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All about Cape Town

The Test at Newlands has launched a thousand questions (or so it seems)

Steven Lynch

November 15, 2011

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Nathan Lyon has a bat, South Africa v Australia, 1st Test, Cape Town, 2nd day, November 10, 2011
Nathan Lyon: the eighth No. 11 to top-score in a Test innings © AFP
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Australia's last pair more than doubled their total - is this unique in Test history? asked Tim Gardner from Chile
The effort of Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon in Cape Town was only the second time that the last-wicket pair has doubled the score in any Test innings. The other instance was at The Oval in 1980, when Peter Willey and Bob Willis came together with England 92 for 9 against West Indies, and put on 117 in nearly three hours. Willey, who made 100 not out, and Willis (24) scored 55.98% of England's runs in that innings, the only higher percentage than Siddle and Lyon's 55.31% by a last-wicket pair. There's then a big drop to 44.94%, by India's last pair (Srinivas Venkataraghavan and Bishan Bedi) against New Zealand in Hyderabad in 1969-70, when they took the score from 49 for 9 to 89.

Australia's ninth wicket fell at 21, is that a new record low for a Test? asked Neal Hedges from Australia
This is indeed a new record: the previous-lowest score at which the ninth wicket had fallen in a Test match was 25, which also happened to Australia, at The Oval in 1896. On that occasion they made it to 44 all out, one of only three Australian totals lower than last week's 47 at Newlands: they were bowled out for 36 by England at Edgbaston in 1902, and for 42 by them in Sydney in 1887-88. For a full list of the lowest totals at the fall of each wicket in Tests, click here. Australia's plight in Cape Town - when they narrowly avoided the record-low Test total, New Zealand's 26 against England in Auckland in 1954-55 - reminded me of a County Championship match at Grace Road in 1971. Glamorgan had suffered a horrendous collapse against Leicestershire, and were 11 for 8 when Don Shepherd joined Peter Walker at the crease. Walker knew that the lowest first-class total was 12, and legend has it he said to his new partner: "Well, Don, shall we stick around and get a few runs, or get out and make history?" They chose the first option, raising the total to 24. I wondered if Peter Siddle said something similar.

Australia's No. 11, last man Nathan Lyon, top-scored in their second innings - how often has this happened in Tests? asked Michael Browne via Facebook
Nathan Lyon was only the eighth No. 11 to top-score in a Test innings, and the first since England's Steve Harmison did it - also in Cape Town - in 2004-05. The first to achieve the feat was Fred "The Demon" Spofforth, for Australia against England in Melbourne in 1884-85. Spofforth made 50, the first of only 12 half-centuries by No. 11s in Tests. For the full list of top-scoring last men, click here.

Twenty-three wickets fell on the second day. Is that a record for a Test match? asked Arsalan Ghouri from Malaysia
It's not quite a record, but it was the most wickets in a single day's play in a Test match for nearly 110 years! The biggest clatter of wickets in one day was 27, on the second (and last) day of the 1888 Ashes Test at Lord's. England started it at 18 for 3, but were all out for 53; Australia (who had made 116 on the first day) were then skittled for 60, before England - who needed 124 to win - were bowled out for 62. The batsmen did have an excuse: the ground was very wet after a prolonged period of bad weather. In Melbourne in 1901-02, 25 wickets fell on the first day, while 24 fell on the second day of the 1896 Ashes Test at The Oval. For the full list, click here.

Australia were bowled out for 47 in 18 overs at Cape Town. I know this is not the lowest Test total, but was it the shortest completed innings in terms of the number of overs bowled? asked Jude Franco from Nigeria
There have been only five shorter completed innings in Tests than Australia's 18 overs - 108 balls - in Cape Town. The shortest of all was South Africa's 75-ball effort (they scraped together 30 runs) against England at Edgbaston in 1924. Australia's only shorter Test innings lasted 99 balls (12.3 eight-ball overs) in making 58 on a rain-affected pitch in Brisbane in the first Test of the 1936-37 Ashes series. For the full list of the shortest Test innings, click here.

The second day at Cape Town featured part of all four innings of the match - has this happened before in Tests? asked Ujan from Bangladesh
This has happened twice before in Tests. the first occasion was at Lord's in 2000, in the match between England and West Indies: there was part of all four innings on the second day, although that included only the final ball of West Indies' first innings (they were 267 for 9 overnight, and lost Courtney Walsh first delivery next morning) and seven balls of England's second (they were 0 for 0 when bad light stopped play. In between, England were all out for 134 and West Indies collapsed for 54. Then, in Hamilton in 2002-03, the third day of the second Test between new Zealand and India also featured part of all four innings.

Shane Watson claimed five wickets in 21 balls at Cape Town. Has anyone taken a five-for in fewer deliveries in a Test? asked Scott Haze from Australia
Rather surprisingly, perhaps, this isn't even in the top 20 for the fastest five-fors in a Test match. The fastest known (and there are a lot of early matches where ball-by-ball details don't survive, so we can't be absolutely sure) was five wickets in 13 balls by Waqar Younis, during his 6 for 55 for Pakistan against Bangladesh in Dhaka in 2001-02. Waqar blew away five wickets as Bangladesh crumbled from 146 for 4 to 151 for 9, transforming what had previously been unremarkable figures of none for 48. The industrious Melbourne statistician Charles Davis has also identified another possible spell of five wickets in 13 balls, by Monty Noble for Australia against England in Melbourne in 1901-02, during his overall figures of 7 for 17 as England declined from 51 for 5 to 61 all out. Jim Laker's 9 for 37 in the first innings of the Ashes Test at Old Trafford in 1956 included a burst of five wickets in 14 balls, as did Jermaine Lawson's stunning figures of 6 for 3 for West Indies against Bangladesh in Dhaka in December 2002.

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

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Steven Lynch Steven Lynch won the Wisden Cricket Monthly Christmas Quiz three years running before the then-editor said "I can't let you win it again, but would you like a job?" That lasted for 15 years, before he moved across to the Wisden website when that was set up in 2000. Following the merger of the two sites early in 2003 he was appointed as the global editor of Wisden Cricinfo. In June 2005 he became the deputy editor of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. He continues to contribute the popular weekly "Ask Steven" question-and-answer column on ESPNcricinfo, and edits the Wisden Guide to International Cricket.

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