Ask Steven

Which batter has the biggest difference between averages in wins and defeats in Tests?

And what's the record for the most consecutive Test appearances by a player against the same opposition?

Rory Burns averages 25.41 in Test wins and 35.86 in Test losses, a difference of -10.45  •  Getty Images

Rory Burns averages 25.41 in Test wins and 35.86 in Test losses, a difference of -10.45  •  Getty Images

I was looking at Rory Burns' Test stats, and noticed that his average during wins is surprisingly quite a bit lower than in defeats. Who has the biggest difference between averages in wins and defeats? asked Rahul Sompura from India
That's a great spot because, as it turns out, England's Rory Burns has the biggest negative difference between his batting average in Tests won (25.41) and lost (35.86). Looking at the 394 players who were part of at least ten wins and ten defeats, next comes the 19th-century Australian Harry Trott, who averaged 16.40 in wins but 25.88 in defeats, a difference of -9.44 to Burns's current -10.45.
This is a very wide-ranging list: next come Mohammad Sami of Pakistan, with 6.11 in wins and 12.87 in defeats, and the old England wicketkeeper Dick Lilley (13.38 in wins, 20.11 in defeats). The England offspinner John Emburey averaged 13.88 in wins but 20.26 in losses, while Wasim Raja managed 21.92 when Pakistan won but 28.09 when they lost.
Another old Australian deserves a mention: Monty Noble averaged 26.17 in victories, and 36.73 in losses - a difference of -10.56, slightly higher than Burns - but Noble only tasted defeat on nine occasions in Tests, so doesn't quite make our cut-off.
The winner in the opposite direction is rather less surprising: Don Bradman averaged a stupendous 130.08 in Australia's wins during his long Test career, but a more modest 43.27 in defeats, a difference of 86.81. Next comes the West Indian Frank Worrell, with a difference of 55.74 (74.15 in wins, 18.41 in losses).
I think Mark Waugh played 29 successive Tests against England without missing one. What's the record for consecutive appearances in one match-up? asked Rajiv Radhakrishnan from England
This query tested the database skills of ESPNcricinfo's Shiva Jayaraman, who thought it was the toughest one I'd ever asked him (luckily, he enjoyed the challenge!) And the record turns out to be held by Mark Waugh's long-time captain for Australia - Allan Border played 44 successive Tests against England between 1979-80 and 1993. He went past two other Australians in Ashes matches: Victor Trumper played 40 in a row between 1899 and 1911-12, and Monty Noble 39 between 1897-98 and 1909.
Next come the first non-Ashes combatants: Sunil Gavaskar appeared in 38 successive Tests for India against England between 1971 and 1986, while Courtney Walsh played 38 in a row for West Indies against Australia between 1984-85 and 2000-01.
Jaskaran Malhotra of the USA hit 16 sixes but only four fours in an ODI the other day. Was this some sort of record? asked H Sharma from the United States
That remarkable effort by Jaskaran Malhotra last week, when he hammered 173 not out - the United States' first century in ODIs - against Papua New Guinea in Al-Amerat also included six sixes in the final over, only the second instance of six sixes in an over in ODIs after Herschelle Gibbs did it for South Africa against Netherlands in St Kitts during the 2007 World Cup.
The ratio of sixes to fours wasn't quite a record, however. For England against Afghanistan during the 2019 World Cup, England's captain Eoin Morgan thrashed an ODI-record 17 sixes, but only four fours, in his 148 at Old Trafford.
The most sixes in an ODI innings without any fours at all is six, by Paul Collingwood for England against New Zealand in Napier in 2007-08, and Jimmy Neesham (who faced only 13 balls) for New Zealand against Sri Lanka in Mount Maunganui in 2018-19. For the list of the most sixes in an ODI innings, click here.
As a perennial tail-end "not-outer" myself I was interested to see that Jimmy Anderson is currently on 99 red-inkers in Tests. Is this the record? asked Robert Lewis Jones from the UK
It's the record by a distance: Jimmy Anderson is on the verge of becoming the first man to have remained not out in 100 Test innings. Only five others - all fully paid-up members of the No. 11s union - have managed more than 50: Courtney Walsh (61), Muthiah Muralidaran (56), Bob Willis (55), Chris Martin (52) and Glenn McGrath (51). The first recognised batsman comes next: Shivnarine Chanderpaul was unbeaten in 49 innings in Tests, during which he made more than 4000 runs. Allan Border and Steve Waugh both finished not out on 44 occasions.
Anderson also leads the way in all international cricket, with 145 not-outs in the three formats - but his lead there is much narrower: MS Dhoni had 142 not-out innings, Muralidaran 119, and Shaun Pollock 113.
Maheesh Theekshana took a wicket with his first ball in ODIs - how many people have done this? asked Jayant Sampath from Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka's latest "mystery spinner", 21-year-old Maheesh Theekshana, dismissed Janneman Malan of South Africa with his first ball in one-day internationals, in Colombo last week. His captain, Dasun Shanaka, predicted a bright future: "It's not easy to read him because he's now got the googly and the carrom ball, and his offspin as well. Because he's got several variations, I don't think it'll be easy for any team to read him."
Theekshana was the 29th bowler - the third this year - to take a wicket with his first delivery in ODIs, a list which includes a few unexpected names.
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Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes