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Ask Steven

Have all four openers scored centuries in a Test before Rawalpindi?

And what's the record for most hundreds scored in a Test?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
06-Dec-2022
Openers Sunil Gavaskar, Kris Srikkanth (centre and right) and David Boon scored centuries in the 1985-86 Sydney Test while Geoff Marsh narrowly missed out  •  Fairfax Media/Getty Images

Openers Sunil Gavaskar, Kris Srikkanth (centre and right) and David Boon scored centuries in the 1985-86 Sydney Test while Geoff Marsh narrowly missed out  •  Fairfax Media/Getty Images

Both sets of openers scored centuries in the first innings in the Rawalpindi Test. Has this ever happened before? asked Akshay Dhargalkar from the United States
That achievement by all four openers in the first innings in Rawalpindi is indeed unique. There's one other Test in which all four openers made hundreds - in Port-of-Spain in 1947-48 - but England's were spread over the first innings (140 by the debutant Billy Griffith) and the second (133 by Jack Robertson). West Indies' hundreds were scored by George Carew, in his second Test 13 years after bagging a duck in his first, and Andy Ganteaume, who famously never played another Test match.
The nearest approach to twin centuries in both first innings of a Test came in the match between Australia and India in Sydney in 1985-86, when Sunil Gavaskar made 172, Kris Srikkanth 116, and David Boon 131… but Geoff Marsh fell just short with 92.
England had 174 on the board by lunch on the first day at Rawalpindi, and 332 by tea. Were these both records? asked Jamie Kelly from England
For this sort of question I needed to consult the Melbourne statistical wizard Charles Davis, who has made a study of hundreds of old scorebooks. He says, of England's lunch score on the first day in Rawalpindi, "174 is second, after 179 for 1 by South Africa against Australia in Johannesburg in 1902-03. That involved about 41 overs, whereas England faced only 27. Earlier that year in the Ashes, Australia made 173 for 1 off 33 overs at Old Trafford, an innings which included Victor Trumper famously making a century before lunch."
As for 332 for 3 by tea, Charles says: "The highest with a conventional tea break appears to be 355 for 2 (in 195 minutes) by Australia against South Africa in Sydney in 1910-11, the day they made 494 in a five-hour day. England's 332 is fifth, but the highest since 1936. The early records were aided by high over rates."
In that Sydney match, Australia ended the day at 494 for 6, the opening-day record broken by England (506 for 4) in Rawalpindi. Only Sri Lanka, with 509 for 9 against Bangladesh in Colombo in 2002, have ever made more runs on any day of a Test match.
There were seven individual centuries in the Rawalpindi Test. What's the record? asked Geoff from the United States
The seven centuries scored in Rawalpindi was one short of the Test record of eight, set by West Indies and South Africa in Antigua in 2005, and equalled by Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in Galle in 2012-13.
There have been two first-class matches that contained nine centuries, both of them in India: the Ranji Trophy semi-final between Bombay and Maharashtra in Poona in 1948-49, and the 1986-87 Duleep Trophy final between West Zone and South Zone in Mumbai.
Has anyone conceded more runs on their Test debut than Zahid Mahmood did in Rawalpindi? asked Geoffrey Atkinson from England
The 34-year-old legspinner Zahid Mahmood had an expensive debut in Rawalpindi.
In the first innings he took 4 for 235: no debutant had previously conceded more than 222 runs in an innings, the fate which befell Sri Lanka's Suraj Randiv, against India in Colombo in 2010. Two other bowlers have conceded more than 200 runs in an innings on debut: Jason Krejza took 8 for 215 for Australia against India in Nagpur in 2008-09, while Omari Banks had 3 for 204 for West Indies vs Australia in Bridgetown in May 2003.
In the second innings, Zahid conceded 84 more runs, for a match total of 319. The only debutant to have conceded more is Krejza, who followed his 8 for 215 in Nagpur with 4 for 143, for a (very) grand total of 358 runs. For that list, click here.
Mitchell Starc dismissed Tagenarine Chanderpaul in Perth, and he'd previously got Shivnarine Chanderpaul out in Tests too. Has anyone else dismissed a father and son in Tests? asked Chris Patterson from Australia
You're right that the Australian fast bowler Mitchell Starc bowled the West Indian debutant Tagenarine Chanderpaul in the Test that finished at the weekend in Perth - and back in 2012, in one of his early Tests, he trapped Shivnarine Chanderpaul lbw in Dominica.
The Chanderpauls played Tests less than eight years apart. The only father-and-son combination to beat that are the New Zealanders Lance Cairns, who played his last Test late in 1985, and his son Chris Cairns, who made his debut just under four years later in November 1989. Not surprisingly, perhaps, they are the only other father and son to be dismissed by the same bowler in Tests: both of them were out to Ian Botham and Wasim Akram. The West Indian spinner Roger Harper dismissed both Cairnses in one-day internationals.
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