June 16, 2009

Slow centuries, and Kamran Akmal's new record

No boundaries in hundreds, four stumpings in an innings, and the bail that wouldn't budge

Has there even been a player who made a Test century without scoring any boundaries? And which player scored the slowest Test century of all? asked Michiel Blokland from the Netherlands
No one has yet managed a Test century without any boundaries - the highest Test score without one is Geoff Boycott's 77 for England against Australia in Perth in 1978-79. His score did include one four - but it was all-run and the ball didn't actually reach the ropes. For some years I thought the answer was Bill Lawry's 84 for Australia v England in Brisbane in 1970-71, but that innings actually included nine boundaries, which was mistakenly reported somewhere as none - so I apologise (especially to the much-maligned Bill!) if I have ever written that in this column. The slowest century in a Test was scored by Mudassar Nazar of Pakistan, who took 557 minutes to reach three figures against England in Lahore in 1977-78.

Kamran Akmal made four stumpings in a match during the World Twenty20. Has anyone else done this, in any international match? asked Faisal Nadeem
Kamran Akmal's four stumpings against Netherlands at Lord's last week was a new record for Twenty20 internationals. Akmal also set the previous record, of three, against Kenya in Nairobi in 2007-08. That mark was equalled by Zimbabwe's Tatenda Taibu against Canada in King City in 2008-09. The one-day international record is three, which has happened 13 times now (click here for a list). In Tests the record for stumpings in an innings (five) and a match (six) were both set by India's Kiran More, against West Indies in Madras (now Chennai) in 1987-88.

My father told me he was once watching a Test and the ball went between the stumps but the batsman was not out as the bails did not come off. Can this be true? asked Usman Mohammad from Lahore
This happened during the third Test between Pakistan and South Africa in Faisalabad in 1997-98. Pakistan's legspinner Mushtaq Ahmed was bowling to Pat Symcox, South Africa's No. 9, and a googly shot between the middle and off stumps ... but the bails stayed put. Wisden reported: "Umpire Dunne gave his spectacles a disbelieving wipe, but the bail was found to be badly cut." Symcox, who had 56 at the time, went on to make 81 - very important runs, as it turned out, as South Africa ended up winning a close match by 53 runs.

Who was Man of the Match in his first two Tests, but only won one more cap? asked Don Lawrence from Birmingham
Sounds like a quiz question... and the answer is England's Richard Johnson, who lifted the match award on his Test debut, against Zimbabwe in Chester-le-Street in 2003, and also in his next match, against Bangladesh in Chittagong in 2003-04. He didn't do so well in his third Test, against Sri Lanka in Galle, also in 2003-04, and - troubled by injury - never played for England again.

Who was the last English player to have scored 300 in a Test? asked Adeel from Pakistan
There have now been five triple-centuries for England in Tests, including the first one of all, Andy Sandham's 325 against West Indies in Kingston in 1929-30. He was followed by Wally Hammond (336 not out against New Zealand in Auckland in 1932-33), Len Hutton (364 - still England's highest score - against Australia at The Oval in 1938), John Edrich (310 not out against New Zealand at Headingley in 1965), and - the most recent instance -Graham Gooch's 333 against India at Lord's in 1990. For a longer list of England's highest Test scores, click here.

Bruce Taylor scored a century and took five wickets in an innings in his first Test. Has anyone else managed this on debut? asked R Chandrasekhar from India
A nice easy one to finish with: no, no one has ever matched Bruce Taylor's debut performance. Taylor scored 105 (his maiden first-class century, too) for New Zealand in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1964-65, then took 5 for 86 in India's first innings. This feat has now been achieved 26 times in all Tests, five of them by Ian Botham. The last man to achieve it was Jacques Kallis, for South Africa against Bangladesh in Potchefstroom in 2002-03. For a full list, click here.

And there's a quick update on the recent question about cricketers with vegetable-related surnames, from the Derbyshire statistician David Baggett
"Sorry to spoil a good story, but the dismissal 'c Beet b Root' was not exactly a 'frequent' entry in county scorebooks - it actually happened only once, when H. P. Chaplin of Sussex went that way at Derby in 1913."

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Cricinfo Guide to International Cricket (reviewed here). If you want to ask Steven a question, use our feedback form. The most interesting questions will be answered here each week

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