July 24, 2012

Walters, Agarkar, and the records no one wants

Also: fewest wickets lost in a win, first-class doubles, longest gaps between first-class and Test debuts, and a cricketer from M*A*S*H

Did Doug Walters play more Tests in England than any other specialist batsman who never made a hundred there? asked Chris Archer from Melbourne
The charismatic Australian batsman Doug Walters made four tours of England, appearing in 18 Tests in total - but famously never made a hundred in a Test there. Walters started well, with 81 and 86 in his first match in England, at Old Trafford in 1968, but improved on that only once, with 88, again in Manchester, in 1977. Shane Warne played 22 Tests in England without ever scoring a century, the overall record for an overseas player (just ahead of Rod Marsh and Courtney Walsh, who had 21), while Mike Brearley's 21 is the most by any out-and-out batsman. The old Australians Warwick Armstrong and Monty Noble both played 20 Tests in England without managing a hundred - but they were both allrounders... which means that poor old Doug's 18 century-less matches is indeed the record for a visiting specialist batsman in England, although he does share it with Joe Darling, the pugnacious Australian captain from around the turn of the last century (he played 18 Tests in England between 1896 and 1905 with a highest score of 73). The overall record is 47 Tests in England without a century (or indeed even a fifty), by Fred Trueman: the first Test against South Africa was Jimmy Anderson's 42nd in England without one.

Does Ajit Agarkar hold the record for being dismissed by the most consecutive balls in Test cricket? asked Manesh Bhasin from Mumbai
Ajit Agarkar was out to five successive balls bowled at him, during India's Tests in Australia in 1999-2000. After being bowled by Damien Fleming for 19 in the first innings of the Adelaide Test, he was caught by Steve Waugh off Fleming first ball in the second innings. A king pair followed in Melbourne, and then Agarkar was out first ball in the first innings at the SCG - five dismissals in five balls, an unmatched (if unwanted) feat in Test cricket. In the second innings the Sydney crowd roared their approval when Agarkar survived his first ball from Glenn McGrath, but he was caught behind next ball, making it six dismissals in seven balls faced. The New Zealand fast bowler Gary Troup was once out five times in the space of seven deliveries bowled at him in Tests, in 1980 and 1981.

South Africa lost only two wickets in beating England at The Oval. Is that a record, and what was the previous one - was it when Australia made 641 for 4 at The Oval in 2001 and won by an innings? asked Ed Dixon from the UK
That 2001 match at The Oval equalled the Ashes record, set when Australia also lost only four wickets in winning both at Lord's and Headingley in 1993. But even before South Africa's hammering of England at The Oval there had actually been four previous instances of a country winning a Test while losing only two wickets, the first three all by England. At Lord's in 1924 they scored 531 for 2 and beat South Africa (273 and 240) by an innings. England did it again at Headingley in 1958, scoring 267 for 2 either side of bowling New Zealand out for 67 and 129, and made it a hat-trick at Edgbaston in 1974, with 459 for 2 against India (165 and 216). Then South Africa got in on the act for the first time, making 470 for 2 to beat Bangladesh (173 and 237) at Chittagong in April 2003. There are nine instances of a winning side losing only three wickets, six of them this century all involving Bangladesh (four defeats) and Zimbabwe (two). For the full list, click here. South Africa's 637 for 2 at The Oval also broke the record mentioned in last week's column for the highest total with no one in double figures (there were three centuries and Alviro Petersen's duck).

I noticed that the former Australian captain Kim Hughes not only scored a century on his first-class debut, but also took a wicket with his first ball in first-class cricket too. Is this unique? asked Taylor Murray from Perth
Kim Hughes scored 119 on his first-class debut, for Western Australia against New South Wales in Perth in November 1975. It wasn't until the closing stages of his 41st match - the Australians' tour game against Guyana in Georgetown in March 1978 - that he got a bowl, but he did indeed make up for lost time by taking a wicket (the West Indian Test allrounder Sew Shivnarine) with his first delivery. It didn't exactly usher in a golden period with the ball: Hughes took only two further wickets in first-class cricket. The only other man to achieve this double was Nottinghamshire's Freddie Stocks, who scored 114 in his first match, against Kent at Trent Bridge in May 1946. He didn't bowl until his 11th game, later that same season, but dismissed the Lancashire and England opener Winston Place with his first ball. Stocks went on to take 223 wickets with his medium-pacers, as well as to score a dozen further centuries in a county career that stretched to 1957.

Why is Worcestershire's Australian signing Michael Klinger nicknamed "Max"? asked Neil Kellett from Evesham
Michael Klinger, who had a reasonably successful stint at New Road earlier this season, usually plays for (and captains) South Australia, having moved there from his native Victoria for the 2008-09 season. His nickname comes from Corporal Maxwell Klinger, a regular character in the long-running American comedy series M*A*S*H - he was the one who usually dressed in women's clothes in a consistently unsuccessful attempt to be sent home from the Korean War.

Which player had the longest gap between his first-class and Test debuts? asked Howard Davies from Essex
This unusual record resides in the West Indies. Trinidad's Nelson Betancourt made his first-class debut against Jamaica in August 1905, when he was just 18. First-class matches in the Caribbean were sporadic at the time, and Betancourt played only 17 over the next 25 years... but his 18th and last one was a Test match, against England in Port-of-Spain in February 1930. It was the second Test of a four-match series in which West Indies chose a different captain, from the host territory, in each game: Betancourt, who was 42 by then, got the nod for the match in Trinidad. On his first-class debut Betancourt had played alongside Lebrun Constantine; for his Test debut, more than 24 years later, his team included Lebrun's rather more famous son Learie.

And there's an addition to last week's question about elderly Pakistan debutants, from Icki Iqbal
"Amir Elahi was 44 when he played in all five matches of Pakistan's inaugural Test series, against India in 1952-53, while Gul Mohammad turned 35 during his only Test for them, against Australia in October 1956. Both of them had previously played for India, though, so this wasn't exactly their Test debut."

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