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Ask Steven

Who's the oldest bowler to take a five-for in a Test?

And where does Jimmy Anderson stand on that list?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
08-Feb-2022
Arthur Morris drives while playing against East Molesley in Surrey, 1953

Arthur Morris was the first batter to score a hundred in each innings of his first-class debut  •  Getty Images

Has anyone scored two centuries in a match on their first-class debut? asked BPN Mendis from Sri Lanka
This notable batting feat was first performed by the great Australian opener Arthur Morris, with 148 and 111 for New South Wales against Queensland in Sydney in 1940-41. He was followed by the future Indian captain Nari Contractor, who started his first-class career with 152 and 102 not out for Gujarat in Baroda in 1952-53. Aamer Malik, who later played a few Tests for Pakistan, began with 132 not out and 110 for Lahore City against Railways in Lahore in 1979-80.
Those were the only three instances in the first 200 years or so of first-class cricket, but it has become quite a regular occurrence in recent years, with five more men joining the pantheon since 2009. Noor Ali Zadran made 130 and 100 not out on his debut, for Afghanistan against a Zimbabwe XI in Mutare in 2009-10; Tharanga Indika 158 and 103 not out for Police vs Seeduwa Raddoluwa in Colombo in 2010-11; Virag Awate 126 and 112 for Maharashtra against Vidarbha in Nagpur in 2012-13; Travis Dean 154 and 109 (uniquely, both not out) for Victoria vs Queensland in Melbourne in 2015-16; and Haji Murad Muradi 102 and 142 for Amo region against Speen Ghar in Gazi Amanullah Khan Town in Afghanistan in 2017-18.
Ten other men have scored hundreds in their opening two first-class innings, with the second one coming in another match. But only one has started his career with three successive centuries: Joe Solomon, later a West Indies Test regular, began with 114 not out for British Guiana against Jamaica in Georgetown in October 1956, followed that a week later with 108 vs Barbados, also at the Bourda, and added 121 in his next innings, against the Pakistan tourists in Georgetown in 1957-58.
I noticed that all 11 England players featured on the scorecard during Australia's first innings at Brisbane. How rare is this? asked Harrison Grant from Australia
That's a good spot, as all 11 England players did indeed take a catch or a wicket (or both) in Australia's first innings in the first Ashes Test at the Gabba last December. This had happened only twice before in Test history. The first instance came in Kingston in 2000-01, when all 11 South Africans featured on the card in West Indies' second innings (Gary Kirsten completed the set when he caught the last man, Courtney Walsh). And South Africa were at it again in Cape Town in 2009-10, with all 11 players getting a mention as England clung on for a draw at 296 for 9.
Who's the oldest bowler to take a five-for in a Test? And where does Jimmy Anderson stand on this list? asked Richard Greenwood from England
Jimmy Anderson currently lies 21st on this particular list: he was 13 days past his 39th birthday when he took 5 for 62 against India at Lord's last August.
But Anderson will have to continue defying Father Time for a long time yet to claim top spot. The oldest man to take five wickets in a Test innings was the Australian left-arm spinner Bert "Dainty" Ironmonger, who was not far short of his 50th birthday when he collected 5 for 6 and 6 for 18 as South Africa were skittled for 36 and 45 on a spiteful rain-affected pitch in Melbourne in 1931-32. Ironmonger did play in the following season's Bodyline series, when past his half-century.
The oldest Englishman remains Kent's Frank Woolley, whose left-arm spin brought him 7 for 76 against New Zealand in Wellington in January 1930, a few months before his 43rd birthday. Offspinner Eddie Hemmings was 41 when he took 6 for 58 against New Zealand at Edgbaston in 1990.
For the overall list, click here. Most of the men there were spinners; only three above Anderson - Sydney Barnes, Geoff Chubb and Frank Laver - bowled at medium-pace, and none of them was as quick as Anderson still is.
Who batted the most times in Tests without ever being stumped? asked Gautham Mahabir from India
Four men have had more than 200 Test innings without ever being out stumped - and three of them are current England players. Jimmy Anderson has so far had 239 innings, Stuart Broad 223, and Joe Root 210. But they have to give best - for the time being at least - to Sri Lanka's Mahela Jayawardene, who batted 252 times in Tests, and was never stumped.
In similar vein, Kapil Dev had 184 Test innings and was never run out. Another current Englishman is second on this list at the moment: Jonny Bairstow has had 142 innings to date, and has never been run out either. The Indian fast bowler Umesh Yadav has so far batted 61 times in Tests, and never been out lbw; he recently took this record from the old Australian captain Joe Darling (60).
Is it true that Ryan ten Doeschate had the highest average of anyone in one-day internationals? asked Bas van der Zanden from the Netherlands
Ryan ten Doeschate played 33 ODIs for Netherlands, and finished with a batting average of 67.00. That's currently the second-highest average for anyone who has had more than 20 innings, as this list shows. The only man above him at the moment is the South African Rassie van der Dussen, who currently averages 74.52, from 26 innings.
Two other present-day players are third and fourth. As I write, Virat Kohli averages 58.53 in ODIs, and Babar Azam 56.92.
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Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes