Ask The Spider #118

When was the last time an English First-Class season ended with no player with a bowling average in single-figures? (In the non-qualified averages, of course)

This may seem quite incredible – but such a thing has in fact never yet happened! Only twice, in fact, has it even really come close to happening: in 1986, only Surrey’s Nick Faulkner (who took the only First-Class wicket of his career in the only season of his 4 in which he bowled) had a single-figure average, with 1-9; and in 1977, Somerset’s Bob Clapp took 4-37 (for an average of 9.25) in his only game (and in fact the last of his short career), again the only bowler to average under 10 that year. If and when it happens in the future, it may well be one of the great unnoticed fallings of a record.

Who took the first ODI hat-trick?

A relatively little-known Pakistani seam bowler called Jalal-ud-Din. Jalal played just 6 (wholly unsuccessful) Tests between 1982/83 and 1985/86, and a mere 8 ODIs which spanned a mere 19 months. In the 2nd of these he took 8-32-4 against Australia at Hyderabad, in which he dismissed Allan Border then shortly afterwards knocked-over Rodney Marsh, Bruce Yardley and Geoff Lawson in consecutive deliveries. Jalal was perhaps a little unfortunate not to play more ODIs, for he never really even endured so much as a single genuinely poor game.

Has anyone taken more than one ODI hat-trick?

Yes, as many as three people have done this, though one owes his to the inclusion of weak sides in the ODI fraternity. Wasim Akram was the first, and he took his two within seven months of each other in 1989/90 (and both at the same ground, the Sharjah CA Stadium); fellow Pakistani Saqlain Mushtaq took one in 1996/97 and another in the 1999 World Cup (both against Zimbabwe); and Chaminda Vaas took one in 2001/02 against Zimbabwe and another in the 2002/03 World Cup against Bangladesh.

Apart from Colombo and London, do any other cities have more than one Test ground?

Depends what you mean. If active grounds then only one other city can this be said to be true – Mumbai has the Brabourne and Wankhede Stadiums. However, there are many cases of a new stadium superseding an old in the same city: Dhaka and Chittagong in Bangladesh both have two; respectively, SBN Stadium superseding BN Stadium and ZAC Stadium superseding MAA Stadium. Dunedin in New Zealand has recently seen Carisbrook superseded by the University Oval; countless cities in India and Pakistan have old and new stadia; the list goes on. One interesting case is St.John’s, the capital of the tiny Caribbean Leeward Island of Antigua – the plan was to replace the old ARG with the VRS, but infamously, in 2009 the outfield at the VRS proved inadequate for cricket after a Test had commenced and the match was abandoned and shifted to the ARG. Whether the two go on to co-host, or whether the VRS eventually takes its planned role once the outfield is sorted, remains to be seen.

How many teams played their inaugural Test in a match recognised as a Test at the time?

The first time this happened was with West Indies in 1928, when they toured England with some pre-scheduled Test matches, having made many previous tours and eventually persuaded the then governing body, MCC, that they were worthy of the status. Previously, England, Australia and South Africa had had what is now recognised as their first game retrospectively added, and the same thing happened with New Zealand before their first officially-recognised Tests in 1931 in England. India’s first game in 1932 was recognised as a Test (in fact the only such game in England in the whole season) – though they were at that point known as “All India”. Since then, every new team has been able to celebrate their inaugural game – Pakistan, only carved out as their own nation from All India in 1947, authentically played their first Test less than 6 years later. Sri Lanka, who (mostly as Ceylon) had been a recognised cricketing nation for decades, played ODIs in the 1975 World Cup and finally gained Test status in 1981/82. Zimbabwe, who had been effectively operating as a South African province (as Rhodesia) for decades, gained independence and played as an international side in their own right, including the 1983 and 1987/88 World Cups, then gained Test status in 1991/92. Bangladesh, of course, was initially a part of Pakistan and, after independence in 1971, begun to be taken seriously as a cricketing team in the mid-1980s, playing their first ODIs, then were given Test status in 2000/01 after a lengthy build-up (though, many have since argued, nowhere near lengthy enough). So, in short, of the 10 teams currently recognised as Test-playing, 6 of them (including the 5 most recent) were able to celebrate being added to the Test fraternity and have not since had their introduction altered.

Is it true that Andy Lloyd is the only Test opening batsman never to be dismissed?

Yes. Lloyd’s infamous debut, in which he retired hurt for 10* after being struck by Malcolm Marshall in the First Test of 1984, provides what is to date a unique instance in Test history.

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