May 27, 2014

Jack the Ripper the Cricketer

Also, the oldest IPL player, the first Test triple-century by a captain, Test caps in the 90s, and keepers with no wickets

Is Muttiah Muralitharan the oldest player in the IPL? asked Jamie Stewart from Canada
Muttiah Muralitharan was 42 last month - he was born in April 1972 - but he's not the oldest swinger in town at IPL 7. Pravin Tambe, the surprise-packet legspinner unearthed by Rajasthan Royals last year, was born in October 1971, so turns 43 later this year. Tambe had never played a first-class match when called up by Rajasthan in 2013, although he did play a couple for Mumbai after that. Earlier this month Tambe took a hat-trick against Kolkata Knight Riders - an unusual one in that the first victim, Manish Pandey, was stumped off a wide - so the hat-trick actually came from two legal deliveries.

Is it true that Jack the Ripper was a cricketer? asked Paul Wheldon from England
The identity of Jack the Ripper, who specialised in gory murders in London's East End in the 1880s, has never been discovered. It's true to say, however, that one of the names often mentioned as a suspect was a cricketer - Montague Druitt, an old boy of Winchester College who played several matches for MCC, and took 7 for 18 for Dorset against Wiltshire at Trowbridge in August 1883. Druitt's body was found in the River Thames in December 1888 - shortly after the last of the Ripper murders - in an apparent case of suicide. A 2004 book, Montague Druitt: Portrait of a Contender examined the possibilities of Druitt being the Ripper, but the author, DJ Leighton, concluded that it was unlikely.

Who was the first Test captain to score a triple-century? Was it Don Bradman? asked Keith Powell from England
Don Bradman's two Test triple-centuries - both at Headingley, in 1930 and 1934 - came while he was still in the ranks: he did not take over as Australia's captain until 1936-37. The first skipper to score 300 in a Test was another Australian, Bob Simpson, who amassed 311 at Old Trafford in 1964. Since then there have been seven further triples by Test captains: Graham Gooch's 333 for England v India at Lord's in 1990; Mark Taylor's 334 not out for Australia v Pakistan in Peshawar in 1998-99; Brian Lara's 400 not out for West Indies v England in St John's in 2003-04; Mahela Jayawardene's 374 for Sri Lanka v South Africa in Colombo in 2006; Younis Khan's 313 for Pakistan v Sri Lanka in Karachi in 2008-09; Michael Clarke's 329 not out for Australia v India in Sydney in 2011-12; and Brendon McCullum's 302 for New Zealand v India in Wellington earlier this year.

How many people have won 90 or more Test caps without making it to 100? asked Suresh Maneckji from India
Fifteen players have finished their careers with between 90 and 99 Test caps. The closest to three figures was Mohammad Azharuddin, whose career ended under a cloud with him stuck on 99. Curtly Ambrose played 98 Tests, Adam Gilchrist, Nasser Hussain and Rod Marsh 96, Alan Knott 95, Aravinda de Silva, Arjuna Ranatunga and Garry Sobers 93, Godfrey Evans and Gundappa Viswanath 91, and Marvan Atapattu, Herschelle Gibbs, Mohammad Yousuf and Bob Willis 90. This excludes five current players who should yet make it out of the nineties: Chris Gayle (currently 99 caps), Ian Bell (98), James Anderson, AB de Villiers and Zaheer Khan (all 92).

How many times have both captains scored fifties in each innings of a Test? asked Siddhartha from India
There have been a total of 171 instances of a captain reaching 50 in both innings of a Test - but of those, only four have involved both skippers in the same match. The first time it happened was in Georgetown in 1967-68, when Colin Cowdrey scored 59 and 82 for England, and Garry Sobers 152 and 95 not out for West Indies. Sobers was involved again in Adelaide in 1968-69, hitting 110 and 52 while Bill Lawry made 62 and 89 for Australia. In Melbourne in 2008-09 Australia's Ricky Ponting scored 101 and 99 while Graeme Smith made 62 and 75 for South Africa. And finally there was a Taylor-fest in Bulawayo in November 2011 - Brendan hit 50 and 117 for Zimbabwe, and Ross 76 and 76 for New Zealand.

Alec Stewart figured in 133 Tests without ever taking a wicket. Who holds the corresponding record in one-day internationals? asked Juan Castro from Argentina
The holder of this esoteric record in one-day internationals is Kumar Sangakkara, who has so far (as at May 22) played 370 one-day internationals without taking a wicket (indeed, he has never bowled). Next come Mark Boucher (295 matches) and Adam Gilchrist (287), before the first non-wicketkeeper, Marvan Atapattu of Sri Lanka, who played 268 ODIs without taking a wicket. The current leader in T20 internationals is Brendon McCullum (68 matches, no wickets), ahead of his New Zealand team-mate Ross Taylor (59 matches). Alec Stewart (133) does hold the record for Tests, although he's only just ahead of the first non-wicketkeeper, Brian Lara, who failed to take a wicket in 131 Test appearances. Sangakkara has now played 548 international matches across all three formats without taking a wicket, ahead of Gilchrist (396), McCullum (381), and Herschelle Gibbs - the first non-keeper - with 361.

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2014. Ask Steven is now on Facebook