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Best's best, and Edgbaston's boys

Also: nearly carrying the bat, most pairs in Tests, and the highest score before lunch

Steven Lynch

June 19, 2012

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Tino Best goes over the off side, England v West Indies, 3rd Test, Edgbaston, 4th day, June 10, 2012
Tino Best: a record-breaking No. 11 © Getty Images
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Has anyone ever carried his bat, other than the first ball of an innings? asked Michael Cross from Scotland
This has never happened in Tests, and as far as I can tell it has only happened once in first-class cricket. When Otago started their reply to Canterbury's 417 in their Plunket Shield match in Christchurch in January 1968, Graham Henry - now rather better known as the All Blacks' World Cup-winning rugby coach - was bowled by the first ball of the innings, from Dick Motz. Otago's captain Noel McGregor - who had played the last of his 25 Tests for New Zealand three years earlier - came in at No. 3 to face the second delivery, and was still there at the end of the innings, with 113 out of 189. He didn't do so well in the follow-on (out to Motz for 5) and Otago lost by an innings.

I heard that at Edgbaston, Tino Best made the highest Test score by a No. 11. But what's the highest in all first-class cricket? asked Kieran Nash via Facebook
Tino Best's swashbuckling 95 in the third Test at Edgbaston was easily the highest score by a No. 11 in a Test match: the previous record was 75, by Zaheer Khan for India against Bangladesh in Dhaka in December 2004. Rather like Best, Zaheer made the lion's share of the runs in the last-wicket partnership - in his case 75 out of 133 with Sachin Tendulkar, who finished with 248 not out. Best's was the 13th half-century by a No. 11 in a Test match. If he had made five more runs he would have become only the 13th No. 11 to score a hundred in all first-class cricket: the highest of them remains Peter Smith's 163 for Essex against Derbyshire in Chesterfield in 1947. Smith came in at 199 for 9, with Essex still 24 behind: he and Frank Vigar (114 not out) then put on 218 for the tenth wicket.

I think I heard on the TV commentary that no Warwickshire batsman has ever scored a Test century at Edgbaston. Is that right, or did I not hear correctly? asked Hemant Kher from the United States
Rather surprisingly, it is true: Denesh Ramdin's century was the 71st in Tests at Edgbaston - 43 of them for England - and none of them has been scored by a Warwickshire player. Ian Bell has scored hundreds at eight different English grounds - a record - but his 76 not out in the second innings of the 2012 Test was his best effort so far at home at Edgbaston. There has been a one-day international century by a Warwickshire player there, though: Nick Knight made 113 against Pakistan at Edgbaston in August 1996, and Jonathan Trott added 110 against Bangladesh in July 2010.

Who has collected the most pairs in Test matches? Is it Marvan Atapattu with four? asked Ramshankar Subramaniam from the United States
Marvan Atapattu is the only specialist batsman to have bagged four pairs in Tests. Two of those came in the course of his first three Tests, in which he famously managed just one run (which, legend has it, should have been signalled as a leg-bye). Four other people, all of them usually cast-iron No. 11s, have collected four pairs in Tests: Bhagwat Chandrasekhar (India), Merv Dillon (West Indies), Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka) and Courtney Walsh (West Indies). But well in the lead, with six pairs, is perhaps the ultimate non-specialist batsman - Chris Martin of New Zealand, who has so far scored just 119 runs in 68 Tests, to go with a rather more impressive haul of 226 wickets. For the full list, click here.

How many people bagged pairs in both their first and last Tests? asked Siddhartha from India
As I write, 37 people have bagged a pair in their first Test - and the good news is that none of them managed to repeat the feat in what turned out to be their final appearance (excluding the ten unfortunate players who collected a pair in their only Test). One of the closest to "achieving" this was the South African Cuan McCarthy, a noted non-batsman, who bagged a pair in his first Test (against England in Durban in 1948-59), and a duck in his final innings (at The Oval in 1951). But he ruined it all by making 4 not out in the first innings there! England's Chris Tremlett collected a pair in his first Test (against India at Lord's in 2007), and made just 0 and 1 in his most recent appearance, against Pakistan in Dubai in January.

What's the highest score anyone has reached before lunch on the first day of a match? asked Sohaib Ahmed from Lahore
In Tests the highest score reached by lunch on the first day is 112, by Charles Macartney for Australia against England at Headingley in 1926. There have been only three other first-day centuries before lunch: by Victor Trumper for Australia v England at Old Trafford in 1902, Don Bradman for Australia v England at Headingley in 1930, and Majid Khan for Pakistan v New Zealand in Karachi in 1976-77. The highest first-class score before lunch on the first day of a match is 197 not out, by the South African Test batsman Russell Endean, playing for Transvaal against Orange Free State in Johannesburg in 1954-55. That pre-lunch session lasted three hours, though, rather than the more usual two.

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

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Steven Lynch Steven Lynch won the Wisden Cricket Monthly Christmas Quiz three years running before the then-editor said "I can't let you win it again, but would you like a job?" That lasted for 15 years, before he moved across to the Wisden website when that was set up in 2000. Following the merger of the two sites early in 2003 he was appointed as the global editor of Wisden Cricinfo. In June 2005 he became the deputy editor of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. He continues to contribute the popular weekly "Ask Steven" question-and-answer column on ESPNcricinfo, and edits the Wisden Guide to International Cricket.

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