January 8, 2013

Greig's long run, and Jadeja's long spell

Also: wicket with first ball, playing against your country, losing Players of the Matches, and Tendulkar's first-class ducks

I noticed that Tony Greig's 58 Tests were all consecutive - is this a record for a complete career? asked Patrick Johnson from Oxford
Tony Greig played in all England's 58 Tests from his debut, against Australia at Old Trafford in 1972, to his last match - also against Australia - at The Oval in 1977. That equalled the overall record for a whole career at the time, which was held by New Zealand's John Reid, and remains the England record. But it has been overtaken for other countries since - the record for an uninterrupted career now stands at 96 successive Tests, by Adam Gilchrist of Australia between 1999 and 2008.

I thought it would be appropriate to pay a small tribute to Tony Greig at this point. He was an imposing, exciting figure as I was growing up, and later it was a privilege to get to know him. I would struggle to think of anyone more enthusiastic about cricket, whether it was an Ashes Test match or a more low-key affair involving Sri Lanka or Bangladesh. He was an inveterate emailer, often replying remarkably quickly to offbeat queries - I once asked him to confirm his height, and he very honestly shot back that although he had been more than 6ft 7ins tall in his playing days, he seemed to have shrunk a bit and was now only about 6ft 5in. We will all miss him.

Ravi Jadeja bowled 70 overs on his Test debut. Is this the most bowled either on debut or by a top-seven batsman on debut? asked Martin from the UK
Ravindra Jadeja did toil through 70 overs in the match during his recent Test debut for India against England in Nagpur. This puts him well down the overall list - joint 36th with another Indian, Nilesh Kulkarni. The hardest-worked debutant bowler of all was the England legspinner Tich Freeman, who sent down 86 overs against Australia in Sydney in 1924-25. But of those ahead of Jadeja on the list, the only one who went in higher than No. 8 in the same match was the 38-year-old Worcestershire slow left-armer Dick Howorth, who scored 23 and 45 not out from No. 7, and took 6 for 149 from 76 overs (including a wicket with his first ball) for England against South Africa at The Oval in 1947.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar took a wicket with his first ball in a one-day international - how many others have managed this? asked Neeraj Bhojwani from India
The Uttar Pradesh medium-pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar dismissed Pakistan's Mohammad Hafeez with his first ball in a one-day international, in Chennai last week. He is the 17th bowler from all countries to achieve this feat - but only the second from India, the other one being the rather unlikely figure of the Tamil Nadu opening batsman S Ramesh, who rarely bowled but did have a trundle against West Indies in Singapore in September 1999, and dismissed Nixon McLean with his first delivery. Kumar was only the second man to take his debut wicket with the first ball of the innings, following Everton Matambanadzo for Zimbabwe against Pakistan in Peshawar in 1996-97. For the full list, click here.

Which player made his Test debut in 2012, against his native country? asked Jack from the UAE
The answer to this interesting conundrum is the New Zealand wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk, whose first Test for his adopted country came against South Africa in Dunedin in March 2012 (van Wyk was born in Wolmaransstad, in South Africa's North-West province, in 1980). He was the first man to make his Test debut against his native country since the Hollioake brothers - Adam and Ben - both won their first caps for England against Australia at Trent Bridge in 1997.

MS Dhoni scored a century and won the Man of the Match award against Pakistan at Chennai - yet finished on the losing side. How often has this happened? asked Surinder Sharma from India
I was rather surprised to discover that there have been no fewer than 86 instances of a player winning the match award after scoring a century in a one-day international but finishing on the losing side. The first one was by another wicketkeeper, New Zealand's Ken Wadsworth, against Australia in Christchurch in 1973-74. Sachin Tendulkar has achieved the feat five times, Chris Gayle four, Inzamam-ul-Haq and the Zimbabwean pair of Alistair Campbell and Andy Flower three. The highest score by a match-award winner who still ended up losing was 194 not out, by Charles Coventry for Zimbabwe against Bangladesh in Bulawayo in August 2009.

I heard that Sachin Tendulkar has only been out once for a duck in first-class cricket, outside Test matches. Who dismissed him? asked Rukshan Perera from Sri Lanka
Well, first of all it's not quite true: Sachin Tendulkar has been dismissed for a duck on 17 occasions in first-class cricket. Fourteen of those were in Test matches - Pedro Collins, Glenn McGrath and Makhaya Ntini were the only bowlers to dismiss him twice for ducks - which leaves three failures to score in other first-class cricket. These came for Yorkshire against Hampshire in Basingstoke in June 1992, when he was bowled by the Dutch fast bowler (and occasional ski instructor) Paul-Jan Bakker; for the Indian tourists against Hampshire in Southampton in 1996 - the middle victim of a Kevan James hat-trick; and for Mumbai against Uttar Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy final in Uppal in January 2009, when Tendulkar was caught off medium-pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar for his only duck in Indian domestic first-class cricket.

And there's an update on players scoring the highest percentage of their Test runs in sixes, from Nick Brook in New Zealand:
"A recent Ask Steven covered the topic of most runs in sixes, but failed to mention that 180 of Tim Southee's 581 Test runs (prior to the current South African tour) came in sixes (30.98%). He has already hit more sixes than Fred Trueman and Lance Cairns."

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