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Ask Steven

How many cricketers have also competed in the Olympics in other sports?

And what is the largest difference between a team's first-innings and second-innings scores in all first-class cricket?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
23-May-2023
Brian Booth plays field hockey for St George against University of New South Wales, Kensington, July 11, 1970

Brian Booth (right), seen here playing a local hockey match, is one of six Test cricketers to have represented their countries in the Olympics  •  Fairfax Media/Getty Images

I read that Brian Booth, who died last week, also played hockey for Australia at the Olympics. Are there any other Test cricketers who have done this? asked Craig Franklin from Australia
Brian Booth, who sadly died last week aged 89, seems to have been one of those rare cricketers who was universally admired. "A truly great human," said his former team-mate Kerry O'Keeffe. "Strong claims to captain Aust 'best blokes' Test eleven." Booth played the first of his 29 Tests in England in 1961, and led Australia twice during his final series, the 1965-66 Ashes. He scored five Test hundreds (and a 98). Before his international cricket career started, he had been part of the Australian field hockey squad for the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, and played in some of the later matches.
Booth is one of six Test cricketers who also competed at the Olympics. The first was the Essex fast bowler Claude Buckenham, who was part of the Great Britain football team that won the gold medal in Paris in 1900; he played four Tests in South Africa in 1909-10, taking seven wickets in the first in Johannesburg.
Another Essex player, Johnny Douglas, won the middleweight boxing gold medal at the 1908 Olympics in London. He went on to play 23 Tests for England between 1911-12 and 1924-25, captaining in most of them. At around the same time, the Somerset batter Jack MacBryan played one Test against South Africa in 1924 (famously not batting or bowling at Old Trafford) after being part of the gold-medal-winning British hockey team in Antwerp in 1920. The New Zealander Keith Thomson had a very busy time in 1968: after playing two Tests against India, he was part of the national hockey squad for the Mexico Olympics. Like Booth, he died in 2023.
Coming more up to date, Sunette Viljoen played one Test and 17 ODIs for the South African women's team, before concentrating on athletics: she competed in all four Olympic Games between 2004 and 2016, winning the silver medal in the javelin in the last, in Rio de Janeiro. Suzie Bates was part of the New Zealand basketball team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and also appeared in 291 white-ball cricket internationals, many as captain - but she never played a Test match.
At the weekend Glamorgan made 737 in their second innings, having been skittled for 123 in the first. Is the difference between the innings a record? asked Joe Jervis from England
In a remarkable turnaround, Glamorgan scored 614 more runs in the second innings of their recent County Championship match against Sussex in Hove than in the first. This is indeed a record difference between two completed innings by one side in a first-class match, beating 591 by Karachi Blues (111 and 702 for 7) against United Bank in Karachi in 2016-17.
The Test record is 551, by Pakistan (106 and 657 for 8 declared) against West Indies in Bridgetown in 1957-58, in the match in which Hanif Mohammad scored 337 in 970 minutes. There are two other cases of 551 in first-class cricket, by Barbados (175 and 726 for 7 declared) against Trinidad in Bridgetown in 1926-27, and Middlesex (83 and 634 for 7 declared) against Essex in Chelmsford in 1983.
Glamorgan's 737 was their second-highest total, exceeded only by last year's 795 for 5 declared in Leicester. There have been just four higher second-innings totals in all first-class cricket, the highest being New South Wales's 770 against South Australia in Adelaide in 1920-21.
I was intrigued by last week's question regarding England players with an X in their surname. How many Pakistan cricketers have names containing a Q? asked Sanjeev Kulkarni from India
There are rather more than the five England Xs when we investigate Pakistan Qs. There are 37 Test players from Pakistan whose names are usually rendered on scorecards with a Q; there are at least four others whose full names also include a Q (for example, the full name of the recent Test batter Yasir Hameed is Yasir Hameed Qureshi).
I won't list all the Q players, but a reasonable Test team can be fielded: for starters, try Sadiq Mohammad, Imam-ul-Haq, Abdul Razzaq, Mushtaq Mohammad, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Asif Iqbal, Abdul Qadir, Zulqarnain, Saqlain Mushtaq, Waqar Younis and Aqib Javed. Their match would have to be reported by Pakistan's most durable cricket journalist, Qamar Ahmed. Pride of place, however, should perhaps go to the 1980s seamer Tahir Naqqash, who has two Qs in his name.
Chris Martin took 233 wickets and scored 123 runs in his Test career. Is this negative difference of 110 the largest for a Test career? asked Elamaran Perumal from the United States
The New Zealand seamer (and hapless batter) Chris Martin collected 36 ducks in a 71-Test career that brought him just 123 runs to go with those 233 wickets. You're right in thinking that 110 is the biggest negative difference between runs and wickets in a Test career: next comes the Indian legspin genius Bhagwath Chandrasekhar, with 242 wickets and 167 runs (a difference of -75). Old-time bowlers Jack Saunders of Australia (79 wickets, 39 runs) and England's Bill Bowes (68 and 28) both had a difference of minus 40.
The recent Pakistan seamer Aizaz Cheema had a big negative ratio: 20 wickets, but just one run. The 1930s England legspinner Charles "Father" Marriott and the recent South African seamer Mfuneko "Chewing" Ngam both took 11 Test wickets, but scored no runs at all.
Regarding last week's question about someone spending ten balls on nought in an IPL game, didn't Dwayne Smith once get off the mark from his 12th ball? asked Rajesh Verma from India
You're right that the normally attacking West Indian Dwayne Smith spent 11 balls on nought (eight of them, including a first-over maiden, sent down by slow left-armer Shahbaz Nadeem) for Chennai Super Kings against Delhi Daredevils in Raipur in 2015. However, last week's question specifically asked about IPL chases, so the answers given were correct for teams batting second.
Smith's 11 balls is the most taken to get off the mark in either innings of an IPL match, but someone else has spent even longer on nought: Nayan Doshi faced 13 balls for Rajasthan Royals against Kochi Tuskers in Indore in 2011, being dismissed for a duck by the 13th.
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