Ask Bearders #178
Welcome to Ask Bearders, where Test Match Special statistician Bill "The Bearded Wonder" Frindall answers your questions on all things cricket.
Below are Bill's responses to some of your questions posed at the end of his last column and if you have a question for Bill, leave it at the end of this blog entry. Please do include your country of residence - Bill loves to hear where all his correspondents are posting from.
Bill isn't able to answer all of your questions, however. BBC Sport staff will choose a selection of them and send them to Bearders for him to answer.
Q. How many runs (approx.) have been scored over the history of first-class and Test cricket? It must be in the millions. Likewise wickets - must be many thousands. I'm fascinated by the potential scale of the aggregates.
Bearders' Answer: The Test match aggregates, courtesy of Ric Finlay, are currently (20 September 2008) 1,833,354 runs and 57,672 wickets.
Alas, unlike Test cricket's 15 March 1877, there is no specific date upon which first-class cricket can be said to have begun. The term 'first-class' was not introduced until the 1840s, Although the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians has published a First-Class Match List starting with the 1801 season, it recognises that matches played prior to 1864 should be termed 'Important' or 'Great'. Philip Bailey has revealed that the first-class aggregates from 1864 until after play on 20 September 2008 are 39,211,720 runs and 1,462,286 wickets from 49,709 matches. If you start with the 1801 season (50,725 matches) you have 39,637,638 runs and 1,497,951 wickets. The Test match tallies are included in those figures.
Q. When Middlesex play England in the Stanford Twenty20 on 26 October 2008, will this be the first time England have played against a first-class English county team?
Bearders' Answer: It will certainly be the first time that an official England team has played against a major county overseas, albeit in just a truncated limited-overs thrash. Before the advent of Test cricket in 1877, unofficial England Elevens played against many of the counties, particularly Surrey, Kent, Hampshire and Sussex.
Q. Lancashire's first innings total against Kent in the County Championship at Liverpool this week was 107, top scorer being Extras (32). Just how unusual is this phenomenon in first-class cricket, and what, please, is the highest innings total in which no batsman managed to outscore Extras?
Bearders' Answer: It is reasonably rare, Chris. I don't have access to a full list of instances in all first-class matches. In Test cricket, extras have been the highest contributor on 13 occasions in 6,812 innings; i.e. 0.19%. The most recent instance occurred in England's first innings against West Indies at Kingston, Jamaica, in March 2004. England's total (339), the number of extras (60) and the highest individual score (58) are each the highest tallies when extras have top scored in Tests.
Q. Did P.G.Wodehouse name Bertie Wooster's valet, Jeeves, after a county cricketer?
Harry Webb (New York)
Bearders' Answer: Yes, Wodehouse named him after Percy Jeeves whom he saw playing for Warwickshire in 1913, two years before he introduced him to the public in 'Extricating Young Gussie'. Born in Dewsbury, Jeeves played 50 first-class matches for Warwickshire (1912-14), scoring 1,204 runs (average 16.05), the highest of his four fifties being 86 not out, and taking 199 wickets (average 20.03), including one 10-wicket haul and 12 five-wicket ones with his right-arm medium-fast bowling. He was killed in France in 1916 at the age of 28.
Q. I used to play at Chalkwell Park for Westcliff and, subsequently, for Leigh-on-Sea. I remember that the Australians were rumoured to have played there and scored a record amount of runs in one day. I have tried to use Google but to no avail. Could you confirm if this myth is true? If so, is it still the record for the most runs scored by a team in one day?
Bearders' Answer: The 1948 Australians did score a record 721 runs off 129 overs against Essex on 15 May 1948. Bill Brown (153), Don Bradman (187), Sam Loxton (120) and Ron Saggers (104) were the main contributors before the last five wickets fell for 57 runs. With Trevor Bailey injured and unable to bat, Essex were dismissed for 83 and 187 on the second day to lose by an innings and 451 runs.
However, that match was not played at Westcliff. It took place a five-minute drive along the coast in Southchurch Park at Southend-on-Sea.
The Australians' 721 does indeed remain the highest score by one team in a single day of first-class cricket.
Q. I recently watched highlights of the England v South Africa world cup game in 1992 where, under the rain rule, South Africa's winning target was modified from 22 off 13 balls to 21 off 1 ball. What would the target have been under the Duckworth/Lewis rule?
Bearders' Answer: In that World Cup day/night semi-final at Sydney on 22 March, England scored 252-6 in an innings reduced from 50 to 45 overs because of South Africa's tardy bowling rate. The D/L Method would have set Kepler Wessels' team a revised target of 273 off 45 overs but the current rules let them off with 20 runs fewer. Having reached 231-6 after 42.5 overs, South Africa's reply was interrupted by 12 minutes of heavy rain. Under the 'rain rule' governing this tournament they initially needed 22 off seven balls but this was adjusted to 21 off one.
Using the current version of the D/L Method and ignoring the five overs lost to slow bowling, South Africa were 22 short of their initial target of 253 when the break came and were just three runs behind par. If two overs had been deducted under the D/L Method, Brian McMillan would have needed to score five runs off that final ball.
Q. Which was the 17th first-class county that Durham beat in Championship matches?
Ross Deere (Queensland)
Bearders' Answer: That distinction went to Lancashire (at the 11th attempt, in May 2005 - a month after Leicestershire had been defeated at the 14th attempt!).
Q. Is it possible to get two batsmen out in one ball (e.g. a catch, then a run out)?
Bearders' Answer: No. Under Law 23 (iii) the ball becomes dead when a batsman is dismissed. The fielding side can dismiss only one batsman from any one delivery.
Q. I've been trying to explain the idiosyncrasies of cricket to my girlfriend who seems to think they are proof that anyone who plays cricket is completely potty. I pointed out that although a Test match can last five days, it could be very short indeed. Ignoring declarations, forfeitures, retirements and absences, the shortest two innings game would be 31 balls: ten balls for each first innings, ten balls for the first side's second innings and a final ball for their opposition to score the winning run. What is the shortest ever Test match ever played?
Bearders' Answer: A 31-ball four-innings match would be a scorer's nightmare and involve writing with both hands. In terms of both time (5 hours 53 minutes) and balls (656), the shortest Test match took place on a vicious Melbourne 'sticky' in February 1932. South Africa, who won the toss and batted, scored 36 and 45 in 89 and 105 minutes respectively. Australia, minus Bradman who severely twisted his ankle when his studs caught in the coir matting of the dressing room as he was going out to field at the start, scored 153 in 159 minutes and won by an innings and 72 runs. South Africa's aggregate of 81 by a side losing all 20 wickets and the match aggregate of 234 remain records for Test cricket.
Q. I was playing in a match where the bowler, during his delivery stride, accidentally broke the wicket with his hand at the non-striker's end. The batsman was caught out off this delivery but the umpire signalled a no-ball because the stumps had been broken. Was this correct decision? And has ever such an incident been recorded in first-class cricket?
Bearders' Answer: Bowlers often accidentally break the non-striker's wicket with their hand or even foot as they are delivering the ball. It certainly is not a no-ball and the batsman in your match should have been given out. In exceptional circumstances an umpire can call 'dead ball'.
Q. I see that in the Twenty20 games there is a tendency for the boundaries to be brought in to encourage more fours and sixes. Are there any rules as to the minimum and maximum distances for boundaries in any form of the game?
Bearders' Answer: The ECB's Regulations and Playing Conditions covering all domestic competitions stipulate that "The Ground Authority shall aim to provide the largest playing area, subject to no boundary exceeding a distance of 90 yards from the centre of the pitch. No boundary shall be less than 50 yards".
Q. Who was the last person to hit a six over the Lord's pavilion?
Bearders' Answer: Albert Trott (Victoria, Middlesex, Australia and England) is the only batsman who has struck a ball over top of the Lord's pavilion. He achieved this unique feat on 31 July 1899 off the bowling of Monty Noble while batting for the MCC and Ground against the Australians.