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Ask Steven

How many bowlers have taken 100 Test wickets or more at a single venue?

And which Test spinner was nicknamed "Muscles"?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
23-Aug-2022
Muthiah Muralidaran has the most Test wickets at three separate venues in Sri Lanka, followed by Rangana Herath with 102 in Galle  •   Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP/Getty Images

Muthiah Muralidaran has the most Test wickets at three separate venues in Sri Lanka, followed by Rangana Herath with 102 in Galle  •   Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP/Getty Images

Stuart Broad took his 100th Test wicket at Lord's the other day. How many others have done this? asked Mark Knight from England
When Stuart Broad dismissed South Africa's Kyle Verreynne at Lord's last week he became only the fourth bowler to take 100 wickets on a single Test ground. He joined Jimmy Anderson, who ended the first Test with 117 wickets at Lord's.
Leading the way in this list is Muthiah Muralidaran, who took no fewer than 166 wickets at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo; he also claimed 117 in Kandy and 111 in Galle. His fellow Sri Lankan spinner Rangana Herath completes the set, with 102 in Galle.
What's the highest score by someone who only made one Test century? Is it Zak Crawley's 267? asked Jamie Richardson from England
It's not Zak Crawley for a couple of reasons: for a start, apart from his 267 against Pakistan in Southampton in 2020, he also made 120 against West Indies in Antigua earlier this year.
The answer - and the only man whose only Test century was a triple - is India's Karun Nair, who made 303 not out against England in Chennai in 2016-17; his highest score in five other Test appearances is just 26.
Next comes the old England player Reginald "Tip" Foster, who made 287 on debut against Australia in Sydney in 1903-04; he played seven other Tests with a highest score of 51, while captaining against South Africa at The Oval in 1907.
There are ten other men (including one current player, Hashmatullah Shahidi of Afghanistan) whose only Test century was a score of 200 or more.
I know that Denis Compton holds the record for the most first-class runs in a season in England - but has anyone scored more if you take one-day runs into account? asked Kevin Watkins from England
The legendary Denis Compton scored 3816 first-class runs - with 18 centuries - in the 1947 season in England; both he and his Middlesex and England team-mate Bill Edrich (3539) beat the old record of 3518, set by Surrey's Tom Hayward in 1906. These might seem astronomical numbers by today's standards, but remember there was no one-day cricket back then: Compton had 50 innings in 30 first-class games and averaged 90.85, Edrich 52 in 30 (80.43). Hayward managed to fit in 36 matches in a season that did not feature any Test matches.
My initial thought that no one since would have approached these numbers, even if List A (senior one-day) runs were included - but actually I think two men have exceeded Compton's total if you lump them all together. In 1990, a notably high-scoring season, Graham Gooch of Essex and England racked up a total of 3986 runs (2746 first-class at an average of 101.70, including 1058 at 96 in Tests, and 1240 at 72 in List A), while Somerset's South African opener Jimmy Cook ran him close that same year with 3939 runs (2608 at 76 in first-class, 1331 at 57 in List A).
Which visiting team played two Tests at Lord's five years apart with two entirely different teams? asked Mehdi Rajasingam from India
The country with this rapid turnover of players was South Africa, who fielded entirely different XIs for their Tests at Lord's in 1960 and in 1965. The only man who was in both touring parties was the slow left-armer Atholl McKinnon - and he didn't play at Lord's on either trip. Not long afterwards, India fielded an entirely different XI in the Lord's Test of 1967 from the team they had put out eight years earlier in 1959. Chandu Borde was on both tours, but missed the Lord's Test in 1959.
Which Test spinner was nicknamed "Muscles"? asked Asad Ahmed from India
My first thought was that this might have been the England off-spinner John Emburey, who was once said to have reacted to a suggestion that he'd pulled a muscle by observing that he didn't have any. He was more often known as "Ernie" (his middle name) or, almost inevitably, "Embers".
"Muscles" seems to have been the nickname often applied to the Indian slow left-armer Venkatapathy Raju, who claimed 93 wickets in 28 Tests between 1989-90 and 2000-01. According to this ESPNcricinfo article, the South African allrounder Brian McMillan bestowed the name in an ironic reference to Raju's pencil-thin frame.
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Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes