December 4, 2012

Faf's average, and Lyon's thriftiness

Also: highest percentage of overs bowled in a Test, scoring and conceding a hundred on debut, batsmen who were bowled the most, and the Maritzburg Mamba

Faf du Plessis had an average of 293 before he was dismissed at Perth. What's the highest Test average anyone has ever had - was it Lawrence Rowe's? asked Mohit Patney from India
Innings of 78, 110 not out, 78 not out and 27 gave Faf du Plessis of South Africa an average of 293.00 the ball before his dismissal in the second innings of the third Test against Australia in Perth. You're right that Lawrence Rowe of West Indies holds the record: he started his Test career (against New Zealand in 1971-72) with innings of 214, 100 not out and 22, giving him an average of 336.00 the ball before his second dismissal. Next comes David "Bumble" Lloyd, the Lancashire batsman who is now a popular TV commentator: he began (for England against India in 1974) with 46, 214 not out and 48, so boasted an average of 308.00 the instant before he was out for the second time. In 1903-04 RE "Tip" Foster of England began his career with 287 (still the record for a debutant) against Australia in Sydney, and made 19 in his next innings, in Melbourne, when dismissal halved his average from 306.00. Du Plessis' current South African team-mate Jacques Rudolph began in 2003 with 222 not out and 71 (against Bangladesh) and 10 (against England), so had an average of 303, which was matched by England's Ian Bell, who began in 2004 with 70 against West Indies, and added 65 not out and 162 not out against Bangladesh before being dismissed for 6 against Australia in 2005.

Nathan Lyon bowled 50 overs for 49 runs in the second Test at Adelaide. How many people have bowled 50 overs and gone for less than one an over? asked Mike Scott from Australia
Nathan Lyon, with his figures of 50-31-49-3 in the second Test against South Africa in Adelaide, became only the eighth man ever to bowl 50 or more in an innings and concede less than one run per over. Pride of place on the list goes to the West Indian offspinner Lance Gibbs, who produced the remarkable figures of 53.3-37-38-8 against India in Bridgetown in 1961-62 (0.71 per over). All his wickets came in one spell between lunch and tea on the fifth day, when his figures were 15.3-14-6-8. Two Indian slow left-armers also feature: Vinoo Mankad had figures of 76-47-58-4 against England in Delhi in 1951-52, while Bapu Nadkarni returned 52.4-38-43-4 against Pakistan in Delhi in 1960-61 (three years later Nadkarni's figures against England at Madras were 32-27-5-0).

In the recent second Test at Mumbai Monty Panesar bowled more than 43% of England's overs. Has anyone ever bowled a higher percentage of their team's overs in a match in which all 20 wickets were taken? asked Steve Austin from Australia
The highest percentage of all is a rather impressive 51.6%, by England's George Lohmann in the first Test in Port Elizabeth in 1895-96, when he bowled unchanged throughout the match and sent down 25.3 of the 49.3 (five-ball) overs bowled overall (South Africa were bowled out for 93 and 30; Lohmann bowled the first ball and took the last wicket in both innings). There are nine further instances of someone bowling more than 50% of a team's overs in a match, the most recent of them by SF Barnes for England against South Africa at The Oval in the 1912 Triangular Tournament (he bowled 37.4 of England's 75.1 overs). If we restrict the search to after the Second World War then the highest was 47.05%, by Fazal Mahmood, who sent down 60 of Pakistan's 122.3 overs in the victory over England at The Oval in 1954. The tireless Fazal is also second and fourth on this post-war list, on which Monty Panesar's 43.30% places him 12th. In tenth position is Jimmy Anderson, who delivered 37 of England's 83 overs against Pakistan at Trent Bridge in 2010 (and took 11 for 71).

Abul Hasan scored a hundred on Test debut - and conceded 100 runs as a bowler too. Has anyone else performed this double? asked Michael Hayes from England
Abul Hasan turns out to be unique in this respect - and neatly he scored 113 in his first innings with the bat then conceded 113 runs in the first innings when he bowled for Bangladesh against West Indies in Khulna last month. Only two men have scored a century on Test debut and also conceded more than 80 runs in an innings, both of them New Zealanders - Bruce Taylor (105 and 5 for 86 against India in Calcutta in 1964-65) and Scott Styris (107 and 2 for 88 against West Indies in St George's in 2002). Australia's Bert Hartkopf scored 80 and took 2 for 120 on his debut, against England at Melbourne in 1924-25.

Rahul Dravid was known as "The Wall". But is it true that he was bowled more often than any other player in Tests? asked Keith D'Souza from India
Rahul Dravid did indeed rejoice in the nickname "The Wall", partly on account of his supposedly unbreachable defensive technique. But you're right, he was out bowled more than anyone else in Tests - 55 times, just ahead of Allan Border (53), Sachin Tendulkar (52, before the third Test against England in Kolkata), and Jacques Kallis (46 after the Perth Test). Part of the reason for this, of course, is that he had 286 innings in Tests - more than anyone else except Tendulkar (317) and Ricky Ponting (who passed him in the second innings in Perth). A more reliable way to look at it would be to consider bowleds as a percentage of dismissals. Given a qualification of 50 innings, two Pakistanis lead the way: the least bowlable Test batsman was Rashid Latif, who was out 48 times (he also had nine not-outs) but was only bowled once (2.08%). Next comes Misbah-ul-Haq, who has been out 50 times so far but has only been bowled twice (4%). At the other end of the scale, Bruce Yardley of Australia and New Zealand's John R. Reid were bowled in more than 41% of their innings. Someone who had a similar nickname to Dravid was Bill Woodfull, Australia's captain at the start of the 1930s - including the Bodyline series - who was known as "The Unbowlable". Actually, though, his 50 Test dismissals included 16 cases of bowled (32%).

I once read that Jonty Rhodes was nicknamed after a fast-moving reptile. What was the name? asked Mohit Garg from India
I couldn't recall this, but I did find a couple of online references referring to Rhodes as the "Maritzburg Mamba" (Jonty was born in Pietermaritzburg, in Natal, and a mamba is a fast-moving African snake). I'm not sure, though, whether Rhodes was ever really known by this nickname, or whether it was something his fans called him from time to time.

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2013