June 12, 2012

Gaffer's super digits, and several sixes

Also: a hat-trick but not quite, caught behind plenty, longest pre-war survivors, and most hundreds in ODI wins

Whose total number of runs in Tests is the same as his date of birth? asked Roger Creber from England
The answer to this intriguing question turns out to be the former England captain Alec Stewart, who was born on April 8, 1963 (8.4.63) and ended up with 8463 runs from his 133 Tests. I'm not too sure Alec realised the coincidence, though. As it happens, in his autobiography he wrote - about playing for England when past 40 - "If you're good enough, the date on your birth certificate is meaningless."

Who once reached 50, 100, 150 and 200 in the same innings with sixes? asked Brian Matthews from England
This big-hitting batsman was Gordon Greenidge, for Hampshire against Sussex at Southampton (the old Northlands Road ground) in 1975. "I am often asked if this was deliberate," he wrote. "It certainly was not... I did not realise I had done it at every half-century until Richard Gilliat, my partner for the fourth wicket, told me about it. I can assure you, it came as a pleasant surprise and I promptly hit another one to bring up my 200." Perhaps upset at only managing a four to go past 250, he was out shortly afterwards for 259. In all, Greenidge hit 13 sixes in that innings, a record for the County Championship at the time (it's now 16, by Andrew Symonds and Graham Napier).

Who took a hat-trick in his last first-class match, none of which were out? asked Mick Vonlanthen from Cape Town
I think this peculiar distinction is ascribed to the former South African captain Trevor Goddard, a medium-pace bowler and dogged batsman. Playing the 179th and last first-class match of a long career, for Natal against Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in March 1970, Goddard had Duncan Fletcher (the future England coach) and Errol Laughlin given out caught when reports suggested the balls only hit boot and pad respectively, while Jackie du Preez was adjudged leg-before despite being a long way forward. As for them not being out... Goddard, who captained in 13 of his 41 Tests, would be justified in reprising that old remark "Look in tomorrow's paper!" His only other hat-trick had come more than a decade earlier, in the amazing match at East London in 1959-60 in which Natal skittled Border for totals of 16 and 18 - Goddard had figures of 11-9-3-6 in their calamitous first innings.

Who was once out caught behind in each of his eight innings in a Test series? asked Clive Morton from Wales
This fate befell the Worcestershire left-hand opener Peter Richardson in his maiden Test series, at home against Australia in 1956. At Trent Bridge and Lord's he was caught behind in all four innings by Gil Langley; then when Langley was injured, Richardson was caught by his replacement, Len Maddocks, in England's only innings at Headingley (a rain-affected draw) and Old Trafford (when Jim Laker took 19 wickets; Richardson also scored his maiden century, and England won by an innings). Langley was back for the final Test at The Oval, and Richardson gave him a catch in each innings to make it eight out of eight. The bowling honours were spread around: Ron Archer and Keith Miller dismissed him three times each, and Richie Benaud and Ray Lindwall once. The former England captain Arthur Gilligan, in his account of the series, seems to have summed Richardson up well: "An attractive batsman, rather prone to nibble."

Who was the oldest surviving Test cricketer who played before the First World War? asked Siddhartha from India
Nine men who made their Test debuts before the outbreak of the Great War in 1914 survived into the 1970s. Four each were from England and South Africa, and only one from Australia - the fast-medium left-armer Bill Whitty, who died in 1974 aged 87. The last survivor of all of them was the old Warwickshire and England wicketkeeper EJ "Tiger" Smith, who died in August 1979 at the grand old age of 93. Smith made his Test debut in 1911-12, and won 11 caps in all: he later umpired several Tests as well. The great Yorkshire allrounder Wilfred Rhodes, who made his Test debut in 1899, died in 1973, a few months short of his 96th birthday: he was the last survivor of those who played Test cricket in the 19th century.

Who has scored the most centuries in one-day internationals his side won, and who has scored the most in defeats? asked Dadalog from Pakistan
Not surprisingly perhaps, the overall leading scorer in one-day internationals tops both these lists too. The man I suppose we should now call Sachin Tendulkar MP, following his elevation to the Indian parliament, has scored 33 centuries in one-day internationals in which he ended up on the winning side, and 14 in defeats. (He also scored one in a tie, and another in a no-result.) Ricky Ponting has scored 25 centuries in ODI wins, and Sanath Jayasuriya 24. Next on the most-defeats list is Chris Gayle, with nine centuries in matches his side lost, then Marcus Trescothick with six.

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