March 30, 2010

Jack the Ripper and Jack the Gripper

A cricketer suspected of being a serial killer, fact and fiction about the Pataudis, and the day Tendulkar played for Pakistan

Is it true that the notorious murderer Jack the Ripper was a cricketer? asked Ken Mountford from London
The identity of "Jack the Ripper", who carried out a series of grisly murders in London's East End in 1888, has never been conclusively proved. Various suspects have been put forward over the years, and one of them was indeed a reputable cricketer - Montague Druitt, who played in trial matches while up at Oxford without getting into the university side, was a member of MCC, and also played for the prominent London club Blackheath. A bowler, he took five wickets for Bournemouth against the touring Parsees from India in 1888. Druitt was found drowned in December of that year, a month after the last confirmed "Ripper" murder.

Which Test cricketer was known as "Jack the Gripper"? asked Bob Templeton from Runcorn
This was the Trinidadian offspinner Jack Noreiga, who was remembered for his strong grip on the ball while trying to turn it on usually unresponsive pitches. Noreiga had a peculiar senior career: after making his debut for Trinidad against the Indian tourists in 1961-62, he did not play for the island again until 1970-71, when he took 17 wickets in two matches, including 11 in the second one, against Barbados - which, with the legendary Lance Gibbs suffering a loss of form, propelled Noreiga into the Test team to play India, who were making their first tour since Noreiga's debut season. In his second match, at home in Port-of-Spain, he took 9 for 95 - still the best bowling figures for West Indies - although India won the match in the end. Noreiga took 17 wickets in his four Tests - but, 35 by the time the series ended, he never played again. He died in 2003, aged 67. Garry Sobers, captain in those four Tests, remembered Noreiga as "a jovial personality and a real team man". Sobers added: "Lance [Gibbs] was going through a bad patch at the time and Jack filled the gap tremendously. He was a very useful bowler, especially at the Queen's Park Oval. He flighted the ball, had good control over line and length, and turned it. Like most Trinidadians, he enlivened the dressing room with his humour."

How many times has Sachin Tendulkar been left stranded in the nineties in all his ODI appearances? asked Aashutosh Purohit from India
Sachin Tendulkar has only once been left not out in the nineties in a one-day international - as recently as last December, when he made 96 not out against Sri Lanka in Cuttack. His chances of yet another one-day century were scuppered when, with two runs needed for victory, Lasith Malinga bowled a wayward delivery to Dinesh Karthik, which went for five wides. Tendulkar has been out in the nineties 17 times now in ODIs - including three 99s in 2007.

I was reading a short story recently in which the author wrote about an Indian father and son who captained and scored centuries for Oxford in Varsity Matches against Cambridge - was this for real? asked Santosh from India
It's almost true - both the senior Nawab of Pataudi and his son, later known as Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi played for Oxford University, and both scored centuries against Cambridge at Lord's. Only Pataudi junior captained Oxford in the Varsity Match, though, and his hundred was made before he took on the role. The senior Nawab scored 106 in 1929 and 238 not out (a record for the match until 2005, when another Indian, Salil Oberoi, scored 247 at Fenner's) in 1931, while his son made 131 in 1960. Pataudi junior captained Oxford in 1963, after the car accident that damaged his eyesight, and made 51 against Cambridge.

I've heard commentators and players talk about how historic New Zealand's 1999 tour of England was, because we won a Test series there for the first time. But didn't we win in England in 1986 too? asked Jeremy Leslie from New Zealand
You're right, New Zealand did indeed take the series in England in 1986, thanks to a win in the second Test at Trent Bridge. The other two matches were drawn. That was New Zealand's first series win in England (the other one was that 1999 rubber). It was only New Zealand's second series victory over England at all - they had also won 1-0 at home in 1983-84.

There's an update on last week's question about Sachin Tendulkar fielding for Pakistan before his Test debut for India, from Prasanth Nottath, and others:
Contrary to what I said last week, it seems that Sachin Tendulkar did field for a Pakistan side before making his Test debut in 1989-90. The match in question was one to celebrate the golden jubilee of the Cricket Club of India, at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai in 1987-88, and involved a CCI side playing against a Pakistan XI raised by Imran Khan. This was not an official international - in fact there's no trace of it in the Cricinfo database. But it seems that Tendulkar, who was only 15 at the time, was one of a couple of young players who helped around the dressing rooms, and he fielded briefly when one of the Pakistanis went off. For more details, click here.

And there's an addition to the list given in last week's column about players doing the "double" of 500 runs and 50 wickets in Tests in a calendar year. Australia's Jack Gregory was actually the first to do it, in 1921, and Vinoo Mankad of India also managed it in 1952. I'm sorry for the discrepancy, which arose because the Cricinfo database cannot yet differentiate between performances in Tests that started in one year and finished in the next (Gregory had runs and wickets in 1921 from a Test which started on December 30, 1920, while Mankad did something similar in 1951-52). Thanks to Charlie Wat from Melbourne for pointing this out.

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Cricinfo Guide to International Cricket. If you want to ask Steven a question, use our feedback form. The most interesting questions will be answered here each week