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Ask Steven

What is the highest opening partnership in IPL history?

Also: which Pakistan player was nicknamed the "Peshawar Rickshaw"?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
David Warner and Jonny Bairstow put on 185 for the first wicket for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the 2019 IPL, the record  •  BCCI

David Warner and Jonny Bairstow put on 185 for the first wicket for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the 2019 IPL, the record  •  BCCI

I spotted that the late Ken Barrington's Test batting average was much higher than his overall first-class numbers. Is it the biggest gap for someone who played so many matches? asked Vineet Arora from England
Ken Barrington, the bulwark of England's batting in the 1960s, averaged 58.67 in his 82 Test matches, against 45.63 in all first-class cricket, a difference of 13.04. That's the record for anyone who played more than 20 Tests. The overall figures include Tests, of course; if you remove those for Barrington he averaged 43.01 in his other first-class games.
If you reduce the qualification to those who had 15 or more Test innings, Barrington is still ninth. New Zealander Stewie Dempster comes top on that basis - he averaged 65.72 in Tests and 44.98 in first-class, a difference of 20.74. Next comes another 1930s batter, England's Eddie Paynter, with a difference of 16.97 (59.23 vs 42.26). The top current player is West Indies' Nkrumah Bonner, who averages 41.88 in Tests but 29.30 in first-class matches (a difference of 12.58).
I thought it would be interesting to see who holds the equivalent record for bowlers, and again the answer depends on what qualification you impose. For those who bowled in at least 50 Test innings, it's none other than Sachin Tendulkar, whose 46 Test wickets came at 54.17, which is 7.57 runs cheaper than his overall first-class average of 61.74 (71 wickets). Perhaps a better cut-off would be 100 Test wickets, which effectively restricts the selection to specialist bowlers: top then is the Australian seamer Ryan Harris, who averaged 23.52 in Tests (113 wickets) but 26.55 in first-class games (he took 303 wickets, and they neatly cost him 3.03 more). Next comes the England offspinner Graeme Swann, whose 255 Test wickets came at 29.96, some 2.16 runs cheaper than his first-class average of 32.12 (739 wickets).
Ruturaj Gaikwad and Devon Conway put on 182 for CSK's first wicket against Sunrisers the other day. Was this the highest opening stand in the IPL? asked Mohan Girish from India
That big stand between Gaikwad and Conway in Pune last week was actually the fourth-highest opening partnership in the IPL, although it's only three short of the record, 185 by Jonny Bairstow and David Warner for Sunrisers against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Hyderabad in 2019.
Oddly perhaps the IPL's five highest partnerships have all come for the second wicket: highest of all is 229, by Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers for RCB against Gujarat Lions in Bengaluru in 2016. They beat their own record, an unbroken 215 against Mumbai Indians in Mumbai a year earlier.
Kent's Nathan Gilchrist has collected six successive ducks in first-class cricket, which I gather equals the record. How many people have done this before? asked George Richardson from England
Kent's Zimbabwe-born seamer Nathan Gilchrist endured a horror stretch in April, bagging pairs against Hampshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire. He was the 12th man to be dismissed for six successive ducks in first-class cricket: none of them made it seven. The list includes the recent county seamer Charlie Shreck (2015) and Sri Lankan Test paceman Nuwan Pradeep (2017-18 to 2018-19). Gilchrist was left out of Kent's next game, against the Sri Lankan development team, so we will all have to wait until he is chosen again to see if he can avoid making history.
There's an associated record, which is the most successive innings without scoring, which can include not-outs. Gilchrist will probably be relieved to learn he's a fair way short of that mark at the moment: the Sussex seamer Mark Robinson endured 12 scoreless innings in a row (seven of them not out) in 1990, when he finished the season with three runs in 16 innings, at an average of 0.50.
I know that Don Bradman batted for most of his career at No. 3. Presumably no one averaged more than him there in Tests? asked Gavin Ryder from Australia
You're usually on safe ground if you mention Don Bradman and highest batting averages in the same breath - and this is no exception. Bradman played 52 Tests, and batted at No. 3 in 40 of them - and averaged 103.63 there, including 5078 runs and 20 of his eventual 29 Test centuries. He had 56 innings at No. 3: the only other person with a three-figure average from there, apart from a handful who batted only once or twice, is the New Zealander Scott Styris, with exactly 100 from five innings, two of them not-out. If you consider only those with ten or more innings at No. 3, Bradman is more than 26 runs clear of the next man, England's Ken Barrington, who averaged 77.23 - he made 2626 runs in 40 innings.
And if you'd like your mind boggled by Bradman's stats, click here.
I know that Shoaib Akhtar was nicknamed the "Rawalpindi Express". But who was the "Peshawar Rickshaw"? asked Hafiz Ahmed from Pakistan
The man who was saddled with this rather unflattering nickname for a while was Umar Gul, a very useful seamer from Peshawar who ended up with over 400 international wickets. The name was a not very subtle reminder that he wasn't as fast as Shoaib Akhtar, or Waqar Younis - but it hid the fact that he was a very canny operator, who twice took 5 for 6 in T20Is, against New Zealand and South Africa. Looking online I spotted that he was also known as "The Gul-dozer", which I suspect he might have preferred!
Umar Gul's team-mates were in no doubt about his value. "One of Pakistan's bowling greats," said Shahid Afridi, who added: "Great exponent of reverse swing, and always played for Pakistan with pride." Babar Azam, the current captain, called him "one of the most skilled bowlers who wore the green star on his chest".
And there's an update on last week's question about the most actual runs completed during a Test innings, from Charles Davis in Australia
"You're right that several reports give Hanif Mohammad 24 fours in his 337 in Bridgetown in 1957-58. However, the old England scorer Geoffrey Saulez examined the scorebook for this Test while in Barbados during the 1970s, and came up with different numbers. He reported 26 fours, 16 threes, 40 twos and 105 singles, which adds up. That would bring Hanif's non-boundaries down to 233 runs. It is conceivable that he hit one or more all-run fours, but such shots are rare in the West Indies (about 0.25% of fours in the modern Test game). I don't recall reading about any all-run fours in that innings. Sadly, that Bridgetown scorebook is now lost.
"However, Australia's Bob Cowper did have two all-run fours in his 307 against England in Melbourne in 1965-66, bringing his boundary fours down to 18. That would give him 235 in non-boundary runs."
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