August 12, 2014

Bad starts, and plenty of noughts

Also, lowest totals to include fifty partnerships, match awards in your final Test, most five-fors without reaching 100 Test wickets

India were 8 for 4 in the fourth Test. How many worse starts than this have there been? asked Krish Menon from India
There have been only eight worse starts in Tests than India's 8 for 4 at Old Trafford (by which I mean the score at the fall of the fourth wicket). India were famously 0 for 4 at Headingley in 1952, thanks to Fred Trueman and Alec Bedser, and later in the same series were 6 for 4 (and then 6 for 5) at The Oval. England were 2 for 4 against South Africa in Johannesburg in 1999-2000, in Michael Vaughan's first Test, almost a century after being 5 for 4 against Australia in Melbourne in 1903-04. There have been four instances of a Test team being 7 for 4: by Australia against England at Old Trafford in 1888, at The Oval in 1896, and again in Brisbane in 1936-37; and more recently by Bangladesh against India in Mirpur in 2007.

There were six ducks in India's first innings at Old Trafford - is this a record? asked James Mewshaw from England
The six ducks in India's first innings at Old Trafford equalled the Test record, set by Pakistan against West Indies in Karachi in 1980-81, and matched by South Africa against India in Ahmedabad in 1996-97, and Bangladesh against West Indies in Dhaka in 2002-03. India's eventual 152 was the highest total to include four ducks (Pakistan made 128, South Africa 105 and Bangladesh 87). There have been 11 instances of a match featuring a total of 11 ducks.

Cheteshwar Pujara collected his first Test duck at Old Trafford. How many people had more innings - or more runs - before their first blob? asked Henry McKinnon from England
Cheteshwar Pujara's first duck, in the fourth Test at Old Trafford, came in his 39th innings, putting him level with Mark Taylor. Some 21 players had more innings before their first duck, including James Anderson (54) and Alastair Cook (39). Top of the list is AB de Villiers, who had 78 innings before finally succumbing for a duck, just ahead of Aravinda de Silva with 75 (Clive Lloyd is next, quite a long way back with 58). De Villiers scored 2958 Test runs before registering a duck, and de Silva 2779 (Pujara had 1840 runs before his first one).

Was India's 152 the lowest all-out Test total to include two fifty partnerships? asked Luke Bull from England
India's 152 at Old Trafford was actually the second-lowest completed Test innings to include a pair of fifty partnerships: in the second Test of the Bodyline tour, in Melbourne in 1932-33, England's second innings of 139 started with an opening partnership of 53 between Herbert Sutcliffe and Maurice Leyland, and later Bob Wyatt and Gubby Allen put on 50 for the seventh wicket. There was a recent near-miss: in Providence in Guyana in 2011, Pakistan's 160 against West Indies included two half-century stands.

Jason Gillespie won the Man of the Match award in his final Test. How many others have done this? asked Arnold Sathasivam from Sri Lanka
Excluding current players, only six other players won the match award in what turned out to be their final Test: Ian Redpath (1975-76), Greg Chappell (1983-84), Sarfraz Nawaz (1983-84), Sunil Gavaskar (1986-87), Murray Goodwin (2000) and Shane Bond (2009-10). Jason Gillespie, of course, famously won the award for his unlikely double-century after going in as nightwatchman against Bangladesh in Chittagong in 2005-06. He's the only man to be dropped for good after winning the match award: the others above all retired. Among current players, Pat Cummins has not appeared for Australia since winning the match award on his Test debut against South Africa in Johannesburg in 2011-12, while India's Pragyan Ojha hasn't featured in a Test so far this year.

Venkatesh Prasad had seven five-wicket hauls in Tests, yet he didn't reach 100 wickets. Has anyone else got more? asked Mohit Patney from India
The only man who fits the bill here is the lion-hearted old Surrey fast bowler Tom Richardson, whose 88 wickets in just 14 Tests for England in the 1890s included no fewer than 11 five-fors (and four matches with ten). Two old Australian bowlers matched Venkatesh Prasad's record of seven five-wicket hauls: Fred "The Demon" Spofforth, whose 94 wickets in 18 Tests also included four ten-fors, and Albert "Tibby" Cotter, who took 91 wickets in 21 Tests before his death in the First World War. The England slow left-armer Colin Blythe finished with exactly 100 Test wickets, with nine five-fors, while two more recent left-arm bowlers - India's Irfan Pathan and Mohammad Rafique of Bangladesh - took 100 with seven five-wicket bags.

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