January 31, 2012

Bailey's beginning, and Hogg's homecoming

Also, records for neutral venues, fastest hundreds and most expensive T20 overs

George Bailey will captain Australia on his international debut. How many other Australians have done this? asked Kyle Cosgrove from Adelaide
Assuming Tasmania's George Bailey leads Australia out as planned in tomorrow's Twenty20 international against India in Sydney, he will become only the second man to captain Australia on his international debut. The other one was way back in 1877, when Dave Gregory skippered in the very first Test match, against England in Melbourne. The last man to captain a Test-playing nation on his first international appearance was Clive Rice, when South Africa returned to the fold with three one-day internationals in India in 1991-92; before that it was Tony Lewis, who led England on his Test debut against India in Delhi in 1972-73. Since then Lee Germon captained New Zealand in his first Test, against India in Bangalore in 1995-96, but he had played a one-day international before that.

Is Brad Hogg the oldest man to play for Australia? asked Mark Drennan from Sydney
Brad Hogg, who turns 41 on February 6, will be the oldest man to play a Twenty20 international for Australia, beating the record of Adam Gilchrist, who was 36 years and 79 days old when he played his last one, against India in Melbourne in February 2008. Only two older players from anywhere have appeared in a Twenty20 international - Sanath Jayasuriya, who was five days short of his 42nd birthday when he played for Sri Lanka against England in Bristol last June, and the Canadian Sunil Dhaniram (41 years 116 days against Kenya in Dubai in February 2010). The oldest man to play in a one-day international for Australia is Bob Simpson, who was 42 years and 68 days old when he skippered against West Indies in St Lucia in April 1978. But in Australian Test terms they all have to tip their hats (or their pensions) to Bert "Dainty" Ironmonger, who was just over a month short of his 51st birthday when he played against England in Sydney in the final Test of the 1932-33 Bodyline series. In that match Ironmonger - a notoriously poor fielder even when younger - took a rare catch, to deny England's nightwatchman Harold Larwood (98) what would have been his only Test century.

What is the highest total in a Test in which no one reached 50? asked Arvind Mehta from Delhi
The highest Test total without an individual half-century is 315, by England against West Indies in Port-of-Spain in 1985-86, when the highest score was David Gower's 47. There were 59 extras, though. There have been two other totals above 300 in Tests which did not include any fifties: England's 304 against South Africa in Cape Town in 2004-05, when the highest individual score was 42 by the No. 11, Steve Harmison, and 302 by South Africa against New Zealand in Wellington in 1963-64 (highest score 44 by Peter van der Merwe).

Was Saeed Ajmal the first bowler to take ten wickets in a Test at a neutral venue? asked Cherise Asha Clarke from Trinidad and Tobago
Saeed Ajmal, who took ten for 97 for Pakistan against England in Dubai earlier this month, was actually the second bowler to take ten wickets in a Test in which neither side was playing at home: Shane Warne took 11 for 188 for Australia v Pakistan in Colombo in October 2002. Ajmal's first-innings figures of 7 for 55 are the best at a neutral venue, though, beating Warne's 7 for 94 in that same match. Ajmal, Warne and Shoaib Akhtar are the only bowlers to take two five-fors at neutral venues. And, before someone asks, the highest score in a "neutral" Test is 278 not out, by AB de Villiers for South Africa against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi in November 2010. There have been four other double-centuries in such Tests.

The Cricinfo commentators wrote that David Warner's century at Perth was the fastest in Tests by an opening batsman. Whose record did he break? asked Hemant Kher from the United States
David Warner reached his hundred in the third Test against India in Perth from 69 deliveries: there are only three faster ones where the balls faced are known (the details are not known for many early Tests), by Viv Richards (56 balls), Adam Gilchrist (57), and the old Australian allrounder Jack Gregory (67). For full details, click here. Warner beat the known record for an opener by just one ball: Chris Gayle romped to three figures in 70 deliveries in Perth in 2009-10. That in turn beat by one another famous West Indian opener's blast at the WACA - Roy Fredericks' 71-ball ton against Australia in 1975-76.

Was Anthony Martin's recent four-over spell of 0 for 70 the most expensive in a senior Twenty20 match? asked Dean Burns from Australia
Anthony Martin, the Leeward Islands legspinner, went for 70 runs in his four overs against Trinidad & Tobago in a Caribbean T20 match at North Sound in Antigua earlier this month. Martin, a jovial character, might now just regret saying, after taking four wickets against India in Antigua last year, "No one comes here and destroys me on my pitch. I don't care who they are." The good news for Martin is that his analysis wasn't quite the worst in Twenty20 history: playing for Sialkot Stallions against Lahore Lions in a Pakistan domestic match in Faisalabad last June, opening bowler Sarmad Anwar returned the eye-watering figures of 4-0-81-0.

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2012. Ask Steven is now on Facebook