Ask Steven October 2, 2006

The fastest hundreds, and a Case history

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

Was Mark Pettini's hundred off only 24 balls the fastest first-class century ever (whether the bowling was "a joke" or not)? asked Andy Jennings



The joke's on who?: In the last match of this season, Mark Pettini equalled Glen Chapple's first-class record, set in 1993, for fastest hundred according to balls faced © Getty Images

First of all Mark Pettini reached his hundred for Essex against Leicestershire at Leicester in the last match of the season in 24 minutes, but used up all of 27 balls (not 24). If you ignore the joke-bowling aspect I think that puts him level with Glen Chapple as the scorer of the equal-fastest hundred by balls faced, but Chapple's ton for Lancashire against Glamorgan at Old Trafford in 1993 took only 21 minutes. Murray Goodwin's equally farcical century for Sussex against Middlesex at Southgate in July 2006 took only 25 minutes, but 32 balls. All these innings are relegated to footnotes in the first-class records because so-called "joke" bowling - non-bowlers sending down full-tosses and long-hops to give away cheap runs to set up a declaration - was being used at the time. In Pettini's case the bowlers were Leicestershire's opening batsman Darren Robinson, who returned figures of 4.4-0-117-0, and wicketkeeper Paul Nixon (5-0-69-0). Pettini finished with 114 not out, all in boundaries (12 fours, 11 sixes), which is arguably another record. The fastest authentic century in first-class cricket remains Percy Fender's 35-minute hundred for Surrey against Northamptonshire at Northampton in 1920, while the fastest-known by balls faced is David Hookes's 34-ball effort for South Australia against Victoria at Adelaide in 1982-83.

My father was telling me about a batsman who walked off carrying the stumps after being knocked out by Bodyline - is this true? asked Daniel Steel from Coventry

There wasn't such an incident on the 1932-33 Bodyline tour itself, unless the many chroniclers of that infamous series all missed it. I think what you're referring to happened at Taunton in 1930, when the Somerset amateur C.C.C. "Box" Case collapsed onto his stumps while trying to avoid a bouncer from Nottinghamshire's Bill Voce, who was later part of the ferocious Bodyline attack with his county new-ball partner Harold Larwood. Gerald Brodribb, in Next Man In, his interesting study of cricket's laws, wrote: "Case, in trying to avoid a bumper from Voce, fell on his wicket, and having extricated himself from the debris, was so disturbed that he made his way back to the pavilion carrying under his arm a stump instead of his bat." And David Foot, in his evocative Somerset history Sunshine, Sixes and Cider confirms: "So many tell of the occasion when he missed the ball, fell in a ludicrous heap and then picked up a stump instead of the bat that it must be true." He adds that Case's "batting technique was limited and effective ... the kindest adjective to describe his style was probably 'ugly' ... but he must have been a better batsman than he looked because he scored 1000 runs in a season four times."

I remember Brett Lee's brother Shane playing for Australia in one-day internationals. Did they ever play together, and how many Aussies have played ODIs but never made it into the Test side? asked Carey Nash from Melbourne

The New South Wales allrounder Shane Lee played 45 ODIs for Australia between 1995-96 and 2000-01, before being forced to retire in 2003, aged only 29, with a knee injury. He was in the squad for the 1996 and 1999 World Cups, although he did not play in the final of either. He played alongside his younger brother, Brett Lee, in 17 of those matches. Shane is one of 22 people who have played ODIs for Australia without getting into the Test team. The full list, which includes a few players who may yet win a Test cap, is: Glenn Bishop (2 ODIs), Ryan Campbell (2), Mark Cosgrove (3), Michael Di Venuto (9), Brett Dorey (4), Shaun Graf (11), Brad Haddin (18), Ian Harvey (73), James Hopes (9), Mitchell Johnson (7), Shane Lee (45), Mick Lewis (7), Rod McCurdy (11), Ken MacLeay (16), Jimmy Maher (26), Graeme Porter (2), Jamie Siddons (1), Anthony Stuart (3), Glenn Trimble (2), Cameron White (5), Brad Young (6) and Andrew Zesers (2).

I read that Mark Ramprakash had scored a century against all 18 first-class counties. Has anyone else managed this? asked Janet Playle from Cardiff



Before he dances into the television sets of Britain, Mark Ramprakash has scored first-class centuries against each of England's 18 counties © Getty Images

Mark Ramprakash was the first batsman to achieve this particular full house, completing his set in June 2003 with a century for Surrey against his old county, Middlesex. Later that summer Carl Hooper joined the club, also rounding off his set with a hundred against Middlesex. The following year Chris Adams joined them, completing his set with 200 for Sussex against Northamptonshire. Of course, it has only been possible to manage centuries against 18 different counties since Durham joined the Championship in 1992. Thirteen players have scored centuries against 17 different counties: Glenn Turner was the first, completing his set in 1979, and he never played against Durham. The other 17-ton batsmen are Darren Bicknell (no hundreds in four matches against his first county, Surrey), Alistair Brown (has never played against Surrey), Chris Broad (played only twice against Durham, with a highest score of 26), Tim Curtis (only one match against Worcestershire, making 8 and 5), Mike Gatting (never played against Middlesex), Graham Gooch (never played against Essex), Graeme Hick (never played against Worcestershire), Wayne Larkins (joined Durham when they became a first-class county, so never played against them), Stuart Law (highest score in three matches against Essex is 80), Viv Richards (he did not reach 100 in three matches against Durham), Chris Tavaré (never managed a century in 25 matches against Middlesex - highest score 81) and Neil Taylor (did not play against Kent during his two seasons with Sussex).

How many veterans of the 1992 World Cup are in line for a fifth World Cup in 2007? I can think of Inzamam, Lara and Tendulkar ... asked Sharan Srinivas from the United States

The only one that you haven't mentioned who seems likely to play in a fifth World Cup tournament next year is Sri Lanka's Sanath Jayasuriya. Like Inzamam-ul-Haq, Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar, Jayasuriya played in the 1992 tournament in Australasia. I suppose it's possible that Chris Harris might make a comeback: he is still playing for Canterbury, but the last of his 250 ODIs for New Zealand was in December 2004. Moin Khan, who also played in 1992, is still playing in Pakistan and no doubt hopes for a recall - but he didn't take part in the 1996 and 2003 tournaments. Apart from those two the only survivors from 1992 who are still playing regular first-class cricket are Graeme Hick (who played in three World Cups for England, and was in the Zimbabwean squad in 1983, although he didn't play) and Mushtaq Ahmed (who hasn't appeared in the World Cup since 1996)

Who has made the highest score on the Adelaide Oval? asked Akash Tatikonda from Australia

The highest score in Tests at the Adelaide Oval was made by the man who now has a stand named after him there: Don Bradman, who scored 299 not out (the No. 11 "Pud" Thurlow was run out going for the run that would have taken The Don to 300) for Australia against South Africa in 1931-32. In all there have been 15 Test double-centuries there, three of them by Bradman. And Bradman holds the first-class record too, with 369 for South Australia against Tasmania in 1935-36, one of six triple-centuries scored on the ground. There have been 19 hundreds scored at Adelaide in one-day internationals: Mark Waugh and Graeme Hick both made two, but the highest score is 156, by Brian Lara for West Indies against Pakistan in 2004-05.

Steven Lynch is the former editor of Cricinfo

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