Ask Steven

How many New Zealanders have taken ten wickets in an innings?

Also: who has played the most Tests since 2005 without appearing in a T20I?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
Ajaz Patel became the first New Zealander to take ten wickets in a Test innings  •  BCCI

Ajaz Patel became the first New Zealander to take ten wickets in a Test innings  •  BCCI

How many New Zealanders have taken ten wickets in an innings, as Ajaz Patel did in Mumbai? asked Vernon Smithson from New Zealand
Slow left-armer
Ajaz Patel's superb return of 10 for 119 in Mumbai at the weekend made him only the second New Zealander to take all ten in an innings in all first-class cricket. The other one did so a long time ago, on his debut: English-born Albert Moss took 10 for 28 for Canterbury against Wellington in Christchurch in 1889-90. The Dunedin-born legspinner Clarrie Grimmett took 10 for 37 for the Australians against Yorkshire in Sheffield in 1930, but was well established in the Aussie Test side by then. He had moved to Australia in his early twenties, around 1914, in search of better cricket opportunities (New Zealand was not a Test-playing nation then).
Patel was the third bowler to take all ten wickets in a Test innings, after Jim Laker, with 10 for 53 for England against Australia at Old Trafford in 1956, and Anil Kumble, who claimed 10 for 74 for India vs Pakistan in Delhi in 1998-99. Patel was thus the first to do it in an overseas Test - but, since he was born in Mumbai in 1988, he was also the first to do it in the city of his birth!
In a recent newspaper column, Shane Warne criticised Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon for their averages against top-six batters. I should think everyone's average against the top six is higher than their overall average - but how do Starc and Lyon fare, and what were Warne's? asked Pete Lehmann from Australia
This is a difficult query, complicated in Warne's case by the fact that ESPNcricinfo only has full ball-by-ball data since 2001, which covers only about half his career. Overall, Mitchell Starc has taken 255 Test wickets at 27.12, with 158 of these coming from the top six at an average of 33.01. Nathan Lyon has 399 wickets overall at 32.10, with 169 at 40.78 against the top six. In the matches for which we have details, Shane Warne took 332 wickets at 23.83, with 169 at 32.51 against the top six.
Warne's difference (8.67) in the matches we know about is higher than the other two - Starc's is 5.89 and Lyon's 8.66 - but his averages are better. It should be borne in mind that while Starc almost always starts bowling at the top six, Warne and Lyon would usually bowl later, perhaps with one or two batters already established, so you might expect all spinners' averages to be slightly higher. All in all, I think the jury is still out!
Overall, looking at bowlers with at least 100 Test wickets since 2001, Pakistan's Mohammad Asif has the lowest difference between top six (24.96) and overall (23.74), with Glenn McGrath just behind (22.91 vs 20.98; his figures are also incomplete). Another Australian, Pat Cummins, is currently fourth by this yardstick, with 23.87 vs 21.06 (so Warne is right if he thinks Cummins is better against the top six than Starc). The leading spinner by difference is England's Graeme Swann, who took 162 top-six wickets at 33.13, in an overall bag of 255 at 29.94.
Since T20Is began early in 2005, who has played the most Tests without appearing in one, and who has played the most ODIs? asked Elamaran Perumal from the United States
Since the official first T20I, in Auckland in February 2005, Cheteshwar Pujara has played 92 Test matches for India without being chosen for a T20 game; he's just ahead of Azhar Ali, who has played 90 Tests for Pakistan. Next, with 74 apiece, come Dimuth Karunaratne and Kraigg Brathwaite, the rival captains in the Test series between Sri Lanka and West Indies that finished last week. Brathwaite has never played a senior T20 match of any kind.
Turning to one-day internationals, Rahmat Shah of Afghanistan has so far played in 76 ODIs without making the cut for a T20 international. Azhar Ali features again, with 53 ODIs. Karunaratne has played 34; he's next to two West Indians, Alzarri Joseph (37 ODIs but no T20Is) and Jonathan Carter (34).
I noticed that Kris Srikkanth took only 25 wickets in ODIs, but had two five-wicket hauls. Is this the smallest number of wickets to include two five-fors? asked Divyanand Valsan from India
The attacking India opener Kris Srikkanth didn't often get the chance to display his bowling talents in one-day internationals - only 33 spells in his 146 matches - but you're right that he often made it count when he did get a chance. His 25 wickets included 5 for 27 against New Zealand in Visakhapatnam in December 1988, and 5 for 32 against them five days later in Indore. Apart from that his best figures were 3 for 12, in the Asia Cup final against Sri Lanka in Dhaka a few weeks before.
The only bowler to finish his ODI career with two five-fors but fewer wickets than Srikkanth was the Australia left-arm seamer Gary Gilmour, whose 16 wickets included 6 for 14 against England in the 1975 World Cup semi-final at Headingley and 5 for 48 against West Indies in the final at Lord's a few days later. Another left-arm seamer, Namibia's JJ Smit, has so far taken 20 wickets in his ten ODIs, including 5 for 26 against Oman in Windhoek last month, and 5 for 44 against them in Al Amerat in January 2020.
In which Test were the most individual centuries hit? asked Mohit Patel from India
There were a record eight centuries in the drawn Test between West Indies against South Africa in St John's in Antigua in 2005. This was equalled in the match between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh - unsurprisingly, also a draw - in Galle in 2012-13. For the full list, click here.
The first-class record is nine individual centuries in a match, which has happened twice, both times in India: by Bombay and Maharashtra in the Ranji Trophy semi-final in Poona (now Pune) in 1948-49, and by West Zone and South Zone in the Duleep Trophy final at the Wankhede Stadium in 1986-87.
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