Ask Steven

Is Keshav Maharaj only the second South African bowler to take a Test hat-trick?

Also: which other team has won a Test with their two leading run scorers at the crease like New Zealand did?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
When Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson took New Zealand to victory in the WTC final, it was only the fifth time a country's top run scorers were at the crease when the winning runs were hit  •  Getty Images

When Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson took New Zealand to victory in the WTC final, it was only the fifth time a country's top run scorers were at the crease when the winning runs were hit  •  Getty Images

When New Zealand completed victory in the World Test Championship final, their two all-time leading run scorers were at the crease. Has this ever happened before for a Test-winning side? asked Raymond Rulach from England
It was very fitting that Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor should be batting together at the climax of the World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand in Southampton last week: as you say, they top New Zealand's Test-runs list at the moment (after the match, Taylor had 7564 and Williamson 7230; during the game Williamson passed Stephen Fleming's tally of 7172).
The deft database skills of ESPNcricinfo's Shiva Jayaraman uncovered four previous instances of a country's top two run scorers being at the crease for a Test victory. Two of them were by Aravinda de Silva and Arjuna Ranatunga for Sri Lanka - against Zimbabwe in Colombo in 1997-98, and against Australia in Kandy in September 1999. The others were by Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid for India against Australia in Bengaluru in 2010-11, and Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith for South Africa against Australia in Cape Town in 2011-12 (the match in which Australia were bowled out for 47, after being 21 for 9 at one point).
There have been 28 further Tests in which a country's top two run scorers at the time finished on the winning side, but were not together at the crease at the end.
When was the last six-day Test before the World Championship final? asked Michael Jones from England
The exciting World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand in Southampton last week was the first Test scheduled to last six days since another ICC showpiece, the Super Series match in Sydney in 2005-06 - but that one finished in four days, with Australia romping home by 210 runs against a star-studded World XI.
The last Test that ran to six days was between Sri Lanka and West Indies in Moratuwa in December 1993, which was extended to include the rest day after the first was rained off - but the last two days fell foul of the weather too. The last Test to have play on a sixth day was Australia vs Pakistan in Sydney in 1989-90, but that was still drawn since no play had been possible on the first, second and fifth days.
The last Test before the 2005-06 Super Series which was scheduled in advance to run for six days had been the sixth match between India and West Indies in 1978-79, in Kanpur. Bad light and rain meant there was no play on the fifth day of that game; the last Test to feature play on each of six scheduled days was New Zealand vs England in Auckland in 1977-78 (it didn't help much: the match was still drawn).
Has there ever been a case of three scores of 90-99 in a Test innings? asked Dawood from India
There has never been a case of three nineties in the same Test innings; there have been 58 instances of two, most agonisingly by Pakistan against England in Karachi in 1972-73, when both Majid Khan and Mushtaq Mohammad were out for 99. Sadiq Mohammad was out for 89 in that innings, and later Dennis Amiss made 99 for England.
That Karachi match was one of 15 Tests to feature three scores in the nineties, but there have been two cases of four: by England and New Zealand in Christchurch in 1991-92 (Robin Smith 96, Allan Lamb 93, Dipak Patel 99 and John Wright 99 - Patel was run out and Wright stumped), and by England and West Indies at The Oval in 1995 (Graeme Hick 96, Jack Russell 91, Richie Richardson 93 and Mike Atherton 95).
Is it right that only one South African bowler had taken a Test hat-trick before Keshav Maharaj did it? asked Steve Rafferty from South Africa
That is correct: before slow left-armer Keshav Maharaj dismissed West Indians Kieran Powell, Jason Holder and Joshua Da Silva in St Lucia last week, South Africa's only hat-trick in 444 previous Test matches was way back in 1960, when Geoff Griffin removed Mike Smith (for 99), Peter Walker and Fred Trueman at Lord's. It remains the only hat-trick in 140 Tests at cricket's most famous ground. Fast bowler Griffin was a controversial figure, as he had been no-balled for throwing several times: after he was called again in an exhibition match following that Test, he never appeared again. For the list of Test hat-tricks, click here.
Charl Langeveldt, JP Duminy, Kagiso Rabada and Imran Tahir have taken hat-tricks for South Africa in one-day internationals, while for their women's side, Dane van Niekerk and Masabata Klaas have taken ODI hat-tricks, and Marizanne Kapp one in a T20I.
After eight Tests, Kyle Jamieson has 46 wickets at 14.17, and five five-fors. How many men have improved those figures? asked Don Henderson from New Zealand
The giant New Zealander Kyle Jamieson has indeed made a remarkable start to his career. Thirteen bowlers have taken more wickets in their first eight Tests - England's Tom Richardson leads the way with 66 - but only one of them had a better average: Charles "Terror" Turner had taken 56 wickets at 11.93. Both Richardson and Turner played in the 19th century, when scores generally were lower; the nearest modern bowler to Jamieson after eight Tests is Australia's Rodney Hogg, who had taken 51 wickets at 15.37, while Vernon Philander had 53 at 15.66.
Just behind Jamieson comes another 19th-century England bowler, George Lohmann, with 45 wickets at 10.51. Lohmann finished his career with 112 at 10.75, the best average of any bowler who took more than 14 Test wickets, apart from the Indian slow left-armer Axar Patel, who currently has 27 at 10.59.
Turning to hauls of five or more wickets in an innings, Jamieson's five in his first eight Tests puts him level in fourth place with eight other bowlers, including R Ashwin and Ian Botham. Richardson leads the way again with ten such hauls, while Turner had eight and Philander six.
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Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes