September 29, 2015

Obstructing winners, and in-law captains

Also: slowest to 100 Test wickets, run out in both innings, and the oldest surviving Test captain

Bill Brown, the oldest surviving Test captain, in the Australian dressing room in Hobart in 1999 © Getty Images

Who took the longest to reach 100 wickets in Tests? Was it Carl Hooper? asked Ricky Hussain from Trinidad
Carl Hooper took longest to reach 100 wickets in terms of matches - he got there in his 90th Test, well clear of Jacques Kallis (53), Garry Sobers (48), Ray Illingworth and Trevor Bailey (both 47). Hooper also needed more balls to get there than anyone else - around 12,000, just under 2000 more than Ravi Shastri and Trevor Goddard. But Hooper is only fourth in terms of time: it took him almost 14 years to amass 100 wickets, but George Giffen and Wilfred Rhodes both needed around 14½, and Intikhab Alam nearly 15. Kapil Dev was fastest to 100 Test wickets in terms of days (473), while George Lohmann of England got there in just 16 matches, and around 3400 balls (almost 2000 quicker than the next man, Sydney Barnes).

Was Ben Stokes the first player to be dismissed "obstructing the field" in a match at Lord's? And is it true that no player dismissed in this manner has ever finished on the winning side in international cricket? asked Jamie Stewart from Canada
Ben Stokes' controversial dismissal in the second one-day international against Australia at Lord's earlier this month was the seventh case of "obstructing the field" in international cricket, six in ODIs and one in a Test (Len Hutton, for England against South Africa at The Oval in 1951). England won that Test, and four of the six batsmen given out this way in ODIs - including two for Pakistan v South Africa in 2013 - ended up winning too. Apart from Stokes, only Rameez Raja - out this way for 99 for Pakistan against England in Karachi in 1987-88 - finished up on the losing side. As for Lord's, Stokes provided its first instance of a batsman out obstructing the field in an international match, and there have been no cases in first-class cricket there either. But there was one in a List A match: in a Sunday League game at Lord's in 1972, Leicestershire's Roger Tolchard was given out after intercepting a shot by his team-mate Paul Haywood, preventing it from reaching the bowler, Keith Jones of Middlesex. I haven't been able to trace any further instances in other non-county matches, but there might have been the odd one. I thought that the England captain Gubby Allen was given out this way in a wartime match at Lord's in 1945, but on looking it up I discovered it was actually "handled the ball". Still, he was apparently furious about it.

Is Mark Taylor the only person to be run out in both innings of a Test match twice? asked Michael Dickens from Australia
This unfortunate double befell Mark Taylor in only his second Test - against West Indies at Adelaide in 1988-89 - and then again against England in 1990-91, curiously also in Adelaide. There have been only 24 instances of a batsman being run out in both innings of a Test - and the only other man to suffer this fate was, coincidentally, a long-time team-mate of Taylor's: Ian Healy was run out twice against West Indies, in Georgetown in 1990-91 and in Kingston eight years later.

New Zealand captain Tom Lowry (shaking hands with the the mayor of Southampton) was the brother-in-law of England captain Percy Chapman © Getty Images

Were Stuart Broad's 8 for 15 the best bowling figures by a fast bowler in Test history? asked Ian Moore from England
Stuart Broad's 8 for 15 on that astonishing first morning of the recent Ashes Test at Trent Bridge were the eighth-best Test figures by a pace bowler, according to ESPNcricinfo's classifications. Top of the list is England's George Lohmann, who took 9 for 28 against South Africa in Johannesburg in 1895-96; next comes Richard Hadlee, with 9 for 56 for New Zealand against Australia in Brisbane in 1985-86. However, with due respect to the others on that list, I think it's fair to say that the only better figures by a bowler who was definitely faster than Broad are Devon Malcolm's 9 for 57 for England against South Africa at The Oval in 1994.

Which two Test captains from different countries were brothers-in-law? asked George Perry from New Zealand
The pair I know of - and your address suggests you might be thinking of them too! - are Percy Chapman, who won the Ashes for England in 1926 and defended them in 1928-29, and New Zealand's first Test captain Tom Lowry: Chapman married Lowry's sister Gertrude (known as "Beet") in 1925, although they later separated. Chapman played 26 Tests in all, and Lowry seven, but they never opposed each other; they had been team-mates at Cambridge University in 1921 and 1922. I suppose there might be some other similar double acts, although I can't think of any. Craig White (England) and Darren Lehmann (Australia) are brothers-in-law, too - but neither of them captained their country.

Was Brian Close the oldest surviving Test captain at the time of his recent death? asked Babalola Adefarati from Nigeria
Brian Close, who passed away earlier this month at the age of 84, captained England in seven Tests, in 1966 and 1967. He wasn't quite the oldest Test captain, or even England's: Donald Carr, who captained them in one match in India in 1951-52, is currently 88, as is Tom Graveney, who skippered in one Ashes Test in 1968. Imtiaz Ahmed (Pakistan), Clive van Ryneveld (South Africa) and John Reid (New Zealand) are all 87, while Neil Harvey (Australia) and Datta Gaekwad (India) are 86. The longest-lived Test captain of all was Bill Brown, who captained Australia in one Test in 1945-46: he was 95 when he died in 2008. For a list of the oldest living Test players (not just captains), 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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