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Ask Steven

How many batters have scored their first and second centuries in the same Test?

In memory of Cricinfo pioneer Travis Basevi, who died last week, and made many invaluable contributions to this column

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
25-Oct-2022
Yasir Hameed is one of two batters to score two hundreds in his first Test  •  Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Yasir Hameed is one of two batters to score two hundreds in his first Test  •  Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Travis Basevi 1975-2022
Like everyone else connected with ESPNcricinfo, I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Travis Basevi last week, at the young age of 47. His lasting memorial will be the superb StatsGuru, but he was also responsible for creating much of the site's database in the first place, and much more besides. He was a great help during my time as Cricinfo's editor, and afterwards, when he continued to help out with arcane queries for this column. When he finally left, I wished him well and said I hoped he hadn't been diverted too much from real work by Ask Steven. "Don't worry," he said. "Your requests were far from irritating, they were the stuff I'd thrive on."
And so, as a tribute this week, I've collected together some of his invaluable contributions to this column over the years.
I was impressed with the way that every New Zealander made a tangible contribution to their Test victory at Leeds [in 2015]: the least significant performers were Kane Williamson (six runs, three wickets) and Matt Henry (39 runs, two wickets). Has there ever been a Test where the minimum performance in runs and wickets was so considerable? asked Stephen Taberner from Australia
It's obviously difficult to quantify this sort of thing exactly, but I asked ESPNcricinfo's ace number-cruncher Travis Basevi whether he could come up with a formula. He told me that, excluding extras and run-outs, the overall bowling average in all Tests is 31.43. That means that the smallest contribution to New Zealand's fine win at Headingley was by Ross Taylor (68 runs, no wickets), as Kane Williamson's contribution was 100.29 (six runs plus three wickets at 31.43) and Matt Henry's 101.86.
That is indeed the highest minimum contribution in Tests, beating Mushfiqur Rahim's 61 in Bangladesh's victory over Zimbabwe in Chittagong in 2014-15, and three instances of 59 - Mohammad Kaif for India vs West Indies in St John's in 2006, Nayan Mongia for India vs South Africa in Kanpur in 1996-97, and Michael Hussey for Australia vs South Africa in Johannesburg in 2011-12. It's not a perfect formula - the presence of two wicketkeepers in the names mentioned reminds us there's no provision for catches - but, as Travis points out, "even if you change the value of a wicket to 20, or 40, New Zealand at Headingley are still significantly in front - so a most excellent spot."
- June 9, 2015
Has anyone else scored their first and second Test hundreds in the same game, as Peter Fulton did at Auckland [2012-13]? asked Tim Pate from New Zealand
Two men have scored twin centuries in their very first Test: Lawrence Rowe made 214 and 100 not out for West Indies against New Zealand in Kingston in 1971-72, and Yasir Hameed echoed his feat with 170 and 105 for Pakistan vs Bangladesh in Karachi in 2003-04. Seven others before Fulton had followed their maiden Test century with another one in the same match - but where Fulton does lead the way is that it took him till his 13th Test to achieve the feat: another New Zealander, Geoff Howarth, is next with 11 (vs England in Auckland in 1977-78).
The others to score their first two centuries in the same Test are Warren Bardsley (Australia vs England at The Oval in 1909 - his fifth Test), Vijay Hazare (India vs Australia in Adelaide in 1947-48 - seventh), Jack Moroney (Australia vs South Africa in Johannesburg in 1949-50 - fourth), Duleep Mendis (105 and 105, a unique double, for Sri Lanka vs India in Madras in 1982-83 - his fifth Test), Wajahatullah Wasti (Pakistan vs Sri Lanka in Lahore in 1998-99 - second), and Phillip Hughes (Australia vs South Africa in Durban in 2008-09 - second). Moroney and Wajahatullah never scored another Test century. For a full list of those scoring two hundreds in the same Test, click here.
- April 9, 2013. "Nice one," said Travis. "Fulton's effort totally escaped me the other week."
I noticed that Brendon McCullum's two highest Test scores have come in the second innings of the match. What's the record in this regard? asked Murtaza from Canada
It's true that Brendon McCullum's two highest Test scores - 302 against India in Wellington in 2013-14, and 225 against India in Hyderabad in 2010-11 - both came in New Zealand's second innings. His next-highest of 224 - also against India - was in the first innings in Auckland in 2013-14, a week before that triple-century. The batter who enjoyed the second innings the most turns out to be Bangladesh's Al Sahariar, whose seven highest scores - ranging from 71 down to 34 - all came at the second attempt. Six batters - Ali Bacher (South Africa), Hanson Carter (Australia), Harry Cave (New Zealand), Junaid Siddique (Bangladesh), Pommie Mbangwa (Zimbabwe) and Shane Shillingford (West Indies) - all recorded their five highest scores in the second innings. Of that group, Junaid was the only one to make a century (106 against England in Chittagong in 2009-10), while Mbangwa's scores ranged from 8 to 3. His highest first-innings score was 2 not out. In all Mbangwa collected nine ducks (and eight not-outs) in 25 Test innings.
Moving to the reverse stat - highest scores in the first innings of a match - the leader is something of a surprise. For much of his career, Tom Graveney seemed to be labelled as having a suspect temperament… but his 23 highest Test scores all came in the first innings. Joel Garner comes next with 20, ahead of his fellow West Indian Brian Lara - whose epic 153 not out to seal a one-wicket victory over Australia in Bridgetown in 1998-99 was his highest second-innings score in Tests, but his 16th-highest overall. The other first-up specialists, with their 15 highest scores all coming in their teams' first innings, are Marvan Atapattu, Michael Clarke (to date) and Steve Waugh.
- June 30, 2015. Luckily, Travis was "intrigued by the first part".
In the recent Perth Test [2015-16] David Warner scored 253, but didn't receive the Man-of-the-Match award. Was this a record? asked Steve Austin from Australia
There have actually been two higher individual scores than David Warner's 253 in Perth that didn't lead to the player concerned winning the Player-of-the-Match award. Highest of all was Kumar Sangakkara's 287, for Sri Lanka against South Africa in Colombo in 2006, when the award went to Mahela Jayawardene for his 374 (it might have been fairer to make a joint award, which happens sometimes). In Wellington in 1990-91, Aravinda de Silva's 267 for Sri Lanka was trumped by Martin Crowe's 299 for New Zealand. When Sachin Tendulkar made his highest Test score - 248 not out against Bangladesh in Dhaka in 2004-05 - the award went to Irfan Pathan, who took 11 wickets for 96 in the match. I should point out here that such awards only became commonplace in Test matches in the 1980s.
- December 1, 2015. Travis: "It's Sangakkara getting dudded when Jayawardene made 374 - I guess the adjudicator never realised you could give it to both of them."
In the Sharjah Test [2015-16], England fielded five bowlers who bowl with the hand opposite the one they bat with. Is this unique for a Test? asked Gerry Cotter from England
The England side for the third Test against Pakistan in Sharjah did include four men - James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali - who bat left-handed but bowl with their right, plus Samit Patel, a right-hand batter but a slow left-arm bowler. I couldn't think of any bigger numbers - but Travis Basevi, Cricinfo's database ace, unearthed a couple. As England's first Test against India at Trent Bridge in 2014 meandered to a draw, Alastair Cook and Gary Ballance both had a trundle - and they each bowl right-handed but bat left. They joined Moeen, Anderson, Broad and Stokes to make up the half dozen.
There was an earlier instance too. In the first Test against New Zealand in Moratuwa in 1992-93, Sri Lanka had six players who bowled with one hand but batted with the other: Don Anurasiri, Asanka Gurusinha Dulip Liyanage, Arjuna Ranatunga, Hashan Tillakaratne and Jayananda Warnaweera. There are ten further cases of five (the first two by England in Pakistan in 1961-62), including two other recent instances by England: in Sydney in 2014-15 (Anderson, Broad, Stokes, Steve Borthwick and Boyd Rankin) and the Lord's Ashes Test of 2015 (Moeen, Anderson, Broad, Stokes and a solitary over from Adam Lyth). The figures only take into account matches in which the players concerned actually bowled.
- November 10, 2015
And a final thought…
If you've never tried Travis' brainchild StatsGuru, why not give it a try? It may look complicated at first, but it's really not that difficult (I can manage it, after all!) What you'll then have at your fingertips is what Wisden 2003 enthused about: "An arcane world - a world of averages, aggregates and algorithms - suddenly became accessible."

Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes