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Ask Steven

Does Jimmy Anderson hold the record for playing most Tests in one country?

And was Shardul Thakur's Oval fifty the fastest in England?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
Sachin Tendulkar fields in the deep, India v Australia, 1st Test, Bangalore, 1st day, October 9, 2008

Sachin Tendulkar played 94 Tests in India, a record for a country before Jimmy Anderson broke it at The Oval  •  Michael Steele/Getty Images

Jimmy Anderson has the number 613 on his shirt, and England are now up to 699. So Anderson might yet play with player No. 713. Has anyone ever played with someone with a number 100 higher in a Test? asked Michael Frampton from England
If Jimmy Anderson does manage to line up alongside England's player No. 713 - which might take a couple of years at the current rate - he will become just the eighth player to have done this. All of them are from England: the first was Wilfred Rhodes (cap No. 121), when he played with Harold Larwood (225) in a famous win at The Oval in 1926. Rhodes also holds the record for the biggest gap - when Leslie Townsend (254) played with him against West Indies in 1929-30, the difference was 131.
Rhodes was 52 by then. He actually played with seven others whose shirt number would have been 100 more than his, but Brian Close managed nine, then Graham Gooch beat that by playing with ten. Gooch (No. 461) lined up alongside Mark Ilott (561), Mark Lathwell (562), Martin McCague (563), Graham Thorpe (564), Martin Bicknell (565), Steve Rhodes (566), Craig White (567), Darren Gough (568), John Crawley (569) and Joey Benjamin (570),
The other England players to qualify are Frank Woolley, Freddie Brown, George Gunn and Patsy Hendren. Note that ESPNcricinfo's list currently shows only 698 players - that's because England retrospectively awarded cap No. 696 to the Glamorgan opener Alan Jones, whose one appearance was in a Test later ruled unofficial, against the Rest of the World at Lord's in 1970. So although Ollie Robinson is shown on the list as 698, he actually wears 699 on his shirt, and England's next new cap will sport No. 700.
The nearest a non-England player has come to this is a difference of 98, by Shivnarine Chanderpaul: he was West Indian cap No. 204 and, in what turned out to be his 164th and last Test, he played alongside Shai Hope (302) against England in Bridgetown in May 2015.
The best for the other countries (with thanks to the flying fingers of Shiva Jayaraman of the stats team) are as follows:
93 - India: Sachin Tendulkar (187) and Rohit Sharma (280) in 2013-14
87 - Australia: Bob Simpson (209) and Trevor Laughlin (296) in 1977-78
75 - Sri Lanka: Arjuna Ranatunga (9) and Kumar Sangakkara (84) in 2000
69 - Pakistan: Younis Khan (159) and Hasan Ali (228) in 2017
65 - New Zealand: Bert Sutcliffe (44) and Graham Vivian (109) in 1964-65; Daniel Vettori (200) and Mark Craig (265) in 2014-15
62 - South Africa: Dave Nourse (50) and Fred Susskind (112) in 1924
56 - Zimbabwe: Brendan Taylor (64) and Dion Myers (120) in 2021
56 - Bangladesh: Mushfiqur Rahim (41) and Shoriful Islam (97) in 2021
Is it right that Shardul Thakur's fifty at The Oval was the fastest in a Test in England? asked Udarshan Patel from India
That is correct: Shardul Thakur hurtled to his half-century in the fourth Test, at The Oval last week, in just 31 balls, one faster than the man with whom he apparently shares the nickname "Beefy" - Ian Botham reached 50 in 32 deliveries for England against New Zealand, also at The Oval, in his comeback Test in 1986.
Kapil Dev (at Old Trafford in 1982) and Harbhajan Singh (at Trent Bridge in 2002) made 33-ball fifties in England, as did Clifford Roach (for West Indies at The Oval in 1933) and Stuart Broad (against West Indies at Old Trafford in 2020.
There has been only one faster fifty for India in any Test: Kapil got there in just 30 balls against Pakistan in Karachi in 1982-83. For the list of the fastest Test half-centuries, click here.
I noticed that Dale Steyn made his ODI debut for Africa - is he unique in not playing his first match for his own country? asked Orville d'Silva from England
You're right that Dale Steyn, who recently announced his retirement, made his one-day international debut for the Africa XI against Asia in Centurion in August 2005. He had, however, made his Test debut for South Africa a few months before.
The only other man to make his ODI debut for a composite side (ignoring teams like East Africa, who played in the 1975 World Cup, and West Indies) is someone who often shared a dressing room - and the new ball - with Steyn: Morne Morkel also played his first one-day international for the Africa XI, against Asia in Bengaluru in June 2007. He had also made his Test debut a few months previously.
There's also one instance in T20Is: Sandeep Lamichchane of Nepal made his official debut for the World XI against West Indies in a special match in aid of hurricane relief at Lord's in 2018. He was only 17 at the time.
I heard that Jimmy Anderson has now played more Tests in one country than anyone else. Whose record did he break? asked Brian Silvester from England
The fourth Test, at The Oval, was the 95th in England for Jimmy Anderson. The previous record in one country was 94, by Sachin Tendulkar in India: Ricky Ponting played 92 in Australia.
Jacques Kallis played 88 Test matches in South Africa, Shivnarine Chanderpaul 81 in the West Indies and Mahela Jayawardene 81 in Sri Lanka, Javed Miandad 60 in Pakistan, Daniel Vettori 57 in New Zealand, Mushfiqur Rahim 43 in Bangladesh, Grant Flower 35 in Zimbabwe and Asad Shafiq 30 in the UAE. For the full list of men who have played 50 or more Tests in one country, click here.
Which Test player was nicknamed "The Governor", and which one was "The Governor-General"? asked Harry Johnson from England
"The Governor" was the diminutive Surrey batter Bobby Abel, who played 13 Test matches between 1888 and 1902. Abel was the first Englishman to carry his bat through a Test innings, against Australia in Sydney in 1891-92. In May 1899, Abel also carried his bat through Surrey's innings of 811 against Somerset at The Oval, finishing with 357 not out, which remained a record until 2016-17.
According to David Kynaston's 1982 biography of Abel, "From as early as 1884 he was known to the ring at The Oval as the 'Guv'nor', a friendly, semi-facetious term of endearment, which had come into general use to strangers from the 1850s and in Abel's case stuck to him as his nickname for the rest of his life."
The "Governor-General" came a little later. This was the Australian Charlie Macartney, who played 35 Tests between 1907-08 and 1926. He acquired his nickname in his first series. In his 1930 autobiography My Cricketing Days, Macartney recalled: "It was during the English tour of Australia in 1907-08 that I was first dubbed the 'Governor-General'. KL Hutchings was responsible for this, and it has stuck to me all through my career." Macartney added: "In this connection, my wife relates with glee a conversation overheard by her at a match. One small boy said to another 'Why do they call Mac the Governor-General?' 'Because he's so cocky, of course,' was the reply."
Macartney is one of only six men to score a century before lunch on the first day of a Test, against England at Headingley in 1926, when he was 40 years old. Macartney went in in the first over, after Warren Bardsley was out for a duck, and after being dropped at slip later in the same over by England's captain, Arthur Carr, he sailed to 112 (of his eventual 151) by lunch.
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Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes