August 23, 2011

Tendulkar's tribulations, and the nervous 290s

Also: openers with king pairs, winning big after conceding a first-innings lead, impressive ODI starts, and longest survivors after Test debuts

There has been much made of Sachin Tendulkar's struggles to complete his 100th international hundred. Is this the longest barren spell he has endured in Tests without a century? asked Pratap on Ask Steven Live during the Edgbaston Test
The anticipation of Sachin Tendulkar's 100th international hundred certainly makes it seem like a long time since his last one in Tests, but actually he has had only nine innings (including the second one at The Oval) since making 146 against South Africa in Cape Town in January. The longest ton drought during his Test career was a spell of 17 innings (including the whole of 2006) between scoring 109 against Sri Lanka in Delhi in December 2005 and making 101 against Bangladesh in Chittagong in May 2007. He also went 14 Test innings between centuries against Australia in Adelaide and Nagpur at either end of 2008.

If my memory holds, Alastair Cook became the third batsman to be dismissed in the "nervous 290s" in a Test innings following Viv Richards's 291 and Martin Crowe's 299. Am I right? asked Nair Ottappalam from India
Actually Alastair Cook, with his 294 at Edgbaston, was the fifth batsman to be dismissed in the 290s in a Test. Viv Richards did indeed make 291, against England at The Oval in 1976, but another West Indian, Ramnaresh Sarwan, was out for the same score, against England in Bridgetown early in 2009. India's Virender Sehwag made 293 against Sri Lanka in Mumbai in December 2009 - just missing out on an unprecedented third triple-century - and, as you said, Martin Crowe was heartbreakingly dismissed for 299 for New Zealand against Sri Lanka in Wellington in 1990-91. The only other innings in the 290s in Tests is Don Bradman's 299 not out - the last man was run out - for Australia against South Africa in Adelaide in 1931-32.

Virender Sehwag bagged a king pair in the third Test at Edgbaston. How many openers have suffered this fate in a Test? asked Firdaus Mohandas from India
The only other opener to bag a king pair in a Test, apart from Virender Sehwag at Edgbaston earlier this month, is Javed Omar of Bangladesh, against India in Mirpur in May 2007. Uniquely, Omar was out to the first ball of both innings, from Zaheer Khan each time. There are 14 other known cases of a king pair in Tests, the most recent one before Sehwag's being Ryan Harris' in the second Ashes Test in Adelaide last winter. Harris reviewed both decisions unsuccessfully, so was actually given out four times in the space of two balls. It's just possible there were one or two other king pairs in early Tests for which we don't have full balls-received details.

England won the Trent Bridge Test by 319 runs. Is this the biggest margin of victory for a team that had conceded a first-innings lead? asked Jude Franco from India
It is indeed: England's 319-run victory in Nottingham after being behind on the first innings broke the previous record, set 85 years previously. At The Oval in 1926, England won by 289 runs - and retained the Ashes - despite conceding a first-innings lead of 22 to Australia. Next comes a reversal of that - in Adelaide in 1907-08, Australia beat England by 245 runs despite conceding a first-innings lead of 78.

Brian Vitori took five wickets in each of his first two one-day internationals. Has anyone else ever done this? asked Steve Oehley from New Zealand
Brian Vitori, Zimbabwe's left-arm opening bowler, took five-fors in both his first two ODIs, against Bangladesh earlier this month. This is indeed unique - the best before Vitori was achieved by Australia's Ryan Harris, who took five wickets in both his second and third ODIs, while another Australian, Gary Gilmour, had two in his first four. Vitori was, not surprisingly, the first man to take 10 wickets in his first two ODIs - the previous record was eight, shared by Curtly Ambrose, Winston Davis, Allan Donald, Fidel Edwards, Adam Hollioake and Rusty Theron.

Norman Gordon recently celebrated his 100th birthday. He made his Test debut more than 72 years ago - is this the longest anyone has survived after their first Test? asked Sean Thomas from Belfast
Norman Gordon, the former South Africa fast bowler, did indeed become the first Test player ever to reach 100 years of age earlier this month. He made his debut in the first Test of the home series against England in 1938-39, the one that finished with the famous ten-day drawn Timeless Test in Durban. Gordon thus made his Test debut more than 72 years ago - but, rather surprisingly, he still has a little way to go to claim this particular record: the New Zealander Jack Kerr made his Test debut in 1931, aged 20, and survived more than 75 years after that, before passing away in 2007 at the age of 96. Four other deceased players are also ahead of Gordon on this particular list at the moment: Wilfred Rhodes of England, who lived more than 74 years after his Test debut; Bill Brown of Australia (73); and two New Zealanders: Lindsay "Dad" Weir and Eric Tindill (both 73).

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

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