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Ask Steven

Who holds the record for hundreds in successive Tests?

And who has taken the most wickets caught and bowled in Tests, and ODIs?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
05-Dec-2023
Simon Katich took 6 for 65 in his second Test, against Zimbabwe, having taken none in his first  •  Getty Images

Simon Katich took 6 for 65 in his second Test, against Zimbabwe, having taken none in his first  •  Getty Images

Glenn Phillips took four wickets in his second Test, having not bowled in his first. Is this anywhere near the record? asked Kenneth Powell from New Zealand
New Zealand's Glenn Phillips took 4 for 53 (and 1 for 47) in his second Test, against Bangladesh in Mirpur last week. Phillips hadn't bowled on his debut, which came nearly four years ago against Australia in Sydney in January 2020.
The best innings return by a player in his second Test, having not bowled in his first, is 6 for 65 by Simon Katich, for Australia against Zimbabwe in Sydney in 2003-04. No one else has taken a five-for, but two others apart from Phillips managed four. Nazir Ali took 4 for 83 for India against England in Madras in 1933-34; this was the only time he bowled in a Test. And Amir Elahi collected 4 for 134 for Pakistan against India in Delhi in 1952-53. He hadn't bowled in his only previous Test, which was for India, in a rain-affected draw against Australia in Sydney in 1947-48. The Australian offspinner Ian Johnson took 6 for 42 in the first innings of his third Test, against England in Sydney in 1946-47, having not bowled in either of his first two.
The best figures at any stage of a Test career by someone who didn't bowl on their debut are 8 for 11, by England's Johnny Briggs, against South Africa in Cape Town in 1889 (his 16th match). The Australian Frank Laver took 8 for 31 in the 14th of his 15 Tests, against England at Old Trafford in 1909.
I read that Virat Kohli once scored 1000 runs in the course of 20 innings in T20Is. Has anyone bettered this sequence? asked Amrit Naik from India
Virat Kohli's golden run in T20Is came between March 2014 and March 2016, when he scored 1018 runs in 20 innings, with 12 scores of 50 or more, and averaged 92. Suryakumar Yadav is next for India, after scoring 919 runs in 20 innings in T20Is between October 2022 and November 2023. Depending what he does in his next few matches, Suryakumar could improve this number.
I rather expected Kohli to be top of this list - but actually there is someone above him. Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan collected 1061 runs - with ten scores of 50 or more, at an average of 88.50 - in a sequence of 20 innings between December 2020 and November 2021. And there's a surprise in third place: UAE's Muhammad Waseem collected 920 runs in 20 T20I innings (half of them against non-Test nations) between February 2022 and September 2023.
Kane Williamson has scored centuries in each of his last four Tests - how many people have managed this? asked Michael Kirkpatrick from New Zealand
Kane Williamson's 104 against Bangladesh in Sylhet made him the first New Zealander to score centuries in four successive Tests: he previously shared the national record of three with Mark Burgess (between 1969-70 and 1971-72) and Ross Taylor (2013-14).
Williamson has a chance, in the second Test that starts later this week, of joining the three men from all countries who have reached three figures in five successive Tests - Jacques Kallis (2003-04), Gautam Gambhir (2008-09 to 2009-10) and Mohammad Yousuf, who actually crammed in six hundreds in a five-match run during 2006.
But there is one man who once scored hundreds in six successive Tests. You won't be too surprised to hear that it was Don Bradman, who did it over two Ashes series in 1936-37 and 1938. His sequence was ended by a match (at The Oval in 1938) in which he was unable to bat through injury; hundreds in the first two games of his next series, after the war in 1946-47, mean that Bradman scored centuries in eight successive Tests in which he actually batted. For the full list, click here.
Who has taken the most wickets caught and bowled in Tests and in ODIs? asked Tim Morgan from England
Two bowlers collected 35 caught-and-bowleds in their Test careers: Anil Kumble and Muthiah Muralidaran. They are a long way clear at the top: Daniel Vettori and Shane Warne held on to 21 return catches, and Derek Underwood 20. Australia's Nathan Lyon has 18 so far.
Aggregate lists like this naturally favour players with long careers. If we look at percentages, then top among those with 50 or more Test wickets is the 19th-century Nottinghamshire and England seamer Billy Barnes, with eight out of 51, or 15.69% caught and bowled. The New Zealand slow left-armer Hedley Howarth's 86 Test wickets included 12 c&bs, or 13.95%. The highest percentage among those with 100 or more wickets is 10.64, by the Australian Hugh Trumble (15 of 141).
Murali leads the way in ODIs too with 35, ahead of the deceptive New Zealander medium-pacer Chris Harris (29) and the Pakistan pair of Shahid Afridi (24) and Saqlain Mushtaq (20). . Percentage-wise, 15 of Allan Border's 73 ODI victims (20.55%) were caught and bowled, while the West Indian Roger Harper had exactly 100 wickets, 16 of them through return catches.
In 1972, who played first-class cricket on the same ground where he played home games in the Football League? asked Hedley Dye from England
There were a few people from that time that could be the answer here: for a start, Chris Balderstone, who the following year played two Tests for England, played a County Championship match (for Leicestershire) and a Football League game (for Doncaster Rovers) on the same day in September 1975. Two other England cricketers of this approximate era also played League football - David Bairstow for Bradford City, and Ian Botham for Scunthorpe United, where a team-mate was the long-serving Worcestershire cricket captain Phil Neale.
But it's another Worcestershire player who's the answer to this specific question. Ted Hemsley scored nearly 10,000 runs over a 20-year county career, and also played more than 500 Football League games for Shrewsbury Town (1961-68), Sheffield United (1968-77) and Doncaster Rovers (1977-79). And in 1972, Worcestershire's Championship match against Yorkshire was played at Bramall Lane, Sheffield United's home ground. Hemsley played four first-class games in all at Bramall Lane, but familiarity with the place didn't help much: his highest score there was 38 in 1969. The ground had hosted an Ashes Test in 1902, but Yorkshire stopped playing there in 1973, when the ground was redeveloped to concentrate on football, with a new South Stand being built across the old cricket square.
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