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Ask the Spider: Ask The Spider #125
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Q: Is Nathan Astle's 222 the only fourth-innings double-century to finish in defeat?

A :It certainly is. In fact, it is the only double-century of the 14 which have so far occurred in losses to come in the match's second-innings. There has, perhaps not too surprisingly, never been a third-innings double-century which resulted in defeat - and about the only conceivable circumstance under which one might happen would be in a follow-on situation.
Q: Which specialist batsman has the lowest Test average against Bangladesh?

A: Whether Shoaib Malik qualifies as a specialist batsman is debatable - but he was out for a duck in his only innings against them back in 2003, so he has the lowest average of those whose batting ability is considered notable. Ryan Hinds, albeit not representing West Indies' first team, scored a brace of braces in his sole Test against them in 2009; and the most unqualified (and unalterable) low average is from Damien Martyn, who played against the Bangladeshis once in 2005/06 and scored 7 and 4, for an average of 5.5. New Zealand's Bradley-John Watling and Grant Elliott also had unsuccessful times in their single Tests, and Faisal Iqbal likewise in his sole game back in 2001/02. They are the only specialists representing a genuine pick for their Test team who currently average in single-figures against the Bangladeshis.
Q: Who are Zimbabwe's leading batsmen in ODIs against top sides since the 2002/03 World Cup?

A: Only 7 average over 30 in that time, though remarkably the top man, Heath Streak (principally a seam bowler) averaged 43.26 in the last throes of his career before throwing in the towel in disgust. Grant Flower, who recently made an extraordinarily unexpected return after joining the mass-departures of 2003 and 2004, currently averages 33 and may yet still play again. Only the Ervine brothers, Sean (who last played in 2003/04) and Craig, plus Stuart Carlisle (whose career finished at the time Flower Jnr's appeared to have) and Tatenda Taibu, also presently average 30+.
Q: And bowlers?

A: The only bowlers to have bowled any significant amount for any remote success are Raymond Price, Streak and Prosper Utseya. Price has maintained an outstanding record in his disjointed career - currently, he has 47 games against ODI-standard sides for a remarkable economy-rate of just 4.07-an-over. Streak, before departure, conceded 4.36-an-over, and Utseya has played constantly and, while he has proven impossible to get away for fellow ODI low-gliders, and often for most top sides as well, his poor performances against his most frequent opponents South Africa dilutes his record - it currently reads 64 games, economy-rate 4.74-an-over. Still just 25, Utseya should be around for many more years; Price's time is unlikely to be quite so lengthy, though his record to date is sufficiently outstanding as to render hope that he may be around for a while yet too. Ed Rainsford's 16 ODIs against serious opposition have produced respectable results - he has conceded just 4.4-an-over and it must be regarded as disappointing that he has not played more.
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