Ask The Spider #119

Mohammad Aamer bowled five wides off the first ball of the recent Lord’s Test. Is this unique?

I can’t say definitively that it is, but I think it very likely that the answer is yes. The rule change, which altered what had previously been four wides to five wides, took effect only in 1999, and since then in all the Test cricket I’ve watched and read about I have not heard any suggestion of such a thing. In fact the only occasion I can recall of a wide off the opening delivery of a Test in that time is Stephen Harmison’s infamous delivery to begin the opening Test of the 2006/07 Ashes, which was caught by Andrew Flintoff at second slip and conceded just the one.

Last week’s question about Andy Lloyd made me think – are there any other openers who have not been dismissed on Test debut?

In terms of opening the batting in either both of their side’s innings or the only innings their side played, two players have done this, though one did it in a match whose Test status was dubious: in 1958 England faced a deplorably weak New Zealand (comparable to the Bangladesh of modern times), and in the Third Test at Headingley Arthur Milton opened for them on debut – he scored 104* as England declared on 267 for 2 in order to gain an innings victory in spite of the match’s opening two days having been washed-out. Brendon Kuruppu in 1986/87 achieved the feat in much more genuine terms – debuting as wicketkeeper-opener for Sri Lanka in the First Test against New Zealand, he came close to carrying his bat (had the last Lankan wicket been left to fall and he done so, he would have become the only person to do so in his maiden Test innings) for 201* – off an astonishing 548 balls. New Zealand ground-out a reply, and with time being lost (just 337 overs were bowled in the match) only the two first-innings’ were played, so Kuruppu did not bat again. Honourable mention must also be made of Bruce Mitchell (88 – and eighth out – and 61* on debut), Brian Luckhurst (74 run-out and 20*), Sunil Gavaskar (65 and 67* – for the highest Test average at the end of debut), and Alastair Cook (60 and 104* – though he was dropped off a sitter on 80). Many openers on debut have finished unbeaten in their side’s second-innings, some of whom did not even open in the first dig; and Charles Bannerman in what is now recognised as the inaugural Test in 1876/77 scored 165 before retiring hurt in his side’s first-innings, then (after, unlike Lloyd, recovering while the match was in progress) was dismissed for 4 second time around. One further interesting case is Roger Twose, who was slated to open on his debut in New Zealand’s Second Test in India in 1995/96 but did not get the chance as the game was so damp just 71.1 overs were bowled, and the Indians faced the lot.

Who was Allan Donald’s first Test wicket?

The Trinidadian wicketkeeper David Williams (who like Donald was making his debut in the match in question, at Kensington Oval in 1992) was the first man dismissed by White Lightning in Test matches.

And how many ODI scalps had he taken by then?

He had 24 – over one-fifth (5) of which came on his debut.

What is the lowest score above 200 that has never been made in a Test match?

No-one has yet scored 229 in a Test. Next comes 238 and then 245.

How many times in Tests has a batsman been dismissed for between 270 and 299?

This has happened on 18 occasions – to 17 batsmen, including Kumar Sangakkara twice. 6 times, also, batsmen have been left not-out in the range, including Don Bradman’s 299* in 1931/32 (Bradman also has a 270 to his name).

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