Ask Steven

How many batters have bagged king pairs in Tests?

And how many players have been marooned in the 190s in Tests at Lord's?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
Sam Curran became the first batter to bag a king pair at Lord's  •  Stu Forster/Getty Images

Sam Curran became the first batter to bag a king pair at Lord's  •  Stu Forster/Getty Images

Sam Curran was out first ball in both innings of the recent Lord's Test. How often has this happened in Tests? asked Zeeshan Bhayani from Pakistan
The unfortunate Sam Curran fell to his first ball in both innings of last week's exciting Test against India at Lord's. Curran was the 23rd man to bag what's usually known as a "king pair" in Tests.
Only four of those have come for England, the last one being collected by Jimmy Anderson, also against India, in Visakhapatnam in 2016-17. The other two were more than 100 years earlier: William "Dick" Attewell was the first to suffer this fate in a Test, against Australia in Sydney in 1891-92, and he was followed for England by Ernie Hayes, against South Africa in Cape Town in 1905-06. Probably the most notable king pair in Tests was bagged by the South African wicketkeeper Tommy Ward, against Australia at Old Trafford during the 1912 Triangular Tournament - he was the third victim of legspinner Jimmy Matthews' hat-trick in both innings.
Since Anderson's double first-baller, there have also been king pairs for Sri Lanka's Nuwan Pradeep (against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi in 2017-18), and Nurul Hasan of Bangladesh (against West Indies in Kingston in 2018).
Curran might not be over the moon to discover that I managed to persuade ESPNcricinfo to conjure up a table of king pairs for the Records section. So for the full list, click here.
West Indies pulled off a one-wicket heist against Pakistan last week - the third time they have won by such a margin since 1998. Has any other side completed more one-wicket wins than the Windies? asked Sameer Arora from India
West Indies' exciting victory over Pakistan in Kingston last week was indeed their third Test victory by one wicket, following similar margins against Australia in Bridgetown in 1998-99, and Pakistan in Antigua in 1999-2000. There have now been 15 one-wicket victories in all Tests, with England coming out on top in four, most recently the Ben Stokes-inspired miracle at Headingley in the 2019 Ashes series. Pakistan and Sri Lanka have had two one-wicket wins, and Australia, India, New Zealand and South Africa one each.
Australia have actually been on the wrong end of six one-wicket defeats, including Test cricket's first, a famous match at The Oval in 1902. South Africa have lost three, Pakistan and West Indies two, and Bangladesh and England one each.
I noticed that Alastair Cook scored a fifty and a hundred in both his first and last Tests - has anyone else managed this? asked Ivan Monaghan via Facebook
Alastair Cook started his Test career with 60 and 104 not out against India in Nagpur in 2005-06, and signed off at The Oval in 2018 with 71 and 147, also against India. No one else has managed this particular double, unless you count the unlucky New Zealander Rodney Redmond, who hit 107 and 56 in what turned out to be his only Test match, against Pakistan in Auckland in 1972-73.
Bruce Mitchell of South Africa came close: he scored 88 and 61 not out in his first Test, against England at Edgbaston in 1929, and 99 and 56 in his last, also against England, in Port Elizabeth almost 20 years later in 1948-49.
Two men (Lawrence Rowe and Yasir Hameed) scored two centuries on their Test debut, and 13 others (including Cook and Redmond) made a fifty and a hundred; a further 24 reached 50 twice.
Turning to final Test appearances, 15 men apart from Cook, Redmond and Mitchell reached 50 twice in their final Test; this includes two current players, Dimuth Karunaratne and Brendan Taylor, who will presumably appear again. Six of them scored centuries - Jack Russell, the Essex opener, made two - while Andy Sandham's final Test brought him 325 and 50, for England against West Indies in Kingston in 1929-30.
I was wondering whether more players had been marooned in the 190s in Tests at Lord's than anywhere else? asked Rajiv Radhakrishnan from England
Lord's is likely to feature prominently in lists like these, since (as we learned last week) it has staged more Tests than any other ground. Still, there have been eight scores between 190 and 199 at Lord's, and no other venue has had more than four. The 199 was by England's Ian Bell, against South Africa in 2008, while the other near-misses came from Len Hutton (196 vs West Indies in 1939), Allan Border (196 for Australia in 1985), Marcus Trescothick (194 vs Bangladesh in 2005), Warren Bardsley (193 not out for Australia in 1926), Tillakaratne Dilshan (193 for Sri Lanka in 2011), Sidath Wettimuny (190 for Sri Lanka in 1984) and Joe Root (190 vs South Africa in 2017).
There are five grounds that have seen four scores in the 190s: The Oval in London, Headingley, Sydney, and Galle and Colombo's Sinhalese Sports Club in Sri Lanka.
I was intrigued by the two occasions where, according to the ESPNcricinfo scorecards, a batter apparently faced one ball, scored one run, and was caught by the wicketkeeper. Can you shed any light on these unusual occurrences? asked OR Light from South Africa
It's quite a conundrum - even if the batter had faced a no-ball, it should have shown up as a delivery received - and I think the truth is more prosaic: the historical scorecards are incorrect. I checked the remarkable reconstructions of old scorebooks undertaken as a labour of love by the eminent Melbourne statistician Charles Davis, and it seems both instances featured more than one ball.
The first one involves the underrated Australian left-arm seamer Bill Whitty, against South Africa in Adelaide in 1910-11. It appears that Whitty was actually dismissed by the fourth ball he received. It's the same story for Sri Lanka's Sanath Jayasuriya, against Pakistan in Colombo in August 1994: it seems he faced three balls in total rather than one.
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Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes