It’s probably no big surprise that the answer to this interesting question, in Tests anyway, is Don Bradman. His last ten Tests, most of them in 1948, netted him 1223 points at an average of 111.18 – not too bad considering he was 39 at the time. The Don’s closest challengers are the mighty West Indians Nurse Seymour (1117) and the big South African southpaw Graeme Pollock (1100). Another South African, Bruce Mitchellcompleted 1072 runs in its last ten tests, while Mahela Jayawardene and Gary Kirsten both had 1003. Two current players are in the mix, though their numbers will surely change: Jonny Bairstow has scored 1061 points in its last ten Test matches, and Usman Khawaja 1010.
How many times has a T20I been won or lost on the very last ball? asked Michael McCrae from Scotland
Last weekend there were around 1,850 T20Is, of which 573 made it to the last ball of the 20th chase – but we only have ball-by-ball details for around two-thirds of them. Of the 1,262 unreduced matches in the database, we have full details on 441 – and of those, 149 reached the final ball still undecided (with six runs or less required).
David Harris was one of the first specialist bowlers. Born in Hampshire in 1755, he was able to cause his fast underarm deliveries to rise uncomfortably from rough, ready-made terrain at the time, leaving a trail of broken fingers ‘turned to dust against a bald -mouse, his bones pulverized and his blood scattered on the pitch”, according to columnist John Nyren. Aided by Harris’ effective attacking form, the opponents put forward realized the shortcomings of their twisted bats, which looked more like to hockey sticks, and straighter bats – resembling the modern form – began to be used.
I haven’t been able to determine exactly when it was, but legend has it that a certain Richard Toomer was so upset after being knocked down by Harris that he stomped on and charged his gun. He aimed and fired – and hit the target 12 times in a row. Luckily for Harris, Toomer had decided to go after the ball rather than the bowler.
Predictably, the fast bowler with the most picks leads the way here: jimmy anderson has played the first leg of a run no less than 274 times in his 175 tests so far. Kapil Dev did it 210 times, Glenn McGrath 199, Chaminda Vaas 180 and Richard Hadlee 138.
It’s more complicated than it sounds, as several recent Pakistani players have appeared in numerous Test matches without playing any in their home country – despite appearing in “home” Tests for Pakistan to the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere. After the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus, there were no test matches in Pakistan between March 2009 and December 2019. The former captain Ahmed Sarfaraz actually won 49 Test caps, never playing a Test in Pakistan, Mohammad Amir 36 and Said Ajmal 35. The most authentic answer to this question, however, is the former Yorkshire and England allrounder Billy Bateswhose 15 Test matches all came to Australia, on four tours in the 1880s.
In case it was not clear, the answers have been reproduced as they were written at the time, with the date below – so some information may have been superseded. For example, since the second answer was written in April 2013, Shai Hope of the West Indies (against England at Headingley in 2017) and Imam-ul-Haq of Pakistan (against Australia in Rawalpindi in 2021-22) also scored their first two centuries in the same test. Neither has yet made another hundred.
Shiva Jayaraman from ESPNcricinfo’s stats team helped with some of the answers above.
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