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Ask Steven

Has anyone conceded more runs than Abrar Ahmed in their first four Tests?

And who made their highest Test score the latest in their career?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
Abrar Ahmed returned with four wickets, Pakistan vs New Zealand, 2nd Test, Karachi, 2nd day, January 03, 2023

Abrar Ahmed went for over hundred runs each in six of his first eight Test innings  •  AFP/Getty Images

Abrar Ahmed has conceded 942 runs in his first four Test matches. Has anyone gone for more? And who is the fastest to 1000? asked Najum Mushtaq from Bangladesh
Pakistan's young legspinner Abrar Ahmed has conceded more runs in his first four Tests than any other bowler - 942, including six innings in which he went for more than 100 (in one, he had 5 for 205). He has overtaken an earlier Pakistan spinner, left-armer Abdur Rehman, who conceded 789 runs in his first four Tests, which also included six lots of 100 or more.
Unless Abrar has a very quiet time in his fifth match, he will lead the way afterwards as well - and probably be the quickest to concede 1000 runs: the Australian legspinner Arthur Mailey leaked 946 runs after his first five Tests, and went past 1000 in the first innings of his sixth, at Lord's in 1921.
Mailey was one of seven men to reach 1000 in their sixth Test, the others being Abdur Rehman (who leads the way at the moment after six matches with 1079, six runs more than Mailey), R Ashwin (1069), Alf Valentine (1046), Mark Craig (1031), Tharindu Kaushal (1011) and Tom Richardson (1005).
Joe Root took two wickets in the third Test against Pakistan, but did not trouble the scorers with the bat. Was this the first time he has had more wickets than runs in a Test? asked Magdalena Stefanska from Poland
Joe Root's performance in the third Test in Karachi last month was indeed the first time he had collected more wickets than runs in a Test, in his 127th match.
The closest Root had come to this before was a few months earlier in 2022, against West Indies in Grenada in March, in his last match as captain. After a duck in the first innings of the match, he took the wicket of Jayden Seales - and so was ahead with the ball before scoring 5 when England batted again. Here's a full list of Root's Test performances.
Usman Khawaja improved his highest score in Sydney, in his 56th Test. Who made his best score at the latest stage of a career? asked Vinay Kushwaha from India
It's true that Usman Khawaja improved his highest score in the final Test against South Africa in Sydney last week; before his 195 not out, his best was 174, against New Zealand in Brisbane in 2015-16, which was his first Test century.
As I think you suspect, a player's 56th match is quite a long way from being a record for a late improvement on a career-best score. Seven people have done it after playing more than 100 Tests, the most surprising name probably being Glenn McGrath, who made 61 - his one and only Test half-century - in his 102nd match, against New Zealand in Brisbane in 2004-05.
The latest, though, was Jacques Kallis, who made his highest score of 224 against Sri Lanka in Cape Town in 2011-12, in his 150th Test. Anil Kumble scored his only Test century (110 not out against England at The Oval in 2007) in his 118th match.
Turning to the bowlers, Jimmy Anderson improved his career-best to 7 for 42 (from 7 for 43) in his 129th Test, against West Indies at Lord's in 2017. McGrath claimed his best figures (8 for 24) in his 104th Test, Joe Root in his 102nd, and Allan Border in his 101st. (This only includes players who took at least five wickets in an innings.)
During the second Test in Karachi, New Zealand scored 277 for 5, with Pakistan using five bowlers, each of whom took a wicket. What's the most different individual wicket-takers in a completed innings? asked Dallas Byars from Australia
There have been four Test innings in which seven different bowlers took a wicket. The first was by England against Australia in Melbourne in 1898-99, in an innings which also included a run out. The other three instances all came in South Africa: by the home side's bowlers against England in Durban in 1922-23; by Australia in Johannesburg in 1966-67; and by New Zealand in Centurion in 2005-06. Only seven bowlers were used each time, apart from the Jo'burg match, where there were eight (the Australian offspinner Tom Veivers failed to strike). There are also two instances of seven in women's Test matches, both by Australia in the current century.
The women lead the way in one-day internationals: eight Indian bowlers took a wicket (and there was also a run out) as Ireland were bowled out for 105 in Dublin in 2006. The most in men's one-day internationals is seven, which has happened eight times, most recently by the United States in the course of their tie with Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby last September. Six PNG bowlers also took a wicket in that match, making a total of 13, the ODI record. In T20 internationals, there have been four cases of seven by men's teams, and two instances in women's matches.
In first-class cricket, there have been nine cases of eight bowlers taking a wicket in the same innings; the most recent was in South Africa's Sunfoil Series in 2017-18, by Warriors' bowlers against Dolphins in Durban.
Further to last week's question about the oldest man to be the youngest player in a Test team, what's the opposite - the youngest man to be the oldest? asked Robert Ellis from England
The youngest man to be the oldest member of a Test team is Douglas Hondo, who was 24 years ten months old when he played against Sri Lanka in Harare in May 2004. That Zimbabwe side was an inexperienced one as several front-line players were unavailable after a contracts dispute with the board.
Eight months later, against Bangladesh in Dhaka, Zimbabwe fielded an XI with an average age of just over 21, the youngest for any Test. The oldest Test XI was England's against West Indies in Kingston in 1929-30, which contained two 50-year-olds and had an average age of over 37 and a half.
When Bangladesh played West Indies in Grenada in July 2009, their oldest player was Mohammad Ashraful, who had turned 25 the week before the match. When they played South Africa eight months earlier in Bloemfontein, the oldest had been Mashrafe Mortaza who was about a month older than Ashraful was in Grenada.
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