April 30, 2013

Grandfathers, bunnies, and old-timers

Also: cheapest four-fors, Queenstown captains, and Zimbabwe's Test wins

Nick Compton followed his grandfather in playing for England. How many other grandfathers and grandsons have played in Tests? asked Lawrence McBride from Scotland
Nick Compton and his famous grandfather Denis are only the second such pairing from England, after another current player in Chris Tremlett, and his grandfather Maurice (three Tests in the West Indies in 1947-48). Dean Headley, who won 15 England caps in the 1990s, also followed his grandfather (and father) as a Test player - but George and Ron Headley both played for West Indies. The only other three-generation Test family is the Khans - Jahangir Khan represented India in the 1930s, his son Majid Jahangir Khan won 63 caps as a classy batsman for Pakistan between 1964-65 and 1982-83, and his son Bazid Khan played one Test in Barbados in May 2005. The only other instance of grandsons following a Test-playing grandfather involves another famous family: Ian, Greg and Trevor Chappell were the grandsons of Vic Richardson, a combative batsman who won 19 caps for Australia in the 1920s and '30s. For the full list of related Test players, click here.

Who has been dismissed most often by the same bowler in Tests, and also in one-day internationals? asked Balwinder Gupta from Mumbai
Leading the way in Tests is England's long-time opener and captain Mike Atherton, who was dismissed by Glenn McGrath on no fewer than 19 occasions. This just shaded the old record of 18, the number of times Alec Bedser accounted for his old Ashes friend and rival Arthur Morris. Atherton was also dismissed 17 times by both Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, and Graham Gooch 16 times by Malcolm Marshall. In one-day internationals Sanath Jayasuriya was dismissed on 13 occasions by Waqar Younis, while Waqar's long-time sparring partner Wasim Akram removed Desmond Haynes 12 times. Jayasuriya was also dismissed ten times by Ajit Agarkar, Richie Richardson ten times by Craig McDermott, and Allan Border ten times by Ewen Chatfield.

I noticed that England's team against West Indies in 1929-30 included two players aged over 50. Was this the side with the oldest average age in Test history? asked Rajeeva de Silva from Sri Lanka
England's two half-centurions in that 1929-30 Test series were Wilfred Rhodes, who was 52, and George Gunn, 50. In the final Test, in Kingston, they combined for a dismissal - Clifford Roach c Gunn b Rhodes - which added up to more than 103 years between them. That England side also included several players approaching or over 40, and you're quite right in assuming it was the oldest ever: the average age was, uniquely, over 37 in three of the four Tests (and the other one is fourth on the list). The oldest Test side apart from that was also fielded by England, in the fifth Test in Sydney in 1920-21 - an average age of 36 years 10 months. England actually occupy the first seven positions on this list: then come two Australian teams from the 1926 Ashes series, averaging 35 years 327 days on the first day of the opening Test at Trent Bridge, and 14 days more when the second Test started at Lord's a fortnight later. The youngest sides by average age were seen in three Tests in 2004 and 2005, when Zimbabwe fielded the only three XIs in Test history with an average age of less than 21.

Graeme Cremer took 4 for 4 at Harare last week. Is that the cheapest four-for in Test history? asked Zak Treadwell from Zimbabwe
That return of 4 for 4 by the Zimbabwe legspinner Graeme Cremer in the first Test against Bangladesh in Harare is indeed the cheapest four-wicket haul in a Test: there were two previous instances of 4 for 5, by Pervez Sajjad for Pakistan against New Zealand in Rawalpindi in 1964-65, and Ken Higgs for England v New Zealand in Christchurch in 1965-66. Ernie Toshack took 5 for 2 for Australia against India in Brisbane in 1947-48, while Jermaine Lawson demolished Bangladesh with 6 for 3 for West Indies in Dhaka in 2002-03. But perhaps the most remarkable Test bowling figures of all were returned by England's George Lohmann against South Africa in Port Elizabeth in 1895-96, when he finished with 8 for 7.

In which Test series were both captains born in Queenstown? asked Dayle McKenzie from New Zealand
First of all, neither of the captains concerned was born in Queenstown in New Zealand - one of international cricket's most picturesque spots. The two concerned captained against each other in one of the most famous of all Test series: the one in England in 1976 which West Indies won after the England captain unwisely suggested beforehand that he was going to make them "grovel". The man making that insensitive boast was Tony Greig - born in Queenstown, in Cape Province in South Africa - and his opposite number was Clive Lloyd, who was born in Queenstown, a district of Georgetown in Guyana (or British Guiana as it was called when Lloyd was born in 1944). Lloyd's first home was, he wrote, "a modest, wooden-frame building on Crown Street in the suburb of Queenstown".

How many Test matches have Zimbabwe won, other than against Bangladesh? asked Terence Cowley from England
Before collecting their tenth victory in the first match of the series that has just finished, Zimbabwe had won nine of their 90 Tests - and five of those had come against Bangladesh, including Zimbabwe's "comeback" Test in Harare in August 2011. Apart from that, Zimbabwe have defeated India and Pakistan twice each. Zimbabwe's first Test victory came in Harare in January 1995, when they beat Pakistan by an innings and 64 runs, and they also defeated Pakistan in Peshawar - their only victory overseas apart from one in Bangladesh - by seven wickets in November 1998. India were beaten by 61 runs in October 1998, and by four wickets in June 2001, in Harare each time.

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