May 19, 2015

Most runs on day one, and the Gavaskar-Hannan Sarkar connection

Also: making 600 and not winning, and lopsided contributions in a team's innings

When Hanif Mohammad made 499 for Karachi in 1959, the next best score in the innings was Wallis Mathias' 103 © PA Photos

When Kevin Pietersen made his triple-century, the next-highest score was just 36. Was this a record? asked Richard Maxwell from England
While Kevin Pietersen was amassing that remarkable 355 not out against Leicestershire at The Oval last week, the next-highest score was Kumar Sangakkara's 36. As it turns out, there have been three lower second-highest contributions to a first-class innings that contained a triple-century. When Vijay Hazare made 309 not out for Hindus against the Rest in the final of the Bombay Pentangular tournament at the Brabourne Stadium in December 1943, his brother Vivek made just 21: they put on 300 for the sixth wicket - and still lost by an innings. Vivek's 21 took him five and a half hours: "He blocked every ball and proved immovable," wrote Vijay. "Even Trevor Bailey could have taken his correspondence course!" When the New Zealander Bert Sutcliffe scored 385 for Otago against Canterbury in Christchurch in a match that started on Christmas Day 1952, the next-best was Alan Gilbertson's 29; and as VVS Laxman piled up 301 not out for Hyderabad against Bihar in Jamshedpur in 1997-98, the second-highest score was Daniel Manohar's 35. The biggest discrepancy between the highest score of an innings and the next-biggest is 396 runs, when Hanif Mohammad made 499 and Wallis Mathias 103 for Karachi against Bahawalpur in Karachi in 1958-59.

I noticed that Gubby Allen had 99 not out when the innings was declared during a first-class match in 1952. Who was the captain who did this? asked Tushar Trivedi from India
The match you're talking about was Oxford University's game against the Free Foresters in the Parks in 1952. Wisden didn't identify captains back then, and their match report doesn't help. Allen, the former England captain, was a month short of his 50th birthday at the time, and was already a major presence in the Lord's committee-rooms - so at first I thought he must have been captain himself, as no one else would have dared to declare on him! But EW Swanton's biography of Allen, Man of Cricket (1985), explains what happened: "Following rain on the first day, Errol Holmes announced that he would have to declare, come what may, on the second at lunch, which found Gubby looking helplessly on at the non-striker's end, not out 99." Holmes, who had previously captained Surrey, played five Tests himself in the 1930s. Allen made amends the following year with 143 not out - his last first-class hundred - for the Free Foresters against Cambridge University at Fenner's.

In this year's Sri Lanka Premier League tournament, Tamil Union managed to score 530 for 6 on the first day against Air Force. Was this the highest first-class total in one day? asked Uwaisul Karnain from Sri Lanka
This achievement by Tamil Union came on the way to a total of 650 for 8 and an eventual huge victory over the Air Force in Katunayake in February. But although it was a fine effort, it was some way short of the first-class record: there have been no fewer than 52 instances of a day's play in a first-class match containing 600 or more runs. The overall record is the amazing 721 runs piled up by Don Bradman's Invincibles on the first day of the Australians' tour match against Essex in Southend-on-Sea in 1948. Bradman led the way himself with 187 in 125 minutes, and there were three other centuries.

Hannan Sarkar: following in Sunil Gavaskar's footsteps? © Getty Images

Regarding your recent answer about Frank Worrell being out the same way twice for 65 in a Test - is the highest instance in first-class cricket Geoff Boycott's "bowled Harper 87" twice in 1980-81, something I remember being struck by at the time? asked Charles Barr from England
That's a good spot, as it turns out that that is indeed the first-class record for identical dismissals in the same match: Geoff Boycott was bowled by Roger Harper for 87 in both innings of England's warm-up game against a West Indies Board President's XI in Pointe-a-Pierre in Trinidad at the start of their 1980-81 tour of the Caribbean. Offspinner (and ace fielder) Harper, who went on to have a distinguished career for West Indies - 25 Tests and 105 ODIs - was only 17 at the time. I had to check the facts with Philip Bailey, Wisden's statistician, who confirmed: "That is the first-class record, assuming you don't count not out - both Arthur "Ticker" Mitchell and Zaheer Abbas made 100* in each innings of a game."

Have Pakistan ever failed to win a Test before after scoring more than 600 runs in their first innings, as they did in Khulna? asked Margareth Schipper from Belgium
Pakistan's 628 in the recent first Test against Bangladesh in Khulna was the 14th time they had amassed 600 or more in the first innings of a Test, and the tenth time they had failed to press home a victory. They have actually won only four Tests after making 600: innings victories over Sri Lanka in Galle in 2000, New Zealand in Lahore in 2002, and England in Lahore in 2005-06, plus a ten-wicket win over India in Faisalabad in 1982-83.

Does Sunil Gavaskar hold the record of being out first ball of a Test three times? asked Krishna Darooka from the USA
Sunil Gavaskar was dismissed by the very first ball of a Test match on three occasions - by England's Geoff Arnold at Edgbaston in 1974, in Calcutta (now Kolkata) by Malcolm Marshall of West Indies in 1983-84, and by Imran Khan against Pakistan in Jaipur in 1986-87. Gavaskar played 125 Tests in all, so he can probably be forgiven those three lapses. But he's not unique: his feat was matched by the Bangladesh opener Hannan Sarkar, who won rather fewer caps - just 17. Four of them came against West Indies, and in three of those - bowled in Dhaka in 2002-03, and lbw in St Lucia and in Kingston in 2004 - the unfortunate Sarkar was dismissed first ball by the left-arm fast bowler Pedro Collins. No one else has been dismissed by the first ball of a Test match more than once. For the full list, click here.

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

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