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Ask Steven

Did Don Bradman ever play against Frankenstein's Monster?

And how many times have teams played a seven-match T20I series?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
04-Oct-2022
Monster games: Colin Clive and Boris Karloff (right) in the 1931 film <i>Frankenstein</I>&nbsp;&nbsp;&bull;&nbsp;&nbsp;Getty Images

Monster games: Colin Clive and Boris Karloff (right) in the 1931 film Frankenstein  •  Getty Images

Is it true that Don Bradman played against Frankenstein's Monster? asked Taimur Mirza from Australia
It sounds improbable - but actually it's true! Don Bradman went on a tour of North America in 1932 with a private Australian team managed by the former Test legspinner Arthur Mailey and captained by Vic Richardson, the Chappells' grandfather. It was not long after Bradman's wedding, and he took his new wife Jessie with him and treated the trip as a type of honeymoon. Although they saw many exotic places, there was an awful lot of cricket to fit in for a touring party with only 12 players - between June 17 and August 28, they played 51 matches, many of them against teams of more than 11 players. Bradman enjoyed himself against outmatched opponents, finishing with 3779 runs at an average of 102 with 18 centuries, while Stan McCabe scored 2361 runs and took 189 wickets in all.
The tour concluded with four matches in Hollywood, where the team rubbed shoulders with some famous names. On August 26 the Australians played an 18-man team of British-born film stars that included Boris Karloff, immortal for his portrayal of Frankenstein's Monster on screen. Karloff's real name was William Pratt and he was a keen cricketer, who usually kept wicket; in later years he was a familiar sight as a spectator at The Oval. Karloff made 12 that day, only one of four to reach double figures. Top scorer (with 24) was the redoubtable Aubrey Smith, who, before he found fame as an aristocratic Englishman on the silver screen, was a Sussex bowler who captained England in their first official Test against South Africa, in Port Elizabeth in 1888-89. I'm sure several of the other players were well known at the time, but the only name I recognise now is James Finlayson, a Scotsman who played the straight man or villain in several Laurel and Hardy films.
Smith and Karloff were instrumental in setting up the Hollywood Cricket Club, and Karloff played for them against the Australians again the next day, scoring 5 this time - he was caught and bowled by McCabe, who was on his way to 8 for 44. Smith, who was 69 by then, did not reappear. Bradman scored 52 not out in the first match, and 18 not out in the second.
Nottinghamshire scored 662 against Durham in the last round of Championship games this year, but no one reached 200. What's the highest first-class total without a double-century? asked Shaun Victor from South Africa
Nottinghamshire's imposing total of 662 for 5 declared against Durham at Trent Bridge last week included four centuries - but the highest was Matthew Montgomery's 178, his maiden first-class hundred.
However, Nottinghamshire's 662 is well down the list of the highest first-class totals without a double-century. On top is New South Wales' 918 against South Australia in Sydney in January 1901, which featured five individual centuries but a highest of 168, by NSW's captain Syd Gregory.
The highest in the County Championship actually came against Nottinghamshire, by Northamptonshire at Wantage Road in 1995, when the highest individual contribution to their county-record total of 781 for 7 declared was Russell Warren's 154. The Test record is Sri Lanka's 713 for 9 declared against Bangladesh in Chittagong in 2017-18, when the highest score was 196, by Kusal Mendis.
I enjoyed the long T20 series between Pakistan and England. I can't remember any other T20 series that stretched to seven games - have there been any? asked David Ronson from England
The recent exciting series in Pakistan - in which England came from behind to win 4-3 - was an extended one to give both sides practice for the upcoming T20 World Cup. There has actually been only one previous men's T20I series that stretched to seven matches - and you're excused if you'd forgotten it, since it took place in Malawi in November 2019: the hosts beat Mozambique 5-1, with one no-result. The same two teams contested a seven-match women's T20I series at the same time: Malawi won that 4-3.
Has any opener carried their bat through a completed innings in a T20 international? asked Geoffrey Stephens from England
The only man to do this in an all-out innings in a T20I is Chris Gayle, who batted throughout West Indies' 101 against Sri Lanka in the World Cup semi-final at The Oval in 2009, finishing with 63 not out - no one else made double figures.
It has also happened three times in women's T20Is: by Tshepang Khabo (12 out of 49) for Lesotho against Malawi in Gaborone (Botswana) in 2018; Ayesha Hasan (11 out of 52; no one else scored more than 4, but there were 28 extras) on debut for Norway vs Sweden in Kolsva (Sweden) in 2021; and Tharanga Gajayanake (25 out of 43; the next-highest score was 2) for Bahrain against the United Arab Emirates in Al Amerat (Oman) in 2021-22.
Has there ever been an ODI in which a team used just five bowlers, who all bowled ten overs and took two wickets each? asked Abhishek Gupta from Singapore
Sadly for those of us who like neat, well-ordered scorecards, this has never happened in a one-day international. There was a very near miss in the 2011 World Cup semi-final in Mohali: five Indian bowlers were used, and they all picked up two wickets, but Zaheer Khan took the last Pakistan wicket with the penultimate ball of the match, so bowled only 9.5 overs while his team-mates all sent down ten.
There have been nine other ODI innings in which five men took two wickets apiece, but they all featured one or two other bowlers who failed to strike. The most recent of these was by New Zealand against Sri Lanka in Christchurch during the 2015 World Cup.
Shiva Jayaraman of ESPNcricinfo's stats team helped with some of the above answers.
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Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes