July 1, 2014

Half-century of boundaries, and miserly bowlers

Also, best percentage of hundreds to innings, most frequent appearances on the Lord's honours board, most first-class fifties, and Sanga and Mahela's twin totals

Who has the best percentage of hundreds to innings scored? Is it Don Bradman - and if it is, who's next? asked Nate Johnson from Barbados
Don Bradman is indeed top, as he scored 29 centuries in 80 Test innings, or 36.25%. This excludes Andy Ganteaume, who scored 112 in his only Test innings for West Indies, and Rodney Redmond, who had just two knocks for New Zealand but scored 107 in one of them. Ignoring people who played less than a dozen Tests, two West Indians come next: George Headley, whose 40 innings produced ten centuries (25%), while Clyde Walcott hit 15 centuries in 74 innings (20.27%). The highest current player is India's Cheteshwar Pujara, with six hundreds in 32 innings (18.75%).

Who's the only batsman to hit 50 boundaries in a Test innings? Is it Brian Lara? asked Chris Leigh from England
It's not Brian Lara, although he came close with 47 boundaries (four of them sixes) in his 400 not out against England in St John's in 2003-04. Matthew Hayden fell one short - 38 fours and 11 sixes - in his 380 for Australia against Zimbabwe in Perth in 2003-04. The answer might come as a bit of a surprise, as the man concerned is remembered now as a bit of a stodgy batsman - but in his early days John Edrich gave the ball a hearty thump, and actually struck 57 boundaries, five of them sixes, in his 310 not out against New Zealand at Headingley in 1965. Edrich, Hayden, Inzamam-ul-Haq (in his 329 for Pakistan v New Zealand in Lahore in 2001-02) and Virender Sehwag (293 for India v Sri Lanka in Mumbai in 2009-10) are the only batsmen to score more than 200 runs in boundaries in a Test innings. For the full list, click here.

Whose name appears most often on the honours board at Lord's? asked Craig Moore from South Africa
The most prominent name on the Lord's honours boards - for notable batting and bowling feats in Tests there - is that of Ian Botham. He's there ten times in all - for his century against Pakistan in 1978, for eight five-fors and one ten-wicket match (also in 1978, but against New Zealand). The leaders on the individual boards are (for England) Graham Gooch and Michael Vaughan for batting - they both scored six centuries at Lord's - and Botham for bowling. Gooch is actually up there seven times, as his hundred in the MCC Bicentenary match in 1987 is also commemorated. For the visitors, Dilip Vengsarkar alone has scored three centuries in official Tests there, although Garry Sobers hit two for West Indies and another for the Rest of the World in an unofficial Test in 1970 (it is on the board, though). Richard Hadlee, Glenn McGrath and Charlie Turner all took three five-fors; Turner alone managed ten in a match.

Who is the only bowler to take more than 300 Test wickets with an economy rate of less than two runs per over? asked Jamie Stewart from Canada
The only man to manage this is the West Indian offspinner Lance Gibbs, who took 309 wickets in 79 Tests, and conceded just 1.98 runs per over in all. He was helped by his best figures, against India in Bridgetown in 1961-62, which in full were 53.3-37-38-8. Several other parsimonious performances included 1 for 68 in 57 overs against England in Port-of-Spain in 1967-68. Actually no one with more than 200 Test wickets was as thrifty; you have to go down to the former Australian seamer Alan Davidson, who took 184 wickets, to find a better overall economy-rate - 1.97 per over.

Jack Hobbs holds the record for most hundreds in first-class cricket, but who has the most fifties? asked Ali M from the United States
If you mean most scores of 50 or over, it's still Jack Hobbs, who made 273 half-centuries to go with 199 hundreds (some sources show slightly different figures). His 472 scores of 50-plus is 30 more than the Middlesex stalwart Patsy Hendren (170 hundreds plus 272 fifties). However, Kent's Frank Woolley had more innings in the 50-99 bracket than either of them, with 295. Philip Mead of Hampshire is the only other batsman to have reached 50 on more than 400 occasions in first-class cricket, finishing with 153 hundreds and 258 fifties.

Sanga and Mahela now have the same number of Test runs. Is this the highest aggregate shared by two batsmen at the end of a match? asked Maduwatha Liyanage from Sri Lanka
After the exciting Headingley Test, both Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene had 11,493 runs in Tests, putting them joint-sixth on the overall list. There hasn't been a tie for a higher number, certainly not between players from the same team. The oddest similar occurrence I can remember followed the second Test between Australia and Pakistan in 2010 - also at Headingley, as it happens - at the end of which both Simon Katich and Michael Hussey had played 52 Tests for Australia and scored exactly 3981 runs.

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