Ask Steven

When was the last time a spinner struck with the first ball of a Test innings?

And does Flavian Aponso still hold the record for being the oldest batsman to score a fifty in a World Cup?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
Amir Sohail drops Netherlands' highest scorer Flavian Aponso's catch, Netherlands vs Pakistan, 1996 World Cup, Qaddafi Stadium, Lahore, February 26, 1996

Flavian Aponso, who made 58 in the 1996 World Cup at age 43 years and 121 days, remains the oldest player to score a fifty in a World Cup  •  BK Bangash/Associated Press

I played in the 1996 World Cup for the Holland team, and scored a fifty against Pakistan. I was 43 at the time, and was told it was a World Cup record - is that still the case? asked Flavian Aponso from England
It's always great to receive a question from the horse's mouth, as it were - so I'm pleased to be able to confirm that Flavian Aponso remains the oldest batsman to make a half-century in the World Cup: he was aged 43 years 121 days when he scored 58 for Netherlands against Pakistan in Lahore in March 1996. The only other 40-year-old to reach 50 in a World Cup innings was Misbah-ul-Haq of Pakistan, but he was still around two months short of his 41st birthday when he made four half-centuries in the 2015 World Cup.
Aponso was close to selection for Sri Lanka before he joined a disapproved tour of South Africa. He says: "After completing 25 years in the Netherlands as a professional cricketer and coach, I moved to the UK in 2005 and got involved with three clubs in Harrow for cricket coaching for juniors. I conduct some private coaching sessions as well - it's a nice way for this 68-plus 'old man' to stay involved in cricket. All my siblings are in Sri Lanka, and I usually visit them for Christmas."
Which is rarer: stumped in both innings of a Test, run out in both, or caught and bowled in both? asked Bob Metcalfe from England
There have been 25 instances of a batsman being run out in both innings of a Test, by 23 players - it happened to the Australian pair of Ian Healy and Mark Taylor twice. The most recent double victim was Cheteshwar Pujara, for India against South Africa in Centurion in 2017-18.
Some 23 different batsmen have been out stumped in both innings (none of them twice). The most recent cases both happened in 2019-20: by Rohit Sharma for India against South Africa in Visakhapatnam in October 2019 (he did make 176 and 127, which probably made up for it), and Sikandar Raza of Zimbabwe against Sri Lanka in Harare three months later.
But only 21 batsmen have been caught and bowled in both innings - the most recent was Ross Taylor, for New Zealand against England in Hamilton in 2007-08, the third of his 105 Tests to date. He gave a return catch to Kevin Pietersen in the first innings and Monty Panesar in the second: only four batsmen - John Trumble (on debut in 1884-85), Everton Weekes (for 162 and 101 in 1948-49), Keith Miller (in 1950-51) and Richie Benaud (in 1960-61) - have been caught and bowled by the same man in both innings.
Which England players have the most runs and wickets in Tests at Lord's without appearing on the honours boards there? asked Thim Ponnappa from the United States
The man with the most Test runs at Lord's without the aid of a century - which would have meant his name would be enshrined on the honours board in the dressing room - is the former England captain Michael Atherton. He amassed 852 runs in 15 Tests at Lord's, but his highest score was 99, agonisingly run out against Australia in 1993. Next comes Graham Thorpe, who made 711 runs in 13 Lord's Tests, with a highest score of 89.
The leading overseas player is Sunil Gavaskar, with 340 runs in five Tests at Lord's, with a highest of 59 - although Gavaskar's name does appear on the honours board, as he scored 188 for the World XI in the MCC Bicentenary match at Lord's in 1987, which MCC treat like a Test.
For the bowlers, Matthew Hoggard took 37 wickets in 11 Tests at Lord's without the five-for that would have got him on the honours board (his best return was 4 for 27). The 1950s left-arm spinner Johnny Wardle claimed 23, and Australia's Shane Warne 19, in four appearances, without a five-for.
I noticed Jofra Archer has got out in every Test innings he has batted in so far, despite usually coming in at No. 9 or 10. Which tailender has had the most innings without a not-out? asked Chris Harper from England
As I write, England's Jofra Archer has had 18 innings in Tests and been dismissed in every one of them. As this table shows, he's well down the overall list, which is headed by Sri Lanka's Kaushal Silva, who was out in every one of his 74 Test innings, 12 more than Pakistan's Salman Butt. Quite where Archer stands in relation to other tailenders depends how you classify them: the West Indian fast bowler Alzarri Joseph, who I think fits the bill, has so far been out in all his 24 Test innings. The Sri Lankan wicketkeeper Guy de Alwis was dismissed in all his 19 Test innings, despite never going in above No. 8.
Ravichandran Ashwin took a wicket with the first ball of England's second innings in the first Test. When was the last time a spinner struck with the first ball of a Test innings? asked Jatin Moghal from India
R Ashwin dismissed Rory Burns with the first ball of England's second innings in the first Test in Chennai. It was the first such instance in a Test for more than 130 years, since slow left-armer Bobby Peel nabbed Alec Bannerman with the first ball of Australia's follow-on at Old Trafford in 1888.
At first sight it would appear as if South Africa's Bert Vogler did the same against England, trapping Tom Hayward lbw with the first ball of the match at The Oval in 1907. Vogler was usually a legspinner, but the match report in The Times the following day says "Vogler started with a few fast overs". Some things never change: the newspaper added that "Hayward appeared to be dissatisfied with the decision."
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Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes