her first opponent was married to a future Test cricketer at the time - Pat Stewart, Mrs John Edrich.

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. 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.