May 8, 2012

Declaring behind and winning, and doing well but losing

Also: most Tests as a captain, Blowers' near-Test debut, nine bowleds in an innings, and racquet-wielding cricketers

In the recent first Test against West Indies, Australia declared behind on first innings, but won in the end. How often has this happened in Tests? asked Seena John from Sri Lanka
This hasn't happened very often at all: the recent match in Bridgetown - when Michael Clarke declared his first innings 43 behind West Indies' total of 449, but went on to win by three wickets - was actually only the second genuine instance in Test history. The other one also happened in Bridgetown, back in 1934-35, in a match in which, according to Wisden, "the ball, on a pitch affected by rain, nearly always mastered the bat". England's captain, Bob Wyatt, decided to bowl first (very unusual in those days), and bowled West Indies out for 102, then declared his own first innings at 81 for 7; West Indies responded with 51 for 6, then declared themselves, setting England 73 to win on what remained a very spiteful pitch. They slumped to 48 for 6 - but sneaked home without further loss. Technically this also happened in the infamous final Test in Centurion in 1999-2000, when England declared at 0 for 0 after South Africa (who had already won the series) had scored 248 for 8: Hansie Cronje then forfeited his side's second innings, and England made 251 for 8 to win by two wickets. Cronje lost the match - but won himself a leather jacket from a grateful bookmaker. There are 23 further instances of a captain declaring behind on first innings but not winning: six of them ended up losing, while most of the others were either in obvious draws or attempts to persuade the opposing captain to set up a target.

In Australia's recent Tests in the Caribbean the leading run-scorer and top wicket-taker came from the West Indies, but they didn't win the series - indeed they didn't even win a Test. How rare is this? asked Kalyan from the United States
There have now been 36 occasions when the leading run-scorer and wicket-taker in a series (including some one-off Tests) both came from the same side. In the Caribbean recently the table-toppers were Shivnarine Chanderpaul (346 runs) and Kemar Roach (19 wickets) even though West Indies lost the three-match series 2-0. The last time it happened was in 2008, when South Africa won in England despite the leading performers coming from the home side - Kevin Pietersen (421 runs) and Jimmy Anderson (15 wickets). The most extreme example was probably the 1924-25 Ashes series: Herbert Sutcliffe scored 734 runs, and Maurice Tate took 38 wickets... but England still lost 4-1. My colleagues on ESPNcricinfo's List column covered this subject in more detail after the 2009 Ashes series, although this precise query didn't actually happen then.

Who has captained his side in the most Tests? asked Martin Crump from Scotland
This is a record which is probably about to change hands. The long-time leader on this list is Allan Border, who captained Australia in 93 Test matches between 1978-79 and 1993-94, winning 32, losing 22 and drawing 39 (including one tie). But hot on his heels now is Graeme Smith, who has skippered in 91 Tests since taking over as South Africa's captain in 2002. So far he has won 42, lost 26 and drawn 23 of them: this includes one defeat as captain of the World XI (against Australia in 2005-06).

Has there ever been a Test or ODI innings in which everyone was out bowled? asked Simon Lawrence from New Zealand
There has not yet been an international innings in which everyone has been out bowled. There have been two instances of a Test innings containing nine bowleds, both of them from long ago. It happened first to South Africa against England in Cape Town in 1888-89: nine were bowled, eight of them by Johnny Briggs, who took 8 for 11, and the other man was run out. And it happened again at The Oval in 1890, when the only man not to be bowled in Australia's second innings of 102 was their top scorer, Harry Trott, who was caught for 25. The record for a one-day international is eight men bowled, in New Zealand's innings of 129 against West Indies at Albion in Guyana in 1984-85.

Is it true that the radio commentator Henry Blofeld nearly played in a Test in an emergency? asked Mark Cowell from Manchester
Yes it is: it was in India in 1963-64, when the England touring party was badly hit by illness and injury. Henry Blofeld had been a very promising schoolboy cricketer, and was a Cambridge Blue in 1959: but shortly after that he was involved in a car accident which affected his eyesight. In India, England only had ten fit players in advance of the second Test, in Bombay, and Blofeld - who was covering the tour as a journalist - was sounded out about playing. (Blowers remembers that the tour manager, David Clark, advised him: "Try to go to bed before midnight.") But in the end Micky Stewart thought he'd recovered enough to take his place in the side, and Blofeld didn't play. Stewart fell ill again, with what turned out to be dysentery, and took no part in the match after tea on the first day. England, whose side included only two other specialist batsmen, did rather well in the circumstances to draw!

Have any Test cricketers also played tennis for their country in the Davis Cup? asked Ashok Ramesh from Kolkata
I have a feeling I've answered this before, but here goes: there are two Test cricketers who have also played in the Davis Cup. One is the Indian Cotar Ramaswami, who played tennis for India in 1922 and two Tests in 1936, when he was 40; the other is the West Indian wicketkeeper Ralph Legall, who played two Tests against India (whose tour manager was Ramaswami!) in the Caribbean in 1952-53, and later appeared in a Davis Cup tie for the regional team, against the United States in 1954. One near-miss was by SM Hadi, who played Davis Cup in 1925 and took part in India's 1936 cricket tour of England without playing in the Tests. Asif Karim, who played several one-day internationals for Kenya, including captaining them in the 1999 World Cup, also appeared in the Davis Cup, against Egypt in 1988.

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