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Royal honours, and frugal averages

Also: highest ODI scores by not-out openers, shortest completed internationals, and most wickets by a visiting bowler in each country

Steven Lynch

July 9, 2013

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Ken Mackay in action, January 24, 1956
Ken Mackay: was awarded an MBE while playing his final Test © Getty Images
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Who learned that he'd been awarded the MBE while on the field in an Ashes Test? asked Greg Morrison from South Africa
The man in question here was the popular Australian allrounder Ken "Slasher" Mackay, whose MBE was announced on Australia Day 1963, while he was playing what turned out to be his last Test - the drawn fourth match of the 1962-63 Ashes series in Adelaide. Mackay, whose nickname was ironic as he was famous for his defensive batting, played 37 Tests in all. Although his award became public knowledge during that Test, I imagine Mackay himself actually knew about it some time previously, as the recipients are usually asked beforehand whether they wish to accept.

The Jamaican spinner Nikita Miller took 52 wickets at an average of just 8.05 during the West Indian first-class season that has just finished. Is this any sort of record? asked Craig Havard from Jamaica
I'm indebted to the South African statistician Andrew Samson, who has unearthed only three previous instances of a bowler taking 50 first-class season at an average of less than 10 since the end of the 19th century (the feat was relatively common before that). The first of those was the New South Wales fast bowler Sydney Callaway, who played three Tests against England in the 1890s: he later moved to New Zealand, and took 54 wickets at 8.77 in the 1903-04 season there, mainly for Canterbury. Another fringe Australian player, Ron Oxenham - who won seven Test caps between 1928 and 1931 - took 75 wickets at 7.40 for a privately raised Australian touring side in India in 1935-36. And coming up to date a fair bit, the gangling South African fast bowler Vintcent van der Bijl claimed 54 wickets at 9.50 for Natal in 1980-81.

Was Upul Tharanga's score the other day the highest for a batsman who carried his bat in a one-day international? asked Udendra from Sri Lanka
Upul Tharanga made 174 not out against India in Kingston last week, the second-highest score for Sri Lanka in ODIs after Sanath Jayasuriya's 189 in Sharjah in 2000-01, also against India. Tharanga did bat throughout the innings, but it's not normally counted as carrying the bat unless the team was all out - and Sri Lanka lost only one wicket! There have been seven bigger not-out scores by openers in ODIs, the highest of all being Sachin Tendulkar's undefeated 200 for India against South Africa in Gwalior in 2009-10. In second place is Martin Guptill's recent blitz for New Zealand - 189 not out against England in Southampton last month.

I spotted that Chris Read made six dismissals in an innings in successive matches during the 2006-07 Ashes series. Was that a record, and who has achieved this feat most often? asked Mark Sheffield from England
Chris Read's wicketkeeping in the last two matches of that series, in Melbourne and Sydney, was one of the few bright spots for England in the embarrassing Ashes whitewash of 2006-07 - not that it did Read much good, as those were the last of his 15 Test appearances. Funnily enough he also took six catches in an innings on his debut, against New Zealand at Edgbaston in 1999. The only man to achieve the feat more often than Read played nearly ten times as many matches: Mark Bucher did it four times in 147 Tests. For a full list, click here.

England's T20 game against New Zealand recently was abandoned after just two balls - was this the shortest "completed" international match of them all? asked Jeremy Dowling from England
That weather-ruined match at The Oval last month joins another one that was abandoned after just two balls - the World Cup group game between India and Sri Lanka in 1991-92 (sadly for the inhabitants of the remote Queensland town of Mackay, that was the only official international ever played there). There have also been two 50-over ODIs which were completely abandoned after the toss had taken place - these count in the players' overall records as an appearance made, whereas matches abandoned without a toss don't. Both games also involved New Zealand: their matches against West Indies in Southampton in 2004 (Darren Sammy's international debut), and against Sri Lanka in Hamilton in 2006-07. There have also been two T20 internationals abandoned after the toss was made - India v Scotland in Durban during the first World Twenty20 in 2007-08, and Ireland v Netherlands in Belfast in 2008.

One of last week's answers revealed that Curtly Ambrose took 78 Test wickets in Australia. Is this a record for a visiting bowler anywhere? asked Anshuman Sinha from India
Curtly Ambrose's 78 wickets is the best by a visiting bowler in Australia, but the record in any overseas country is held by Shane Warne, who took no fewer than 129 wickets in 22 Tests in England. He's the only man to take more than 100 wickets in a country other than his own: Dennis Lillee (96) and Malcolm Marshall (94) also came close to that in England. To save anyone else asking, the records for the other countries follow! Bangladesh: Daniel Vettori (34). India: Derek Underwood (54). New Zealand: Wasim Akram (50). Pakistan: Muttiah Muralitharan (50). South Africa: Shane Warne (61; Sydney Barnes is next with 49 from just four matches in 1913-14). Sri Lanka: Shane Warne (48, 37 against Sri Lanka and 11 v Pakistan). West Indies: Angus Fraser (54). Zimbabwe: Chaminda Vaas (30). Warne is also the leading overseas bowler for Tests in the UAE, with 16 (Monty Panesar is next with 14). Saeed Ajmal (45) has taken most wickets for Pakistan there.

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

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Steven Lynch Steven Lynch won the Wisden Cricket Monthly Christmas Quiz three years running before the then-editor said "I can't let you win it again, but would you like a job?" That lasted for 15 years, before he moved across to the Wisden website when that was set up in 2000. Following the merger of the two sites early in 2003 he was appointed as the global editor of Wisden Cricinfo. In June 2005 he became the deputy editor of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. He continues to contribute the popular weekly "Ask Steven" question-and-answer column on ESPNcricinfo, and edits the Wisden Guide to International Cricket.

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