The Confectionery Stall

The summer stats quiz (aka the England-Sri Lanka numbers you don't know)

Or how to infuse extra meaning into Anderson's five-fors and Sri Lanka's sub-100 total

Andy Zaltzman
Andy Zaltzman
James Anderson completed his five-wicket haul by bowling Shaminda Eranga for 1, England v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Chester-le-Street, 4th day, May 30, 2016

What position is Anderson on the list of bowlers who look most grouchy after taking a wicket?  •  Getty Images

For the first Confectionery Stall post of the summer, a statistical stat-quiz on the first two Tests. Prize: a bonus stat, if you get all the stat-answers correct. No cheating or conferring please. Without prior written permission.
1. James Anderson (2016 v Sri Lanka), Monty Panesar (2007 v West Indies), Angus Fraser (1998 v South Africa), Ian Botham (1981 v Australia and 1978 v Pakistan), Bob Willis (1977 v Pakistan). These men are the only England bowlers since 1970 to have done what?
(a) Bowled an entire wicket maiden whilst holding their breath.
(b) Recited a complete Shakespeare sonnet during a press conference.
(c) Taken three or more five-wicket hauls in a home series.
(d) Clean-bowled Misbah-ul-Haq.
(e) Celebrated a wicket by breakdancing.
Answer: (c)
Anderson joins an illustrious list of bowlers with three or more five-fors in a series in England. The overseas bowlers to have achieved this since 1970 are Shane Warne (2001, 2005), Glenn McGrath (2001), Allan Donald (1998), Waqar Younis (1992), Terry Alderman (1981, 1989), and Malcolm Marshall (1984, 1988).
The last England bowler to take three five-wicket hauls in any series was Ryan Sidebottom in New Zealand in 2007-08.
If Anderson takes another five-for at Lord's, he will become the first fast bowler to take four five-fors in any series since McGrath in the 2001 Ashes, and the first England seamer to do so since Fred Trueman against the 1963 West Indians. Since 2001, three spinners have taken four five-fors in a series. Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan each took four five-fors in the Sri Lanka v Australia series in March 2004, and R Ashwin has done so twice in home series in India, against Australia and South Africa.
2. In the first Test in Leeds, England became the first team since 2002 to win a Test match despite failing to do which two of the following things?
(a) Any practice whatsoever.
(b) Have Danny Morrison's commentary streamed into their helmets via special headphones whilst batting.
(c) Sacrifice a goat in their dressing room, to bring good luck from the gods of Mount Olympus, before the first session on day one.
(d) Score 300 runs in the match.
(e) Eat.
(f) Yoga.
(g) Have any runs scored by their Nos. 3 and 4 batsmen.
Answer: (d) and (g)
England's 298 runs in their only innings at Headingley was the lowest match-winning aggregate since New Zealand scored 94 all out and 160 for 6 to defeat India in Hamilton in the second Test of a startlingly low-scoring two-match series in December 2002, 13 and a half years and 570 Test matches ago. The Kiwis had also won the first Test with a sub-300 match total, making 247 and 33 for 0 to win by ten wickets, as India - with Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman - failed to score more than 161 in any of their four innings. One of Test cricket's odder series.
England's win was the tenth Test victory with a sub-300 match total since the 1950s, a tough batting decade that featured 13 such low-scoring triumphs. (I am not counting England's Hansie-Cronje's-magic-jacket-effected victory in Centurion in 1999-2000, when England declared their first innings at 0 for 0 off 0.0 overs.)
England were also the third team ever to win a Test despite their Nos. 3 and 4 scoring zero runs in the match. Australia beat Pakistan in Rawalpindi in 1998-99 though Justin Langer and Mark Waugh both bagged ducks in their only innings, and England beat the hapless 1957 West Indians at Lord's, by an innings, with Tom Graveney and Peter May contributing nothing whatsoever with the bat. Joe Root's and Nick Compton's noughts at Headingley followed in this glorious tradition. The exciting news for the under-pressure Compton is that the other five batsmen involved in this stat have all gone on to score at least nine Test hundreds, and average over 40, so Compton's apparent failure in Leeds should, if the selectors are on top of their numbers, have booked his place in the team for the next five or six years at least.
3. Also in Leeds, James Anderson became the seventh bowler in Test history to take five or more wickets for less than 30 runs in both innings of a Test. Which two of the following never achieved this rare feat?
(a) 1950s England spinster Tony Lock.
(b) Post-war Australian left-arm medium-pacer Ernie Toshack.
(c) Occasional Indian medium-pacer MS Dhoni.
(d) Aged inter-wars baggy-green tweakmeister Bert Ironmonger.
(e) Early 20th-century Kent and England all-round cricketing artwork Frank Woolley.
(f) SF Barnes, pre-First-World-War bowler extraordinaire.
(g) Johnny Briggs, very much the 19th-century Morke Morkel (but English, a foot shorter, left-handed, and a spinner) (and with a Test century to his name).
(h) Former North Korean despot and loonster Kim Jong Il.
Answer: (c) and (h)
The others all took two sub-30 five-fors in a Test, most recently Lock in 1957 against a West Indian team that struggled horrifically against a great English bowling attack, despite featuring, among others, not one, not two but three of the three Ws, plus a young Garfield Sobers and Rohan Kanhai.
Dhoni managed a pair of creditable sub-30 nought-fors at Lord's in 2011. Kim Jong Il claimed to have golfed his way to an all-time universe record round of 38 under par, and would no doubt have taken two single-figure ten-fors if he had ever played Test cricket. Sadly cricket was never lucky enough to see him do so. Just as golf was never lucky enough to actually see him ever hit a golf ball.
4. Pakistan in 1954, New Zealand in 1958 and 1973, Zimbabwe in 2000, and now Sri Lanka in 2016, all made what strategic mistake at the start of their Test series in England?
(a) They were bowled out for under 100 in their first innings of the series, the only touring sides in England since the war to suffer that indignity.
(b) Due to an administrative mix-up, they went on a pre-match team-bonding scuba-diving outing in their cricket kit, and had to bat in wetsuits and flippers on day one of the Test series.
(c) Their captain called "tummies" at the first toss of the series, instead of "heads" or "tails", thus automatically forfeiting the choice of whether to bat or bowl.
Answer: (a)
Sri Lanka were also the first team to be bowled out for under 120 twice in the same Test in England since the hapless New Zealanders of 1958 (and before them the hapless 1957 West Indians), and the first anywhere since the hapless 2005 Zimbabweans, against New Zealand. The 14 runs scored by the Sri Lankan Nos. 7 to 11 in Leeds was the equal third-lowest sum contributed by a team's 7 to 11 in a completed Test, behind the 13 runs anti-amassed by the West Indies lower order when being unceremoniously horsed by Australia in the first Test in Trinidad in 1999, and the seven runs stockpiled by those hapless 1957 West Indians at The Oval, although they were haplessly without captain John Goddard, who was injured and couldn't bat at all, let alone haplessly.
5. Why have people been comparing Moeen Ali to David Gower?
(a) Because people like to compare people to other people. It is just the way we are as a species.
(b) Because of their luxuriant left-handed strokemaking, and a throwback elegance that must have Neville Cardus stroking his typewriter in his grave.
(c) Because both men are on the list of 29 Bowlers Who Have Taken Wickets In Their Only Over Of A Test Match.
(d) Because neither is as good an offspinner as Graeme Swann was.
Answer: All of the above
In Leeds, Moeen, with a match analysis of 1-0-2-1, joined an illustrious list of sole-over wicket-takers, including not only Gower but Len Hutton, Ian Chappell, Viv Richards, and Sachin Tendulkar (twice), plus recent additions Chris Gayle, Steve Smith and Kane Williamson.
6: Which six of the following rare, or relatively rare, occurrences happened in the Durham Test?
(a) Pterodactyl laid egg on outfield during tea interval.
(b) A spinner bowled the first ball of a Test innings in England.
(c) A team that followed on improved by more than 350 runs in its second innings.
(d) Seven of a Sri Lankan top eight scored 25 or more in the same innings in a Test outside Asia.
(e) An England batsman scored his 10,043rd Test run.
(f) England's Nos. 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 all scored at least 35 in the same innings.
(g) Scouts from all 20 Premier League football teams snuck into a Test ground to watch the teams warm up with a pre-play kickabout.
(h) A team registered its second score of 150 or more by a No. 7 in the same year.
(i) TV umpire asked for the footage of a referred lbw appeal to be "jazz-funked" instead of "rock-and-rolled".
(j) A wicketkeeper became the second gloveman to score a century in the series.
Answer: (b), (c), (d), (f), (h) and (j)
(a) Never happens any more. Health and safety. Thank you, Brussels.
(b) In England's second innings, Rangana Herath became the first visiting spinner to bowl the first ball of a Test innings in England since Mushtaq Mohammad did so for Pakistan in 1967.
(c) Sri Lanka's 374-run improvement was the fifth biggest by a team that had followed on, although it was well short of the record of 551, set when Hanif Mohammad went block-crazy and batted for an eternity in Barbados in January 1958. Pakistan, bowled out for 106 in their first innings, then made 657 for 8 declared in 319 overs. Second place is held by the 486-run upgrade wrought by the Laxman-Dravid miracle in Kolkata in March 2001 (171 all out; 657 for 7 declared).
(d) Had never happened before.
(e) Has never happened. Yet. Will probably happen. Sooner or later.
(f) Fourth such occurrence in Tests by England, and 25th in all by any team.
(g) A matter of time.
(h) Moeen Ali's 155 not out (the second highest by a Seven in England, after Joe Hardstaff jr's 169 not out in England's 903 for 7 declared Oval run-fest in 1938) followed Jonny Bairstow's unbeaten 150 in Cape Town in the first week of January. No team had previously posted two 150 scores by Sevens in one year. (i) A matter of time.
(j) Chandimal and Bairstow became the 14th pair of keepers from opposite sides to make hundreds in the same series, and the third to do so in England (after Prasanna Jayawardene and Matt Prior in the 2011 series between these same two countries, and Godfrey Evans and Clyde Walcott in the England v West Indies series in 1950). Five of the 14 instances worldwide have happened this decade, including in England's previous series, when Bairstow and South Africa's Quinton de Kock scored hundreds. Five happened in the previous decade, two in the 1990s, one in the 1980s, and the 1950 occurrence was the only one in the first 100 years of Test cricket.
If you answered all of the questions correctly, you win a bonus stat. Here it is:
● Since the Oval Test last August, English batsman have reached 80 on 13 occasions. Seven of these innings have ended in the 80s (54%; in Test history, 18% of batsmen who have reached 80 have been out before reaching 90). Five of the other six innings have reached at least 140 (the historic rate of 80s converted into 140s is 26% [excluding all not out innings between 80 and 139]). Lesson: do not let England batsmen get into the Nervous Nineties.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on BBC Radio 4, and a writer