Ask Steven

How many bowlers have over 1000 international wickets?

And has anyone had a longer gap between a first-class match and a Test than Washington Sundar's three years?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
02-Feb-2021
Two of the greatest spinners of all time, Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne, have a chat, Sachin's Blasters v Warne's Warriors, Cricket All-Stars Series, 1st T20, New York, November 7, 2015

Muttiah Muralitharan has 1347 international wickets across formats to Shane Warne's 1001  •  Rob Tringali/ESPN

When Washington Sundar played in the Brisbane Test it was his first first-class match for more than three years. Was this a record? asked Nitin Mukherjee from India
Washington Sundar's Test debut, in India's superb win over Australia in Brisbane last month, came well over three years after his previous first-class match, for Tamil Nadu against Baroda in the Ranji Trophy in Vadodara in November 2017. Judging by his efforts at the Gabba, you would expect him to be playing a lot more soon.
By chance I was talking to Andrew Samson, the BBC Test Match Special statistician, about this - and he saved me a lot of time by working out that Washington Sundar's gap (between a Test and the previous first-class match) left him tenth on this particular list. At the top was Henry Taberer, who played his tenth first-class match in April 1895, and his 11th and last game - his only Test - seven and a half years later, when he was called up to captain South Africa against Australia in Johannesburg in 1902-03.
Not much first-class cricket was played in South Africa around that time, not helped by the Boer War, which accounts for some of the people with longer gaps than Washington Sundar. But two such are very recent: the Bangladesh seamer Taskin Ahmed made his Test debut against New Zealand in Wellington in January 2017, almost four years after his previous first-class match, for Central Zone against East Zone in February 2013, while the Pakistan left-hander Haris Sohail played no first-class cricket between a President's Trophy match for ZTBL against National Bank in Islamabad in January 2014 and his Test debut, against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi in September 2017.
There are also 33 men - only five of them since 1900 - who made their first-class debut in a Test match.
I was just going through the records and noticed that Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne both took more than 1000 international wickets. Has anyone else reached 1000? asked Ammad Fazal from the Isle of Man
You're right that both Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne broke the 1000-wicket barrier when you lump together all three international formats. Murali ended up with 1347 wickets - 800 in Tests and 534 in ODIs (both records), and 13 in T20s - while Warne managed 1001 (708 in Tests and 293 in ODIs).
No one else has yet reached four figures: Anil Kumble ended up with 956, Glenn McGrath 949, and Wasim Akram 916. Next is the leading current player, James Anderson, with 893: on recent form, it would be dangerous to bet against him eventually reaching 1000, although they'll all have to come in Tests as he no longer features in the shorter formats.
There are 14 other players with more than 600 wickets in all formats, including current players Stuart Broad (760) and Dale Steyn (699).
Has anyone taken ten wickets in a Test but also bagged a pair? asked James Milton from England
Ten players have had this bittersweet experience in Tests - although, as most of them were specialist bowlers, the lack of runs probably didn't bother them too much. Muttiah Muralitharan actually did it twice - against Australia in Galle in 2003-04 (he took 11 for 212) and against New Zealand in Wellington in 2006-07 (10 for 118).
The first to do it was England's George Lohmann, against South Africa in Port Elizabeth in 1895-96, when he took 7 for 38 and 8 for 7, and the most recent instance was by Mitchell Johnson, for Australia against New Zealand in Hamilton in 2009-10 (10 for 132).
Has there been an instance where the fielder and bowler and the batsmen they dismissed all had the same last name? asked Agney Fernandes from England
I don't think this has happened in international cricket, although it's possible you could unearth a dismissal involving three players called Mohammad. The most famous instance that I am aware of occurred during a County Championship match between Middlesex and Somerset at Lord's in June 1933, when the Middlesex batsman Harry Lee was caught by his brother Frank off the bowling of another brother, Jack. The scorecard entry read "H. W. Lee c F. S. Lee b J. W. Lee 82".
The unfortunate batsman later wrote: "I am Harry. The catcher was my baby brother, Frank. The bowler my brother Jack, who was killed in France seven days after D-Day during the Second World War." He added: "I do not believe that brothers had ever before behaved so unbrotherly in a first-class game." The dismissal was almost duplicated in the second innings, as Frank - who later became a Test umpire - recalled: "Jack and I in trying to repeat the previous day's effort collided while both diving at a half-chance offered by Harry. I came to shortly afterwards to find that Jack's knee had been the cause of my temporary knockout."
How many women cricketers have published autobiographies? asked Lesley Porter from England
I think the trailblazer here, as with so much in women's cricket, was the former England captain Rachael Heyhoe-Flint, who produced an autobiography called Heyhoe! in 1978. More recently the Association of Cricket Statisticians in England published an interesting account of the life of Heyhoe-Flint's old England team-mate Enid Bakewell, which included excruciating details of how she had all her teeth removed before she was 21.
Lisa Sthalekar, a recent Australian player - and now commentator - wrote a book called Shaker: Run Maker, Wicket Taker in 2012. It's an absorbing read, very raw at times. And in 2019 the Australian allrounder Ellyse Perry wrote one called Perspective. I haven't seen that yet, but it describes itself as "a book of insights" rather than an autobiography. She had previously brought out four books, aimed at the younger reader. Apologies if I have missed anyone in this brief round-up.
And there's an update to last week's question about the most overs by spinners in a Test innings without taking a wicket, from David Macdonald from England
"Regarding the match between West Indies and England in Kingston in 1973-74, John Jameson took one wicket. I can't find reference to his bowling style but wouldn't it have been spin?"
I've seen John Jameson, who didn't bowl often, described as a medium-pacer and also an offspinner - but as it happens we can nail down what he was doing at Kingston thanks to Christopher Martin-Jenkins's tour book: "Lloyd played across the line of an off-break from Jameson." He also says that Tony Greig "for the first time bowled off-spin off a full run" in that game, so we can safely remove that instance from the list.
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Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes