Sangakkara's record, and single-figure sorrow
Kumar Sangakkara averaged 163 in the recent Test series against Pakistan. Was this a record? And what's the best for a four- and five-Test series too, asked Chandralal from Sri Lanka
Well, Kumar Sangakkara does hold the record for the highest average in a three-Test series - but it wasn't for the recent series against Pakistan. In 2007, Sangakkara scored 428 runs in the three Tests against Bangladesh - and was out only once, giving him an average of 428.00 That beat by one the previous record for a three-Test rubber - Daryll Cullinan's 427.00 for South Africa in New Zealand in 1998-99; Hashan Tillakaratne averaged 403 for Sri Lanka at home to West Indies in 2001-02. There have been three higher averages than Sangakkara's in two-Test series: 563 by Wally Hammond (England v New Zealand, 1932-33), 490 by Hashim Amla (South Africa in India, 2009-10) and Rahul Dravid's 432 (India v Zimbabwe in 2000-01). The best average in a four-Test series is 178.00 (712 runs, four dismissals) by Jacques Kallis for South Africa at home to West Indies in 2003-04. In a five-Test series the overall record is 201.50 (806 runs, four dismissals) by Don Bradman for Australia v South Africa in 1931-32, and in a six-Test series it's 130.00 (650 runs, five dismissals) by Zaheer Abbas for Pakistan against India in 1982-83.
Who is the best batsman in the world since July 20, 2000, when Kumar Sangakkara made his Test debut? asked Bipin Mendis from Sri Lanka
The answer to this very date-specific query is that the scorer of the most Test runs since July 20, 2000, is Ricky Ponting, with 11,113; Rahul Dravid (10,467) and Jacques Kallis (10,465) are both over 10,000, with Sangakkara fourth with 9872. In one-day internationals, though, Sangakkara leads the way with 10,643; Ponting (10,092) is the only other man over 10,000, and Mahela Jayawardene is not far adrift with 9730. If you count all forms of international cricket since that date then Ponting (21,606) is just ahead of Sangakkara (21,425) as I write, with Jayawardene (19,978) closing in on 20,000 runs. Sangakkara is currently sixth on the list of T20 international run scorers, with 910: Brendon McCullum (1352) and Kevin Pietersen (1176) are the only ones into four figures. In case anyone's wondering, a name that rather surprisingly hasn't been mentioned yet is Sachin Tendulkar: he is fifth on the Test list, with 9434 runs since that date in 2000, and fourth in ODIs with 9164.
In a recent T20 international in The Hague, a total of 13 batsmen were dismissed in single figures - seven from Bangladesh and six from the Netherlands. Is this a record for a T20I? asked Vikas Vadgama from India
It turns out that this is not quite a record. In one of the World Twenty20 qualifiers in Belfast in 2008, no fewer than 15 batsmen were dismissed in single figures - in fact, no one made double figures in the entire match. It was a slightly false record in that rain had reduced it to a Nine9 game - nine overs a side - in which Ireland made 43 for 7, then restricted Bermuda to 41 for 8 (Ireland won by four runs on the Duckworth-Lewis method). Ireland's highest scorer was Mr Extras (8), while Gary Wilson made 7: Steve Outerbridge top-scored with 8 for Bermuda, but they never quite recovered from being 0 for 2 after three balls.
Who has scored the most runs in a Test series without scoring a century? asked Charles Eastwood from London
The first man to score more than 500 runs in a Test series without managing a century was the great Australian Clem Hill, back in the 1901-02 Ashes series. He came close, though, recording successive innings of 99, 98 and 97. Hill's record stood until 1964-65, when Conrad Hunte made 550 runs in West Indies' home series against Australia, with six fifties but a highest score of 89. Hunte's mark was broken in the 1993 Ashes series, when Mike Atherton made 553 runs for England, with a highest of 99 (run out) at Lord's. That was a six-Test rubber, though (the others were five). Since then, a fourth man has made 500 runs in a series without a century: Graham Thorpe scored 506, with a highest of 94, against West Indies in England in 1995.
I have a horrible feeling I know the answer, but have New Zealand ever won a Test in the West Indies? asked Daniel Sutcliffe from Auckland
Well, although New Zealand's record in the West Indies isn't great - including the match that finished on Sunday, they have now lost five of the 15 Tests played there - but they have had one day in the sun, completing a comfortable 204-run victory in Bridgetown in 2002, their heroes being Stephen Fleming with 130 and Shane Bond with 5 for 78 in the second innings. There have been nine draws, including all five matches of New Zealand's first Test tour of the West Indies, back in 1971-72.
What's the most wickets taken in one-day internationals by someone who never took five or more in an innings, and what's the most in Tests for anyone who never took four? asked Steve Johnson from England
The answer to the first part of the question is Steve Waugh, who took 195 wickets in one-day internationals without ever quite taking five in an innings: his best return was 4 for 33 for Australia v Sri Lanka in Sydney in January 1988, one of his three four-fors overall. Carl Hooper had very similar figures - 193 wickets with a best of 4 for 34 - then at the moment there's quite a gap to Shakib Al Hasan, who currently has 160 wickets with a best of 4 for 16. The most in ODIs without ever taking four wickets is 86, by Pakistan's Mohammad Hafeez. If he should take a four-for in the near future than the record would revert to the West Indian left-arm seamer Ian Bradshaw (78, with a best of 3 for 15), while Marlon Samuels has so far taken 74 wickets. And the most Test wickets without ever taking as many as four in an innings is 51, by the New Zealander Nathan Astle, whose best was 3 for 27 against Sri Lanka in Wellington in April 2005. He had taken 3 for 35 in the first innings, so finished with match figures of 6 for 62 - and these were the only two occasions that he took more than two wickets in any Test innings. Basil D'Oliveira took 47 Test wickets with a best of 3 for 46, while Andrew Hall and Sachin Tendulkar have taken 45 apiece. Viv Richards took 32 Test wickets without ever taking more than two in an innings.