Ask the Spider #74

Further to the question last week where you found there are 20 batsmen who scored half-centuries in their maiden Test innings whose careers are over and ended-up averaging over 50, how many (if any) of these who played more than a handful of Tests averaged over 50 after every game of their career?

Of these 20 players, 13 had fly-by-night careers: Charles Bannerman played the inaugural Test series (two games) and appeared once more in 1878/79; all-rounder Alan Fairfax played 10 Tests over 3 seasons; Cyril Walters appeared 11 times in the space of a year; Bryan Valentine played a couple of times in 1933/34 and five more in 1938/39; Victor Stollmeyer and Andy Ganteaume played just a single Test innings each; Deepak Shodhan played just 3 times in the space of a few months; Desmond Lewis played 3 consecutive Tests in 1971 but did not appear again; Rodney Redmond played once in 1972/73; Taslim Arif played 6 times in the calendar-year of 1980 and never again; Rashid Khan played 4 times over 3 years; Brendon Kuruppu played 4 Tests in 4-and-a-half years; and Naveed Nawaz played just once, that too against Bangladesh, in 2002. The other 7 – Jack Hobbs, Herbert Sutcliffe, Walter Hammond, Dennis Compton, Sunil Gavaskar, Javed Miandad and Andy Flower – do indeed feature a couple whose Test averages never dropped below 50. Javed’s lowest was 51.74, and the esteemed Sutcliffe managed not merely to average over 50 for his entire career, but in fact his never dropped below 60.

What is the lowest all-out score in Tests which did not feature a duck?

Australia’s first-innings 75 against South Africa at Kingsmead in 1949/50 – in which they were caught on a rain-affected wicket – still did not feature a duck.

And what about in ODIs?

The record here is 54, made by India against Sri Lanka in the final of the Coca-Cola Trophy in Sharjah in 2000/01.

Who is the oldest player to appear in a ODI?

The remarkable Dutchman Nolan Clarke, who opened in the 1995/96 World Cup, was 47 years old at the time (47 and 257 days in their final match of the tournament).

How many players have played ODIs after their 40th birthday?

There are a total of 39, but most of these feature exceptional circumstances. 17 appeared for sides whose right to be recognised as ODI-playing was questionable (Holland, Hong Kong, Namibia, East Africa, USA and Canada); there was Clive Rice, effectively rewarded for his outstanding career during South Africa’s isolation by being made captain only for their inaugural three-match series in 1991/92; John Traicos, who returned to international cricket with Zimbabwe having appeared for South Africa in 1969/70 before isolation; Bobby Simpson, who had retired 10 years before he was asked to return as captain during the Packer schism in 1977/78 and 1978; Omar Henry, the first non-white to play for South Africa early in their post-isolation period; another South African, Jimmy Cook, who was recalled for a one-off in Sri Lanka in 1993, having appeared briefly just after the return from isolation; and Norman Gifford, picked as captain for England’s makeshift side which went to Sharjah in 1984/85. Brief mention should be given to Sri Lanka’s remarkable Somachandra de Silva, who was already 33 by the time his country appeared in the 1975 World Cup, but was still playing in 1984/85, by which time they were a Test and ODI playing team. This included 31 matches after his 40th birthday, a record which currently no-one has come close to, though his countryman Sanath Jayasuriya is now past his own 40th birthday, continues to play and has no immediate plans of retirement.

And how many of these were in the modern era – say, starting from the 1990 season in England – for regular teams?

Not many – 12 of the 22 who appeared for serious sides did not play after 1989/90. A couple – Traicos and England’s Eddie Hemmings – straddled the period, playing 15 and 9 after the English summer of 1990 onwards. No-one else has appeared very much: West Indies’ Gordon Greenidge played a couple in England in 1991 before retiring before the tour had got underway; there is the aforementioned South Africans Rice (3), Henry (3) and Cook (1); England’s John Emburey, recalled after his ban for a Rebel tour of South Africa was cut short, for England’s tour of the subcontinent in 1992/93 (where he appeared in 3 ODIs); another Englishman Graham Gooch, who played 5 times after his 40th birthday in 1994 and 1994/95; David Houghton’s last series, of three matches early in 1997/98, for Zimbabwe came after his 40th birthday; and (after a 12-year gap) Jayasuriya has begun to embark upon a climb of his own, and appears better equipped than any of the previous to mount a serious assault a notoriously hard-to-reach peak.

Has anyone ever scored centuries in their debut, 50th and 100th Test?

Pakistani batsman Javed Miandad always had something of a sense of theatre, and he is the only man to grace each of these milestone games with a century. In fact he is also the only man to make centuries in his 50th and 100th Test, and only one other man has ever scored centuries on debut and in 100th Test, Gordon Greenidge who is mentioned above. On debut against New Zealand in 1976/77 at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore Javed scored a first-innings 163; in his 50th match he slammed 280* in Pakistan’s only innings against India at Hyderabad in 1982/83; and in his 100th against India, again at Gaddafi Stadium, in 1989/90, he hit 145 in Pakistan’s only innings of an utterly dreary draw.

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