October 4, 2011

Low winning T20 totals, and the most defeats

Highest totals without centuries, most runs in the final 10 innings, big names who weren't Wisden cricketers, and more

West Indies won at The Oval last week despite scoring only 113. Is this the lowest total successfully defended in a Twenty20 international? asked Anurag Sachdeva from Sri Lanka
The only lower winning score batting first in a "full" Twenty20 international than West Indies' 113 for 5 at The Oval last week is 105, by Zimbabwe in Port-of-Spain in February 2010 - after being bowled out for what looked like a paltry total they restricted West Indies to 79 for 7 in their 20 overs. In an official Twenty20 international in Belfast in August 2008, Ireland scored 43 for 7, then restricted Bermuda to 41 for 8 - but that match was affected by rain, and was reduced to nine overs per side.

Recently Ricky Ponting participated in his 100th Test win. But who has taken part in the most losses (my guess players from Zimbabwe and Bangladesh), and most draws (my guess defensive players like Boon, Boycott and Gavaskar)? asked Vikas Vadgama from India
The player who has been on the losing side most often in Tests is Brian Lara, with 63 - 62 of them for West Indies and one for the World XI against Australia in 2005-06. One behind - and likely to overtake him if West Indies continue their recent poor form - is Shivnarine Chanderpaul, with 62 Test defeats. Alec Stewart (54) and Sachin Tendulkar (50) are both in front of the leading Bangladeshi, Mohammad Ashraful, who has finished on the losing side in 47 of his 56 Tests. The top four names on the "most drawn Tests" list are all Indians: Kapil Dev took part in 76 draws, Sachin Tendulkar 70, Sunil Gavaskar 68 and Dilip Vengsarkar 64. Next come Javed Miandad with 62 and Allan Border with 60. The numbers for Kapil, Gavaskar and Border include the tie in Chennai in 1986-87.

Which batsman scored the most runs in his final 10 Test innings? Is this another list that Don Bradman tops? asked Joe Francis from Melbourne
Actually Don Bradman comes in at a modest 19th on this list, if you include current players. The Don's last 10 innings produced 565 runs at an average of 80.71 (he was nearly 40 by then). Two current players top the list: Ian Bell has scored 835 runs in his most recent 10 innings, and Jacques Kallis 821. Next comes the first man whose career is over, and thus the real leader: Seymour Nurse's last 10 Test innings for West Indies brought him 766 runs, including 258 in his very last innings, against New Zealand in Christchurch in 1968-69. Just behind Nurse is Charles Macartney of Australia, with 753, then come Alastair Cook (738) and Kevin Pietersen (695), before the retired trio of Graham Yallop (693), Graeme Pollock (677) and Sunil Gavaskar (653).

What is the highest total without a century, in Tests and in ODIs? asked Kailakovan Ramamurthy from India
The Test record remains India's 524 for 9 declared against New Zealand in Kanpur in 1976-77, when the highest score was Mohinder Amarnath's 70 (all 11 Indians reached double figures, even Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, who rarely did; Bishan Bedi made his one and only Test fifty). That record was threatened in Perth in 2009-10, when the highest score in Australia's 520 for 7 declared against West Indies was Simon Katich's 99 (there were three other scores of 80-plus). There have been two other Test totals of 500 without a century: South Africa made 517 against Australia in Adelaide in 1997-98, the highest individual contribution being Brian McMillan's undefeated 87, while in Melbourne in 1981-82, Pakistan declared at 500 for 8 against Australia, with Mudassar Nazar scoring 95 and Zaheer Abbas 90. In one-day internationals the record is 392 for 6, by South Africa against Pakistan in Centurion in 2006-07, when the highest score was Jacques Kallis' 88.

Is Scott Borthwick the first Englishman to play international cricket without having played first-class cricket? asked Steve Hardcastle from Sierra Leone
The problem here is that the Durham legspinner Scott Borthwick has played first-class cricket - 27 matches for his county and one for England Lions by the end of the 2011 domestic season. With so many counties it's very unlikely these days that anyone would play for England - even in a limited-overs game - before making his first-class debut. The fewest matches I can remember of any England player in recent years is Darren Pattinson, who had played only 11 first-class games - five of them for Victoria and six for Nottinghamshire - before making his one and only Test appearance, for England against South Africa at Headingley in 2008. In the 19th century five players did make their first-class debuts in Tests for England, all on what were essentially privately raised tours later given Test status. For a full list, click here.

Who are the finest and most famous players who have never been chosen as a Wisden Cricketer of the Year? asked Navneet Mundra via Facebook
There are quite a few notable omissions from the list of players chosen as one of Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Year. The main reason for this is that with one or two exceptions the award has always been based on performances in the preceding English season. This means that overseas players, unless they play a lot in the County Championship, have limited opportunities to qualify. The oversight was addressed in the 2008 Wisden, when the then editor Scyld Berry chose five great players who had never been a Cricketer of the Year: they were Abdul Qadir, Bishan Bedi, Wes Hall, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Jeff Thomson.

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