Ask Steven May 14, 2007

Most runs, most spectators, and most letters in a name

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:

What is the highest number of runs scored in a day during a Test? asked William Jopson

Alec Stewart piled on a massive 271 runs for Surrey against Yorkshire © Cricinfo Ltd

The most in a single day of Test cricket is 588, on the second day of the 1936 Old Trafford Test. England, 173 for 2 overnight, declared at 571 for 8, then India reached 190 for 0 by the close. The most by one side in a day is 509 (from 32 for 0 to 541 for 9), by Sri Lanka on the second day of their first Test against Bangladesh in Colombo in 2002.

In the early 1950s the Fijian cricket team toured New Zealand, including a player known as "Bula". However, his real surname was an amazing 50 letters long, if I remember correctly. Can you shed some more light on him? asked Paul Marshall from New Zealand

Cricinfo's player page solemnly records that Mr Bula's full name was "Ilikena Lasarusa Talebulamainavaleniveivakabulaimainakulalakebalau", which is 49 letters unless I got lost halfway through. It was probably very good news for the scorers that he didn't mind being abbreviated. Apparently his name means "returned alive from Nankula hospital at Lakemba island in the Lau group". Bula played nine matches now recognised as first-class, on two tours of New Zealand with the Fijians - in 1947-48 and 1953-54. He scored two centuries, one on each tour, against Canterbury both times. According to our records Bula is still alive at 85.

The Zimbabwean slow left-armer Keith Dabengwa recently had figures of 4.4-3-1-7 in a first-class match at Harare Sports Club. Are these the best bowling figures in first-class history? asked Mehluli Sibanda from Zimbabwe

Well, they are certainly the best figures by anyone taking seven wickets in an innings - the previous-best was 7 for 3, by the Australian "Demon" Fred Spofforth, for the tourists against an England XI in Birmingham in 1884, in a match which was all over in a day - on what must have been an interesting pitch Spofforth had taken 7 for 34 in the England XI's first innings of 82, the Australians replied with 76 then bowled the England XI out for 26, before struggling to 33 for 6 to win by four wickets. Ten of Spofforth's 14 victims were bowled. Keith Dabengwa appears to have achieved the feat for Westerns against Northerns (who were all out for 47) at Harare. We are still awaiting full details of this game (and several others), which are proving difficult to obtain from Zimbabwe Cricket.

Which wicketkeeper scored 271 against Yorkshire in 1997? asked Colin Bennett

The keeper in question was none other than England's own Alec Stewart, who made 271 not out for Surrey against Yorkshire at The Oval. It remained the highest of his 48 first-class centuries.

What is the highest number of spectators to attend a cricket match? asked Nulaif from Sri Lanka

The figure usually quoted is 465,000, for the five days of the match between India and Pakistan at Kolkata in 1998-99 - it was the first match of the Asian Test Championship. There were an estimated 100,000 people there on each of the first four days. The highest "audited" figure is 350,534, for the six-day third Test between Australia and England at Melbourne in 1936-37. The record for a single day's play in a Test, apart from those estimated figures at Kolkata, is 90,800, for the second day of the fifth Test between Australia and West Indies at Melbourne in 1960-61. Advance ticket sales suggested that the first day of last winter's Ashes Test at the MCG was going to break that record, but in the event it was cold and wet and "only" 89,155 people came through the turnstiles. In one-day internationals there have been five crowds estimated at 100,000 at Eden Gardens, but the highest audited figure is 87,182, for the World Cup final between Pakistan and England at Melbourne in 1991-92.

Les Jackson, who died recently, had a 12-year gap between his two Test match appearances - has any other player had a longer gap than this? asked Nick Chivers

John Traicos holds the record for having a 22-year gap between his first and second Test appearances © Getty Images

There were just under 12 years between Les Jackson's first Test, against New Zealand at Old Trafford in 1949, and his second and last, against Australia at Headingley in 1961. In terms of time, though, the overall record gap is an amazing 22 years and 222 days, by John Traicos. He played three Tests for South Africa in 1969-70 - the last three before their exclusion from international cricket - and was still wheeling down his offspin when Zimbabwe gained Test status in 1992-93. Traicos, who was then 45, played in Zimbabwe's first four Tests (he took 5 for 86 in 50 overs in their first one, against India at Harare). The record gap between appearances for the same country is 17 years 316 days, by England's George Gunn - between 1911-12 and 1929-30, by which time he was 50. The Warwickshire legspinner Eric Hollies is the only other England player with a longer time gap between Tests than Jackson: he did not appear between 1934-35 and 1947, 12 years 81 days in all. In terms of matches missed between appearances, the record is 114, by England's Martin Bicknell, when he reappeared after a ten-year gap against South Africa in 2003. The previous record was 104, by Younis Ahmed of Pakistan between 1969-70 and 1986-87. Another England player, Derek Shackleton, missed 103 Tests between 1951-52 and 1963.

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.