January 3, 2017

Most wickets by spinners in a series, and the oldest Test team

Were the 68 wickets Ashwin, Jadeja, Yadav and Mishra took against England a record?

Fifty-nine wickets between the three of them in the series against England © AFP

India's spinners took 68 wickets in the recent series against England. Is that a record? asked Manoj Kumar from India
India have bettered their spinners' 2016-17 series haul of 68 wickets - Ravichandran Ashwin took 28, Ravindra Jadeja 26, Jayant Yadav nine and Amit Mishra five - only once in a five-match rubber, when they collected 72 against England at home in 1972-73. In that series, which India won 2-1, Bhagwath Chandrasekhar claimed 35 victims, Bishan Bedi 25, Erapalli Prasanna ten, and Salim Durani and Srinivas Venkataraghavan one each. Syed Abid Ali, with three, was the only Indian medium-pacer to manage a wicket (he took three). Roughly the same set of slow bowlers took 67 wickets between them in Australia in 1977-78. But there has been one larger series haul by another country's spinners: when Australia triumphed 4-0 in South Africa in 1935-36, no fewer than 80 wickets fell to the slow men - 44 to Clarrie Grimmett (who was 44, and never played another Test), 27 to Bill O'Reilly, and nine to "Chuck" Fleetwood-Smith.

I wondered if Pakistan's team in Melbourne, which included Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan, had the highest average age of any of their teams? asked Mike Langton from Australia
Despite the presence of Misbah-ul-Haq, who's now 42, and 39-year-old Younis Khan, the average age of the Pakistan XI that somehow lost to Australia in Melbourne last week was only around 30 years eight months. Pakistan's oldest-ever side, by average age, actually took the field just over a year ago, against England in Sharjah in November 2015 - with Misbah and Younis joined by 35-year-old Mohammad Hafeez and Zulfiqar Babar, who was nearly 38, that side's average age was 32 years ten months. The oldest side of all was fielded by England, whose teams in all four Tests in the West Indies in 1929-30 occupy the top four places, helped by the fact they included two 50-year-olds (George Gunn and Wilfred Rhodes). England's team in the fourth Test, the nine-day draw in Kingston, had an average age of 37 years six months. The oldest Test side in the current century was, rather surprisingly, fielded by Australia - against England in Adelaide in 2006-07, their average age was 33 years three months.

Freddie Brown (right) is one of two Test cricketers born in South America - Guyana excepted © Getty Images

How many people have scored a Test double-century but lost, like Azhar Ali did in Melbourne? asked Kai Henderson from Australia
The unfortunate Azhar Ali, who made 205 not out against Australia in Melbourne last week but ended up on the losing side, was the first Pakistani to score a double-century in a Test his side ended up losing. In all, there have now been 17 such instances, with the highest score involved being Ricky Ponting's 242, for Australia against India in Adelaide in 2003-04. Remarkably, Brian Lara has three entries on this particular list (no one else has more than one). He made 221 against Sri Lanka in Colombo in 2001-02, 202 v South Africa in Johannesburg in 2003-04, and 226 against Australia in Adelaide in 2005-06.

Apparently only two Test cricketers have been born in South America. Who are they? asked Andrew Porter from England
There's a problem with this question, in that several Test players have been born in Guyana, which plays in the West Indian domestic competition despite being a country on the mainland of South America. But if you discount Guyanese players, there are only two others: Freddie Brown, who went on the Bodyline tour and later captained England in the 1950-51 Ashes, was born in Lima, in Peru, while his father was working in an import-export agency. And Ashok Gandotra, who won two Test caps for India in 1969-70, was born in Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, while his father was working in foreign services there.

Samit Gohel faced 723 balls and spent 964 minutes at the crease for his record-breaking 359 against Odisha in the Ranji Trophy © ESPNcricinfo

Apparently Samit Gohel recently broke a world record that had stood for more than 100 years. What was it? asked Zubin Mohanty from India
The Gujarat batsman Samit Gohel kept the statisticians very busy during his recent innings of 359 not out in the Ranji Trophy match against Odisha in Jaipur. The record you're talking about stems from the fact that Gohel opened, and carried his bat through the innings - and narrowly surpassed the previous highest score by anyone who managed this, 357 not out by the diminutive Surrey batsman Bobby Abel, out of a total of 811 against Somerset at The Oval in 1899. To read more about Gohel's remarkable innings, click here.

The former Pakistan wicketkeeper Imtiaz Ahmed died recently. Who is now Pakistan's oldest living Test player? asked Jamie Stewart from Canada
Imtiaz Ahmed, who passed away on December 31, aged 88, was a fine wicketkeeper-batsman, and a stalwart of Pakistan's early days of international cricket - in fact, he played in each of their first 39 Tests from the first one in 1952-53, before missing one in England in 1962. He took over the distinction of being Pakistan's oldest Test cricketer earlier in 2016, after the death of Israr Ali. The mantle now passes to one of the famous Mohammad brothers, 87-year-old Wazir Mohammad. Imtiaz had been one of two survivors of Pakistan's inaugural Test, at Delhi in 1952-53; the last one now is Waqar Hasan, who is 84.

Post your questions in the comments below

Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes

Comments have now been closed for this article

  •   amitabhn on January 13, 2017, 18:38 GMT

    Aussie cricketer Stanlake at 6'8" is the tallest guy around. Is he the tallest ever? And the shortest ?

  •   Zain Munawari on January 12, 2017, 16:08 GMT

    Hello Steven,

    Duanne Olivier came out to play as a night watchman on his debut, in South Africa vs Sri Lanka third test match, in Johannesburg. Is he the first player to be a night watchman on debut?

  • Martin on January 10, 2017, 18:25 GMT

    @ CRICINFOUSER - Virat Kohli presently has a higher sum of averages than Voges...

  • Martin on January 10, 2017, 18:24 GMT

    @ SWEETGLENNY - This is obviously a CSA decision to start denoting Test caps from the 1992 readmission. It makes no difference at all to how they, and we all, consider South Africa's Test cricketers pre-1970..

  • Martin on January 10, 2017, 18:22 GMT

    @ FORGET-ME-NOT - No, Michael Clarke declared on the first day at Hyderabad in 2013 with 237-9 and lost by an innings...

  • vinayak on January 9, 2017, 13:39 GMT

    Hi Steven, Wish you happy new year. I notice that the test caps of RSA and the test caps seem less. The test cap numbers appear to be after the readmission to cricket in 1991. Please explain why they did continue from where they left in 1970 and how do they represent the old test caps. Regards, Vinayak

  • Pelham on January 9, 2017, 13:19 GMT

    Captain Shihab Puttalam on January 4, 2017, 14:50 GMT: The totals of 132 Tests and 795 wickets represent Muttiah Muralitharan's performance when playing for Sri Lanka. He also played an official Test match for the ICC World XI, in which he took 5 wickets, so his overall Test total is 800.

  • Daniel on January 9, 2017, 9:19 GMT

    Which current test bowler has the best away record, judging by average, strike rate and number of 5-wicket and 10-wicket hauls?

  • Daniel on January 9, 2017, 9:16 GMT

    Which current test batsman has the best away record, judging by average and number of 100's and 50's?

  • Cricinfouser on January 8, 2017, 7:11 GMT

    With Adam Voges' international career possibly over, does any other player have a higher total of his batting averages in the three formats?

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