July 22, 2014

Four in four, and stands by Nos. 10 and 11

Also, most balls faced in a T20, first instance of day-night cricket, highest limited-overs score at Lord's, and long lives after Test debut

Further to the last-wicket record by Joe Root and Jimmy Anderson in the first Test, what's the best stand by No. 10 and No. 11? asked Kieran Messiter from London
The highest partnership between Nos. 10 and 11 in Tests is 128, by Ken Higgs (63) and John Snow (59 not out) for England against West Indies at The Oval in 1966, which completed a recovery from 166 for 7 to 527 all out! Snow's innings was the only previous Test half-century by an England No. 11 before James Anderson's 81 at Trent Bridge, although Andy Caddick made 49 not out against Australia at Edgbaston in 2001.There have been eight higher last-wicket partnerships in Tests now, but all of them featured one batsman who came in higher than No. 10. For the full list, click here.

What is the largest number of balls faced by one batsman in a Twenty20 match? asked Mark Long from England
There have been three instances in all Twenty20 cricket of a batsman facing 76 balls - the equivalent of 12.4 of the 20 overs. The first was by Misbah-ul-Haq, during his 107 not out for Pakistan A against New Zealand A in Darwin in July 2006. His feat was equalled by Scotland's Calum MacLeod (104 not out) against Oman during the World T20 Qualifier in Sharjah in March 2012, and then by Rassie van der Dussen (112 not out) for North West against South West Districts in Potchefstroom in South Africa's Provincial Pro20 competition in February 2013. The T20 international record is 69 balls, by Martin Guptill (101 not out) for New Zealand against South Africa in East London in December 2012. For the full list, click here.

Norman Gordon, South Africa's centenarian, played his first Test nearly 76 years ago. Has anyone ever lived longer after making his debut? asked Mark Allardice from England
Norman "Mobil" Gordon should, god willing, celebrate his 103rd birthday on August 6. He is already the longest-lived Test cricketer - no one else is known to have made it to 100 - but even so doesn't quite hold this particular record. Gordon, then a 27-year-old fast bowler, won his first cap on December 24, 1938, in the first match of South Africa's home series against England (the one that ended with the famous Timeless Test in Durban). He has thus been a Test player for about 75 years and seven months - but remarkably there has been someone with an even longer span than that. The New Zealand batsman Jack Kerr made his Test debut at Lord's as a 20-year-old in June 1931. He died in May 2007, aged 96, some 75 years and 334 days after his Test debut. Gordon is thus about four months adrift as I write. Wilfred Rhodes survived for more than 74 years after his first cap for England in 1899. In all 11 players have lived for more than 70 years after their Test debut - five of them New Zealanders.

Was Aaron Finch's innings the highest individual score in a limited-overs match at Lord's? asked Jamie Stewart from Canada
Aaron Finch's unbeaten 181 for MCC against the Rest of the World in the special match at Lord's last week to celebrate the ground's bicentenary is the highest in a senior limited-overs match there. But the bad news for the big-hitting Finch is that it won't count in the records, as the exhibition nature of the match means it doesn't count as a List A fixture. The highest score in an official List A game at Lord's remains David Boon's 166 for the Australians in 55 overs against MCC in 1989. The highest in a county match is Graham Barlow's 158 for Middlesex against Lancashire in the 1984 NatWest Trophy quarter-final. That was a 60-over game: the 50-over record is Matthew Maynard's 151 not out for Glamorgan against Middlesex in 1996, although England's Claire Taylor hit 156 not out in a women's one-day international against India in August 2006.

When the first day-night cricket match was played? My home-town ground, Willowmoore Park in Benoni, claims the first day-night match was played between South Africa and Australia there in 1962 - but I don't think that can be right, as Australia didn't tour that year… asked Marius Roodt from South Africa
I believe that the first floodlit cricket match involving professional players was one staged for the Middlesex spinner Jack Young's benefit, against Arsenal FC at Highbury in August 1952, about a year after the lights were installed at the football ground. Because of the short square boundaries, a crowd of 7000 were warned to keep their eyes on the ball during the match, which was televised by the BBC. There was a close relationship between the two clubs at the time: several Middlesex cricketers, including the Compton brothers Denis and Leslie, had played football for Arsenal over the years. I did find a web page that suggested the floodlights at Willowmoore Park in Benoni were the oldest in South Africa, having been erected in 1929, and another that said they went up in 1943. Both sites talked of a match involving the Aussies in the 1960s, but the years mentioned were different - and neither was one when the senior Australian side visited (after 1957-58 they didn't tour South Africa until 1966-67, and went again in 1969-70; the 1966-67 team did play a two-day game in Benoni).

I watched Alfonso Thomas take four wickets in four balls this season: an announcement claimed no Somerset bowler had done this before. How often has this happened in the County Championship? asked Kenneth Wilson from Taunton
It's right that no Somerset bowler had ever taken four wickets in four balls in a first-class match before Alfonso Thomas did so against Sussex in Taunton in June. It was only the 16th time the feat had been achieved in the County Championship, and the first since 2000, when Gary Butcher took four in four for Surrey against Derbyshire at The Oval (and that was the first one since Pat Pocock, another Surrey bowler, in 1972). The first such instance was against Somerset, by Nottinghamshire's Frank Shacklock, on his way to 8 for 46 at Trent Bridge in 1893. (Shacklock's name is thought to have been Arthur Conan Doyle's inspiration for the name of his famous detective.) No one has yet taken four wickets in four balls in a Test match, but the Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga did it during the 50-over World Cup match against South Africa in Providence in Guyana in March 2007.

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