A mystery guest, and a driving question
The regular Monday column in which Steven Lynch answers your questions about (almost) any aspect of cricket:
When I was a child in the 1970s, a man came for dinner, and said he had played for India. He must have been in his fifties then. He said he played three Tests, candidly admitted he didn't do well, but two things he said about his debut Test stick in my memory. First, that the two best Australian batsmen were both out hit wicket, and also that he himself was out in both innings to somebody they called the "Black Prince". Which Indian cricketer could this have been, and who was the Aussie? Thanks for any help ... I've been tormented by this for years! asked Dilip D'Souza from Bombay
Your dinner guest must have been Khandu Rangnekar, a stylish left-hander who made 102 on his first-class debut, for Maharashtra against Western India at Poona in 1939-40, and who also made three double-centuries, the highest 217 for Holkar against Hyderabad at Indore in the 1950-51 Ranji Trophy semi-final. He won three Test caps, all in Australia in 1947-48, and didn't cover himself with glory, making only 33 runs in his six innings. On his debut, at Brisbane in November 1947, both Arthur Morris (who made 47) and Don Bradman (185) were out hit wicket. Rangnekar himself made only 1 and 0, falling in both innings to the left-armer Ernie Toshack ... whose nickname was indeed "The Black Prince", apparently on account of his curly dark hair. Toshack had the amazing figures of 5 for 2 in the first innings, and added 6 for 29 in the second. It was India's first tour of Australia, and proved a difficult one: the Aussies won that first Test by an innings and 226 runs, and took the series 4-0, with Bradman scoring 715 runs at an average of 178.75. Rangnekar later became the president of the Bombay Cricket Association, and vice-president of the Indian board: sadly, he died in 1984.
Two-thirds of the world drives on the right side of the road - but how many Test-playing nations drive on the right? asked Awais Kamboh from the United States
That's a very original question ... and it has quite a surprising answer, at first sight anyway: none of the Test-playing countries drives on the right, they all drive on the left-hand side of the road (most of the time, anyway!) Thinking about it I suppose it's not so surprising, as Britain drives on the left and all the cricket-playing countries are former parts of the British Empire. Travis Basevi has pointed out that one minor exception is the Dutch Antilles - part of the Leeward Islands group, so also part of the West Indies - where they do drive on the right.
Has an opener ever carried his bat in a one-day international? asked David Hatherley from Leicester
Eight men have carried their bat through an all-out innings in an ODI. The first was Zimbabwe's Grant Flower, against England at Sydney in 1994-95 (it worked: Zimbabwe won by 13 runs), and the most recent was Bangladesh's Javed Omar, against Zimbabwe at Harare in 2000-01 (that one didn't help: Zimbabwe still won easily). In between six other openers managed it: Saeed Anwar, Nick Knight, Damien Martyn, Ridley Jacobs (the only instance in a World Cup), Herschelle Gibbs and Alec Stewart. There have numerous additional instances of an opener batting throughout his team's overs allocation (these don't count as carrying the bat as the team wasn't all out). For a full list, click here.
Am I imagining it or did Australia A once play in the annual VB Series and do rather well? asked Andy de Castella from Brisbane
No, you're not dreaming: it happened in 1994-95, when England and Zimbabwe were the other teams in what became a four-way competition. I think the Australian board was worried about the "bankability" of Zimbabwe, and feared poor attendances at their matches, so added the Australian A team into the mix (which cunningly reduced Zimbabwe's matches from eight to six, and increased clashes between England and Australian teams). Rather embarrassingly for England and Zimbabwe, Australia A reached the final, where they lost to the full Aussie team. But the experiment hasn't been repeated: the Australian players - some of whom played for both sides - didn't like it much, and since Australia A's matches couldn't be considered as full one-day internationals, there was the ludicrous situation of the finals of a competition not counting in the records, whereas most of the qualifying matches did.
Who was the first Indian to score a Test century against Australia in India? asked Ashoke Sanyal from India
The man in question was the allrounder (and future captain) Gulabrai "Ram" Ramchand, who made 109 in India's second home Test against Australia, at Bombay in 1956-57. Before that Vinoo Mankad (two), Vijay Hazare (two) and Dattu Phadkar all made Test centuries for India in Australia in 1947-48.
Who wrote a book called Behind the Wicket? I'm assuming it was a wicketkeeper! asked Brian Gilbert from Lincoln
You're right, it is a wicketkeeper: the stylish Australian Bert Oldfield, who still holds the Test record for the most stumpings (52, in 54 Tests). Behind the Wicket, which is subtitled "My Cricket Reminiscences", was published by Hutchinson in 1938: Oldfield also wrote The Rattle of the Stumps, which came out in 1954.
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.