December 2, 2008

Two hundreds and losing, and calling the Coroner

Twin centuries in vain, carrying one's bat in a Test, and being dismissed on 99 on debut

George Headley made two centuries in the 1939 Lord's Test and watched his side lose © PA Photos

Sunil Gavaskar once scored a century in each innings in a Test against Pakistan but still ended up on the losing side. Is this unique? asked Phani Durvasula from India
Rather surprisingly, the bittersweet experience that befell India's Sunil Gavaskar (111 and 137) in Karachi in 1978-79 has now happened seven times in Tests in all. The first occasion was in the 1924-25 Ashes series, when England's Herbert Sutcliffe scored 176 and 127 in Melbourne, but Australia still won by 81 runs. The next instance was in 1939, when George Headley made 106 and 107 in vain against England at Lord's for West Indies. In Adelaide in 1947-48, India's captain Vijay Hazare scored 116 and 145 - and bowled Don Bradman - but still ended up on the wrong end of an innings defeat, a fate that also awaited Clyde Walcott of the West Indies, despite his 155 and 110 against Australia in Kingston in 1954-55. Gavaskar came next, and the final two instances were both in 2001: in September Andy Flower made 142 and 199 not out for Zimbabwe against South Africa in Harare, then two months later Brian Lara scored 221 and 130 for West Indies against Sri Lanka in Colombo, but still ended up losing by ten wickets.

Which Test cricketer was known as "The Coroner"? asked James Hill from Bournemouth
This was Edward Mills "EM" Grace, the older brother of the great WG Grace. Like WG, who was often known as "The Doctor", EM was also a qualified physician. And if it wasn't for WG, we might now remember EM as one of cricket's early greats - he once scored 192 and took all ten wickets in a first-class game. EM played only one Test, against Australia at The Oval in 1880 (the first Test ever played in England): he opened the batting with WG in the first innings, and helped him put on 91.

Simon Katich carried his bat during the Brisbane Test. How often has this happened, and who has the highest score by someone carrying his bat? asked Laks Sampath from the United States
When Simon Katich carried his bat for 131 against New Zealand in Brisbane last month, it was the 43rd time that an opener had done this in a Test - the 12th instance for Australia. For a full list, click here. The highest score by anyone carrying his bat is 223 not out, by New Zealand's Glenn Turner, against West Indies in Kingston in 1971-72.

How many people have been out for 99 on their Test debut? asked Sharma from Chennai
It's happened to three unfortunate batsmen: Australia's Arthur Chipperfield, against England at Trent Bridge in 1934 (he went to lunch on the second day on 99, and was out immediately afterwards); Robert Christiani, for West Indies against England in Bridgetown in 1947-48; and Asim Kamal, for Pakistan against South Africa in Lahore in 2003-04. Chipperfield and Christiani did eventually reach three figures in a Test, but Asim Kamal hasn't (not yet, anyway). For a full list of players who have been out for 99 in a Test, click here.

Who has taken the most wickets in women's Test matches? asked Avis Hall from New Malden
Still leading the way is England's Mary Duggan, who took 77 wickets in 17 Tests between 1948-49 and 1963. She had a best performance of 7 for 6 in an extraordinary match in Melbourne in 1957-58. Australia's Betty Wilson - who lies second on the list with 68 wickets overall - took 7 for 7 and 4 for 9, after scoring 100 in the second innings, and England just held on for a draw.

Someone told me that the father of the actor Hugh Laurie, who appears over here in the popular TV series House, was a first-class cricketer. Is this true? asked Milind Mukund from California
Well, Hugh Laurie's father Ranald (usually known as "Ran") was not a first-class cricketer - but he was a prominent sportsman, as he won an Olympic gold medal in 1948. His sport was not cricket but rowing - Laurie and Jack Wilson won the coxless pairs at the London Olympics. Hugh Laurie followed in his father's footsteps (or, perhaps, his Wellington boots) by rowing in the University Boat Race for Cambridge in 1980.

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Cricinfo Guide to International Cricket (reviewed here)