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Ask Steven

Has anyone had a longer first-class career after their final Test than Rikki Clarke?

And where does Chris Cooke's unbeaten 205 figure in the list of highest scores by a wicketkeeper-captain?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
Rikki Clarke played his final first-class match nearly 18 years after he played his last Test  •  Getty Images for Surrey CCC

Rikki Clarke played his final first-class match nearly 18 years after he played his last Test  •  Getty Images for Surrey CCC

Apparently Ollie Pope was averaging 100 at The Oval before he was out cheaply in the Test against India. What is his average there now? asked Richard Walker from England
Surrey and England's Ollie Pope was averaging 100.71 on his home ground at The Oval before the recent Test against India, when he made 81 and 2, which reduced his average to 93.31. A subsequent Championship match there against Essex produced scores of 5 and 27 not out (the average was now 89.70), which meant Pope went into the last innings of the season - against Glamorgan last week - needing to make 275 (or 175 not out) to get his Oval average back into three figures. And he very nearly managed it: when he became part-timer Hamish Rutherford's maiden first-class victim on the final day, he had scored 274 - one short of the magic number. It left him with the Bradmanesque average of 99.94 at The Oval.
Only five men have managed a three-figure average on a single ground, given as many as Pope's 18 completed innings. New Zealand's Devon Conway currently averages 103.07 at the Basin Reserve in Wellington, while that man Don Bradman averaged 103.17 in Melbourne. Vijay Merchant scored 5060 runs at 105.41 at the Brabourne Stadium in Bombay, while George Headley averaged 105.42 at Melbourne Park in Kingston, Jamaica. But the overall leader is something of a surprise: India's Ashok Mankad averaged 106.30 at the Wankhede Stadium in Bombay, with 12 centuries (including two doubles) from 37 innings, 14 of them not out.
What's the highest score by someone in their first IPL match? asked Muammar Ahmed from India
The highest debut score came on the very first night of the IPL, back in April 2008, when Brendon McCullum smashed 158 not out, from 73 balls with 13 sixes, for Kolkata Knight Riders against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Bengaluru. It remains the second-highest score in the IPL, behind Chris Gayle's 175 not out (66 balls, 17 sixes) for RCB against Pune Warriors, also in Bengaluru, in April 2013.
The only other debut century was by Michael Hussey, with 116 not out for Chennai Super Kings against Kings XI Punjab in Mohali in April 2008. That was also in the inaugural season of the IPL, when obviously many players made their debuts: other notable scores came from Shaun Marsh (84), James Hopes and Graeme Smith (71), Swapnil Asnodkar (60) and Gautam Gambhir (58).
If we leave aside that initial season, the highest first-up scores since have been Owais Shah's 58 not out for KKR against Deccan Chargers in Mumbai in March 2010, Devdutt Padikkal's 56 for RCB against Sunrisers in Dubai in September 2020, and Ambati Rayudu's 55 for Mumbai Indians against Rajasthan Royals in Mumbai in March 2010, the day after Shah's knock.
The best bowling figures on debut are also the best in IPL history: the West Indian fast bowler Alzarri Joseph's 6 for 12 for Mumbai Indians against Sunrisers in Hyderabad in April 2019. Oddly, Joseph has so far played only two more IPL games - and failed to take a wicket in either of them. In the last, a week after his stunning debut, his three overs against Rajasthan Royals disappeared for 53.
Where does Chris Cooke's unbeaten 205 come in the list of highest scores by a wicketkeeper-captain? asked Rajiv Radhakrishnan from England
Glamorgan's captain - and wicketkeeper - Chris Cooke made a career-best undefeated 205 in a run fest against Surrey at The Oval last week, in the final round of 2021 County Championship matches. Meritorious as it was, Cooke's innings is a little way down the list of the highest scores by keeper-captains, which is headed by the Australian Billy Murdoch, who made 321 for New South Wales against Victoria in Sydney in 1881-82. The only higher score than Cooke's in the Championship is 266, by Dane Vilas for Lancashire against Glamorgan - captained, as it happened, by Cooke - in Colwyn Bay in 2019.
The Test record is 224, by India's MS Dhoni, against Australia in Chennai in 2012-13. The only other Test double-century by a keeper-captain came only a few days later, when Mushfiqur Rahim hit 200 for Bangladesh against Sri Lanka in Galle. There have been only 14 other hundreds: for the list, click here.
How many men have been run out for 99 in a Test? asked Raju Suresh from India
Sixteen men have now suffered this fate in a Test. The first was the Australian opener Bill Brown, against India in Melbourne in 1947-48 (this was not one of the occasions he was famously run out at the bowler's end). And the most recent instance involved another Australian, Shaun Marsh, also against India in Melbourne, in 2014-15. It's also happened five times in one-day internationals.
Rikki Clarke, who has just retired, played his last Test match as long ago as 2003. Has anyone played on longer in first-class cricket after their final Test? asked Mick O'Brien from England
The long-serving Surrey allrounder Rikki Clarke, who has retired just short of his 40th birthday, played two Tests for England, against Bangladesh in 2003-04. He signed off with 55 in the second match, in Chittagong (now Chattogram).
Clarke played on for almost 18 years after his final Test, which is especially notable as he was a county regular for all the remaining time. There are around 40 men with longer apres-Test careers, but few of them were regular players by the end. One such was Warwickshire's Willie Quaife, who played his last Test in 1901-02, but carried on at county level until 1928, when he was 56 (he scored a century in his only match, after a full season in 1927). Two others have longer spans: Lord Harris captained England in his fourth and final Test, against Australia at The Oval in 1884, and turned out for Kent against the Indian tourists at Catford 27 years later in 1911, aged 60 - but he had not played regular county cricket since the mid-1880s.
The overall leader is the legendary Indian CK Nayudu, whose last Test was at The Oval in August 1936: he played a first-class match well over 27 years later, in Nagpur in November 1963, not long after his 68th birthday; he had been a Ranji Trophy regular until 1956-57, when he was 61.
Clarke's last match was the run-soaked encounter mentioned above, against Glamorgan at The Oval. Showing a wry sense of humour, Clarke tweeted after the second day, having fielded through Glamorgan's total of 672: "Didn't have 177 overs in the dirt planned for my last game."
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Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes