Ask The Spider #62

How many batsmen have scored centuries on Test debut and in their final Test?

There are four (so far), three of whom are Australians: Reggie Duff, Bill Ponsford and Greg Chappell; and India’s Mohammad Azharuddin. Duff made 104 in the second-innings on debut (batting at ten as the order had been reversed due to a sticky wicket) in 1901/02 and 146 in his side’s only innings in his final appearance in 1905, both against England. Ponsford struck 110 in the first-innings on debut in 1924/25 and 266 in the first-innings of his last match in 1934, again both against England (uniquely, he also made centuries in his sophomore and penultimate Tests – he followed-up his debut with 128 in the next match and made 181 in the game before his last). Chappell Jnr. made 108 in his maiden innings and 182 in his last (he did not bat in the second-innings of his final game), against England in 1970/71 and Pakistan in 1983/84 respectively. Azharuddin scored centuries in his first three games (out of four innings’) and smashed 102 in the second-innings of his last Test (his career was subsequently ended by match-fixing allegations). Andy Ganteaume and Rodney Redmond also made centuries in their only Test, so thus also sort of fit into this list.

What’s the longest gap between India-Pakistan Test matches? (In terms of time, that is)

The subcontinental rivals had two lengthy gaps where their Test-playing was suspended – the second and second-longest was between 1989/90 and 1998/99, which was just over 9 years. However, this did not come close to extending to the length of the period between 1960/61 and 1978/79 – over 17 years, 8 months and 8 days.

And how about Australia-New Zealand (excluding the gap between the first and second)?

The trans-Tasman rivals’ first game, officially, was in 1945/46, but this was not recognised as a Test at the time and New Zealand’s team was still far from justifying their Test-playing tag at all. The next match was in 1973/74 and thereafter they have played regularly, never more than three-and-a-half years separating any series. However, the two-leg home-and-away one-off Tests in 1989/90 were not, essentially, a series, meaning that the match-ups in 1987/88 and 1992/93 were separated by over 6 years.

Has there ever been a five-Test series which finished nil-nil?

There have been (so far) four – Pakistan vs. India in 1954/55; India vs. Pakistan in 1960/61; India vs. England in 1963/64; and West Indies vs. New Zealand in 1972. The first of these was a series of four-day matches; the second was generally a bat-athon (though two games came very close to a result); in the third England ran-out of time to chase targets in the opening three games before the last two were bat-athons; and West Indies should have snatched the fourth (which was mostly a bat-athon) at the last but were denied in the series’ final session.

Who has made the most single-figure scores (whether out or not) consecutively in Test cricket?

India’s Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, who was no batsman of note, played 32 innings’ between 1967/68 and 1975/76 (not surprisingly he had one lengthy spell out of the side in this time). Bruce Reid almost equalled this – his last 31 innings ended in single-figures, but injury deprived him of the chance to extend it.

I read somewhere that 1948 Invincible Colin McCool never lost a Test? Is this true, and is his 14 Tests a record?

McCool did indeed never finish on the losing side, but his is only second to the remarkable Rajesh Chauhan, who played for India 21 times without once losing.

What’s the lowest score which earned an innings victory in a Test?

Australia’s 153, at The MCG in 1931/32, was easily enough to condemn South Africa to an innings defeat – they had been knocked-over for 36 in their first-innings and fell for 45 in their second. The destroyer was Bert Ironmonger, a left-arm slow-medium bowler aged 49, who took quite incredible match figures of 11 for 24.

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