Q1) Is it rare for a player to make a double century and also take a five-wicket haul in the same Test series? Joe Root has achieved this in the ongoing Test series. – K Samarth on Twitter
What Joe Root has achieved is indeed a rare feat, when you consider that he is only the seventh player in Test cricket history to amass a double century and also claim a five-wicket haul in the same series. However, among these elite players, two have the unique distinction of doing so in the same Test match – West Indian Denis Atkinson in 1955 and Pakistan Mushtaq Mohammad in 1973. Nevertheless, Root has now joined the elite list in Test cricket history to have achieved this unique feat. Root, incidentally is first to do so in the last 24 years of Test cricket. The table below has all the details.
Q2) Is Joe Root’s five-wicket haul in the Ahmedabad Test match the one with the fewest runs conceded by a Test captain? Among all Test bowlers, how many have done this against India? In the recent Adelaide Test, Josh Hazlewood had also conceded very few runs. – Parag Joshi on Twitter.
Only two Test captains have managed to claim a five-wicket haul while conceding less than 10 runs. The first was also an Englishman, Arthur Gilligan whose figures of 6.3-4-7-6 against South Africa at Edgbaston in Birmingham in June 1924 is the fewest conceded by a Test captain during a five-wicket haul. Then 96 years later, another Englishman, Joe Root, came up with figures of 6.2-3-8-5 in the Ahmedabad Test match.
To answer the second part of your question, only four opponent bowlers have managed to claim a five-wicket haul against India while conceding less than 10 runs. The best such figures came from Australia’s left arm medium pacer Ernie Toshack who claimed 5/2 at Brisbane in December 1947. Incidentally, Toshack’s figures are the best in all Test cricket for the fewest runs conceded for a five-wicket haul.
Q3) Is it true that although M Muralitharan and R Ashwin are the quickest to reach the 400-wicket mark in fewest number of Test matches, South Africa's Dale Steyn reached this landmark in fewest balls? – Baljit Saini on Twitter.
Among the 16 bowlers who have the distinction of claiming 400 or more wickets, Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan is by far the quickest in terms of matches – i.e. in just 72 Tests. However, in doing so, he had taken over 24000 balls to reach the landmark, thus giving him a bowling strike-rate of 60.15 balls per wicket. This puts him in the 12th place in the overall list. R Ashwin’s strike rate of 53.01 balls per wicket places him at the fifth position. Although, this makes him the quickest among the six spin bowlers in this list. Dale Steyn’s bowling strike-rate of 41.58 (i.e. a wicket every seven overs) is by far the quickest in terms of fewest balls to 400 Test wickets. He is followed by the Kiwi great, Sir Richard Hadlee who has a bowling strike-rate of 50.75 (i.e. a wicket every 8.3 overs). The table below lists the top-five bowlers in terms of bowling strike-rates.
Q4) Which player has missed most Test matches between his debut and last Test match, i.e., during his entire Test career? – Amit Bansal on WhatsApp
That unfortunate record goes to England’s Brain Close who missed 222 Test matches since his debut in July 1949 to his final Test in July 1976, in a career spanning 27 years. Close still remains England’s youngest Test player at 18y-149d when he made his debut against New Zealand at Manchester in 1949. When he appeared in his final Test match against the West Indies, also at Manchester in 1976, he was 45y-140d old, thus making him the eleventh oldest to appear in a Test match for England. Therefore, by playing only 22 Test matches during his Test career, Close could only manage to appear in 9.91% of the total Tests played by England from 1949 to 1976. Interestingly, despite his rather short Test career, Close also led England in seven Test matches for two seasons in 1966 and 1967. His captaincy record of six victories and just one defeat (win% 85.71), makes him the most successful Test captain of all time.
(All records mentioned above are correct and updated as on 1 March, 2021)