Ask The Spider #112

Earlier this year the two-Test series between India and South Africa produced an innings victory for each team. Is this a unique occurrence?

Yes. There had only been three previous occasions of consecutive innings victories by opposing sides in the same series, and all of those came within five-Test series’. The two-Test series, however, is a relatively recent phenomenon; before 1989/90, there had been just 9 two-match series’ scheduled (most of which were added to the end of longer tours featuring longer series’ – this applied especially to England touring New Zealand after Australia), though several others were accorded Test status in retrospect and a couple of three-match series’ have been reduced to two with the abandonment of Tests. Until 2000/01 the one-off Test was the more common means of a super-short series, but ICC ruled these out after the New Zealand vs. Zimbabwe game that year – and only once has an exception been made.

When was New Zealand’s first 300+ ODI score?

Their first came against the might of East Africa in the 60-over 1975 World Cup’s second game, and was based principally around a stand of 149 between opener Glenn Turner (who finished with 171* off 201 balls) and John Parker.

And, if different, when was their first against ODI-strength opposition and in a 50-over game?

This came against Sri Lanka at the notoriously misshapen (for cricket) Eden Park – in the Third ODI of 1982/83. This was based around a massive score from a familiar face – Turner scored 140 off 130 balls, putting-on 132 for the first wicket with Bruce Edgar.

How many 300+ scores have the Kiwis made, and how many of them came against weak opposition?

So far they have made 28, of which 10 have come against such luminaries as the aforementioned East Africa, Bangladesh, Holland, USA, Zimbabwe of 2005/06, Kenya, Canada and Ireland. Of the other 18, 16 have come since 1998/99 and 11 since 2005/06.

What is the highest score in the third-innings of a Test?

In 1990/91, at Basin Reserve in Wellington in the First Test, New Zealand went in for their second-innings having had a deficit of 323 inflicted on them by Sri Lanka. After an interminable opening stand between Trevor Franklin and John Wright, an astonishing partnership between Andrew Jones and Martin Crowe led them to 671 for 4. This may quite conceivably stand forever as the best third-innings Test score.

And, if different, by a team which had been asked to follow-on?

This is shared by two sides, both of whom made famous escapes thanks to famous innings’. In 1958, Pakistan were visiting the Caribbean and had been asked to follow-on in the First Test after replying to West Indies’ 579-9 declared with 106 all out. Their “little master”, opener Hanif Mohammad, responded with an incredible 337 (which, at 970 minutes, remains the longest Test innings) to lead them to 657-8 declared and safety. 43 years later, India famously followed-on in the Second Test of the 2000/01 Border-Gavaskar Trophy at Eden Gardens against Australia and appeared dead-and-buried when two near-faultless innings’ of 283 from VVS Laxman and 180 from Rahul Dravid led them, too, to 657-7 declared. Even more incredibly, a sensational spell from Harbhajan Singh then demolished Australia’s middle and lower order to enable them to win the Test.

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