August 14, 2012

Sandham's odd record, and Boucher's missing catch

Also: best figures in final Tests, winning without taking 20 wickets, and the batsman nicknamed Croucher

What's the highest first-innings score in a Test by an opener who didn't open in the second innings? Was it Alviro Petersen's 182 at Headingley? asked Syed Sajid Mahmood via Facebook
The highest score in those particular circumstances was Andy Sandham's 325 - the first triple-century in Test cricket - for England against West Indies in Kingston in 1929-30. England made 849, and claimed a first-innings lead of 563 - but as it was supposedly a timeless Test the England captain Freddie Calthorpe didn't enforce the follow-on. Sandham, who was nearly 40 and rather oddly never played another Test match, batted at No. 7 in the second innings, and made 50. The eventual declaration set West Indies the little matter of 836 to win - and they had reached 408 for 5, with George Headley making 223, when it rained for two days... and eventually the match had to be called off in order to allow the England side to catch the boat home. So maybe they should have enforced the follow-on after all.

According to his ESPNcricinfo player page Mark Boucher made 425 dismissals in one-day internationals, but your overall wicketkeeping records page shows only 424. Is this a mistake? asked Mike Docherty from Cape Town
The discrepancy arises because Mark Boucher took one catch in the field in a one-day international to go with 402 (and 22 stumpings) made while keeping wicket. The match in question was against West Indies in Port-of-Spain in June 2010: AB de Villiers had been preferred as wicketkeeper for that series, but Boucher was called up for the final match. Wisden 2011 records that "Darren Bravo was superbly caught in the covers by the flying Boucher, whose 292nd one-day international was the first in which he did not keep wicket". South Africa won the match - and completed a 5-0 clean sweep of the one-day series - by one wicket with two balls to spare. Boucher finished with 555 dismissals in Tests, and 444 in limited-overs internationals (425 in ODIs and 19 in Twenty20s), to finish on the tantalising figure of 999 international dismissals all told.

What's the highest score, and the best bowling analysis, by people playing in their final Test? asked James Hockin from England
I've just answered the first part above: Andy Sandham made 325 in what turned out to be his final Test, for England against West Indies in Kingston in 1929-30. In all, 32 batsmen (excluding current players) have made a century in their final Test, including Essex's Jack Russell who uniquely made two (against South Africa in Durban in 1922-23). The best bowling figures in an innings in a player's last Test are 8 for 94 by the Surrey fast bowler Tom Richardson, for England against Australia in Sydney in 1897-98. England didn't play another series until the summer of 1899, by which time Richardson had put on weight and was no longer a serious contender for a Test place. The best match figures by someone in their last Test are 14 for 144, by Sydney Barnes for England against South Africa in Durban in 1913-14. The First World War meant that England didn't play another Test until the 1920-21 Ashes tour, by which time Barnes was 47 - however, he was still sounded out about his availability for that Australian trip: MCC refused his demand that they should pay for his wife and child to accompany him.

How many times has a team won a Test match despite not taking all 20 wickets? asked Mohit Gupta via Facebook
The fewest wickets lost by a side that ended up losing a Test is eight, by South Africa in the now-tainted match in Centurion in 1999-2000, in which Hansie Cronje forfeited an innings and set England a target of 249 to win, which they reached with two wickets to spare. Leaving aside this match, the record is nine, by West Indies (527 for 7 dec and 92 for 2 dec) against England in Port-of-Spain in 1967-68. Garry Sobers' second declaration of the match asked England to score 215 against the clock, which they did with some ease: Sobers was pilloried in the regional press, and his decision cost him the series, as this was the only positive result of the five Tests. A further 24 Tests have been lost by a side that declared in at least one of its innings, and thus did not lose all 20 wickets - most recently by West Indies (449 for 9 dec and 148) against Australia in Bridgetown earlier this year. This figure does not include instances of otherwise completed innings containing batsmen who were retired or absent hurt.

Which Test player was nicknamed "The Croucher", and why? asked Graham Clarke from Australia
This was the Gloucestershire and England allrounder Gilbert Jessop, a ferocious hitter who adopted a stooped, crouching stance. CB Fry, a more classical batsman, said that Jessop's stance at the crease was "quite misleading - the crouching attitude suggests the intention of extreme care". Fry continued: "As the ball left the bowler's hands he would make a sudden stoop with his shoulders and head almost down to a level with the top of the stumps... then he launched himself yards down the pitch with quick short steps and literally flung his bat at the ball, with the result that it went vastly hard and high somewhere between extra cover or long leg. Or else after a preliminary chassée he chivied back to his crease and threw the bat at the ball in a rasping square cut. His hitting was prodigious, but he was not a slogger." Jessop was certainly unorthodox, but highly effective: he scored over 26,000 runs in first-class cricket, at an average rate of 79 an hour, and his 104 - in 77 minutes - helped win the 1902 Ashes Test at The Oval. He'd have been a handy performer in T20 cricket.

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