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Ask Steven

Does Ireland's Ben White hold the record for the most sixes conceded in a Test innings?

And who has the highest Test batting average without ever scoring a century?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
09-May-2023
Rilee Rossouw and Phil Salt never stopped attacking, Delhi Capitals vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL 2023, Delhi, May 6, 2023

Delhi Capitals fielded four overseas batters at the top of their batting order against RCB, the first instance of this happening since 2017  •  Associated Press

The Delhi Capitals' first four batters in a recent IPL match were their four overseas players. Has this happened before? asked Kiran Limaye via Twitter
The Capitals' batting order for their match against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Delhi last weekend started with David Warner (Australia), Phil Salt (England), Mitchell Marsh (Australia) and Rilee Rossouw (South Africa). This was the sixth time an IPL team had placed their overseas players at 1-4 in the batting order, but the first for six years, since Kings XI Punjab did it against Gujarat Lions in Mohali in 2017. The players concerned then were Martin Guptill (New Zealand), Hashim Amla (South Africa), Shaun Marsh and Glenn Maxwell (Australia).
There have also been four occasions when the first four bowlers used were overseas players - all of them by Kolkata Knight Riders. The most recent instance was against Mumbai Indians in Mumbai in May 2022, when the bowlers were Tim Southee (New Zealand), Pat Cummins (Australia), Andre Russell and Sunil Narine (West Indies).
The Ireland spinner Ben White has now played three first-class matches, all of them Tests. Has anyone else done this? asked Jason Kiernan from Ireland
Legspinner Ben White made his first-class debut in Ireland's recent Test against Bangladesh in Mirpur, and then appeared in both their Tests in Sri Lanka. You're right that he hasn't played any other first-class games yet.
There's only one man so far whose first four first-class matches were Tests, although White may yet equal this. Mashrafe Mortaza made his first-class debut for Bangladesh against Zimbabwe in Dhaka in 2001-02, and his next three first-class matches were Tests as well. Actually Mortaza had an extraordinary start to his first-class career, as after playing one domestic match for Khulna in December 2002, his next dozen games were all Tests - so 16 of his first 17 first-class appearances were in Test matches.
Ben White was hit for nine sixes in Sri Lanka's huge innings in the second Test in Galle. Was this a record? asked Niroshan de Silva from Sri Lanka
Staying on the subject of Ben White, he was indeed carted for nine sixes in the course of his chastening figures of 0 for 203 as Sri Lanka ran up 704 for 3 in the second Test in Galle last month.
White was the fourth bowler to concede nine sixes in a single Test innings, following Paul Strang (5 for 212 for Zimbabwe against Pakistan in Sheikhupura in 1996-97; all nine by Wasim Akram), Ray Price (0 for 192 for Zimbabwe vs South Africa in Harare in 2001-02) and Dane Piedt (0 for 102 for South Africa vs India in Visakhapatnam in 2019-20).
But the record is ten sixes conceded in a single Test innings, by Rangana Herath in the course of his 3 for 240 for Sri Lanka against India in Mumbai in 2009-10. Thanks to the twinkling fingers of Andrew Samson for conjuring these figures out of his database, which is even more detailed than ESPNcricinfo's.
I noticed that in T20Is for West Indies in 2022, Akeal Hosein scored 44 from No. 10, and Obed McCoy 23 from No. 11. Are these the highest for any country from those positions in the order? asked Kelvin Creavey from Trinidad
Akeal Hosein's 44 not out, which nearly conjured an unlikely victory for West Indies against England in Bridgetown in January 2022, was a record from No. 10 in any T20I, beating 40 by Sompal Kami for Nepal against Hong Kong in Colombo in 2014.
Obed McCoy's 23 not out from No. 11 for West Indies against New Zealand in Kingston in August 2022 is the highest from No. 11 for a player from a Test-playing nation, but it has been exceeded in other T20Is by Khalid Ahmadi, with 31 not out for Belgium against Malta in Marsa in July 2021, and by the Dutch fast bowler Paul van Meekeren, with 24 against Bangladesh in Hobart during the T20 World Cup in October 2022.
Who has the highest Test batting average without ever scoring a century? asked Brian Harrison from England
You need to impose some sort of minimum qualification here, otherwise the answer is Sri Lanka's Naveed Nawaz, who played one Test against Bangladesh in Colombo in 2002, and scored 21 and 78 not out to finish with an average of 99.
If you look at a minimum of 20 Test innings without a century, the highest average is by Asim Kamal, who made 99 on his debut for Pakistan (against South Africa in Lahore in 2003-04), and finished with an average of 37.73 in 20 innings, which included seven other scores of 50 or more. Next comes the New Zealand offspinner Mark Craig, who, helped by nine not-outs, averaged 36.81 from 25 innings.
If you raise the bar to 40 innings, the leader is the Australia opener Bruce Laird, who averaged 35.28 from 40 with a highest score of 92 (again on debut, against West Indies in Brisbane in 1979-80). Another Australian leads the way for 50 innings or more: the obdurate allrounder Ken "Slasher" Mackay averaged 33.48 from 52 innings, which included 13 half-centuries but a highest score of 89. Here is the full list of highest averages among players who did not make Test hundred.
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