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Ask Steven

Who are the worst and best overnight 'resumers' in Test cricket?

And who has gone scoreless in the most successive Test innings?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
Nasser Hussain and Mark Butcher haven't fared too well on resuming play after being not out overnight  •  Getty Images

Nasser Hussain and Mark Butcher haven't fared too well on resuming play after being not out overnight  •  Getty Images

Maybe it's the inbuilt pessimism of an England fan, but our batters seem notorious for failing to add substantially to an overnight score: Joe Root and Dawid Malan kept up the tradition in Brisbane. Who are the best and worst "resumers" in Tests? asked Jez Bebbington from England
This is a difficult one to pin down but, looking at recognised batters who were not out overnight on 30 or more occasions in Tests, the worst two resumers do appear to be England players. Nasser Hussain averaged only 26.47 in 42 attempts after being not out overnight, with his frequent team-mate Mark Butcher not far ahead with 26.93 (31 innings). Next come Arjuna Ranatunga (28.63), Ajinkya Rahane (29.73 as I write) and Ashwell Prince (31.72).
The best Test resumer is Garry Sobers, who was not out overnight on 41 occasions, and averaged 83 next day. Then come Michael Clarke (73.25), Len Hutton (73.17), Kumar Sangakkara (73.13) and the inevitable Don Bradman (71.46)
Rory Burns was dismissed by the first ball of the series at the Gabba. Has this happened before in the Ashes? asked Michael Williams from England
When Rory Burns was bowled by Mitchell Starc in Brisbane, he became only the second man to be dismissed by the first ball of an Ashes series, after England's Stan Worthington - he was caught behind off Ernie McCormick, also at the Gabba, in 1936-37.
There are nine other instances in men's Tests of a batter falling to the first ball of a new series, including another one earlier in 2021 - Afghanistan's Abdul Malik, making his Test debut, was bowled by Blessing Muzarabani of Zimbabwe in Abu Dhabi in March. This fate befell the unfortunate Bangladesh opener Hannan Sarkar twice, in successive series against West Indies. He fell first ball to Pedro Collins both times, in Dhaka in December 2002, and in St Lucia in May 2004. Collins also dismissed Hannan with the first ball of the second Test in that 2004 series, in Jamaica. For the full list of those dismissed by the first ball of the match (any Test, not just the first), click here.
Thanks to Covid, Australia have had three different captains in their last three Tests. Was this a first? asked Michael Mueller from Australia
Before Steven Smith took over for the second Ashes Test in Adelaide, following Pat Cummins in Brisbane and Tim Paine in the previous Test against India, there had been only three occasions when Australia had needed three different captains in successive Tests. Warren Bardsley and Herbie Collins skippered in the last two matches of the 1926 Ashes series, and Jack Ryder in the first one of 1928-29. Lindsay Hassett bowed out after captaining in the final Test of the 1953 Ashes, and Ian Johnson took over for 1954-55, but he was injured in the first Test and temporarily replaced by Arthur Morris for the next. In 1956-57, Ray Lindwall and Johnson captained in the last two Tests in India, but Ian Craig was in charge for the first Test of the following season, in South Africa.
However, that's not the Australian record. During the 1880s, they had two overlapping sequences of four Tests in which they had different captains. The first four matches of the home series against England in 1884-85 were overseen by Billy Murdoch, Tom Horan, Hugh Massie and Jack Blackham. Horan returned for the fifth Test, but the captain in Australia's next match, in England in 1886, was "Tup" Scott, making another four in a row (Massie/Blackham/Horan/Scott). By some interpretations, this run could also be said to include four instances of three different captains in successive matches.
Ebadot Hossain of Bangladesh has had eight successive Test innings without scoring - is this a record? asked Gordon Wilson via Facebook
The Bangladesh seamer Ebadot Hossain has failed to score in his most recent eight Test innings, although he was only dismissed in three of them. It puts him level at the moment with the West Indian spinner Dinanath Ramnarine, who finished his career with eight scoreless innings, six of them ducks (including the last four). But two men have had nine in a row: Chris Martin of New Zealand, between November 2000 and March 2004, and the Sri Lankan paceman Lahiru Kumara in 2018 and 2019.
Ebadot has actually managed only four runs in 15 Test innings, in 12 of which he did not score. His percentage of 80% scoreless innings is the most in Tests for anyone who batted at least ten times; India's Ashish Nehra comes next with 16 scoreless innings out of 25.
In one-day internationals, Terry Alderman had a run of eight successive scoreless innings, putting him clear of Jasprit Bumrah, Blessing Muzarabani and Shapoor Zadran with six.
Pat Cummins took a five-for on his captaincy debut - how many people have done this in Tests? asked Joe Matthews from Australia
With his 5 for 38 against England in Brisbane in the first innings of the opening Ashes Test, Pat Cummins became only the 14th man to take five or more wickets in an innings in his first Test as captain. The only other Australian was George Giffen, with 6 for 155 against England in Melbourne in 1894-95.
The best innings figures on captaincy debut are 7 for 52, by Imran Khan for Pakistan against England at Edgbaston in 1982 (Cummins is ninth). The best match figures are 13 for 135 by another Pakistani, Waqar Younis, who took 7 for 91 and 6 for 44 for Pakistan against Zimbabwe in Karachi in 1993-94. Cummins's 7 for 89 is the best for someone making his captaincy debut in an Ashes match, beating Richie Benaud's 7 for 112 (3 for 46 and 4 for 66) at the Gabba in 1958-59.
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