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Ask the Spider: Ask The Spider #104
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Q: Which draw had the narrowest margin?

A :There have been two occasions when a team chasing a total has fallen only six runs short. At Bombay in Feb 1949, India required 361 in 395 minutes to beat West Indies, and decided to go for the runs. Needing eleven off the last over and with eight men down (although Sen, earlier injured taking a catch, was unlikely to bat even if needed), Phadkar added five but could not deliver the final blow. West Indies were again the opponents 14 years later at Lord's, when Trueman and Shackleton (recalled to the side at 38) sent West Indies tumbling from 214 for five at the close to 229 all out, setting England 234 to win. After Edrich, Stewart and Dexter were out for 31, it was left to Barrington and Cowdrey to lead the charge despite some fierce bowling from Wes Hall in particular, Cowdrey being forced to retire after having his left wrist broken. At the close, England were 116 for three and next day, at 171 for five they required 63 in 85 minutes, not an easy task with an over rate of 14 per hour. Close, battered and bruised, battled for 70 after batting for over three hours. When the final over began, eight runs were needed. After four balls, England needed six runs and Shackleton had been run out at the bowler's end, meaning that Cowdrey was forced to come in with two balls left. Allen saw these out and a draw was the result.
Q: Who were the oldest and youngest ever Test captains?

A: The Grand Old Man, WG Grace, was over 50 when he led England out against Australia at Trent Bridge in 1899 (50 years and 320 days, to be precise). The youngest captain was Zimbabwe's Tatenda Taibu, who first took charge in only his 15th Test against Sri Lanka at Harare in May 2004, seven days shy of his 21st birthday.
Q: What has been the longest interval between appearances?

A: John Traicos had one of the more interesting Test careers - he appeared for South Africa in their final series before its suspension from Tests in 1970, then re-appeared for Zimbabwe in 1992 aged 45, taking five for 86 in the first innings of their inaugural Test.
Q: Which other players have played for more than one country?

A: 14 players have represented two countries so far, the most recent and by far the most experienced of these being Kepler Wessels, who enjoyed 24 Tests for Australia in the mid-80s before appearing in 16 Tests for his native South Africa following their re-instatement into Test cricket in 1992.
Q: Which was the oldest Test player on debut?

A: James Southerton was 49 years and 119 days old when he made his debut in the first ever Test against Australia in 1877, though of course every other player in that match was making his Test debut too - Southerton played his final Test in the second Test of that tour. The oldest excluding the inaugural Test was Miran Bux, who was a sprightly 47 years and 284 days when first turning out for Pakistan against India at Lahore in February 1955 - he would also play in just two Tests.
Q: Which cricketer has enjoyed the longest Test career?

A: England's Wilfred Rhodes played his final Test for England 30 years and 315 days after his debut, and in so doing also became the oldest player ever to play Test cricket, being at that time 52 years and 165 days old.
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