December 16, 2008

Most innings without a duck, and taking a rest

Highest totals without hundred partnerships, two wickets in your first over in Tests, and more

Fowl play: AB de Villiers finally got a duck to his name, in his 48th Test © Getty Images

AB de Villiers was recently out for a duck for the first time in Tests, in his 79th innings. Is this a record? asked Miran Ahmed from Delhi
Yes, AB de Villiers's run of no ducks in his first 78 Test innings - before he finally bagged one against Bangladesh in Potchefstroom recently - was a new record, surpassing the 75 of Sri Lanka's Aravinda de Silva between his debut in 1984 and 1994-95. For the full list, click here. Only four players have had a longer run of duckless innings at any stage of their careers: David Gower (119 innings between 1982 and 1990-91), Richie Richardson (96 between 1984-85 and 1991), Allan Border (89 between 1982-83 and 1988-89), and Alec Stewart (86 between 1993-94 and 1998-99). England's Ken Barrington (1962 to 1967-68) is level with de Villiers on 78. For this list, click here.

The upcoming Test between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka is scheduled to have a rest day, which is unusual these days. Which was the last Test to have one? asked Brian Court from Berkshire
The imminent first Test at Mirpur is scheduled to have a rest day on what would normally have been the fourth day of the match (December 29), as it coincides with elections in Bangladesh. The last Test that included a rest day was as long ago as 2001-02, when there was no play on what would otherwise have been the fourth day of the first Test between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe in Colombo because of a holiday to celebrate the full moon. Before that there was a rest day in the match between West Indies and India in Bridgetown in 1996-97, to celebrate Easter, while the previous summer in England the players in the third Test against India at Trent Bridge had a day off as the match clashed with the Wimbledon men's singles final. Most (but by no means all) Test matches up until 1993-94 had scheduled rest days. Possibly the oddest "rest" day in a Test came during the match between Zimbabwe and New Zealand in Harare in 1992-93, when the teams broke off after playing on November 7, contested a one-day international on November 8, and resumed the Test on November 9. (The above details omit any matches that may have been completed before the scheduled rest day.)

Graeme Swann took two wickets in his first over in Test cricket. Has anyone else done this? asked David Steer from London
Graeme Swann did indeed take two wickets - Gautam Gambhir with his third ball and Rahul Dravid with his sixth - in that remarkable match in Chennai. The only other person to do this in a Test was another England bowler, Richard Johnson, who dismissed Mark Vermeulen with his third ball and Stuart Carlisle with his fourth, against Zimbabwe at Chester-le-Street in 2003. Johnson had a peculiar career: he might have made his Test debut in 1995-96, as he was selected for the winter tour of South Africa, but pulled out with a back strain and had to wait more than seven years for his debut. He then won the Man-of-the-Match award in his first two Tests - the one against Zimbabwe above and his next one, against Bangladesh in Chittagong the following winter - but he won only one more Test cap.

After last week's question about Brett Lee having the most Test wickets with a best of five wickets in an innings, who has the most Test wickets without ever taking five in an innings? asked Robert Barber from Australia
The man on top of this particular table is the former England fast bowler Mike Hendrick, who took 87 wickets in Tests with a best return of 4 for 28, against India at Edgbaston in 1974. Second on the list is South Africa's Brian McMillan, who took 75 wickets in Tests without ever taking five in an innings. Among current players Mashrafe Mortaza of Bangladesh has so far taken 71 Test wickets with a five-for.

What is the highest total in a Test innings which did not include any hundred partnerships? asked Ciaran Ronayne from Australia
This unusual record was set in Adelaide in 1968-69, when Australia's total of 533 against West Indies included six partnerships of 50 or more, but none higher than 93. There have been two other totals in excess of 500 that did not include a century stand: India's 520, also in Adelaide, against Australia in 1985-86 (best partnership: 95 for the first wicket; the tenth added 94), and England's 515 against Pakistan at Headingley in 2006 (highest stand 86).

Following on from last week's question about the late Paul Hibbert, is Adam Parore's 96 against India in 1994 the highest individual score in a one-day international without a boundary? asked Sayontan Sinha from the United States
That's a nice, simple one: yes, Adam Parore's 96 for New Zealand against India in Baroda (now Vadodara) in 1994-95 is indeed the highest known ODI score not to include a boundary (there are some early matches for which we don't have full details, but it is highly unlikely that there has been a higher boundary-less score). Parore faced 138 balls during his innings, and put on 181 with his captain, Ken Rutherford, whose 108 included 13 fours.

And finally, a quick update on the recent question about people who have scored a century in each innings of a Test but ended up losing ...
England's Andrew Strauss has now joined this unlucky list, after his 123 and 108 at Chennai. The only other Englishman to suffer this fate was Herbert Sutcliffe: he made 176 and 127 at Melbourne in 1924-25, but Australia still won by 81 runs.

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