Ask The Spider #16

How did ODIs start?

The first four days of the MCG Test between Australia and England in 1970/71 had been rained-out, so a limited-overs international was arranged to take place instead of the scheduled fifth day, to appease the public more than a meaningless single day of Test cricket would have. The game was played over 40 eight-ball overs, as opposed to the one-day cricket the English players had been playing domestically for the last 8 seasons which consisted of 60 six-ball overs. This reduced the English standard of 360 deliveries to 320, a foreshadow of the 60-over game being reduced to a 50-over game (unified once the six-ball over became standard) to fit the daylight hours outside the UK.

As a follow-up, England and Australia played the first series – of three matches – to follow the return Test series of 1972. This was played over 55 six-ball overs. In 1972/73, New Zealand took the cue and organised a ODI against Pakistan, again following the 40-eight-ball over formula. England played four ODIs (two each against New Zealand and West Indies) in 1973, sticking with the format of the previous two summer, and repeating the trick against India and Pakistan in 1974. To celebrate Australia’s overdue recognition of New Zealand as a cricketing power, the Kiwis again organised two ODIs against them to accompany the Test series in 1973/74 (these, curiously, were 35-eight-ball over affairs). England played another one-off game in Australia on their 1974/75 tour, plus two in the ensuing series in New Zealand (the Australian one was 40 overs, the Kiwi ones 35, both with eight balls per over).

Finally, the ODI game was established for good in the English summer of 1975, with a two-week World Cup, involving all the Test-playing teams (England, Australia, West Indies, New Zealand, India and Pakistan) plus a soon-to-be-elevated Sri Lanka team and an assortment of countries making-up East Africa, the first instance of “minnow” teams being involved in the format. Even so, just 27 ODIs were played in between the Cups of 1975 and 1979. The first time the game moved outside Australia, England and New Zealand was when Pakistan arranged a return fixture against the Kiwis, following the Kiwi formula of 35 eight-ball overs. Pakistan kept the Kiwi formula for their three-match series against England in 1977/78. The first time the now standard 50-six-ball over format was used was by West Indies, who hosted a one-off against Pakistan in 1977 and two games against Australia in 1978. A true taste of the future of the ODI game came when Pakistan hosted India (three curious 40-over six-ball over games were played out) in 1978/79. The last of the 40-eight-ball over ODIs were played between Australia and England the same season.

A considerable number of new things happened in the first game after the 1979 World Cup. In 1979/80, Australian cricket was reconciled following Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket, but the Australian board instituted his successful idea of a ODI tri-series, the first being between Australia, England and West Indies. This also saw the first 50-six-ball over ODI cricket in Australia, and the first coloured-clothing and daynight ODI anywhere. However, this tournament was still the only ODI cricket played that season, apart from a one-off on West Indies’ tour of New Zealand. This too saw the Kiwis adopt the standard 50-six-ball over format.

England continued to play 55-over ODIs at home in 1980, and in fact kept the format until 1995 (as well as playing the games in white clothing until 1998, with no daynight matches or tri-series until 2000). Elsewhere, the 50-over format instantly became standard, though Pakistan once more played 40-over games against West Indies in 1980/81, and in fact continued to do so until they hosted their first tri-series in 1994/95, whereupon they finally switched to the 50-over orthodoxy. India finally hosted the format (they played 50 overs from the start) in 1981/82, playing England. The game went to Sri Lanka for the first time (these inaugural games were 45-over matches) the same season, as England moved on to the island after their India tour. The 1983 World Cup saw the 60-over game used for the last time, as well as the last Cup in England until 1999. 223 games had been played up to the end of this tournament, spanning more than 12 years; this tally was more than doubled (254) in the next 4 years up the end of the 1987/88 Cup. The explosion in popularity of the short-form game had begun. The return of South Africa and the addition of Zimbabwe to the regularly-playing fold in 1991/92 added the final elements.

Which bowler has taken 10 wickets in a Test match most often?

Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan has achieved this feat on 20 occasions, twice as many as the next man, Australia’s Shane Warne.

What team has Ian Nicolson (Zimbabwe A player) been playing for for the past year?

Organised cricket in Zimbabwe – like almost everything in the country – is currently not surprisingly not in the best of states. The Logan Cup, the country’s domestic First-Class competition, failed to take place in the 2005/06 season, and in the 2006/07 season (as last) it returned in an unfamiliar form. Nicolson did play a single game for one of these new teams, though not in the Logan Cup, but in the Twenty20 Cup. The scorecard for this match can be found on This is the only Zimbabwean team Nicolson appears to have represented in the 2007/08 season.

What is the longest game in cricket?

No definitive records are kept for cricket below the First-Class level – so it is possible that somewhere, out of the wider public eye, a game has been played for weeks, months even. The longest game on record is actually a Test, South Africa vs. England at Kingsmead, Durban in 1938/39. This lasted a full nine days, but was drawn as England had to catch the boat home. Had they had just one more day, they might very well have set a record which would surely never have been broken – their chances of successfully chasing 696 appeared excellent, and had they done so it would have dwarfed all other fourth-innings run-chases in Test history.

How old is cricket?

The exact roots of cricket are rather unknown. However, the first definite reference of a cricket match comes from the 16th century. In 1597, during a court case regarding dispute of land owned by a school, it was mentioned that fifty years prior (around 1550) there used to be cricket matches between school boys on the disputed site. The sport was however referred to as “kreckett”, but it is believed that this was referring to cricket. The first international cricket match took place in 1844 between USA and Canada in New Jersey. The match which has now become recognised as the inaugural Test match (no such thought was given to the game at the time) was played between England and Australia in 1876/77.

What is the best ever Test bowling analysis, both for an innings and for a match?

Both of these records are held by England’s Jim Laker, in a game against Australia at Old Trafford in 1956. Laker’s first innings figures were nine for 37, and in the second innings he went one better with ten for 53, for a match analysis of nineteen for 90. The other wicket was taken by Tony Lock (a left-arm fingerspinner, who often bowled in partnership with the right-arm Laker). According to Brian Johnston in “It’s Been A Piece Of Cake”, Laker drove home that evening and stopped in a pub for a bite to eat. His exploits were shown on the pub TV while he was there, and not a single person recognised him!

Who holds the record for the fastest Test double century?

In 2001/02 at the Jade Stadium, Christchurch, New Zealand’s Nathan Astle was 70* (from 79 balls) at the fall of the sixth wicket, having looked in ominous touch throughout his innings, barely playing a false stroke even as his partners struggled to cope with the swing and bounce of England’s Andy Caddick. And after that sixth wicket fell (New Zealand were also thought to be a man down, as Chris Cairns had been injured and was not originally planning to bat), Astle truly cut loose – from his next 89 balls he scored 152, to reach by far the fastest double century in Test cricket, that taking just 153 balls. From 101 to 200 took him only 39 balls. Cairns had elected to risk his injured knee in order to help his team-mate possibly do something special. The previous record of 212 deliveries had been set only three weeks earlier, by Adam Gilchrist for Australia against South Africa at The Wanderers, Johannesburg.

In terms of minutes at the crease, the record is held by Sir Donald Bradman, reaching 200 after 214 minutes on his way to a total of 334 against England at Headingley in 1930 – the number of balls faced by Bradman is not recorded, but over-rates were considerably faster in the 1930s than the 2000s.


Henry Morley of Walkerston has the runs scored of an 8 ball over recoed. Can you tell what was the amount and how it was accumulated. ie ^\’s; noballs etc.

Comment by patrick deegan | 12:00am BST 7 June 2009

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