Long careers, and young achievers
Sachin Tendulkar's Test career spanned 24 years (plus a couple of days). Has anybody had a longer one? asked Mihir Anjum from Mumbai
Sachin Tendulkar's Test career, which lasted from November 15, 1989, to November 16, 2013, is the fifth-longest of all. The great West Indian George Headley lasted a few days longer (1930-1954), while Frank Woolley's 64 Tests for England were spread over more than 25 years between 1909 and 1934. Brian Close had a peculiar Test career that began in 1949, when he was just 18 (he remains England's youngest-ever player), and 1976. But the granddaddy of them all is another Englishman, the Yorkshire allrounder Wilfred Rhodes, who played his first Test in June 1899, and his last in April 1930, when he was 52 - a span of almost 31 years.
After Sachin Tendulkar's retirement, which current player started his Test or ODI career longest ago? Is it Shivnarine Chanderpaul? asked Abhishek Singla from India
Sachin Tendulkar was the last remaining player who made his Test debut in the 1980s. You're right about Shivnarine Chanderpaul - he made his Test debut in March 1994, and reached 150 caps in Mumbai just as Tendulkar reached 200. Only six other men who have played Tests this year made their debuts in the 1990s, and one of those (Ray Price) has also announced his retirement. The others are Jacques Kallis (Test debut in 1995-96), Mahela Jayawardene and Harbhajan Singh (both 1997-98), and Rangana Herath and Tillakaratne Dilshan (both 1999-2000). In one-day internationals, bearing in mind that neither Tendulkar nor Chanderpaul played a 50-overs game this year, the current player who made his debut longest ago is Shahid Afridi (1996-97). The other survivors from the 1990s are Daniel Vettori (1996-97), Mahela Jayawardene (1997-98), Virender Sehwag (1998-99), and Chris Gayle, Shoaib Malik and Dilshan (all 1999-2000). Graeme Swann made his one-day debut in January 2000.
Is Quinton de Kock the youngest batsman to score a one-day international century for South Africa? asked Rashid Majiet from South Africa
The Lions left-hander Quinton de Kock, who does not turn 21 until December 17, did indeed become South Africa's youngest-ever ODI centurion during his 112 against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi a couple of weeks ago. The previous youngest was Jacques Kallis, who was 22 years 92 days old when he made 111 against New Zealand in Perth in January 1998. de Kock is well down the overall list, though: 24 younger players have scored ODI hundreds, the youngest of all being Shahid Afridi, who was reputedly only 16 years 217 days old when he thrashed what remains the fastest ODI hundred of all, in his first such innings, for Pakistan against Sri Lanka in Nairobi in October 1996.
Was Ravichandran Ashwin the fastest Indian bowler to reach 100 Test wickets? asked Rahul Verma from South Africa
R Ashwin took his 100th Test wicket (Darren Sammy in the first innings) during the second Test against West Indies in Mumbai. It came during his 18th Test, breaking the previous Indian record of 20, established by another offspinner, Erapalli Prasanna, in 1969-70. Only four bowlers from any country have reached the landmark quicker than Ashwin: George Lohmann, the 19th-century England medium-pacer, reached 100 wickets in 16 Tests, while Sydney Barnes and the Australian pair of Charles "Terror" Turner and Clarrie Grimmett got there in 17 matches. Ashwin is also the fifth-quickest in terms of time, tying with Ian Botham on 740 days (just over two years). Quickest to 100 on this measure remains Kapil Dev, who got there in just 473 days, which remarkably included 25 Test matches. Botham currently holds the record for completing the Test double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets in just 21 Tests (Vinoo Mankad took 23 and Kapil 25). After 18 Tests Ashwin has scored 770 runs at an average over 40, so may threaten that record too.
People always used to say about my favourite player, Dean Jones, that he didn't score runs when it counted (not true!). What's the biggest difference between a batsman's first innings and the second? asked Chris Watts from Melbourne
If you put in a qualification of 20 innings, to weed out people who played very little, the biggest discrepancy between first- and second-innings averages is 59.73, by India's Vinod Kambli - he had 21 innings overall, and averaged 69.13 in the first innings and just 9.40 in the second. John F Reid of New Zealand is second, with a difference over 31 innings in 21 Tests of 56.32 (68.41 to 12.09). Raising the bar to a minimum of 50 innings, the leader is the great West Indian Everton Weekes, with 71.44 in the first innings and 36.64 in the second, a difference of 34.80. Virender Sehwag is second on that list at 32.25 (62.50 v 30.25). The biggest difference the other way is 26.82 by the Australian Warwick Armstrong, who averaged 55 in the second innings and 28.18 in the first. Dean Jones, by the way, averaged 48.64 in the first innings of his 52 Tests, and 42.82 in the second.
Was Rohit Sharma the first Indian to score hundreds in his first two Test innings? asked Shanthy Noronha from France
Actually Rohit Sharma - who started his Test career with 177 against West Indies in Kolkata, and added 111 not out in Mumbai - is the second Indian to do this. The first was Sourav Ganguly, in England in 1996: he began his Test career with 131 at Lord's, and added 136 in the first innings of the next match, at Trent Bridge. Overall, Rohit was only the fifth batsman to start his Test career with centuries in his first two innings. Apart from Ganguly, the others are the West Indian pair of Lawrence Rowe and Alvin Kallicharran, and Pakistan's Yasir Hameed, who hit 170 and 105 against Bangladesh in Karachi in August 2003. Rowe famously scored 214 and 100 not out on his Test debut, against New Zealand in Kingston in 1971-72, while Kallicharran's tons came later in that same series: he made 100 not out in the fourth Test in Georgetown, where West Indies batted only once, then scored 101 in the next Test in Port-of-Spain.
Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2013. Ask Steven is now on Facebook