May 28, 2013

The longest spell, and ten wickets and losing

Also: unchanged XIs, most wickets as captain, father and son's same stats, longest Test careers, and more Olympic gold stadiums

A friend of mine, Salahuddin, claims he once bowled 63 overs unchanged in a first-class match. Is this a record? asked the Pakistan journalist Qamar Ahmed
The match in question was the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy group game between Peshawar and Combined Services at Peshawar in 1961-62. Salahuddin and his fellow medium-pacer Dildar Awan actually bowled 125.3 overs unchanged in the second innings as Peshawar subsided to an innings defeat. I wondered what had brought about this marathon spell, and the indefatigable statistician Philip Bailey - of Wisden and Cricket Archive - solved the mystery, tracking down a report in Cricket Quarterly at the time. "Pakistan's board had the bright idea of introducing bonus points for every over bowled in excess of a rate of 17 per hour," he explained. "Services had lost their first game, so to help them qualify they needed to get some of these bonus points in their next one - and that innings of 125.3 overs took only 198 minutes, with the bowlers using no run-up and the field dashing across between overs. They got just enough points to finish equal top in the group, and then won the play-off game." Sadly, to answer your original question, it's not quite the longest unbroken spell in all first-class cricket - though I wouldn't mind betting it's a record for a new-ball partnership! The longest we have found (and there are an awful lot of matches where full scorecard information isn't available) is an unbroken spell of 66 overs by Nottinghamshire's James Iremonger, who bowled throughout Hampshire's first innings in Southampton in June 1914 - he finished with figures of 66-28-81-3. The Test record is 59 overs without a break (other than for scheduled intervals), by Narendra Hirwani for India against England at The Oval in 1990.

Tim Southee took ten wickets in the Lord's Test - but New Zealand still lost. Has this ever happened before in Test cricket? asked Simon Hood from Australia
You'll probably be surprised to discover that Tim Southee's valiant effort at Lord's - he took 10 for 108 but lost - was actually the 69th occasion on which a bowler has bagged ten or more wickets in a Test but finished up on the losing side. Wasim Akram took ten but lost three times, while Muttiah Muralitharan, Tom Richardson, Saeed Ajmal, Hugh Trumble, Daniel Vettori and Shane Warne have all done it twice. The best match figures in defeat are Javagal Srinath's 13 for 132 for India against Pakistan in Kolkata in 1998-99.

New Zealand's team for the Lord's Test was unchanged for the fourth match running - was that a Test record? asked Christopher Dale from New Zealand
New Zealand kept the same team for the first Test at Lord's as had done duty throughout the three-Test series against England earlier in the year (injuries forced changes for the second Test, though). It was a new national record - New Zealand had only once before gone even three Tests with an unchanged side, in the West Indies in 1971-72. The overall Test record, however, is six successive Tests with the same XI, achieved by England in 2008 (that run included five matches against New Zealand and one against South Africa).

Who has taken the most wickets while captaining in Tests? asked George Shore from Australia
Leading the way here is Imran Khan of Pakistan, who took 187 wickets in Tests while captain. Richie Benaud is next with 138, and in fact there are only six other bowler-captains who took more than 100: Garry Sobers (117), Daniel Vettori (116), Kapil Dev (111), Wasim Akram (107), Bishan Bedi (106) and Shaun Pollock (103). Of these, Imran also has the best average (20.27) and strike rate (49.26 balls per wicket) while captain.

Which father-and-son pair played the same number of Test matches? asked Ashok Rajamani from the United States
The answer to this neat little conundrum is the Kanitkars from India: Hemant Kanitkar won two caps against West Indies in 1974-75, scoring 65 on his debut in Bangalore - and his son Hrishikesh (a left-hander, unlike his father) also won two caps, in Australia in 1999-2000, making 45 on debut in Melbourne. Hrishikesh, who's now 38, still captains Rajasthan in the Ranji Trophy - he scored his 33rd first-class hundred last December.

Sachin Tendulkar has now been playing Test cricket for more than 23 years. How many people have longer careers? asked Javed Ahmed from Jameshedpur
Sachin Tendulkar is one of only 16 men whose Test careers have lasted longer than 20 years - the last one to complete two decades before him was John Traicos, of South Africa and Zimbabwe, in 1993. At the moment Tendulkar lies fifth on the all-time list - but he's going to have to hang on until he's 47 if he wants to claim the longest Test career of all, which is currently held by the Yorkshire and England allrounder Wilfred Rhodes. He made his Test debut in 1899 (in WG Grace's final Test), and won the last of his 58 caps in the West Indies in April 1930, when he was, at 52, the oldest man ever to appear in a Test. In all Rhodes's Test career lasted 30 years and 315 days. For the full list, click here.

And there's an addition to last week's answer about the Test ground named after an Olympic gold medallist, from Aviral Khandelwal (among others):
"The KD Singh 'Babu' Stadium in Lucknow did indeed stage a Test match, but 12 one-day internationals have so far been played at the Captain Roop Singh Stadium in Gwalior, which is named after another Indian hockey gold medallist. The ground is where Sachin Tendulkar scored the first double-century in [men's] one-day internationals, against South Africa in February 2010."

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2013. Ask Steven is now on Facebook