January 29, 2008

Dismissing both openers, and nine centurions in a team

Bowlers who've dismissed both opening batsmen in two innings of a Test, and nine centurions in a team

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

Bagging 'em in pairs: Paul Reiffel dismissed both openers in the same Test on three occasions © Getty Images

In the third Test at Perth, Irfan Pathan dismissed both Australia's openers in both innings. How many times has this happened? asked Venkata Panabakam

Irfan Pathan's performance in the recent Perth Test was actually the 63rd time that the same bowler has dismissed both openers in the same Test. The leaders in this field are England's Graham Dilley and the Australian, Paul Reiffel, both of whom did it three times, but Pathan has done it once before himself - against Zimbabwe at Harare in 2005-06. What was more unusual about Pathan's performance at Perth was that he only managed one other wicket: this is only the fourth time that a bowler's five wickets in a Test included four openers. But two people have gone one better, dismissing just the openers and no one else in a Test: Reiffel against New Zealand at Hobart in 1997-98, and the Indian fast bowler Tinu Yohannan against England at Mohali in 2001-02. That was Yohannan's Test debut, and he won only two more caps, capturing one more wicket - another opener, New Zealand's Lou Vincent, at Hamilton in 2002-03.

Was the Indian team in the Perth Test the first to contain nine Test century-makers? asked Vineet Malani from India

Actually that match at Perth was the sixth instance in all Tests of one team containing nine players who had all scored Test hundreds. India also did it in their recent series against Pakistan, at Bangalore, the match in which Irfan Pathan made his maiden Test century. Before that it was achieved by South Africa against New Zealand at Johannesburg in 2005-06, and - perhaps not surprisingly - by the World XI in the one-off Super Series Test against Australia at Sydney earlier in that 2005-06 season. What is rather surprising is the identity of the country that was the first to include nine Test century-makers in the same team: New Zealand did it against England at Lord's in 1990, and repeated the feat against Australia at Brisbane in 2004-05.

I was just wondering which team has taken the field with the highest total if you add up the highest scores of all 11 players? Just guessing, I would think it might be Sri Lanka in Australia recently with Atapattu, Jayasuriya, Sangakkara, Jayawardene and even Vaas with a century? asked Shaun Helsen from Australia

That's a pretty good guess - the highest scores of the Sri Lankan team in the second Test against Australia at Hobart last November added up to 1859. That has been beaten three times by India - with 1862 in successive Tests against South Africa in 2006-07, and 1972 in the recent Perth Test against Australia. But the highest combined total is 2312, by the World XI in that Super Series Test against Australia at Sydney in 2005-06 - their team included three men (Brian Lara, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Virender Sehwag) who had made scores of more than 300 in Tests.

There were eight half-centuries in one of last week's one-day internationals between Pakistan and Zimbabwe. Is this a record? asked Akbar Masood from Lahore

The eight scores of 50 or more in that match at Karachi was indeed a new ODI record. The previous record of seven had happened three times - oddly, all in 2005-06: the matches between Pakistan and England at Lahore, South Africa and Australia at Johannesburg, and India and England at Indore. In reply to some other questions, Pakistan's five half-centuries in that match at Karachi is also a new ODI record - there have been 27 instances of four in an innings, nine of them in 2007 alone.

Are India and England the only two teams who beat Australia in a Test in which Adam Gilchrist played? asked Abdullah Farooki from Pakistan

Adam Gilchrist lost only 11 of the 96 Test matches he played - consecutively - since his debut in 1999-2000. Five of those defeats came against India, and four at England's hands. The other two were to South Africa, at Durban in 2001-02, and in the famous match in Antigua in May 2003, when West Indies chased a world-record 418 to win.

I see that Tatenda Taibu has taken a Test wicket - how many wicketkeepers have done this? Are these people the true allrounders? asked Nick Statham from The Netherlands

Tatenda Taibu's Test wicket came against Sri Lanka at Harare in 2004. What was unusual about it was that he had started the innings as the keeper, but still took the first wicket of the innings. Mind you, Sri Lanka did have 281 for 0 at the time. Quite a few wicketkeepers have taken the odd Test wicket, usually when they came on to bowl at the end of a drawn game - I'm not sure if this necessarily makes them allrounders! Taibu is definitely one, though: he has quite often bowled in domestic matches and once took 8 for 43 with his offspinners. The best bowling performance by a man who started a Test as wicketkeeper is 4 for 19, by The Honourable Alfred Lyttelton of England against Australia at The Oval in 1884. England's captain Lord Harris was getting desperate as the total passed 500: all 11 players eventually had a bowl (the first such instance in Test cricket). Lyttelton was the tenth one tried and, bowling underarm lobs while still wearing his pads, he took the last four wickets.

And finally, to turn the tables, Steven Asks: what is this questioner, Nick Statham's own footnote in cricket history?

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