Ask the Spider #2

Who has scored the most Test ducks at South African grounds?

Not surprisingly, a South African bowler: Makhaya Ntini has registered 10 Test ducks at home at the time of this column. Not yet 31, Ntini has plenty of time to extend his lead.

Which bowler has conceded the most Test runs without a bowling average under 30?

Daniel Vettori of New Zealand (and ICC World XI) had given-up 8145 at the time of this column, and currently averages 34.22. 19 had conceded more, but all averaged under 30 (though in Kapil Dev and Chaminda Vaas’ case, only just – and with Vaas still playing, that could change).

What’s the most number of centuries by a single team in the same innings in a Test?

This is a record held jointly by Australia and Pakistan, both of whom registered a remarkable five. In 1955 at Sabina Park, Kingston, Colin McDonald, Neil Harvey, Keith Miller, Ron Archer and Richie Benaud all passed the mark; and Pakistan matched this against the dubious opposition of Bangladesh at Multan in 2001, when Saeed Anwar, Taufeeq Umar, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf and Abdul Razzaq notched hundreds. Remarkably, the highest score in the latter innings was 110*.

Who have been the three most successful Test wicket-keepers of all time?

As of this column, the just-retired Adam Gilchrist just tops the list, with 416 dismissals (379 caught, 37 stumped). Mark Boucher is second, 413 from 109 (394 caught, 19 stumped), and Gilchrist’s predecessor Ian Healy third, with 395 (366 catches, 29 stumpings). Gilchrist’s record includes 5 catches and 2 stumpings against the ICC World XI, Boucher’s 2 catches for it, a match not recognised by all cricket statisticians as a Test.

Which wicketkeeper has made the most Test stumpings?

Bert Oldfield, the Australian wicketkeeper of the 1920s and 1930s, made an incredible 52 stumpings in his 54 Tests, aided by the presence of the likes of Arthur Mailey, Clarrie Grimmett and Bill O’Reilly throughout his career. Godfrey Evans, who kept often to Tony Lock and Jim Laker, made 46 in his 91 Tests.

Has anyone had as many lbws in a series as Terry Alderman in the 1989 Ashes? If yes who and when?

Alderman’s 19 lbws is indeed a record. Alderman also won 11 in 1981, though Imran Khan against India in 198283 and Rodney Hogg against England in 197879 went one better, taking 12.

Which batsman has had their batting average inflated most by scoring runs against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe post-2003?

There are plenty whose career records are notably improved by these sides of questionable standard. A few of the these cases are outlined below:
Mohammad Yousuf and Kumar Sangakkara are established high-calibre Test batsmen, but have profited greatly. Yousuf averages 52.22 against serious opposition; the addition of Bangladesh pushes it up to 55.49. The difference was more marked still before his recent purple patch; after 61 Tests, Yousuf averaged 46.71, going down to 42.26 with the exclusion of Bangladesh. Sangakkara, meanwhile, averages 56.37, and 52 against serious opposition. Given that he has played principally as a non-wicketkeeper against Bangladesh and, latterly, Zimbabwe, the effect on his record as non-wicketkeeper is considerable; overall, he averages 91.84, against serious opposition “only” 76.96.
Of slightly lesser players, Marcus Trescothick’s 43.79 goes down to 41.04; Ramnaresh Sarwan’s 38.76 to 36.12; Abdul Razzaq’s 28.61 to 25.51; Yasir Hameed’s 34.52 to 29.10. Brendon McCullum’s 30.30 to 25.16. Tillakaratne Dilshan’s from 37.89 to 35.02.
Probably the biggest beneficiaries, however, are men with rather more fleeting Test careers: Jacques Rudolph’s Test average is a seemingly respectable 36.21, but a mere 31 against serious opposition. Boeta Dippenaar’s 30.14 goes down to 27.50. The promising Michael Vandort averages 36.08 against serious opposition, and 47.40 overall. The man with most to thank ICC for for accepting such mediocre fare, however, is Gautam Gambhir, whose 32.95 crashes to just 22 against serious opposition. Upul Tharanga comes very close to him, too, averaging 19.23 against serious opposition and 28.52 with the addition of Bangladesh.
In addition to these batsmen, there is the near-comical case of Jason Gillespie, who averages 15.17 against serious opposition, with Bangladesh and Zimbabwe bumping it up to 18.73. But perhaps the final word should go to Naveed Nawaz, who scored 99 for once out on his debut against Bangladesh, and never played for Sri Lanka again.
We’ll have a look at the bowlers who’ve profited most next week.

What is the record for the most consecutive ducks achieved by a player in both Test matches and One-day internationals?

The record in Tests is shared by 3 people: Bob Holland, Ajit Agarkar and Mohammad Asif each registered 5 in a row. In ODIs, there are 4 with their hands on the undesired record: Gus Logie, Pramodya Wickramasinghe, Henry Olonga and Craig White all scored 4 in a row. In the cases of White and Logie, these were players genuinely selected with batting in mind, too.

What is the difference, if any, between a medium-fast bowler and a fast-medium bowler?

Definition of the speeds of seam-bowlers (fast, fast-medium, medium-fast, medium) have always been both matters of opinion and choc-full of scope for wild mis-classification. Only in 1998 did data about the speeds bowlers were actually bowling (rather than appeared to be bowling to the fallible human eye) become available – before then people could only offer educated guesses. These days, the best definition is probably offered in Australian terms, in kilometres-per-hour: 140+ = fast; 130-139 = fast-medium; 120-129 = medium-fast; 110-119 = medium. This has no official status of any kind and is likely to remain that way. The speed of a delivery only matters when it’s actually being bowled, not on a piece of paper trying to describe as a constant something which changes all the time. The best bowlers have always varied their speeds, both on a small (floating one a fraction slower) and large (deliberately bowling a ball out of the back of the hand to make it come out 20 kph or more slower) scale.


Great stuff, would you be able to publish the name of the person asking the questions?

Comment by Kate | 12:00am BST 5 February 2008

At the moment, who really is the best batsmen in the world

Comment by Ryan | 12:00am BST 8 February 2008

In the 1989 Ashes, the first fifteen of Merv Hughes\’ wickets were different batsmen (ie, he took 16 wickets before he dismissed the same batsman twice). Is that a record when you consider a single series ?

Hughes dismissed 17 different batsmen in that series (though only 19 wickets). What is the record for a series ?

Comment by Tapioca | 12:00am BST 7 April 2008

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