December 1, 2009

Barath's debut feat, and Umar Akmal's too

Most Test wins by an Indian, most wins by anybody, centuries in low totals, and low career averages

Is Adrian Barath the youngest West Indian - or the youngest from anywhere - to score a Test century? asked Rawle Johnson from Barbados
Adrian Barath, who made 104 on his Test debut against Australia in Brisbane last week, aged 19 years 228 days, is indeed the youngest West Indian to score a Test century. The previous record-holder for them was George Headley, who was more than a year older when he made 176 against England in Bridgetown in 1929-30. But Barath is only 17th on the overall list of youngest Test centurions, a roll of honour headed by Bangladesh's Mohammad Ashraful, who was only 17 years 63 days old when he scored 114 on his debut, against Sri Lanka in Colombo in September 2001. For a list, click here (note that the list gives the players' ages on the opening day of the Test in which they scored their hundreds).

How many players have ended up on the losing side after scoring more than 200 runs in their debut Test, as Umar Akmal did in Dunedin? asked Seena John from the United Arab Emirates
Pakistan's Umar Akmal, who scored 129 and 75 on his debut against New Zealand in Dunedin last week, is only the third batsman to score 200 or more runs yet finish on the losing side in his first Test. Australia's Archie Jackson made exactly 200 - 164 and 36 - in vain against England in Adelaide in 1928-29, but the overall leader is England's KS Ranjitsinhji, who made 216 runs - 62 and 154 not out - on his Test debut against Australia at Old Trafford in 1896 but still lost. A further 16 players have made a century on Test debut yet finished on the losing side, the most recent ones being Barath and Akmal's Pakistan team-mate Fawad Alam, who made 168 against Sri Lanka in Colombo in July. Fawad was also (to answer another question received this week, from Anurag Sachdeva) the only previous Pakistani to score a century on Test debut overseas.

Recently India completed their 100th Test win. Which player has appeared in most of these wins? (My guess would be Sachin or Kumble)... asked Sidhanta Patnaik from India
Not bad guesses - Sachin Tendulkar has appeared in 52 of India's Test victories, while Anil Kumble played in 43. Rahul Dravid comes between them on the list, though - he has taken part in 45 Test victories so far. Sourav Ganguly was on the winning side 37 times, a number matched by VVS Laxman during India's 100th Test victory in Kanpur last week. Of players whose careers ended before 2000, Kapil Dev led the way with 24 wins, one more than Sunil Gavaskar.

Is West Indies' 187 at the Gabba the lowest Test total to include a century? asked Steve Price
Rather surprisingly, perhaps, there have been five lower all-out Test totals that included an individual century than West Indies' 187 in Brisbane last week. Top (or bottom) of the list is New Zealand's 159 in Christchurch in 1962-63, which included exactly 100 from their captain John Reid. Also in Christchurch, in 2006-07, Sri Lanka's 170 against New Zealand featured 100 not out from Kumar Sangakkara, while in Cape Town in 1898-99 Jimmy Sinclair made 106 (South Africa's first Test century) in a total of 177 against England. At Lord's - the one in Durban, not the rather more famous one in London - in 1913-14, South Africa's Herbie Taylor made 109 out of 182 against England, and in Sydney in 1998-99, Australia's 184 included no fewer than 123 from Michael Slater.

Ricky Ponting just won his 91st Test. Has anyone finished on the winning side more often? asked Shobhit from India
Actually there's one person ahead of Ricky Ponting, who did indeed finish on the winning side for the 91st time in a Test against West Indies at Brisbane last week: his old team-mate Shane Warne won 92 Tests. Ponting might well overtake him during the current Australian season. Not surprisingly, perhaps, this particular list is dominated by recent Australians: Steve Waugh finished on the winning side 86 times, Glenn McGrath 84, Adam Gilchrist 73 (out of 96 Tests played), Mark Waugh 72, Matthew Hayden 71 and Justin Langer 70. Next comes the first non-Aussie: South Africa's Mark Boucher, with 65 wins, one ahead of his long-time team-mate Jacques Kallis.

Is Chris Martin's Test batting average the lowest ever for someone who has batted more than 20 times? asked Eamon from Australia
Chris Martin's current Test batting average is 2.30, but somewhat amazingly there are two players who batted more than 20 times in Tests with worse records. Australia's Jack Saunders, chosen as a left-arm bowler, averaged 2.29 from 23 innings in the early 1900s, but the man on top of the list is a much more recent one: the former Zimbabwe medium-pacer Mpumelelo "Pommie" Mbangwa - now a commentator - managed just 34 runs from 25 innings (eight of them not out) to finish with a batting average of exactly 2.00.

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