March 27, 2012

Afridi's strike rate, and Amir's ban

Also: grounds with one Test hundred, cricket at a curling club, Tendulkar's hundreds in defeats, and Test players born in the USA

Shahid Afridi reached 7000 runs in one-day internationals last week. Is he the only player to reach this milestone with a strike rate above 100? asked Tayo Lasisi from Egypt
Shahid Afridi passed 7000 runs in one-day internationals during Pakistan's defeat by India in he Asia Cup last week in Mirpur. After that match - his 341st ODI - Afridi had a strike rate of 113.96 runs per 100 balls, easily the best by anyone with more than 1000 one-day runs (for the full list, click here. But there is another big scorer with a strike rate better than one a ball: Virender Sehwag currently has 8090 runs at a strike rate of 104.68, an improvement from just over 103 when he passed 7000 runs in January 2010. Next on the list is Adam Gilchrist, who finished with a strike rate of 96.94 after 287 one-day internationals in which he scored 9619 runs. When he passed 7000 his strike rate was just below 95.

What are the chances of Mohammad Amir returning to international cricket after his ban? Have other banned players returned to the fold? asked Maqsood Malik from Lahore
Well, even players slapped with supposed lifetime bans for one reason or another have returned to international cricket in the past. The West Indians who took part in a disapproved tour of South Africa in the early 1980s were all given hefty bans, but some of them were eventually restored to "establishment" cricket. One such was the Barbadian fast bowler Ezra Moseley: he played only two Tests, both against England in 1989-90, but made an impression in the first of them, in Port-of-Spain, breaking Graham Gooch's hand with a nasty lifter as England set about their chase. Gooch himself had served a three-year ban earlier in his career for touring South Africa. Turning to Pakistan, Younis Ahmed was given what was called a life ban at the time for going to South Africa, but was briefly recalled in 1986-87, 17 years after his previous appearances. And Shoaib Akhtar seemed to be permanently dodging one ban or another throughout his career. However, I suspect there may be some resistance - in Pakistan and especially outside - to Amir returning after his five-year ban for match-fixing, so we'll have to wait and see.

I was looking at the scorecard of the 1902 Test at Sheffield, the only one ever played there, and noticed that Clem Hill scored the game's only individual hundred. How many people have made the only century on a Test ground? asked Nigel Lampkin from Harrogate
Clem Hill was the first of seven batsmen to have scored the only century on a particular Test ground. Apart from Hill, who made 119 at Bramall Lane in 1902, the others are Nazar Mohammad, who carried his bat for 124 for Pakistan v India in the only Test ever played at the University Ground in Lucknow, in 1952-53; Hanif Mohammad, 142 for Pakistan v India at Bahawalpur's Dring Stadium in 1954-55; Polly Umrigar, 108 for India later in that same series, at the Services Ground in Peshawar; Viv Richards, 120 not out for West Indies v Pakistan at the Ibn-e-Qasim Bagh Stadium in Multan in 1980-81; Dilip Vengsarkar, 166 for India v Sri Lanka in Cuttack in 1986-87 (the Barabati Stadium had another Test in 1995-96, but no one made a century then: it's the only ground mentioned here to have staged more than one match); and Upul Tharanga, who hit 165 for Sri Lanka v Bangladesh in 2005-06 in the only Test played so far at the Shaheed Chandu Stadium in Bogra.

Where has international cricket been played at a curling club? asked Dipendra Malhotra from Mumbai
The answer to this odd-sounding question is Toronto, in Canada - the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club has staged no fewer than 30 official one-day internationals since the first one there in September 1996. The early matches were contested by India and Pakistan for something called the Friendship Cup - although friendship was in rather short supply in their match onSeptember 14, 1997, when Inzamam-ul-Haq famously waded into the crowd, brandishing his bat, seemingly intent on hitting a man who had called him a potato. Wisden observed: "India's emphatic victory was overshadowed by the fracas in which Inzamam-ul-Haq accosted a spectator who had been taunting him using a megaphone. Play was held up for 35 minutes and referee Jackie Hendriks suspended Inzamam for two matches. Assault charges against Inzamam and the spectator were subsequently dropped."

Sachin Tendulkar finished on the losing side despite scoring his 100th international hundred in Dhaka recently. How many of those hundreds were scored in matches that India lost? asked Madhav Gokhale from Bahrain
This seems to be a recurring query, so here's the chapter and verse: of Sachin Tendulkar's 100 international hundreds, 53 have been in Indian victories (20 in Tests and 33 in ODIs), 25 in defeats (11 in Tests, 14 in ODIs), 20 in draws (all in Tests), one in a tie (against England in Bangalore in the 2011 World Cup), and one in a no result (a rain-affected ODI against England in Chester-le-Street in 2002.

I spotted that Everton Weekes's cousin Kenneth was born in the United States. Is he the only Test player born there? asked Chris Craft from Sydney
Kenneth "Bam Bam" Weekes, who played for Jamaica, won two Test caps in 1939 - he scored 137 at The Oval in his second match, in what turned out to be the last Test before the Second World War. Weekes was born in Boston in 1912 and died, aged 86, in Brooklyn. I'm not sure, by the way, that he was related to the more famous Weekes: Kenneth's obituary in Wisden states that "He claimed no kinship with Everton Weekes." The only other Test player born in the United States was the recent Sri Lankan international Jehan Mubarak, who made his debut in Washington DC, where his father was working as a scientist.

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