Ask Steven

Has anyone topped Tim Murtagh's score from No. 11 in Tests?

Also: what's the longest a player's gone between Test appearances?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
Tim Murtagh raises his bat after reaching fifty, Afghanistan v Ireland, Only Test, 1st day, Dehradun, March 15, 2019

Tim Murtagh's score of 54 not out is a pleasing 11th on the list of highest Test scores from No. 11  •  AFP

Ireland's No. 11 top-scored in their first innings against Afghanistan the other day - how often has this happened in Tests? asked Vipul Shah from India
Tim Murtagh made the highest score in Ireland's first innings against Afghanistan in Dehradun with 54 not out. Neatly, he was the 11th No. 11 to top-score in a Test innings.
The first to do it was the Australian Fred Spofforth, who put aside his mantle as the "Demon" bowler to spank 50 from No. 11 against England in Melbourne in 1884-85, while the most recent was West Indian offspinner Shane Shillingford, with 53 not out against New Zealand in Kingston in June 2014.
Tim Murtagh scored 81 runs in Ireland's Test against Afghanistan. Has anyone ever scored more in one Test from No. 11? asked Keith Sobell from Ireland
As mentioned above, Ireland's No. 11 Tim Murtagh top-scored in the first innings in Dehradun with 54 not out, and added 27 in the second innings for a grand total of 81 runs. Only two No. 11s have ever scored more runs in a Test, both of them in just one innings: Ashton Agar made 98 for Australia against England at Trent Bridge in 2013, while Tino Best endangered the windows with 95 for West Indies, also against England, at Edgbaston in 2012. James Anderson also scored 81, for England against India at Trent Bridge in 2014.
Further to last week's question about players who won their only Test, George Bailey won five out of five - can anyone beat that? asked Lucas Shankland from Australia
George Bailey's 100% record for Australia notably came during an Ashes series (2013-14), but the leader in this particular area is the 1980s West Indian allrounder Eldine Baptiste, who played in ten Test matches - and won all of them.
Adam Gilchrist was on the winning side in his first 15 Tests for Australia - the run came to a shuddering end with India's famous victory after following on in Kolkata in 2000-01 (a match in which Gilchrist bagged a king pair). His sometime team-mate Stuart Clark tasted victory in all his first 13 Tests, as did England's Tim Bresnan.
Abhinav Mukund made his debut for India in 2011, but played his next Test match in 2017. What are the longest such gaps - for India and everyone? asked Boina Sagar from India
The Indian batsman Abhinav Mukund played his fifth Test in July 2011, and his sixth in March 2017 (he's only won one more cap since). But that gap of nearly six years is some way from being the record. The longest for India is well over 12 years, by Lala Amarnath between 1933-34 and 1946. India's captain in Amarnath's comeback Test - against England at Lord's in 1946 - was the senior Nawab of Pataudi, who had played his own previous Test just over 12 years previously… for England, against Australia at Trent Bridge in 1934.
The biggest gap by anyone is 22 years 222 days, by the offspinner John Traicos. He played the last of his three Tests for South Africa in Port Elizabeth in March 1970, then - aged 45 - appeared in Zimbabwe's inaugural Test, against India in Harare in October 1992.
The Nottinghamshire opener George Gunn went more than 17 years between Test appearances for England, between 1911-12 and the 1929-30 tour of West Indies, when he was 50. Pakistan batsman Younis Ahmed also went more than 17 years between Test appearances (1969-70 to 1986-87).
Which West Indian played 16 Tests - all of them different grounds? asked Ian Hugo from Nigeria
I can't find any West Indian who fits that particular bill - the only two who ended their careers with 16 caps were the old Trinidad batsman Clifford Roach and the recent offspinner Shane Shillingford, but not all of those were on different grounds. Roach played two of his in Bridgetown, while Shillingford appeared three times in Bridgetown, and twice in Port-of-Spain and in front of his home crowd in Roseau, Dominica, where he took 20 wickets.
However, I think the record in this regard is nonetheless held by a West Indian. The former Guyana batsman Faoud Bacchus played 19 Tests, on 19 different grounds.
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Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes