Ask Steven May 7, 2007

A six to start, and was Gilchrist's squash ball legal?

Steven Lynch
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:

Mike Hussey faced only 116 deliveries in 11 World Cup matches © AFP

Has anyone ever hit the first ball of his Test career for six? asked James Impelliere from Australia

This is a difficult one, as we don't have ball-by-ball details for many early Tests. As far as I can establish, no one has ever hit the very first ball of their Test career for a six, although there are at least three people whose first scoring shot in Tests did sail over the ropes: Australia's Eric Freeman, against India at Brisbane in 1967-68; Carlisle Best, for West Indies against England at Kingston in 1985-86 (that was off his third ball, from Ian Botham); and Zimbabwe's Keith Dabengwa, against New Zealand at Bulawayo in August 2005 (off Daniel Vettori, after 15 balls on 0).

Is it legal for a batsman to have a foreign object like a squash ball inside his gloves, as Adam Gilchrist apparently did in the World Cup final? asked Vijitha Herath from Germany (and several more people from Sri Lanka!)

My feeling was that it was legal, as I didn't think you could distinguish between a squash ball - which Gilchrist admitted he used to improve his grip during his amazing innings in the World Cup final - and the inner gloves many batsmen wear, some of which have a certain amount of padding, the finger-stalls inside some gloves to protect finger-tips, or even the raw steaks people (usually wicketkeepers) were reputed to put inside their gloves to lessen the impact of the ball. But MCC are the final authority on matters to do with the Laws, so I asked their head of cricket, the former England opener John Stephenson, who confirmed: "The official view is that you are correct. It is no different to wearing inners, etc."

Who hit the most sixes during the World Cup? asked Terry Atkinson from Coventry

The leading run-scorer was also the leading six-hitter: Australia's Matthew Hayden led the way, with 659 runs and 18 sixes, four more than Herschelle Gibbs (who was helped by six in over in the match against Holland in St Kitts) and Sanath Jayasuriya. Both Mark Boucher and Ricky Ponting struck 11 sixes, while Adam Gilchrist hit 10 - eight of them in the final - as did Mahela Jayawardene. For a full list of World Cup six-hitters, click here. Hayden also hit more fours (69) than anyone else: Gilchrist was next with 58.

How many balls did Michael Hussey face during the World Cup, excluding the time he was promoted in the batting order? asked Michael Morris from Israel

It's a sign of just how dominant Australia were at the World Cup that Mike Hussey, who was expected to be one of the tournament's stars, hardly got a look-in. In all he faced 116 balls in six innings, but 41 of those came when he was promoted to open against Ireland at Bridgetown, and made an unbeaten 30 as the Aussies chased down a meagre target of 92. Hussey's only other innings of note was 37, from 44 balls, against New Zealand at St George's. Apart from that he made 4, 2, 5 and 9 ... and wasn't even needed to bat in the semi-final or the final.

Which two Australian Test players have appeared on Neighbours? asked Barry Gebhardt from Melbourne

The first of them is quite easy: Shane Warne appeared on the TV soap quite recently, playing himself being presented with a cheque for his charity, the Shane Warne Foundation. The other one is a bit more tricky: it was the former Test left-arm fast bowler Mike Whitney, who made a cameo appearance on the show several years ago, giving another cast member some coaching tips. It was a part which apparently was originally offered to Greg Matthews. Whitney was later the referee in the Australian version of Gladiators.

Who has scored the most centuries in successive innings in first-class cricket? asked Don Brunt from New Zealand

Three players have scored six centuries in successive first-class innings. The first was the Englishman CB Fry, who did it in 1901, mainly for Sussex (the innings before the run was one of 88, and the first one after it was 82). The feat was equalled in 1938-39 by Don Bradman, the last five of his six centuries coming for South Australia in the Sheffield Shield (his next innings was one of 5). The third member of this exclusive club is the South African allrounder Mike Procter, who made six hundreds in successive innings for Rhodesia in the Currie Cup in 1970-71: his run was ended by a dismissal for 22.

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.