Ask the Spider #1

How many people have batted on all five days of a Test?

There are seven people who have done this: ML Jaisimha against Australia in 1959/60; Geoff Boycott against the same opponents in 1977; Kim Hughes in the Centenary Test in 1980; Allan Lamb against West Indies in 1984; Ravi Shastri against England in 1984/85; Adrian Griffith against New Zealand in 1999/2000; and Andrew Flintoff against India in 2005/06.

Who has the highest conversion rate from Test centuries to double-centuries?

Of those who have scored more than two double-centuries, one man stands above all others: Don Bradman converted 12 of his 29 Test centuries to doubles, an astonishing rate of 41.4%. Second amongst those who have finished their Test careers is Marvan Atapattu at 37.5% (6 doubles out of 16 centuries). The highest number of centuries without a double – again excluding players whose careers are still ongoing – is shared by Mohammad Azharuddin and Colin Cowdrey, though with a top-score of 199, Azharuddin only just missed the mark.

Has anyone batted at all eleven positions in Test cricket?

One man who certainly did was Wilfred Rhodes, including both positions in the opening role. Rhodes begun his Test career as a number ten and number eleven batsman, but as his career progressed he worked his way up the order steadily. He became a reliable six, seven or eight, occasionally foraying right to the top, at the time he was still bowling regularly, and a decade after his first appearance he was promoted to open. He did this until the war, occasionally dropping down to three, four and five. After the war he received irregular calls, at first continuing in the role of opener and finally dropping right back down to number ten in his very last series.

Which wicket keepers have less catches under their belts than the number of times they have been caught themselves?

Probably none, other than possibly the odd one or two Test wonder: only one wicketkeeper with 50 Test catches has been dismissed himself more times than he has held a catch, India’s Farokh Engineer, who held 66 catches and lost his wicket 84 times. Incidentally, 55 of those 84 were caught.

Excluding the Bangladesh and Zimbabwe teams of recent times, what is the most number of consecutive Test defeats for one team?

That record is held by three unfortunate teams: South Africa between 1888/89 and 1898/99 (a team who were basically the Bangladesh of their day); an England side ravaged by the Great War in 1920/21-1921; and West Indies very recently, 2005-2005/06. Each of these teams lost 8 matches in a row.

Is it true that there was a time a hit had to go out of the ground to be six?

Yes. Until 1947, there was no formal universal agreement on what constituted four or six. Law 44 simply read: “They shall pitch fair wickets, arrange boundaries where necessary, and the allowances to be made for them.” Often, it was agreed that something which reached or carried over the boundary was four, and a hit which carried out of the ground was six. Only in the 1947 revision did Law 20.6 declare: “The customary allowance for a boundary is 4 runs, but it is usual to allow 6 runs for all hits pitching over and clear of the boundary line or fence (even though the ball has been previously touched by a fieldsman)”.

If the ball hits the umpire on the full and the fielder then catches it off him, is the batsman out?

Law 32 (e) states that the catch is fair if “a fielder catches the ball after it has touched an umpire, another fielder or the other batsman.” The ball can actually be caught in any protective gear (pads, shirt, etc) and it remains a fair catch, except when it is lodged in the helmet (in which case, the ball is considered dead). In fact, if the ball touches the helmet of a player before another player catches it cleanly, the batsman cannot be out caught, however, in this case, the ball is still live.

More clarification on ‘out caught’: The fielder has to be in complete control of the ball and his action before the catch is considered ‘complete’. So if a fielder is rolling on the ground and any part of the ball touches the ground, the batsman is not out. He must complete his movement and emerge with the ball firmly in his hand without the ball having touched the ground for the batsman to be out.

Who has played the most number of Tests in a row?

That record is held by the remarkable Allan Border, who played no less than 153 (out of his 156) Tests consecutively. Two others have played 100 Tests consecutively, Mark Waugh (107) and Sunil Gavaskar (106).

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