August 9, 2011

Bresnan's start, and Bradman's finish

Also: pairs of half-centuries and five-fors, dismissed off the first ball of either innings, and hypothetical career stats for Brian Close

After Trent Bridge, Tim Bresnan had played eight Tests and been on the winning side each time. Is this a record? asked Michael Vowles from Northampton
Tim Bresnan has indeed made a fine start to his Test career, finishing on the winning side in all his eight matches so far, which equals the England record set by Andrew Strauss. The record for an entire career is held by the West Indian Eldine Baptiste, who played 10 Tests between 1983-84 and 1989-90 and won all 10. But the best start to a Test career, and the record Bresnan has to aim for, was achieved by Adam Gilchrist, who was on the winning side in each of his first 15 matches - starting in 1999-2000, until the famous match in Kolkata in 2000-01, Gilchrist's 16th Test, which India won after following on. Next comes another Australian, Stuart Clark, who won his first 13 Tests, while Brett Lee, who made his debut in the same season as Gilchrist, finished on the winning side in his first 10 Tests before losing his 11th (at Headingley in 2001). Thilan Samaraweera of Sri Lanka was also on the winning side in each of his first 10 Tests.

Did Don Bradman really need only four runs to finish with a Test average of 100? What if he had batted again in the second innings of that Test in 1948? asked Glyn Davies from Essex
Had Don Bradman scored 4, rather than 0, in what turned out to be his final Test innings, against England at The Oval in 1948, he would have finished with the nice, round batting average of 100. I've never quite believed the stories about him having tears in his eyes when he went out to bat: apart from anything else he wouldn't have known at the time that it was his last innings - Australia were 117 for 2 when he was out, although admittedly they had just bowled England out for 52. If The Don had had a second innings at The Oval after a duck in the first, he would have needed to score 104 or more if he was dismissed (or remain 4 or more not out) to have finished with an average of 100. I suspect it should also be pointed out that back then cricket statistics were not the instantly available things they are now - I'd be surprised if he knew the precise details of what he needed to average 100.

Is Stuart Broad the first Test cricketer to both take a hat-trick and be a victim in someone else's? asked Lewis Fox from Australia
No, Stuart Broad - who was the third man in Peter Siddle's hat-trick in the first Ashes Test in Brisbane last winter - is actually the fifth player to have this particular distinction in Tests, one of the others being one of his hat-trick victims at Trent Bridge, Harbhajan Singh. The others to have taken a Test hat-trick and also featured in one are Darren Gough of England, Australia's Shane Warne and Nuwan Zoysa of Sri Lanka. Gough featured in Warne's hat-trick, and Warne in Harbhajan's.

Tim Bresnan and Stuart Broad both scored a fifty and took a five-wicket haul each in the second Test in Nottingham. Has this ever happened before in Test cricket? asked Fahad from Pakistan
It is quite unusual for two players to manage this all-round feat in the same Test. It has happened only 10 times before: by George Giffen and Albert Trott, for Australia v England in Adelaide in 1894-95; by George Hirst and Hugh Trumble, in the match between England and Australia at The Oval in 1902; by Alan Davidson and Wes Hall, in the tied Test between Australia and West Indies in Brisbane in 1960-61; by Wes Hall and Polly Umrigar, West Indies v India in Port-of-Spain in 1961-62; by Ian Botham and Kapil Dev, England v India at Lord's in 1982; by Ian Botham and Imran Khan, England v Pakistan at Headingley in 1982; by Lance Cairns and Ian Botham, New Zealand v England in Wellington in 1983-84; by Brett Lee and Chris Cairns, Australia v New Zealand in Brisbane in 2001-02; by Mohammad Rafique and Elton Chigumbura, Bangladesh v Zimbabwe in Chittagong in 2004-05; and by Shakib Al Hasan and Daniel Vettori, Bangladesh v New Zealand in Chittagong in 2008-09. Bresnan and Broad were only the second pair from the same country to do it in the same Test, after Giffen and Trott (who was making his Test debut) in 1894-95.

Had Tim Bresnan held on to the edge at Trent Bridge, Abhinav Mukund would have been dismissed off the very first ball of both innings. How often has this happened in Test cricket? asked Rasbihari Mathur from India
Ah yes, I knew Tim Bresnan must have done something wrong at Trent Bridge! Abhinav Mukund narrowly avoided joining a club of one - the only man to be dismissed by the first ball of the innings twice in the same Test match is Javed Omar of Bangladesh, who fell to India's Zaheer Khan for a golden duck in both innings of the second Test in Mirpur in May 2007.

If Brian Close had played every available England Test from his debut to his eventual last Test, how many games would he have played, and based on his eventual averages, how many runs and wickets would he have achieved? asked Bob Langford from Australia
Brian Close played his first Test for England aged 18 in 1949, and the last of his 22 matches as a 45-year-old in 1976. In that time England actually played 244 Test matches, so if Close had managed to stay fit and in favour for them all, he would still be the most-capped player by a distance. If he had maintained his Test averages - a fairly modest 887 runs at 25.34 with the bat and 18 wickets at 29.55 with the ball - he would have finished up with something like 9800 runs and 200 wickets. I suppose this is the place to point out that if Don Bradman and Sydney Barnes had played as many Tests as Sachin Tendulkar (179) and managed to maintain their averages they would have finished with around 24,100 runs and 1250 wickets respectively!

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2011. Ask Steven is now on Facebook