July 29, 2014

Worst keepers, and honours at Lord's

Also, most keeping dismissals on debut, seven-for at HQ, and youngest ODI centurions
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Don Tallon conceded 13.9 byes per Test on difficult, uncovered pitches in the 1940s and '50s
Don Tallon conceded 13.9 byes per Test on difficult, uncovered pitches in the 1940s and '50s © Associated Press

Matt Prior often seemed to let through a lot of byes. Who is Test cricket's worst wicketkeeper by that yardstick? asked Andrew Martin from England
Matt Prior was fourth on the overall list before last week's Test against India at Lord's - but the 36 byes he conceded in his 79th match pushed him to a career total of 771 byes, past Jeff Dujon (767 in 79 matches) and Ian Healy (740 in 119). Only Mark Boucher, who conceded 966 byes in 147 Tests, lies ahead. MS Dhoni (713 in 85 Tests) comes next, having gone past Godfrey Evans (703 in 91) at Lord's. Of course, this particular list is dependent on someone playing a lot of matches, and a more reliable way to judge is to look at average byes per match. Prior averaged 9.75, which puts him well outside the top ten, given a minimum of 20 matches played. The name of the man on top is a surprise: the Australian Don Tallon conceded 13.90 byes per match, despite being rated one of the greats (Don Bradman chose him as the wicketkeeper for his all-time XI). Tallon, though, had to do much of his keeping in the era of uncovered pitches, which were far more unpredictable than today's. Next come two old South African glovemen, Tommy Ward (13.60) and Percy Sherwell (13.46), who had to do much of their keeping against a phalanx of tricky legspinners. If you drop the qualification to ten Tests, the old Warwickshire and England keeper Tiger Smith takes over at the top, with 19 byes per match, with the recent Indian keeper Dinesh Karthik next on 14.87. If you change the qualification to byes per 100 balls, which is probably the fairest of all, Smith (2.71), Ward (1.60), Sherwell (1.52) and Karthik (1.48) still lead the way, just ahead of the 19th-century Australian legend Jack Blackham (1.38). Prior (0.96) comes in 19th on that list, just behind his Ashes rival Brad Haddin (0.97).

Was Ishant Sharma the first Indian bowler to take seven wickets in a Test innings at Lord's? asked Toby Freeman from Zimbabwe
Ishant Sharma's 7 for 74 at Lord's last week was indeed India's best innings return in a Test at the venue. Three other Indians had previously taken six in an innings there, including Bhuvneshwar Kumar's 6 for 82 in the first innings. Amar Singh claimed 6 for 35 in 1936, while Bishan Bedi toiled away for 6 for 226 as England amassed 629 in 1974. The best Test figures by anyone at Lord's are 8 for 34, by Ian Botham against Pakistan in 1978 (he also scored 108 earlier in the same game); Glenn McGrath took 8 for 38 in the 1997 Ashes Test.

Liam Plunkett's half-century in the Lord's Test meant that 21 of the players in that match had scored at least one. Is this a record? asked Nair Ottappalam from India
That's a good spot: the batting successes of Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Binny and Bhuvneshwar Kumar at Trent Bridge, and Liam Plunkett and Ravi Jadeja at Lord's, meant that 21 of the 22 players had Test fifties to their name by the end of the second Test - the one exception was Ishant Sharma, whose highest score remains 31 not out. I was surprised to discover that this had happened only once before: 21 of the 22 players in the fourth Test between West Indies and India in Bridgetown in 1982-83 had scored at least one fifty, the odd man out then being Malcolm Marshall (his highest score at the time was 45, but he made 92 against India in Kanpur later in the year). The record for centurions is 16, which has happened six times now - first in the match between Australia and New Zealand in Perth in 2004-05, and most recently in the Ashes Test in Brisbane in 2010-11.

Has any wicketkeeper made more dismissals on Test debut than Quinton de Kock? asked Radu from Romania
Quinton de Kock's nine dismissals for South Africa against Sri Lanka in Galle would have been a record - but for the annoying fact that he had already played a Test, against Australia in Port Elizabeth earlier this year. He didn't keep wicket in that game: his nine dismissals is indeed a record for someone doing the job for the first time. The overall record for a debut, though, is eight dismissals - set by Brian Taber for Australia against South Africa in Johannesburg in 1966-67, and equalled by Chris Read for England against New Zealand at Edgbaston in 1999.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar scored a fifty and took a five-for in the second Test. How many others have done this at Lord's? asked Shashidar Reddy from India
Bhuvneshwar Kumar's achievement - he followed 6 for 82 in England's first innings with 52 in India's second at Lord's last week - was the 13th instance of this double being performed in a Lord's Test. Ian Botham was responsible for four of those: no one else managed it more than once. The big Australian Jack Lyons was the first to achieve it, in the 1890 Ashes Test, while the last one before Bhuvneshwar was Vernon Philander, for South Africa in 2012. Bhuvneshwar was the fourth Indian to do it, after Lala Amarnath (1946), Vinoo Mankad (1952) and Kapil Dev (1982). For the full list, click here.

Is Usman Ghani the youngest batsman to score a century in a one-day international? asked Azweer from India
Afghanistan's new opener Usman Ghani made 118 against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo last week, at the age of 17 years 242 days. The only younger batsman to hit an ODI century is Shahid Afridi, who was only 16 years 217 days old when he blasted a 37-ball hundred for Pakistan against Sri Lanka in Nairobi in October 1996. For the full list of the youngest one-day international century-makers, click here.

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