Ask The Spider #111

Last week’s question about England all-rounders made me think – how many players are there from any country who have taken 50 Test wickets, scored 1000 runs and finished their careers with averages the right sides of 30 (i.e., over with bat and under with ball)?

There have been 13 so far – Wilfred Rhodes and Ian Botham were mentioned last week, and the others number many of the finest all-rounders in cricket history plus, perhaps, a few rather surprising names. Monty Noble and Keith Miller’s status as Australia’s greatest all-rounders engenders little dispute; Imran Khan and Kapil Dev join Botham as famed all-rounders of the 1980s; and Chris Cairns and Shaun Pollock of the 1990s and 2000s. Pollock’s countrymen Aubrey Faulkner and Trevor Goddard, however, enjoy contrasting fortunes; Faulkner is recognised not merely as one of the men who put South Africa on the cricketing map but a man with some case to be the second-finest all-rounder in cricket history as well as part of the famed wristspin triplet of the 1900s, and Goddard’s superlative record (2516 runs at 34.46 and 123 wickets at 26.22) barely even rates a mention in modern times. This is in part due to his unspectacular nature, and also to the relative low profile of South African cricket in the 1950s and 1960s. Perhaps the most surprising entries, however, are the Trinidadian Gerry Gomez and Pakistanis Mushtaq Mohammed and Asif Iqbal – all known principally for their batting but who bowled well enough to take 50+ wickets at <30. Who was the first ever official Third Umpire in an international cricket match?

Rather confusingly, two men can claim this honour – the first match to feature use of replays to settle close line decisions was the First Test between South Africa and India in 1992/93 (also South Africa’s first home Test for 33 years). The match was officiated by Jamaican Steve Bucknor along with home Umpire Cyril Mitchley, but he and Karl Liebenberg took it in turns to stand in the middle and watch the TV screen. Thus, the answer to this question could legitimately be either Liebenberg or Mitchley.

What is England’s best Test ground in terms of win-percentage?

Although England have so far played 4 Tests at The Riverside, Chester-le-Street and won them all, the best of those grounds to have hosted a reasonable number of games is Edgbaston; England have won 22 of the 44 Tests so far staged there, which as anyone with a basic mathematical grasp will tell you works-out as a percentage of 50.

And in terms of avoiding-defeat percentage?

Same ground again – at Edgbaston, they have lost just 8 Tests in 107 years, working-out at a loss ratio of just 0.18.

How many grounds have hosted just a single Test?

So far there have been 21, though several of these are likely if not near-certain to add to their tally in due course. The earliest one-Test wonder is Sheffield’s Bramall Lane, which hosted an Ashes Test in 1902 but has been the home of Sheffield United Football Club for many years now; 13 stadia hosted a Test between 1952 and 1994 and most are either unlikely or certain never to host again (some have been superseded andor destroyed). It appears possible, though not certain, that Buffalo Park in East London, and Potchefstroom’s ever-changing ground will host again after being given Bangladesh Tests in 2002/03. But KSOA Stadium in Fatullah appears sure to host again whenever international cricket returns to Pakistan, Bogra’s new stadium in Bangladesh will almost certainly host again at some point, SWALEC Stadium in Cardiff will now join the rota of England Test grounds, and the new Caribbean stadia of Providence and Warner Park (in Guyana and St.Kitts respectively) are also on the rota of Caribbean grounds and it appears only a matter of time before they host again.

Leave a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they have been approved

More articles by Richard Dickinson