Question: I seem to recall reading somewhere about someone who scored a double-century in his only First-Class innings. Is this true, and if so how did such a thing come about?
Spider says: It is likely that the man you read about was the New South Wales batsman Norman Calloway. As the 1914/15 Australian season was coming to a close, NSW faced Queensland in a friendly (the Queenslanders were not at that point a Sheffield Shield team) which was given First-Class status. Calloway, aged just 18, made 207 in a partnership of 256 with the great Charles Macartney (the other nine batsmen mustered 133 between them, 56 of which came from the next man in after Calloway and Macartney, Walter Pite). The Queenslanders' two innings' over the timeless match produced 237 for their 20 wickets. Contemporary accounts record that Calloway was dropped five times - with good fielding the match may well have been an extreme low-scorer. But with the Great War already raging in Europe that was the last that was seen of First-Class cricket in Australia until 1918/19, and tragically Calloway did not survive hostilities, killed just four weeks after his 21st birthday in Bullecourt in 1917.
Q: Is it true Lara wasted his ODI talent?
A: It's difficult to give an answer to that question, because there can be no definitive answer to what his talent had the potential to achieve. Some might say - indeed have said - that he was considerably lesser in the second half of his career than the first, but even that is only partially true. As is almost always the case, a really long career like his contains a good few different phases. He started pretty circumspectly - up until he became an established Test player (a moment which came in the one-off against South Africa in 1992) he had scored just 713 ODI runs at 31. And in his next 106 games between 1992 and 1998 he scored 4735 runs at 50.91. But between 1998/99 and the end of his career at the 2007 World Cup his 165 games for West Indies (he also played 4 for an ICC World XI, games most players struggled to take seriously) produced just 4900 runs at 35.76. If serious opposition only are considered this drops to 140 games, 4023 runs at 33.81. However, the truth is that in the 78 of these between 2000 and 2005, he produced 3535 runs at 40.03. So more accurate to say would be that Lara was brilliant between 1992 and 1997; briefly woeful between the tours of South Africa and New Zealand in 1998/99 and 1999/2000 respectively (where his 31 games produced 623 runs at 21.48), then pretty good again. And, as more players than not are, he was average for his first year then average for his last year (29 games, 802 runs at 30.84).
Q: Has anyone ever made their First-Class debut in a Test match?
A: We answered this in one of our early columns. But you might be forgiven for missing that - it was now over a year ago! To rehash:
There are 33 players who have made their First-Class debut in a Test, though this is hardly an even list: 13 of them are from the same match, South Africa vs. England at Port Elizabeth in 1888\89, and 13 more from other Tests in the country between the same teams over the following decade. Early Tests in South Africa were often only retrospectively recognised as such, and do not really deserve the status at all, as the home team were deplorably weak, and very little domestic First-Class structure existed at that point. A further couple of these 33 come from the inaugural Test between England and Australia in 1876\77, and just a single one between 1899 and 1992, New Zealand's Graham Vivian at Eden Gardens in 1964\65. There was finally another addition in 1992\93 with Zimbabwe's Ujesh Ranchod who made his debuts at New Delhi, and there have been three more since, though all involve a team even weaker than the 1880s and 1890s South Africans: a couple of Bangladeshis in Mashrafe bin Mortaza and Nazmul Hossain, and a Pakistani against Bangladesh, Yasir Ali.
Q: What is the most number of runs conceded in a First-Class innings in a finite match?
A: You only have to go down to third place to find this record - the top two (Arthur Mailey for New South Wales vs. Victoria in 1926/27 and George Giffen for South Australia vs. AE Stoddart's XI in 1894/95) were both in timeless matches, but BK Garudachar (whose full name is not known) opened Mysore's innings against Holkar in the 1945/46 Ranji Trophy final and finished with 69 overs, 301 runs, 4 wickets. The match, a four-day affair, saw Holkar take an astonishing first-innings lead of 722, and eventually win by an innings and 213 runs. Garudachar, however, restored some respectability for his side with a second-innings 164 before declaring to hand his opposition victory. No explanation can be found anywhere for this declaration.
Who has the best full ODI spell in history - in terms of economy?
The holder of this record would have struggled to envisage it even himself - Phil Simmons, best known for his dismal failure to succeed Gordon Greenidge at the top of West Indies' Test order, bowled 10 overs for just 3 runs (taking 4 wickets in the process) against Pakistan at the Sydney Cricket Ground
in 1992/93. This astonishing record seems unlikely ever to be broken.