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Ask the Spider: Ask The Spider #15
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Q: What is the highest number of double-centuries in a Test series?

A :The highest number of double-centuries in a test series is five, during the famously bat-dominated 1938 Ashes series: the first Test saw Eddie Paynter (Eng) score 216* and Stan McCabe (Aus) 232; the second, Sir Walter Hammond (Eng) 240 and Bill Brown (Aus) 206; and the fifth: Sir Leonard Hutton (Eng) 364. In three other Test series, four doubles were achieved: West Indies vs. England in 1930; India vs. New Zealand in 1955/56; and Australia v India in 2003/04.
Q: What is the highest duplicate score in Tests, for both a team and an individual?

A: India scored 407 all out and 407-9 declared against Pakistan at Eden Gardens, Kolkata in 2004/05. In 1982/83, Duleep Mendis of Sri Lanka scored 105 in both innings against India at the Chepauk, in each case enjoying a century partnership for the third wicket with Roy Dias.
Q: Has there ever been an occasion when part of all four innings were played on the same day in a Test match?

A: Yes, just one. On the second day of the magnificent Lord's Test between England and West Indies in 2000, the second of the series, parts of all four innings were played. West Indies lost the final wicket of their first-innings off the day's opening delivery, England crashed to 134 in their first dig, then routed West Indies for just 54 in their second. And after 1.1 overs of England's run-chase, bad light ended play. On the third day, England went on to creep over the finishing-line, winning by two wickets.
Q: Who is the most powerful hitter in the world?

A: This isn't really a question that can be answered by traditional cricket statistics - and competitions for who can hit the ball furthest are rare things in modern times and rarely hold any official status. If we define "most powerful hitter" as the batsman who has hit the most sixes, then for Test matches that honour goes to Adam Gilchrist of Australia, who hit exactly 100 sixes in his 96 games. In terms of most maximums per Test, Shahid Afridi of Pakistan is by far the most prolific, with 50 in only 26 Tests so far at more than one per innings (he has played 46). In ODIs, the career record is currently held by Sanath Jayasuriya of Sri Lanka with 249 in 411 matches, however that will surely be overtaken in the near future by the aforementioned Afridi, who has accrued 247 in only 258 matches.
Q: How many times has extras been a team's highest scorer in a Test innings?

A: Remarkably, this has happened 17 times, with the first occurring in 1912 and the most recent as of this column in 2004. Out of these, 10 came in totals of less than 130, a further 4 in scores between 160 and 250, and also 3 remarkable occasions in scores over 300 (extras totalling 59, 65 and 60 in these cases). Not surprisingly, most of the teams who have had extras top-score have lost: 12 out of them. And just a single game has been drawn, Zimbabwe vs. Sri Lanka in 1994/95.
Q: When did Sir Ian Botham's decline start?

A: Well, there are several points in his career at which he changed - as many as five could be cited. Botham's most successful phase was his first, between his debut in 1977 and his 25th game, the Bombay Jubilee Test in 1979/80. In this time he took 139 wickets at 18.52 and scored 1336 runs at 40.48. He was then given the captaincy, aged just 24, and struggled, taking 35 wickets at 33.08 and scoring 276 runs at 13.14 in his 12 Tests. After resigning the captaincy he enjoyed a mini-renaissance, famously starting midway through the Ashes series of 1981. In his first 5 post-captaincy games he took 37 wickets at 18.48. And from that same starting point - the third Test in 1981 - to the second Test in 1984 he scored 2407 runs at 45.41 in 32 games. His bowling in the last 27 of these did not impress, however, and in these and his next 25 he took just 162 wickets at 36.88. In those 25 games, between the third Test against West Indies in 1984 and the fifth and final Test against Pakistan in 1987, Botham's batting too declined badly, and he scored just 1038 runs at 27.31. The final phase of his career, 1989 to 1992, when he played only fitfully, is the most disappointing of all, as he had ceased to be a Test-class player entirely by then, and scored just 143 runs at 14.30, and took 10 wickets at 48.60.

So the best answer, if you wanted just a single date, would probably be the 9th of December 1981. But you could easily go for the 12th of July 1984 too. And the end of the summer of 1987 was the time when the largest change happened. It is something of a shame Botham played again after this.
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