October 25, 2011

The day everyone was playing

Most players fielded in a year, bowlers' most agonising days, most runs in boundaries in a T20, and more

On October 18, there are going to be five different series taking place, which will include all 10 Test-playing teams. Has this ever happened before? asked Askhay Dandekar from New Zealand
Apart from global events such as the World Cup or World Twenty20, the last occasion that all 10 Test-playing teams were engaged in bilateral series at the same time was in March 2004, when New Zealand-South Africa, Pakistan-India, Sri Lanka-Australia, West Indies-England and Zimbabwe-Bangladesh all overlapped for a couple of days. The teams weren't necessarily playing on exactly the same days, though, and that won't happen this month either, rather disappointingly for statisticians (although my hard-pushed ESPNcricinfo colleagues probably don't see it that way!).

There have only ever been two occasions when four Test matches were in progress on the same day: March 21, 1998 (the fourth and final day of the second Test between India and Australia in Kolkata, the third day of South Africa's Test against Sri Lanka in Cape Town, the second day of West Indies v England in Antigua, and the first day of Zimbabwe's Test against Pakistan in Harare); and March 11, 2001 - the last day of England's exciting three-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in Kandy, the fourth day of New Zealand v Pakistan in Auckland, the third day of the Test between West Indies and South Africa in Georgetown, and the first day of the classic Test between India and Australia in Kolkata, in which India overturned a first-innings lead of 274 to win by 171 runs after following on.

The same eight teams should have also been locked in battle a week later, on March 18, 2001, but England won their third Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo inside three days, finishing it off on March 17. If you include one-day internationals, there are 17 further instances of eight of the current Test-playing nations being in action on the same day, the first five of them at the 1983 World Cup, and the most recent on November 27, 2009. And if you include Associate member nations, the busiest day of international cricket ever was on February 4, 2007, when six official ODIs took place: Australia beat New Zealand in Melbourne, South Africa beat Pakistan in Centurion, and Bangladesh beat Zimbabwe in Harare, while in an Associates tournament in Nairobi, Scotland beat Kenya, Canada beat Ireland, and Netherlands beat Bermuda. (Many thanks to Travis Basevi at ESPNcricinfo for his number-crunching skills in connection with this one.)

Australia have already, by my reckoning, used 21 players in one-day internationals this year. Is this a record? asked Greg Wright from Melbourne
You're right, Australia have indeed already used 21 players in their one-day international team during 2011. But this is nowhere near a record - for a start, the Aussies used 32 themselves during 2009. India used 33 different players in ODIs last year (2010), but the overall record was also set in 2009, when West Indies employed 36 different men in ODIs, mainly thanks to the contractual dispute in the middle of the year, which obliged them to field a second-string team comprising several new players, during their home series against Bangladesh. Pakistan also used 32 players during 2003.

Three Indian bowlers conceded more than 150 runs while England piled up 710 for 7 in the third Test at Birmingham. Has this ever happened before in a Test? asked Seena John from the UK
Rather surprisingly perhaps, that instance at Edgbaston - when Sreesanth finished with 0 for 158, Ishant Sharma 1 for 159 and Amit Mishra 3 for 150 - was the fifth time in Test history that three bowlers had conceded 150 or more runs in the same innings. The first instance was at The Oval in 1938, when the Australians toiled in the face of England's 903 for 7: Merv Waite finished with 1 for 150, Bill O'Reilly 3 for 178 and "Chuck" Fleetwood-Smith 1 for 298 (the most runs ever conceded in any Test innings). The boot was on the other foot in Sydney in 1946-47, when Alec Bedser (1 for 153), Doug Wright (1 for 169) and Peter Smith (2 for 172) suffered as Australia scored 659 for 8. In Wellington in 1994-95, West Indies amassed 660 for 5 (Murphy Su'a 0 for 179, Simon Doull 2 for 162 and Matthew Hart 0 for 181), while in Colombo in 1997, Rajesh Chauhan took 1 for 276, Anil Kumble 1 for 223 and Nilesh Kulkarni 1 for 195 as Sri Lanka piled up the world-record Test total of 952 for 6.

David Warner hit 92 in boundaries during New South Wales's Champions League T20 match against Chennai Super Kings the other day. Is this a record for a Twenty20 innings? asked Mark Baker from Sydney
David Warner's 92 in boundaries in that innings - 11 fours and eight sixes - in Chennai earlier this month actually puts him only joint tenth on that particular list. It's headed by Essex's Graham Napier, who walloped 136 out of 152 not out in boundaries - 10 fours and 16 sixes - against Sussex in Chelmsford in June 2008. Two other batsmen have managed more than a century in boundaries in a Twenty20 innings: Brendon McCullum hit 118 out of 158 not out (10 fours and 13 sixes) for Kolkata Knight Riders against Royal Challengers Bangalore on the first day of the inaugural IPL in April 2008, and the following month Sanath Jayasuriya's 114 not out for the Mumbai Indians against Chennai Super Kings included 102 in boundaries (nine fours and 11 sixes). For the full list, click here.

Is it true that Rahul Dravid has faced more deliveries than any other player in Tests? asked Keith D'Souza
It is true: Rahul Dravid passed the 30,000-ball mark during his superb rearguard 146 not out against England at The Oval in August. He has now faced 30,090 deliveries in Test cricket. In second place is Sachin Tendulkar, who has faced around 27,700 balls. I have to say "around" because although we know he has faced 27,665 deliveries, there remains one Sachin innings for which we don't have full details - his 11 in 92 minutes against Sri Lanka in Chandigarh in November 1990 (if anyone knows where the scorebook is, please let us know!). Allan Border is known to have faced 27,002 deliveries in Tests, not including four innings (in which he scored 78 runs) for which we don't know the balls-faced details.

Which bowler took more than 3000 wickets in first-class cricket but played only one Test? asked Ray Penson from New Zealand
This was the Gloucestershire slow left-armer Charlie Parker, who took 3278 wickets in first-class cricket at an average of less than 20. Most of them came for Gloucestershire, for whom he played between 1903 and 1935, by which time he was 52 (he still took 108 wickets at 26 apiece). He passed 100 wickets each season from 1920 to 1935, and reached 200 five times, with 222 (at 14.91) in 1925. Parker's only England cap came during the 1921 Ashes series, when he was called up for the fourth Test at Old Trafford, by which time England were already 3-0 down. Parker took 2 for 32 - the wickets of Charles Macartney and "Nip" Pellew" - from 28 overs as Australia were restricted to 175, but rain had washed out the first day of what was only a three-day match, and the Aussies escaped with a draw after conceding a first-innings lead of 187. On a couple of later occasions Parker was included in a Test squad but left out of the final XI, and he did himself no favours by once becoming embroiled in a heated argument in a lift with Plum Warner, a Test selector at the time - and an amateur to boot - during which Parker accused Warner of holding back his Test career.

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