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Ask Steven

Which player's autobiography has a foreword written by his dogs?

Also: what's the highest team total to result in a follow-on in first-class cricket?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
07-May-2024
Matthew Hoggard meets Jonathan Agnew's dog and his namesake, Hoggard, Trent Bridge, August 23, 2005

Matthew Hoggard greets Hoggard, Jonathan Agnew's pup, at Trent Bridge, 2005  •  Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Which bowlers are holding up best in this run-soaked IPL? asked Mamsa Fayyaz from India
You're certainly right about the runs, as the Indian Premier League record book has been torn up this season: as I write this, with three weeks still to go, eight of the ten highest IPL totals (and ten of the top 14) have been made this season.
Sunrisers' 287 for 3 against Royal Challengers in Bengaluru last month has been exceeded in all men's T20 matches only by Nepal's 314 for 3 at the Asian Games in Hangzhou last September, after which they bowled Mongolia out for 41. In women's T20s, Argentina amassed 427 for 1 against Chile (63) in Buenos Aires in October 2023.
The leading wicket-taker currently is the Mumbai Indians fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah, on 18 wickets, the undoubted bowling star of the tournament so far, who is also the most economical bowler on view this year, going for 6.2 an over, or just over a run a ball. Among bowlers who have sent down more than ten overs this season, Sunil Narine comes next, at 6.6 per over.
What's the highest batting average by someone who never made a Test century? asked Girish Netalkar from India
Given a minimum of ten innings, the highest batting average by someone who never managed a Test century is 51.25, by the between-wars Australian allrounder Alan Fairfax. He had 12 innings, four of them not-outs, and collected four half-centuries with a highest of 65, on debut against England in Melbourne in 1928-29. Wisden described him as "a steady and somewhat restrained stroke-player".
If you increase the qualification to 20 innings, the leader is the Pakistan batter Asim Kamal, who averaged 37.73: his eight half-centuries included 99 on debut, against South Africa in Lahore in 2003-04. And if you don't have any qualification at all, Naveed Nawaz played one Test for Sri Lanka - against Bangladesh in Colombo in July 2002 - and scored 21 and 78 not out, for an average of 99.00. Here's a list of batters who averaged over 30 in Tests with no hundreds (from ten innings or more).
Durham made 517 at Edgbaston recently, but still had to follow-on. Was this the highest total that still resulted in being asked to bat again? asked Richard Wells from England
Durham did score 517 at Edgbaston last month, but still had to follow-on as Warwickshire had already piled up the little matter of 698 for 3.
There are three higher totals that were not enough to avoid the follow on, all of them in the English County Championship. Top of the list is Middlesex's 544 against Lancashire (734 for 5) at Old Trafford in 2003, then come Somerset's 530 against Derbyshire (801 for 8, after being 0 for 2) in Taunton in 2007, and Durham's own 518 against Yorkshire (677 for 7) at Headingley in 2006. The highest outside England is Balochistan's 485 against Sindh (644 for 6) in Lahore in 2022-23. (Thanks to Andrew Samson for his help with this one.)
Apparently there was a Test player whose autobiography included a foreword by his dog! Is that really true? asked Keegan Manning from England
The man in question here is the former Yorkshire and England seamer Matthew Hoggard, of whom team-mate Andrew Flintoff apparently said "He's mad as a box of frogs". His 2009 autobiography Hoggy: Welcome To My World began with a "paw-word" by the "Hoggy Doggies", Billy the Doberman and Molly the Border Collie.
Hoggard's zany persona masked a serious bowler, whose 248 Test wickets included 12 in a victory over South Africa in Johannesburg in 2004-05, and a hat-trick as West Indies were demolished for 94 in Bridgetown in 2003-04.
I read that Raman Subba Row, who died recently, scored a century in his first and last Ashes Tests. How many people have done this? asked Andrew Reynolds from England
Raman Subba Row was England's oldest Test player when he died last month at the age of 92; another former Surrey man, Micky Stewart, is now England's oldest survivor at 91. Subba Row, a left-hander, scored 112 in his first Test against Australia, at Edgbaston in 1961, and ended that series with 137 at The Oval. He then announced his retirement, at the early age of 29, and so played no further Test cricket.
The only other England player to do this particular double was another left-hander, Yorkshire's Maurice Leyland. He made 137 in his first Test against Australia, in Melbourne in 1928-29, and signed off with 187 in England's 903 for 7 at The Oval in 1938.
Four Australians have scored centuries in their first and last Tests against England. Reggie Duff hit 104 from No. 10 on his Test debut in Melbourne in 1901-02, and added 146 (his only other century) in his last Test, at The Oval in 1905. The prolific Bill Ponsford started his Test career with 110 against England in Sydney in 1924-25, and ended it with 266 at The Oval in 1934.
Mark Waugh began his Test career with 138 in Adelaide in 1990-91, and made 120 in his last match against England, at The Oval in 2001. Finally, Matthew Wade hit 110 in his first Test against England, at Edgbaston in 2019, and added 117 in the last match of that series, at The Oval.
And there's an update to last week's question about players scoring Test centuries overseas, from Nagendra Prasad from India
"Australia's Steve Smith has actually made eight Test hundreds in England - seven against England, plus 121 in the World Test Championship final against India at The Oval in 2023." Thanks for that - I'd forgotten to take "neutral" matches into account. It moves Smith up to third on the list, behind Don Bradman (11 in England) and Jack Hobbs (nine in Australia).
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