January 22, 2013

May's golf, and BJ's double

Also: top-order debuts, highest match aggregates with no hundreds, triple one-cap-wonders, and Supertest centuries

It says on Wikipedia that Peter May was a scratch golfer both right- and left-handed. Is that true, and how many other people have done this? asked Michael Scott from England
This was news to me, and I thought I would have known if Peter May had been such an exceptional golfer. I can't see any mention at all of golf in May's autobiography (although I may have missed it as there isn't an index), and Alan Hill's 1996 biography suggests he may have been a rather good 12 handicapper - which is obviously a long way from playing off scratch (to the uninitiated, someone playing off 12 would receive 12 strokes over an 18-hole round, while a scratch golfer wouldn't receive any strokes at all). The best cricketer-golfer I know of was Ted Dexter, another former England captain, so I asked him what he thought of the Peter May story: "He was not much of a golfer. Certainly not low handicap. Brian Close was single figures right-handed (at cricket he batted left, and bowled right), but then found it more natural, and hit the ball further, left-handed. He was less consistent - but still in single figures." One person I can find who definitely did get down to scratch both right- and left-handed is the old American professional golfer Mac O'Grady, who won two PGA Tour events in the 1980s (there may well be a few more, but I don't believe Peter May is among them). I suppose it just shows the perils of believing Wikipedia, which is a public site that anyone can add things to, without checking somewhere else as well.

BJ Watling scored 63 in both innings for New Zealand at Port Elizabeth. What's the highest score a batsman has repeated in the same Test? asked Miles Reucroft from England
BJ Watling's fine double of 63 in both innings - one of the few highlights for New Zealand in their chastening defeat by South Africa in Port Elizabeth last week - provided the 19th instance of a batsman making the same score of 50 or more in both innings of the same Test. Top of the pile is Duleep Mendis of Sri Lanka, who made 105 and 105 against India in Madras in 1982-83. Next comes Alvin Kallicharran, with two 80s for West Indies against England at The Oval in 1973, while the leading New Zealander, in fourth place, is Ross Taylor - 76 and 76 against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo in November 2011. Umar Akmal of Pakistan had a unique double against Australia in Sydney in 2009-10 - he was out for 49 in both innings.

In Australia's first one-dayer against Sri Lanka, the top three in the order were all making their debuts. Has this ever happened before? asked Chris Gatland from Australia
Aaron Finch, Phillip Hughes (who made 112) and Usman Khawaja were Australia's debutants in the first match of the one-day series against Sri Lanka in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago. Rather surprisingly, it turns out that the only other occasion a Test-playing country has filled its batting order in an ODI with three debutants (apart from each side's first match) was also by Australia - against West Indies in St John's, Antigua, in 1977-78. The new top three that day was Graeme Wood, Rick Darling and Graham Yallop, and there was an excuse: that was during the World Series Cricket schism, and most of the players who had played in Australia's previous ODI were not available. The same thing has occasionally happened in Tests, most recently when West Indies' top three against Bangladesh in Kingstown in July 2009 (Dale Richards, Omar Phillips and Ryan Austin) all made their debuts after the West Indian board had to cobble together a side when the first-choice players withdrew in a contracts dispute.

There were more than 600 runs overall in the first one-day international in India recently, but no one scored an individual hundred. Was this a record? asked Danyal Rasool from Pakistan
The match aggregate of 641 for the recent one-day international between India (316 for 9) and England (325 for 4) turns out to be the fourth-highest in any ODI in which no individual hundred was scored. Topping the list is the 656 runs of South Africa (326 for 3) and Australia (330 for 7) in Port Elizabeth in April 2002 - Ricky Ponting made 92 and Darren Lehmann 91 for Australia. Next come the 649 runs shared by England (320 for 8) and India (329 for 7) in Bristol in August 2007, when Sachin Tendulkar was out for 99 and Rahul Dravid left stranded on 92 not out. And in the Afro-Asia Cup in Chennai in June 2007, Sourav Ganguly top-scored with 88 in a match that produced 643 runs - Asia (337 for 7) beat the African XI (306) by 31.

As I write, Joe Root has currently played one Test, one ODI and one Twenty20 international, although that situation is not likely to last very long. How many other triple one-cap-wonders have there been? asked Martin from the UK
Travis, the master of the ESPNcricinfo database, saved me from hours of work on this one, unearthing the fact that two other players completed the set of three different international formats in the minimum of three matches: New Zealand's Daniel Flynn and Ajmal Shahzad of England each started with a Test, a one-day international and a T20 game. Both of them have played a few more of most of the formats now, though, and Root has already added to his collection of 50-overs caps. Greg Chappell of Australia and England's Peter Lever, in 1970-71, were the first two players whose first two internationals were a Test and an ODI.

Who scored the most centuries in Kerry Packer's "Super Tests"? asked Jordan Murray from Sydney
A total of 25 individual centuries were scored in the 16 World Series Cricket Supertests that were contested between Australia, West Indies and a World XI in 1977-78 and 1978-79. Leading the way is Greg Chappell, whose five hundreds included 246 not out against the World XI at VFL Park, outside Melbourne, in February 1978. Viv Richards made four hundreds - three for the World XI and one for West Indies - and opener Bruce Laird three for Australia: Barry Richards and Lawrence Rowe both made two. Those who managed one three-figure score were Asif Iqbal, Ian Chappell, Gordon Greenidge, David Hookes, Collis King, Clive Lloyd, Rick McCosker, Rod Marsh and Kepler Wessels. Laird never made an official Test hundred, unlike all the others.

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