Ask Steven

Missed targets, cheap wickets, and the origin of 'Test'

Steven Lynch answers your questions

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

Spellbinding spell: Michael Clarke © Getty Images
At Mumbai Australia were bowled out for 93, chasing only 108 to win. Was that the lowest target that a side has failed to reach in a Test? asked lots of people, including Sanjeev Kulkarni and Joel Coutts
That Australian collapse at Mumbai was actually the third-lowest target that the side batting fourth has failed to reach in a Test. The lowest of all came at The Oval in 1882, when Australia set England just 85 to win, but bowled them out for 77. Fred Spofforth, one of the first great fast bowlers, took 7 for 44. After that game a journalist published a mock obituary notice bemoaning the death of English cricket, adding that the body would be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia ... and a legend was born. More recently, in 1999-2000, West Indies set Zimbabwe 99 to win at Port-of-Spain, and skittled them for 63.
Has anyone ever taken six wickets for fewer than the nine runs Michael Clarke conceded in India's first innings at Mumbai? And what are the cheapest sevenand eight-fors? asked David Miles
Clarke's performance at Mumbai was indeed remarkable, especially as his return constituted the first six wickets of his Test career. There have been only two cheaper six-wicket hauls in Tests: Jermaine Lawson took 6 for 3 for West Indies v Bangladesh at Dhaka in 2002-03, and England's Arthur Gilligan took 6 for 7 at Edgbaston in 1924, as South Africa were bowled out for 30. The cheapest seven-for happened earlier this year, when Stephen Harmison took 7 for 12 for England against West Indies at Kingston. An earlier England opening bowler, George Lohmann, holds a notable double: he took 8 for 7 against South Africa at Port Elizabeth in 1895-96, and followed that in the next Test, at Johannesburg, with 9 for 28. In all he took 35 wickets in that three-match series. Just to complete the set, the cheapest five-wicket bag was Ernie Toshack's 5 for 2 for Australia against India at Brisbane in 1947-48.
I was recently stumped when a young lady asked for the origin of the name "Test" cricket. Can you help? asked Winston Gobin
Rowland Bowen's scholarly work Cricket: A History of its Growth and Development Throughout the World (1970) dates the first use of "test" in the context of international cricket to 1861-62, when a privately raised side of Englishmen, sponsored by the catering firm Spiers & Pond, undertook a tour of Australia. Bowen wrote that it was a tour "of singular importance, for, in describing it, the phrase 'test match' was used for the first time, in a perfectly correct context to describe matches between the English team and each of the colonies [Victoria, New South Wales etc]". He adds: "That we do not come across the phrase again for nearly 20 years suggests not that it was forgotten but that it was very much borne in mind and used in conversation if nowhere else." According to Michael Roundell's 1985 Dictionary of Cricket, "it simply indicates that the series of games is regarded as a 'test' of strength of the two sides". He confirms that calling international cricket matches became the norm around ten years after what is now recognised as the first Test match, which was in 1877. A later work, John Eddowes's The Language of Cricket, agrees that the term was first used when that pioneering English team toured Australia in 1861-62. He writes: "The matches then were tests of relative strengths, as they are today."
Has any Bangladesh batsman scored a double-century in a Test yet? asked Hameed Khan from Dhaka
Not yet they haven't: as I write the highest Test score for Bangladesh is 145, by Aminul Islam in their inaugural match, against India at Dhaka in November 2000. They have only managed seven other centuries in their 32 Tests: Habibul Bashar has made three of those, and Javed Omar, Khaled Mashud, Mohammad Ashraful (on debut) and Mohammad Rafique one apiece.
What was the name of that man who was selected for Australia about ten years ago when everyone was convinced they had selected the wrong person? asked Davy Johnson from Loughborough
I think you're talking about Peter Taylor, the offspinner who was called up for the final Test of the 1986-87 Ashes series at Sydney, despite having played only one previous match for New South Wales that season. As an opener had been dropped, the media assumed the Taylor selected was Mark - the future Australian captain, who had yet to make his Test debut then - and a TV camera crew duly went off to interview him. Later it emerged that it wasn't Mark after all, but Peter. The Australian selectors have always denied that it was a mistake - and they had the last laugh when "Peter Who" bowled beautifully to take 6 for 78 in the only match the Aussies won in that series. He had little success in subsequent Tests, but became a one-day regular for Australia - and, ironically, became a Test selector himself after he retired.
Which Test batsman has the highest percentage of getting bowled out as his method of dismissal? asked Hassan Tariq from New York
Given a minimum qualification of 15 Test innings, the highest percentage of "bowled" dismissals was 70.83 - 17 bowleds out of 24 dismissals - by Charlie McLeod, the Australian allrounder of the 1890s. He was a handy batsman who scored a Test century against England at Melbourne in 1897-98. Second, with 66.67% (15 dismissals, 10 bowled) is the Indian batsman Kripal Singh, who hit a century on his Test debut, against New Zealand at Hyderabad in 1955-56. The rest of the list, as you might expect, is dominated by bowlers, especially from days long ago when they took less pride in their batting than many do now. The highest current player, in fifth spot with 63.64% (11 innings, seven bowled) is the New Zealander Chris Martin.
There's an afterthought to one of last week's questions, from Andrew Dunford
Just a quick follow-up to last week's question asking how often both sides had passed 600 in the same Test match. You mentioned that "The nearest approach to 600 apiece was at Bridgetown in 1957-58, when Pakistan, following on after West Indies had made 579 for 9, totalled 657 for 8 themselves." It could however be argued that the Test in which Brian Lara scored his 375, at St John's in 1993-94, was even closer: West Indies made 593 for 5 declared, and England replied with 593.
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, contact him through our feedback form. The most interesting questions will be answered each week in this column. Unfortunately, we can't usually enter into correspondence about individual queries.

The Wisden Cricket Quiz Book, compiled by Steven Lynch, was published on November 1 by John Wisden & Co., priced £7.99. To save £2 by ordering a copy through Cricshop, click here.