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  Tuesday, 2 April, 2002, 11:40 GMT 12:40 UK
Stump The Bearded Wonder No 24
Pose your cricket questions to Bearders
Bill Frindall, aka the Bearded Wonder, is poised to solve your cricket queries and teasers.

The Test Match Special statistician will be busy answering your questions throughout the English summer.


David Wyatt, England

I'm doing a stats degree, but how do I get your job? (Is the beard a compulsory element of being a cricket statistician?)

Learn to score using the linear system, David, collect a library of cricket reference books and watch the obituaries! The beard is compulsory only for males, especially those with a name that a late large-nosed commentator couldn't remember.

Paddy Quill, UK

Nathan Astle went from 100 to 200 in 39 balls. What is the fastest anybody has ever scored 100 runs? (i.e. not necessarily between landmarks).

Until the 1970s, very few innings were scored by the linear system, which enables balls received to be accurately calculated. Thus, until fairly recently the speed of an innings was measured by fewest minutes.

In terms of fewest balls, the fastest RECORDED first hundred in Test cricket is 56 balls by Viv Richards for West Indies v England at St John's, Antigua in 1985-86. In first-class cricket the fastest RECORDED AUTHENTIC hundred is 34 balls by David Hookes for South Australia v Victoria at Adelaide in 1982-83.

Research of the scorebook has shown that Percy Fenders's 35-minute record first-class century (for Surrey v Northamptonshire in 1920) came from between 40 and 46 balls. Other faster hundreds are discounted as they were scored in contrived circumstances against full tosses and long hops bowled to expedite declarations.

Don Bradman scored 100 runs off 22 balls in three eight-ball overs during his innings at Blackheath, NSW, a Blue Mountains town some 60 miles west of Sydney, on 3 November 1931. Playing for Blackheath against Lithgow in a match to celebrate the opening of an experimental malthoid pitch, Bradman, having scored 38 off the first over he received, later in his innings produced the following record-breaking sequence: 66424461/64466464/*661*446. (* denotes singles scored by his partner, Wendell Bill) .

Chris B, England

Please can you tell me what point between one delivery and the next the ball is deemed to be "dead"? Is there some kind of unwritten gentlemen's agreement about this - I've asked lots of people and have never been given a definitive answer!

Law 23 covers DEAD BALL. The ball becomes live when the bowler starts his run up. It becomes dead when it is finally settled in the hands of the wicket-keeper or bowler, when a batsman is dismissed, when a boundary is scored, when it becomes trapped between the batsman's bat and items of his clothing or equipment - or lodges in the clothing of the batsman or an umpire, or in the helmet of a fielder, when the umpire calls Over or Time, or when a fielder calls lost ball.

Sumit Mukherjee, Australia

As you may be aware, the Australian media are trying to get rid of the Waugh twins with a vengeance. Could you please tell me what their Test match stats are since the start of the last Australia - India series, i.e. in the last twelve months?

Mark Waugh

Matches - 17; Innings - 26; NO - 3; HS - 120; Runs - 1017; Av - 44.21; 100 - 2; 50 - 6

Steve Waugh

Matches - 16; Innings - 23; NO - 2; HS - 157*; Runs - 878; Av - 41.80; 100 - 3; 50 - 2

Llewellyn Lancaster, UK

When did three England players last make 100+ in the same Test match?

Just nine Test matches ago, in June 2001 when Graham Thorpe, Michael Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick each scored hundreds against Pakistan at Old Trafford.

Rupert Barnes, USA

I think Andrew Sandham is unique in scoring a triple century in his final innings for England in the 1930s. Why was he dropped and are there any similar cases?

Yes, Rupert, Sandham is alone in scoring 300 in his final Test. It wasn't his final innings as he made 50 not out in the second innings of that Kingston Test of 1929-30. It is an extraordinary and largely unnoticed record.

The only other players to exceed 199 in their last Test are WH ('Bill') Ponsford (266) and SM (Seymour) Nurse 258). Sandham, then in his 40th year, was playing only because England sent an under-strength side to the Caribbean in those days and the regular openers, Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe, had not been selected.

Tony Roberts, West Sussex

When did Australia abandon the eight ball over and why?

Australia changed from eight to six-ball overs after the 1978-79 season when the ACB/Packer schism was healed. Television preferred the shorter over as it offered more commercial break opportunities.

J Clark, New Zealand

I realise the 111 bogey is only a superstition but where did it originate. I've sometimes heard it referred to as "Nelson's Column" Can you tell me why?

As you say, research has proved that no more wickets fall at team or individual totals of 111 and its multiples than at any other number. The total at which most batsmen are out is 0! It is indeed a totally irrational superstition. Why Nelson? Probably because of his three famous victories - Copenhagen, The Nile and Trafalgar. A more common explanation is one arm, one eye and one etcetera!

Adam Alexander, UK

Please can you tell me when the last proper Test Match draw was (i.e. same amount of runs)?

There has been only one Test Match which ended as a draw with the scores tied but with the side batting last not dismissed: Zimbabwe (376 and 234) v England (406 and 204-6) at Bulawyo in December 1996.

Ray Puckey, England

Which county has provided the most players in an England side and who were they? I think it was Surrey in the fifties.

PS My only cricket claim to fame is that in 1953 at the Oval I carried Len Hutton's bag to his car after the Ashes win and he gave me half a crown! Needless to say, aged 11, I spent it!

Love the story about being the victorious England captain's porter, Ray. You were lucky to be given a tip!

Surrey have never supplied more than five members of an England XI. The record is six by Nottinghamshire in the First Test at Sydney in January 1887: W Barnes, W Flowers, W Gunn, WH Scotton, M Sherwin and their captain, A Shrewsbury.

Ben Broadbent, England

In Flintoff's second-innings century at Christchurch, close to 88% of his runs came from boundaries. What is the highest fraction of any Test Match century that has come in boundaries?

Very well spotted, Ben. Andrew Flintoff's 19th four (along with two sixes, two twos and nine singles) took him to 101 and from the limited access to scoresheets and files available to me on tour I cannot find another Test hundred containing as many as 88 runs in boundaries.

There have been only two definite instances of a batsman exceeding 88 boundary runs in a first-class hundred: Robin Hobbs (Essex v 1975 Australians at Chelmsford) and Viv Richards (1980 West Indians v Glamorgan at Swansea) each notching 90 in boundaries. Mike Procter (90/102) and Tony Pigott (90/104) may have emulated them.

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