July 23, 2013

Successive Ashes hundreds, and royal wicket-takers

Also: coming from behind to win a series, flourishing after 40, and Man-of-the-Match awards for players on the losing side

How often have Australia come from behind to win a Test series? asked Christopher Bryant from Melbourne
Australia have come from behind to win a Test series on seven occasions - six times in Ashes series (most recently in 1997) and once against West Indies, at home in 1968-69. On each occasion they lost the first Test but ended up winning the series. In 1936-37 Australia ­- captained for the first time by Don Bradman ­- lost the first two Tests but won the last three to pinch the series 3-2, a unique comeback in Test history. England have won seven Ashes series after falling behind, most recently after losing the first Test in 2005. They have done it in eight other series as well, including in India last winter. For the full list covering all countries, click here.

At Lord's Ian Bell scored his third hundred in successive Ashes Tests - how many other Englishmen have done this? asked Dean Houseman from England
Ian Bell's second successive score of 109 ­- which followed his 115 in the final Test in Sydney in 2010-11 - made him only the fourth England batsman to score hundreds in three successive Tests against Australia, following Jack Hobbs (1911-12 and again in 1924-25), Walter Hammond (1928-29) and Chris Broad (1986-87). Bob Woolmer scored hundreds in three successive Ashes Tests in 1975 and 1977, but in the middle played against Australia in the Centenary Test in Melbourne, a one-off match in which the Ashes were not at stake. Don Bradman scored centuries in eight successive Ashes Tests in which he batted between 1936-37 and 1946-47 (that excludes the 1938 Oval Test, when Bradman was unable to bat through injury).

Who scored the most runs and took the most wickets in Test cricket after their 40th birthday? My guesses would be Jack Hobbs and Clarrie Grimmett asked Shriram Moharil from the United States
Your guesses are spot on. Jack Hobbs made 2440 Test runs after turning 40: two more Englishmen, Patsy Hendren (1901) and Tom Graveney (1243), are the only others to make more than 1000, although Geoff Boycott was just one short with 999. Hobbs made eight centuries after his 40th birthday, more than twice as many as anyone else: Boycott, Graveney, Hendren and the Australian Warwick Armstrong all made three. Turning to the bowlers, Clarrie Grimmett took 96 wickets in 16 Tests after his 40th birthday, while another Australian spinner, the slow left-armer Bert Ironmonger, took 74 at the startling average of 17.97 after making his debut in 1928-29 at the age of 46. Next comes England's Sydney Barnes with 49 ­ all in one series in South Africa in 1913-14.

How often has Jimmy Anderson gone through a whole Test without taking a wicket? asked James Browning from England
Prior to the Lord's Ashes Test, Jimmy Anderson had played 83 Tests and had failed to strike in only five of them, one of which was the quickly abandoned match against West Indies at North Sound early in 2009 in which England did not bowl at all. Anderson also went wicketless against Australia at Headingley and at The Oval in 2009, against Sri Lanka in Colombo in December 2003, and against South Africa in Johannesburg in January 2010.

Who has won the most Man-of-the-Match awards despite finishing on the losing side? asked Chinmay Jariwala from India
The leader in one-day internationals, as you might expect, is the man who has played in more of them than anyone else ­ Sachin Tendulkar has lifted the Man-of-the-Match award on six occasions in ODIs despite ended up on the losing side. Javed Miandad won five, while Chris Gayle, Inzamam-ul-Haq and the Flower brothers (Andy and Grant) won four. Gayle is also one of eight players who have won the match award despite losing a Twenty20 international. Tendulkar has won three match awards in Tests his side lost, as have Wasim Akram and the Bangladeshi pair of Mohammad Ashraful and Shakib Al Hasan ­ but it should be pointed out that such awards in Tests are a relatively recent innovation.

The Queen took three early wickets during her visit on the first morning of the Lord's Test. Is there any record of how many wickets have fallen during royal visits, perhaps those of overawed batsmen? asked Matthew Robinson
I'm afraid the databases I know of don't include a filter for royal visits! It was interesting that England lost three wickets while the Queen was there, then settled down before losing another on the first afternoon just as the Princess Royal was arriving. I do know that such visits have long been a tradition of Lord's Tests, and that, coincidentally or not, wickets often fall after the teams were presented to the monarch (the pre-match presentation at this Ashes Test was unusual; more often it takes place around tea-time). In 1947 King George VI - the current Queen's father - reportedly said to the South African captain Alan Melville during that year¹s Lord's Test: "I do hope I do not turn out to hold the reputation of my father [George V]. He was regarded as England's best change bowler, you know."

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