January 10, 2017

Wickets with the first two balls, and catching with two keepers

Was England's 477 in Chennai the highest score in a heavy defeat?
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Michael Kasprowicz was the first bowler to take two wickets from his first two balls in T20Is Hamish Blair / © Getty Images

Steve Smith has just finished his 50th Test, and averages more than 60. Where does he stand overall among players at that stage of a career? asked Steve Austin from Australia
Steve Smith ended his 50th Test - Australia's victory over Pakistan in Sydney last weekend - with an average of 60.15. Only three batsmen had a better average after 50 Tests: the inevitable Don Bradman (99.85), and the great England opening pair of Herbert Sutcliffe (61.67) and Jack Hobbs (61.28). Only Bradman (6790) and Sunil Gavaskar (4947) had more runs after 50 Tests than Smith's 4752. Bradman (28) and Gavaskar (20) both made more centuries than Smith, who has 17. Matthew Hayden also had 17 hundreds in his first 50 Tests, and in only 83 innings to Smith's 92. Sutcliffe, Neil Harvey, Kevin Pietersen and David Warner all scored 16 centuries in their first 50 Test matches.

England made 477 at Chennai yet lost by an innings. Has any side made a higher score but still lost so heavily? asked Adrian McDonald from Scotland
England's 477 in the fifth Test in Chennai last month was indeed the highest by any side which then lost by an innings, beating West Indies' 463, also against India, in Kolkata in 2011-12. India themselves made 459 but lost by an innings to South Africa in Centurion in 2010-11. England actually lost successive matches this way after reaching 400 in the first innings of the match - they made exactly 400 in the fourth Test in Mumbai. This had occurred only twice before in 139 years of Test cricket - England made 405 against Australia at The Oval in 1930, and Sri Lanka 400 v England in Cardiff in 2011 - but remarkably it happened again a week later, when Pakistan lost to Australia in Melbourne by an innings despite kicking off the match with 443 for 9 declared. There have been only 19 higher first-innings totals than England's 477 which resulted in any sort of defeat.

Virat Kohli averages 57.13 in T20Is © AFP

Lockie Ferguson took wickets with his first two balls in Twenty20 internationals recently. Has anyone else done this? asked Savo Ceprnich from South Africa
The New Zealand seamer Lachlan "Lockie" Ferguson dismissed Sabbir Rahman of Bangladesh with his first ball in T20Is, and Soumya Sarkar with his second, in Napier last week. Ferguson was the 14th man to take a wicket with his first delivery in T20Is. The first, Australia's Michael Kasprowicz, is the only other one to strike with his first two balls, doing so in the first official T20I, against New Zealand in Auckland in 2004-05. Willie Gavera, making his T20I debut for Papua New Guinea against Ireland in Belfast in 2015, dismissed Niall O'Brien with his first delivery and Niall's brother Kevin with his third.

Two different wicketkeepers took seven catches in South Africa's first innings at Newlands recently. Was this some sort of record? asked Niroshan de Silva from Sri Lanka
Kusal Mendis started keeping wicket for Sri Lanka in the second Test against South Africa in Cape Town last week, and took three catches - then handed the gloves over on the second day to Dinesh Chandimal, who collected four more. This was the second time two different wicketkeepers had combined to take seven catches in a Test innings: in the fifth match between West Indies and Pakistan in Kingston in 1976-77, Majid Khan took four catches while standing in for the injured Wasim Bari, who returned towards the end of the innings and caught three more. Bari later became the first keeper to take seven catches in a Test innings, against New Zealand in Auckland in 1979-80. That record has since been equalled by Bob Taylor, Ian Smith and Ridley Jacobs.

Anil Kumble has taken a record 58 Test wickets at Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi © AFP

Who has the highest batting average in Twenty20 internationals? asked Ashok Saldanha from India
There's a clear leader here: top of the pile is Virat Kohli, who averages 57.13 in T20Is. His lead, among those with 20 or more innings, is almost Bradmanesque: no one else is over 40. Aaron Finch comes next with 38.96, then JP Duminy (38.46), Michael Hussey (37.94) and Kevin Pietersen (37.93).

Tests in India seem to be played in more places than other countries. Who has scored the most Test runs at a single ground there? asked Jez Wilson from Australia
You're right that India shares its Test matches around more than most - 24 different grounds have hosted Tests now, including three new ones this season (Indore, Rajkot and Visakhapatnam), with three more (Pune, Ranchi and Dharamsala) to come soon when Australia visit. The name of the man who has scored the most Test runs on a single Indian ground is a slight surprise: it's VVS Laxman, with 1217 in ten matches at Eden Gardens in Kolkata. Sunil Gavaskar made 1122 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, and 1018 in Chennai, where Sachin Tendulkar amassed 970. To save you asking, the most Test wickets on one Indian ground is 58, by Anil Kumble in Delhi: he's also second, with 48 in Chennai. Harbhajan Singh took 46 in Kolkata, and 41 in Chennai.

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

  • saurabh2110 on January 16, 2017, 21:44 GMT

    Hi Steven,

    Kohli recently passed Tendulkar with the most number of centuries in successful which is the highest for any batsman. Which makes it 17 of his 27 centuries were in successful chases. As a percentage of centuries scored in successful chases, is this the highest?

  • MartinBriggs on January 16, 2017, 14:03 GMT

    @ANCHAL05 - No, Steve Smith certainly did it as well...

  • Anchal05 on January 16, 2017, 10:34 GMT

    Hi Steven. Is Kohli the only player in history to score a century in the first Test as well as ODI match playing as a full time captain?

  • Satyakant0701 on January 16, 2017, 9:13 GMT

    Is Jake and Darren Lehmann the only Father-Son duo to play T20 domestic games?

  •   Naufil Moten on January 15, 2017, 16:48 GMT

    Hello Steve, I want to you to ask that the recent match between Australia vs Pakistan at Melbourne on 15 Jan finished off with the wide. How many instances are there that the match has been finished off the wide?

    Hope you will answer :)

  • RobinAnthony on January 15, 2017, 14:29 GMT

    Hi Steve,

    In my opinion, Geoff and Mitchell Marsh are the only father - son combination to be world champions. Has anyone come close to joining this illustrious pair? Thanks.

  • yoohoo on January 15, 2017, 11:15 GMT

    I have a question - Who is the person whose statue is on top of the 'Ranji Trophy'? and what is the significance of that posture which seems very unique?

  • MartinBriggs on January 12, 2017, 17:35 GMT

    @SADIQIBRAHIM - Sorry, missed out India's Test tally below - 471 centuries...

  • MartinBriggs on January 12, 2017, 13:52 GMT

    @SADIQIBRAHIM - In Tests, England 847, Australia 828, West Indies 473, India, Pakistan 379, South Africa 361. In ODIs, India 241, Australia 201, Pakistan 178...

  • sadiqibrahim on January 12, 2017, 7:34 GMT

    Hi Steve,

    Please can you inform me that which Test playing country has scored more centuries in Test and ODI cricket e.g. In Test cricket Sachin Tendulkar has scored 51 centuries, Rahul Dravid 36 & Saourav Ganguly has 16 centuries therefore India has at least 103 centuries. Same with ODI Many thanks

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