October 16, 2007

Sir Geoffrey's spectacles, and seven left-armers

Seven fronline left-armers in an ODI, six-less careers, most captains in a side and more

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

Geoff Boycott was dismissed for a pair just once, at the start of his long career © The Cricketer International

I have been trying to find out the answer to this quiz question for ages: who was the only bowler to dismiss Geoff Boycott for a pair? asked Stephen Robinson from England

It's not surprising that you had difficulty finding it, as it was a long time ago, towards the start of Geoff Boycott's long career. He was dismissed without scoring 45 times in first-class cricket in all, but only once did he bag a pair of spectacles in the same match - while playing for Yorkshire against Kent at Bradford in 1967. The man who outfoxed him in both innings was the tall Kent fast bowler Norman Graham. The Park Avenue pitch was affected by rain, which washed out the first day and allowed only an hour's play on the second. Yorkshire were bowled out for 40 in their first innings, and had struggled to 13 for 2 in the second before more rain meant the match ended in a soggy draw.

In the recent ODI at Chandigarh India fielded four frontline left-arm bowlers, while Australia had three. Is this a record? asked Rajesh Sanghvi from the United Arab Emirates

Seven frontline left-arm bowlers in a match, as happened at Chandigarh last week, is indeed a record for any ODI (for the purposes of this question we categorised a "frontline" bowler as one who has averaged more than five overs per match over his career). The previous record was six bowlers, which has happened seven times now, all of them since 2000. It was also the 20th occasion that one side had fielded four frontline left-arm bowlers in the same game: 17 of those instances have been by Bangladesh in the last 18 months, while the first two were by Sri Lanka at home to South Africa in August 2004.

Glenn McGrath never hit a six during a career of 250 ODIs, in which he had 68 innings. Is this the longest career without a six? asked Shaheer Shikrani from Pakistan

Glenn McGrath's 250 ODIs without hitting a six is indeed a record - Allan Donald is next with 164 - but India's Manoj Prabhakar had 98 innings in his 130 ODIs without ever clearing the boundary. (It should be noted that there are still some matches in which precise details of boundaries hit are not available, so the accuracy of these figures is not guaranteed.) Prabhakar (1858 runs), Dion Ebrahim of Zimbabwe (1443 in 76 innings) and Boycott (1082) all made 1000 runs in ODIs without the benefit of any sixes. In Test matches (with the same warning about missing data for some games) England's Derek Underwood played the most matches (86) and had the most innings (116) without hitting a six, but the leader in terms of runs scored appears to be Vijay Manjrekar of India, with 3208, not far ahead of New Zealand's Glenn Turner (2991).

What is the record for the most captains in any Test or ODI team? asked Vinayak Joshi

There have been 15 occasions on which a Test team has included eight men who have captained their country at some stage, ten of them by Pakistan (three times in 1967, twice more in 1976-77, four times in 1992-93, and most recently against Sri Lanka in February 2000). The first team to achieve the distinction was India, against Pakistan in 1952-53, while England managed it twice against Australia in 1981, and once the following winter in India. The most recent instance is a rather artificial one - the World XI side that lost the unloved Super Series Test to Australia at Sydney in October 2005 included eight men who had captained at Test level. There are numerous occasions in ODIs when a team has included eight former, present and future captains, several of them by composite teams. The most recent instance by a single country was by Pakistan against India in March 2003.

"Bomber" Wells: the tales of this Gloucestershire cult hero are legion, but his batting and fielding were not terribly special © The Cricketer International

Who was the cricketer known as "Bomber" who played in the 1950s, and did he represent England in Tests? asked Indrajith Karunaratne

This was Bryan Douglas Wells, more usually known as "Bomber", who was born in Gloucester in 1930. He was solidly built, and bowled slow offspin from a short run-up - but he was good enough to take 998 wickets at an average of 24.26 in a long first-class career that started in 1951 for his native Gloucestershire and finished at Nottinghamshire in 1965 (he moved to Trent Bridge in 1960). "Bomber" never did play for England, probably because his batting and fielding were not terribly special, but he was a much-loved character who brought a lot of fun to the county game.

I keep hearing that if Don Bradman had scored four in his last innings his Test average would have ended up as 100. But wouldn't that only have happened if he had been not out, or scored 100? asked Rasbihari Mathur from India

No, because Don Bradman started what turned out to be his last Test innings, at The Oval in 1948, with 6996 runs from 69 completed innings, so he was averaging 101.38 before he faced a ball. If he'd managed to score four and then been out, he would have had 7000 runs from 70 completed innings, and averaged a round 100. But the England legspinner Eric Hollies dismissed him second ball for a duck, so The Don was left with 6996 runs from 70 innings, and that famous average of 99.94. If Australia had had a second innings (which was unlikely as they had already shot England out for 52) Bradman would have needed four not out, or 104 if he was out, to get back to an average of 100.

And there's an afterthought to last week's question about the record from the first Test of all that still stands, from Charles Davis from Melbourne

"Perhaps the record for the oldest breakable Test record should go to James Southerton, who remains the oldest player on Test debut (49 years, 119 days), set when he took the field on the first day of that first Test in 1876-77, thus pre-dating Charles Bannerman's record by a day. It is a record that could, in theory anyway, be broken in any Test match. Bannerman also still holds the record for outscoring his best-scoring team-mate (by a ratio of more than nine), and his score remains the highest by an Australian on Test debut."

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Cricinfo Guide to International Cricket. 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 normally enter into correspondence about individual queries.