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Ask Steven

Bravo's allround debut, and a man from Brunei

Steven Lynch answers more of your questions

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
30-Aug-2004
The regular Monday column in which our editor answers your questions about (almost) any aspect of cricket:


Dwayne Bravo: impressive start © Getty Images
Dwayne Bravo of West Indies had a wonderful debut series against England, scoring more than 200 runs and taking nearly 20 wickets. Has anyone actually managed that in their debut series? asked Terrence Jaskaran from Guyana
Dwayne Bravo did indeed look like a readymade Test player, and finished the four-match series against England with 220 runs and 16 wickets. The specific feat you mention has only been managed four times in Tests: in Australia in 1901-02 England's Len Braund scored 256 runs and took 21 wickets for England; in the 1911-12 Ashes series Frank Foster took 32 wickets and scored 226 runs for England; nine years later Australia's Jack Gregory hammered 442 runs and took 23 wickets against England; and in England in 1955 Trevor Goddard scored 235 runs and took 25 wickets against England. The most recent nearly man is England's Dominic Cork, who took 26 wickets but fell three short of 200 runs in his debut series, against West Indies in 1995.
I was at a Championship match the other day and, while it was pouring with rain, someone asked me to name the current player who was born in the Sultanate of Brunei. Even though I had a quick look at the Playfair annual while the questioner went to the toilet, I couldn't find out who it was - can you help? asked David Stephens from Chelmsford
I think the player concerned probably eluded Playfair because he was signed in the middle of the current season. The man in question is Ben France, the former Oxfordshire batsman who has played a few games for Derbyshire. He was born in Brunei in 1982.
Apparently Don Bradman scored nine Test hundreds at the SCG. Is this the record for individual hundreds at a venue, and do any modern players come anywhere near this? asked Elliott Wood from Brisbane
Actually Don Bradman only scored two Test centuries at Sydney - the ground where he managed an incredible nine Test hundreds was Melbourne, where he averaged 128.53 from 11 matches. That is indeed the record for any one ground: Graham Gooch comes next, with six at Lord's. Quite a few batsmen have made five Test centuries on the same ground - Garry Sobers made five at Kingston and five at Georgetown - but the only current player is Mahela Jayawardene, who has hit five at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo.
I noticed that Don Bradman went ten Tests without scoring a run in the second innings of a match - usually because he didn't need to, as he'd scored so many in the first innings. Is this a record? asked Tom Bromige
Bradman's run was between the Headingley Test of 1930 and the second Test against South Africa at Sydney in 1931-32 - he only batted once in the second innings and was out for 0. It's pretty good going for a batsman - but is a long way short of the overall Test record, which is held by Joel Garner. He didn't score in the second innings of 28 successive Test matches for West Indies leading up to the final Test at the Oval in 1984 when, presumably rather affronted at having to put the pads on, he made 10 not out. A long way behind, with 17, are Allan Donald, Brett Lee and Muttiah Muralitharan. The only recognised batsmen with a longer run than Bradman are Javed Miandad and Zaheer Abbas, with 12, although you could make a case for some of these allrounders: Ken Mackay (15 Tests without scoring a second-innings run), Alan Davidson, Jeff Dujon, Kapil Dev and Lance Klusener (all 12).
My Dad says that Brian Close is both the youngest and the oldest person to play for England - is that right? asked Kieran Thornton
Well, he's half right - Brian Close remains the youngest person to play in a Test for England. He was not yet 19 - and in the middle of his first season of first-class cricket - when he played in the third Test against New Zealand at Old Trafford in 1949. He didn't score a run, but did manage to take a wicket. Close played his final Test all of 27 years later, also at Old Trafford, against West Indies in 1976. He was 46 by then, but although that's the oldest for an England player in recent years it isn't quite the record. Three 50-year-olds have played for England: George Gunn, who was 50 years 303 days old on the last day of his last Test, against West Indies at Kingston in 1929-30; WG Grace (50 years 320 days) against Australia at Trent Bridge in 1899; and the grand-daddy of them all, Wilfred Rhodes, who was 52 years 165 days old on the last day of his Test career, in the same match as Gunn against West Indies in Jamaica in 1929-30. The only other 50-year-old to play Test cricket was an Australian, Bert "Dainty" Ironmonger, who was two months short of his 51st birthday when he played against England at Sydney in the last match of the 1932-33 Bodyline series.
Which batsman has scored the most centuries in the first Test of a series? My initial thoughts turn to Matthew Hayden and Mark Taylor ... asked Justin Castellari from Canberra
That's not a bad guess, as Hayden and Taylor have both scored centuries in the first match of a series on eight occasions. But the winners, with first-Test centuries in a record ten different series, are Aravinda de Silva of Sri Lanka and India's Sachin Tendulkar. De Silva actually scored another century in a one-off Test, which you could argue was the first of a very short series, so he could be said to be the outright leader with 11. Including one-off Tests the leader-board is: 11 de Silva, 10 Tendulkar, 9 Sunil Gavaskar, Graham Gooch and Steve Waugh, 8 Ken Barrington, David Boon, Andy Flower, Hayden and Taylor.
Steven Lynch is editor of Wisden Cricinfo. For some of these answers he was helped by Travis Basevi, the man who built Stats Guru and the Wisden Wizard. If you want to Ask Steven a question, e-mail him at asksteven@cricinfo.com. The most interesting questions will be answered each week in this column. Unfortunately, we can't usually enter into correspondence about individual queries.