Ask Steven

Eliminating extras, and the funniest sledge

And which players have scored most runs and taken most wickets in the history of the Champions Trophy?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
Frequently hostile, always legal: Michael Holding didn't waste time with wides and no-balls  •  Getty Images

Frequently hostile, always legal: Michael Holding didn't waste time with wides and no-balls  •  Getty Images

I've heard Michael Holding say more than once that he never bowled a wide or a no-ball in a one-day international. Is that true, and does he hold the record if it is? asked Liam Clayton from Australia
Michael Holding sent down 5473 deliveries in one-day internationals, and he's right that none of them was a wide or a no-ball. His long-time team-mate Joel Garner bowled 5330 deliveries without a wide (or a no-ball), and Lance Cairns 4021. Without wishing to play down Holding's feat, we should probably recognise that the calling of wides has become much more rigorous over the years since his heyday. Mohammad Hafeez has so far sent down 7076 deliveries in ODIs without a no-ball (but 85 wides), while Ravi Shastri bowled 6613 without a no-ball (but one wide). In Tests, the West Indian offspinner Lance Gibbs bowled 27,115 balls in 79 matches, without a single wide or no-ball. Richard Hadlee sent down 21,918 deliveries without conceding a wide, but did have 22 no-balls, while Derek Underwood (21,862 balls in 86 Tests) and Garry Sobers (21,599 in 93) never bowled a wide or a no-ball. (It's just possible that some of these players delivered no-balls which were scored from, which would not have counted against them at the time so might have escaped notice; the practice of debiting no-balls and wides against the bowlers' analyses started in the early 1980s.)
Has Shikhar Dhawan now scored more runs in the Champions Trophy than anyone else? asked Ajmal Bharat from India
Shikhar Dhawan finished this year's tournament with 701 runs overall in the Champions Trophy (363 in 2013 and 338 in 2017; he was the leading scorer in the competition both times). That leaves him third on the overall list, behind Chris Gayle (791 Champions Trophy runs) and Mahela Jayawardene (742). He passed Kumar Sangakkara (683) during the final at The Oval. Those three all played more innings: Dhawan's average of 77.88 from ten matches is the best of anyone who scored more than 530 runs (Virat Kohli has 529 at 88.16). Lasith Malinga finished this tournament with 25 wickets overall in the Champions Trophy, leaving New Zealand's Kyle Mills as the overall leader with 28.
Bangladesh did not concede an extra in India's innings of 265 in the Champions Trophy semi-final - was this a record? asked Shivam Ahuja and several others on Facebook
India's 265 for 1 in the Champions Trophy semi-final at Edgbaston was indeed the highest total in one-day internationals not to include a single extra. The previous-highest was Scotland's 229 for 3 against UAE in Edinburgh in August 2016, while South Africa's 178 for 5 against New Zealand in Faisalabad during the 1996 World Cup didn't include any extras either. The Test record is Pakistan's 328 against India in Lahore in 1954-55, while South Africa totalled 251 without any extras against England in Durban in 1930-31.
I seem to remember a bowler from Afghanistan doing well in county cricket in the 1990s, but I can't remember his name. Who was it? asked Robin Burton from England
I think the bowler you're referring to is the left-arm seamer Alamgir Sheriyar, who took more than 500 first-class wickets in a career that started and finished with Leicestershire, and also took in spells with Worcestershire and Kent. He had most success during his time at New Road: in 1999, he was the leading wicket-taker in the country with 92, when his career-best 7 for 130 for Worcestershire against Hampshire in Southampton comprised the first seven wickets to fall. The following winter - 1999-2000 - Sheriyar toured Bangladesh and New Zealand with England A (now the Lions). He was of Afghan descent, but was actually born in Birmingham.
What's the funniest sledge you've ever heard? asked Ken Harrison from England
That's a tough one - people have written whole books on this subject! The other problem is that rather a lot of them are unprintable. But I suppose one of my favourites involves, almost inevitably, that Australian arch-sledger Merv Hughes. The story goes that in 1989-90, Pakistan's Javed Miandad reacted to a bit of bluster from Merv by informing him he was too fat to play cricket and that he should be a bus conductor instead. Not long afterwards, Hughes had Javed caught in the gully off a rearing bouncer and, as he chugged through to celebrate, put out his hand towards Javed and chirped "Tickets please!"
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Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes