Ask Steven

The eights and nines who made tons

Also: which cricketer was nicknamed Panda, and who was the last Test cricketer to play at Wimbledon?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
Clem Hill at the crease, 1902

Clem Hill made a hundred from No. 9 for Australia in 1908, gastric flu and all  •  Getty Images

How often have numbers eight and nine in the batting order both scored centuries in the same Test innings, like Jason Holder and Shane Dowrich?asked Savo Ceprnich from South Africa
The achievement of Shane Dowrich (103) and Jason Holder (110) in Bulawayo last week, when they scored centuries from eight and nine in the batting order against Zimbabwe, had been replicated only once before in a Test match. That was back in 1907-08, when Roger Hartigan (116) and Clem Hill (160) shared a match-changing partnership of 243 for Australia against England in Adelaide. Hill usually batted much higher than No. 9, but had been ill: "I was suffering acutely from gastric influenza," he wrote. "On the Tuesday I was feeling a little better, so I went along to the Oval… The doctor had given me some tablets to take. I don't know what they contained but they enabled me to keep going. I was ill many times on the field. It was very hot weather, the temperature reaching as high as 111 [43.8°C]. When play ended for the day it was 105 and I was 106." Hill had gone in with Australia only 102 ahead at 180 for 7, but his partnership with Hartigan - who was making his Test debut, and won only one more cap - completely turned round a Test which Australia eventually won by 245 runs.
For more on the Dowrich-Holder partnership, click here.
Afghanistan and Ireland were given Test status earlier this year, but they haven't played any Test matches yet. When will they start? asked Mithun Mohammad from Pakistan
Cricket Ireland recently announced that their first Test match would be against Pakistan in May 2018, probably in Dublin. It will be the first time Pakistan have been involved in a country's inaugural Test since their own, against India in Delhi in 1952-53.
As for Afghanistan, an article on ESPNcricinfo a few months ago suggested their first Tests would be against Zimbabwe. But no dates have yet been announced, and it's not clear yet whether this plan will be affected by the cash-strapped Zimbabwean board's recent decision to scale back on Test matches, as reported here.
Which county cricketer was nicknamed "Panda"? asked Derek George from England
This was the Glamorgan wicketkeeper Haydn Davies, who first appeared for them in 1938, and played in all of their Championship matches between 1947 and 1957, when he was 45. That run included Glamorgan's first ever Championship title, in 1948. He became known as "Panda" because his chunky frame and deceptively slow movements reminded team-mates of the exotic animal. But Davies was not really slow, as he had been a squash champion in his youth and continued to play to a high standard. He came close to Test selection, appearing in a Test trial in 1946, but his heyday coincided with that of Godfrey Evans, whose better batting ensured he was a fixture behind the stumps for England for more than a decade.
Who was the last Test cricketer to play at Wimbledon? asked Mike Rawlinson from England
The last Test cricketer to play in the men's singles at Wimbledon was William "Buster" Farrer of South Africa. He won his first-round match in 1956 before losing in the second, and later played six Test matches, with a top score of 40 against New Zealand in Johannesburg in 1961-62. He also played hockey and squash for South Africa.
Farrer did not travel to Wimbledon again, and soon concentrated on cricket. "It cost the old man a bit of money for the first trip," he wrote in his autobiography, the appropriately titled All-Rounder. "I enjoyed it, playing tennis every day, because your tennis improves. But I was working and I suppose it was a question of finance."
Farrer came close to selection for the Davis Cup, tennis' team competition. But two Test cricketers did play in it: Cotar Ramaswami, who played one Test for India in England in 1936, when he was 40, and the 1950s West Indian wicketkeeper Ralph Legall. Ramaswami also played at Wimbledon, in 1922, the inaugural year at the current grounds in Church Road.
Has anyone carried their bat through a competed innings in a T20 international? asked Mauro Freitas from the UAE
There have been several instances of an opening batsman surviving the full 20 overs of a T20 international, but only one in which the opener remained unbeaten throughout a completed (all-out) innings. The man concerned was Chris Gayle, who scored 63 of West Indies' 101 as they slumped to defeat against Sri Lanka in the World T20 semi-final at The Oval in June 2009. That innings had a sensational start: Angelo Mathews took three wickets in the first over - all bowled - after Gayle took a single off the first ball.
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Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes