Ask Steven February 19, 2007

Losing four times running, and seven fifties in a row

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

Javed Miandad holds the record for the most consecutive one-day fifties © Getty Images

When was the last time Australia lost a one-day international by ten wickets? asked Jeremy Cregan from Christchurch

As a lot of New Zealanders have been quick to point out, that defeat in Wellington last week was the first time Australia had lost a one-day international by ten wickets. It's happened 32 times in all now - click here for a full list - but never before to Australia. They have inflicted three ten-wicket defeats themselves, well behind the leaders in that field, West Indies (eight). And in answer to several other queries, the last time Australia lost four one-day internationals in a row was back in 1997, when they actually lost five running: to South Africa at Bloemfontein in April, then all three matches to England in the May Texaco Trophy - oddly, England won all three matches by six wickets - then to South Africa again in the first match of the annual Australian tri-series, at Sydney in December '97.

Which batsman holds the record for the most consecutive half-centuries in Test cricket? asked Chester Aimable from St Lucia

The record for consecutive Test fifties is seven. It was set by the West Indian Everton Weekes in the late 1940s. He scored 141 against England at Kingston in 1947-48, then started the 1948-49 series against India with innings of 128, 194, 162, 101 (making five successive centuries, a record which still stands), 90 and 56. Weekes's record was equalled by Andy Flower of Zimbabwe in 2000-01, when he made 65 against New Zealand, 183 not out, 70, 55 and 232 not out against India, 79 against New Zealand, and 73 against Bangladesh. For a list of batsmen who have scored five or more half-centuries in successive Test innings, click here. The record in one-day internationals is nine successive half-centuries, by Pakistan's Javed Miandad in the late 1980s - no one else has managed more than six.

Was South Africa's recent total of 392 the highest in an ODI not to include an individual century? asked Arvind Mukherjee from Delhi

South Africa's 392 for 6 against Pakistan at Centurion was the seventh-highest total in all one-day internationals (click here for a list), but it was indeed the highest not to include an individual century - the highest score was Jacques Kallis's undefeated 88. The previous record was England's 363 for 7 against Pakistan at Trent Bridge in 1992, when the highest score was Robin Smith's 77.

Andy Flower: part of a Test where Zimbabwe included three sets of brothers © Getty Images

Javed Miandad's Test batting average never dropped below 50 throughout his career. Is this unique? asked Talha Farhan from Pakistan

It's not quite unique. Javed Miandad did manage it - the lowest average at any point of his distinguished career was 51.74, after his 45th Test in 1982-83. He finished with 52.57 from 124 matches. But there was another person who played more than 15 Tests and maintained an average of over 50 throughout his career: Herbert Sutcliffe, the stylish England opener of the 1920s and '30s. His average, in fact, was always over 60 - and when it plummeted to 60.73, in his 54th Test, he promptly retired. George Headley of West Indies almost managed it - he was out for 21 in his first Test innings, but scored 176 in the second, and after that his average was always above 50. The great Australian Don Bradman, who's usually the answer to questions like this, had to wait until his fourth innings before his average went above 50 - but it never dropped below that mark after that. In his ninth Test The Don pushed his average above 100 - and after that it never dipped below 90, except for one Test in 1934.

I've heard commentators talking about a ball being a "jaffa". What does this mean, and where did it come from? asked Ken Daley from Portsmouth

A "jaffa", in cricket terms, is an unexpectedly good ball. The new Wisden Dictionary of Cricket, by Michael Rundell, describes it as: "A ball that moves unexpectedly in the air or off the pitch, and is almost impossible for the batsman to play successfully; an unplayable delivery, so called because - from the bowler's point of view, at least - it is a 'juicy' delivery."

At one time a number of brothers were playing for Zimbabwe. I think there was the Flowers, the Whittalls, the Rennies and the Strangs. I am curious to know whether all four pairs played together, and if they did, was it a record? asked Deepto from India

Zimbabwe established a Test record when they played New Zealand at Harare in 1997-98, when their side included three pairs of brothers - Andy and Grant Flower, Paul and Bryan Strang, and John and Gavin Rennie (it was Gavin's first Test, and John's last). Guy Whittall played in that game too, and Andy Whittall was 12th man - but they were cousins, rather than brothers. That was only time all six played together.

Steven Lynch is the deputy editor of The Wisden Group. If you want to Ask Steven a question, use our feedback form. The most interesting questions will be answered here each week. Unfortunately, we can't usually enter into correspondence about individual queries.