February 28, 2012

Gambhir's near-misses, and Levi's sixes

Players who lost most Tests, captains with most ODIs, players born on the Isle of Wight, and a septuagenarian first-class debutant

Gautam Gambhir was out twice in a row in the nineties in the CB Series in Australia. Is he the first to suffer this fate in one-day internationals? asked Jamie Thomas from Melbourne
I was quite surprised to discover that Gautam Gambhir - who was out for 92 and 91 in successive matches in Adelaide earlier this month - was actually the 11th batsman to make nineties in successive one-day international innings. The list includes Sourav Ganguly, who had consecutive scores of exactly 90 (against England and Kenya in September 2004), Martin Crowe (two 91s in a row against Australia in March 1993, the first one not out) and, almost inevitably, Sachin Tendulkar (99 and 93 against South Africa in Belfast in 2007). The first man to suffer this double near-miss was Zaheer Abbas, with 93 against West Indies in the 1979 World Cup, then 95 not out in his next ODI innings ... 18 months later, also against West Indies, in Sialkot in December 1980. To complete the list, the others are Alistair Campbell, Michael Clarke, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Rohit Sharma, Shoaib Malik and Kris Srikkanth.

Richard Levi's 117 not out at Hamilton included 13 sixes. Is that a record for international cricket? asked Dennis Morgan from the United States
The 13 sixes in that astonishing assault by the little-known South African player Richard Levi against New Zealand in Hamilton last week did constitute a new record for Twenty20 internationals - previously it was ten, by Chris Gayle in his 117 for West Indies against South Africa in Johannesburg during the inaugural World Twenty20 in 2007-08 (the first century in the new format). But the overall record is 15 sixes, as blasted by Shane Watson in the course of his jet-propelled 185 not out for Australia in a one-day international against Bangladesh in Mirpur last April. The Test record is 12, by Wasim Akram during his 257 not out for Pakistan against Zimbabwe in Sheikhupura in 1996-97.

Which player has been on the losing side most often in Tests? asked Deepu Narayanan from India
This record changed hands quite recently. When West Indies lost the first two Tests of their series in India last November, they were the 63rd and 64th defeats suffered by Shivnarine Chanderpaul. This took him past the old mark of 63, set by his former team-mate Brian Lara (62 defeats for West Indies and one for the ICC World XI). The only other players to have endured a half-century of Test defeats are Alec Stewart and Sachin Tendulkar, both with 54: Rahul Dravid currently sits on 49.

Ricky Ponting captained in 230 one-day internationals - is this a record? asked Carl Browne from Adelaide
Ricky Ponting's brief - and presumably final - return to the Australian captaincy earlier this month meant he has led them on 230 occasions in one-day internationals. The only other man to have skippered in more than 200 is New Zealand's Stephen Fleming, with 213: Arjuna Ranatunga is next with 193. In all, 16 men have led in more than 100 ODIs: one of them, MS Dhoni, recently became the first man to captain and keep wicket in more than 100. He has now done this in 118 ODIs: Andy Flower is next, a long way adrift with 46.

Is Danny Briggs the first international player to emerge from the Isle of Wight? asked Mark Thompson from Ryde ... Isle of Wight
The 20-year-old Hampshire slow left-armer Danny Briggs, who made his England debut in the final one-day international against Pakistan in Dubai last week, is indeed the first international player to have been born on the Isle of Wight. However, there is another current county player who was born there: Briggs' Hampshire team-mate David Griffiths, a fast bowler - also born in Newport - who took 6 for 85 against Nottinghamshire last season.

Donald Gordon, who played three matches for Oxford MCCU in 2011, was also born on the island. I think there have been only five other first-class cricketers born on the Isle of Wight, all of them also Hampshire players: Matthew Wood (1876), Arthur Watson (1885; also one match for Cambridge University in 1888), Howard Phillips (1889-1902), Hamilton Smith (1909-1914), and William Scott (1927).

Which Indian player made his first-class debut at the age of 72 and never played again? asked Jude Franco from India
This was the Raja Maharaj Singh, who captained the Bombay Governor's XI against the touring Commonwealth XI at the Brabourne Stadium in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1950-51. Maharaj Singh, who was born in 1878, was in fact the Governor at the time - the first Indian to hold the post. He remains the oldest man to play in a first-class match (and obviously the oldest debutant). Possibly diplomatically, he was allowed to score four runs before he was caught at slip off Jim Laker. One of the Raja's other opponents, 21-year-old Sonny Ramadhin, was 51 years younger than him, a record approached only by CK Nayudu who, at 68 in 1963-64, played a first-class Defence Fund match against a team containing the 17-year-old Ashok Mankad.

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