Ask The Spider #115

How many batsmen are there who have managed scores of 250+ in Test cricket so far?

To date there have been 57, the first being RE Foster with his famous 287 in 1903/04. The most recent addition to the club was Hashim Amla’s last season, with 253*.

How many have done it more than twice?

Just 4 so far – Don Bradman stands-out from the crowd as so often with 5, Virender Sehwag may yet equal him having so far achieved the feat 4 times, and Javed Miandad and Brian Lara managed it twice. Graeme Smith (whose two to date came within a week of each other), Kumar Sangakkara, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Younis Khan and Mahela Jayawardene all remain in with a shot of joining the club.

And who has the lowest career average of them?

Only 4 of the 57 averaged or currently average under 40, but a couple of those did not even average 30. Wasim Akram, with a career average of just 22.64, takes the award for the lowest, but he at least can claim to be one of the finest bowlers of all-time who merely happened to be able to bat extremely well on occasion. Faoud Bacchus, the Guyanese batsman, averaged a mere 26.06, though his being in the 250-club comes with some *s and +s – he made his score for what was in reality West Indies’ second team in India in 1978/79, with the best 15 or 16 players in the Caribbean temporarily removed from the scene due to their preference for Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket. New Zealand’s Bryan Young’s average of 31.78 comes next, and the other <40 is Andrew Sandham, who also made his score - 325 - in a match which was not thought of as a Test at the time and who only represented an authentic England side a handful of times. Something I have often wondered is how many times the famed Barbadian “Three Ws” appeared together for West Indies in Tests. Is there any chance you could tell me?

Certainly – Frank Worrell, Everton Weekes and Clyde Walcott played 29 Tests together between the 1948 series against England in the Caribbean (West Indies’ first post-War action) and the disastrous 1957 tour of English shores. Worrell played on for the longest thereafter, finally finishing his career after the next tour of England in 1963.

Who has so far taken the most outfield catches in Twenty20 Internationals?

South Africa’s AB de Villiers, who has played 23 T20Is so far without the wicketkeeping gloves on, leads the way for outfielders along with New Zealand’s Ross Taylor. The two have so far taken 22 outfield catches each.

This is likely to be one of the more random questions asked, but I’m sure I remember Mike Smith bowling a whole spell for less than a-run-an-over in some county game or other about a decade ago. Is there any chance you could find it and jog my memory?

Gloucestershire left-armer Mike Smith is one of the English game’s most noted misers of recent times, and around the turn of the century bowled several lengthy spells (often off the reel at the start of the innings) at negligible cost, but even he never quite managed that. He did, however, come exceptionally close, and almost exactly a decade ago indeed – on the 16th of July 2000 Gloucs faced Worcestershire and Smith opened-up with a fabulous spell of 9 overs for 9 runs and the wicket of the normally dashing Paul Pollard (who had been contained to a 43-ball 8). He also sent down 9 overs for just 11 (with 2 wickets) against Somerset in May, and that might well be an even more notable achievement for coming at the notoriously quick-scoring County Ground in Taunton.

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