November 26, 2013

Rohit's target, and twin milestones

Also, fastest to 100 Test caps, England's Gabba record, Tendulkar's dry run, and most Test team-mates

Is Rohit Sharma the only man to hit a double-century and two hundreds in successive internationals? asked Kersi Meher-Homji from Australia
Rohit Sharma hit 209 in a one-day international against Australia in Bangalore earlier this month, and followed that against West Indies with 177 (in Kolkata) and 111 not out (in Mumbai) in his first two Tests. Rather surprisingly, perhaps, he's the 11th player to score three hundreds in three successive international innings, one of them being a double: two of those - Garry Sobers and Graham Gooch - actually started with a triple-century. But pride of place on this list goes to the elegant Pakistani Zaheer Abbas, who scored centuries in five successive international innings against India in 1982-83: 215 in a Test in Lahore, 118 in an ODI in Multan, 186 in a Test in Karachi, 105 in an ODI in Lahore, and 168 in a Test in Faisalabad. So there's a target for Rohit to tilt at! The brilliant West Indian Everton Weekes also scored five centuries in successive innings (the Test record) but none of them was a double. Your question actually talked about matches, not innings, and by that criterion the leader is Don Bradman, who scored hundreds in six successive matches, all Tests against England, in 1936-37 and 1938: his run started with 270 and 212 in consecutive matches in the first of those Ashes series. Bradman's run was ended when he was injured and unable to bat at The Oval in 1938. He reached three figures in the first two Tests of the next series, in Australia in 1946-47, so actually scored centuries in eight consecutive matches in which he batted.

Barring injury, both Michael Clarke and Alastair Cook will play their 100th Test at the WACA in this Ashes series. Has it ever happened before that both captains have shared the same milestone in a match? asked Mark Long from England
It has never previously happened that both captains have played their 100th Test match in the same game. The first time two players won their 100th caps in the same match was at Old Trafford in 2000, when Mike Atherton and Alec Stewart - who had both previously captained England - played against West Indies (Stewart marked the occasion by scoring 105). And in the first Test between South Africa and New Zealand in April 2006, three players all reached a century of caps - Jacques Kallis and Shaun Pollock for the hosts, and the touring captain Stephen Fleming. Appropriately enough, that match was played in Centurion.

Kevin Pietersen won his 100th Test cap at Brisbane. Is he the quickest to reach 100 caps from debut? asked Andy Desborough from England
Kevin Pietersen made his Test debut in July 2005, against Australia at Lord's, so took eight years and four months to reach a century of caps. The only man to get to 100 quicker is Andrew Strauss, who made his debut - also at Lord's but against New Zealand - in May 2004, and played his 100th (and last) Test against South Africa at Lord's in August 2012. Strauss reached 100 caps just over a month quicker than Pietersen. So KP missed out on Strauss' record - but nonetheless it is likely to go very soon. As noted above, Alastair Cook will in all probability win his 100th cap in Perth in a couple of weeks' time - and he made his Test debut against India in Nagpur in March 2006. Cook, who has missed only one match since his debut, will therefore become the first to complete a century of Tests in less than eight years.

How often have England won a Test in Brisbane? asked Gary Clifford from England
Brisbane has not proved a happy hunting ground for England, certainly not in recent times. And this year was no exception, after a promising start! England have only won only five of their 21 Tests in Brisbane, including the first one ever played in the city, at the old Exhibition Ground in 1928-29. England's subsequent Tests there have all been at the Woolloongabba ground, where they won in 1932-33, 1936-37, 1978-79 and 1986-87. Australia have won 11 at the Gabba, and there have been five draws.

Sachin Tendulkar didn't score a century in his last 23 Tests (39 innings). Has any other great batsman (Test average above 50) had a worse run that this? asked Victoria Baptiste from St Vincent
I think the only batsman (by your qualification) to have endured a longer "dry run" is Allan Border, who didn't score a century between his 96th Test, against Pakistan in Faisalabad in September 1988 (when he made 113 not out), and his 133rd match, against Sri Lanka in Colombo in September in 1992, when he made 106. That was 36 Tests and 60 innings over four years. But Border still finished his Test career with a batting average of 50.56.

Did Sachin Tendulkar finish up having played with more team-mates than anyone else in Tests? asked Abhishek Moura from Mumbai
Sachin Tendulkar went into retirement having played alongside 110 different team-mates for India in his 24-year career. He is one of five players to reach a century in this respect, the others being Shivnarine Chanderpaul (currently 100), Wally Hammond (106), Frank Woolley (111)… and the overall leader Graham Gooch, who played with 113 different team-mates during his own long England career. Tendulkar played alongside Rahul Dravid in 146 matches, which is a record (next is Mark Boucher/Jacques Kallis on 137). Tendulkar does hold the record for one-day internationals, though: he played alongside 123 team-mates. Dravid is next with 115.

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