How many railway stations in India?

This is a question which could not be answered easily. A rough estimate some years ago would have been 7000-8000. Finally we have a more accurate answer.

This appears in a document called “National Rail Plan”-Draft Final Report dated 2000. On page 91 we have this:

Depending on how you count, the number could be anything from 7349 onwards.

New Zealand’s first ICC trophy

Those with short memories may think that the WTC is the first win by NZ in a major ICC tournament. It is not. And NZ had beaten India in that final as well.

The Champion’s Trophy started off as the ICC Knockout Championship in 1998 and 2000.

In 2000, all matches were played at Nairobi. In the semi-finals, India won against SA and NZ won against Pakistan.

In the final, India put up 264/6 (with captain Ganguly making 117). The Indian team probably thought they had this trophy in hand when NZ was 132/5 in the 24th over.

However, Chris Cairns and Chris Harris had other ideas.

After the WTC Final

This is what the final table of the WTC looked like. Note that the recent WI-SA series was also part of the WTC. Clearly these teams were not anywhere near the top 2:

We also look at the ICC ranking tables on June 24:

Here NZ is just ahead of India. There are some differences in the lower rankings.

It may happen that Zimbabwe (or even Afghanistan) will take Bangladesh’s place in the next cycle.

A quick look at the main statistical highlights of the WTC Tests (Remember that they started in 2019):

Most runs (750 or more):

Strangely the first few positions are from those whose teams did not reach the final. Rahane and R Sharma are in 5th and 6th place.

Highest scores (150 or more):

Kohli and Williamson are in 3rd and 4th place.

Highest batting averages (Min 20 innings, 25.00):

Again, the best from India and NZ is in 6th place (Rahane), followed by MA Agarwal and Kohli. Pujara’s decline is clear.

Williamson is not here is he batted in less than 20 innings.

Most wickets (20 or more):

Ashwin has the most wickets, followed closely by Australia’s Cummins and England’s Broad. Southee and Jamieson have the most from NZ.

We can also see that Ashwin, Lyon and AR Patel each took 4 five-fors, and that Broad, Lyon, Jamieson, Embuldeniya and AR Patel each took a ten-for.

Best innings bowling (includes all 6wi or more):

Along with the lesser-known Embuldeniya, Ashwin also took a 7-for. There are startling figures of 5-7 by Bumrah, 5-8 by Hazlewood and Root (!) which were both against India.

Best match bowling (includes all 9wm or more):

AR Patel has the best figures here followed by Jamieson and the newcomer Jayawickrama. Ishant Sharma and Ashwin are also here.

Bowling average (Min 2000 balls, all instances):

Broad and Ashwin have the first two places here.

For economy rate, it is Hazlewood and Ashwin.

For strike rate, it is Broad and Southee.

Jamieson does not appear here as he has not bowled enough in the WTC matches.

Most dismissals (15 and above):

Watling bowed out in 4th place. Pant has the next highest. He also took the most stumpings (6). Root has the most catches by a fielder (34).

Most dismissals in an innings (5 or more):

de Kock is the only one with 6 catches, and Stokes and Thirimanne the only fielders with 5.

Most dismissals in a match (7 or more):

Paine and de Kock dominate here. No fielder has taken more than 6 catches.

Best dismissal rate (Min 20 innings, 0.65):

Paine and Watling lead. SPD Smith and Root have the most by fielders.

Overall all-round performance (see criteria in table):

Jadeja and Stokes (with Holder a distant third) did the best here. But there is no one from NZ.

Match all-round performances (fifty plus 5wi):

The best performances here are by Ashwin (100/5wi) and Broad (50/10wm).

Player of the series? Perhaps Williamson. He did not make the most runs, but how he made them was more important (notably in the final):

Tests between South Africa and the West Indies (2021)-1

South Africa defeated the West Indies 2-0. Ironically this series was part of the World Test Championship, even though the final between India and New Zealand was happening at the same time. This is the final WTC points table:

Finally South Africa finished 5th and the West Indies 8th (just below Sri Lanka).

A total of 30 Tests have been played between these teams, evenly divided into 15 in each country.

Overall, South Africa lead 20-3 with 7 draws.

In South Africa, they lead 12-1 with 2 draws.

In West Indies, they lead 8-2 with 5 draws.

We now look at individual performances, starting with Batting:

It will be seen that hardly any of the leading performances in batting and other departments are from current players.

Most runs (750 and more):

Highest innings (150 and above):

Highest batting average (Min 20 innings, all instances):

Highest strike rate (Min 1000 balls faced, 40.00):

So far we have not come across any current players. Let us see if bowling is any better.

To be continued.

The best 3-wicket hauls in Tests

The lesser-known South African bowler Wiaan Mulder took 3 wickets for 1 run against the West Indies.

Is this the record for the best 3-wicket haul in Tests? No, but it comes close.

The best is 3-0 by Benaud against India in 1959-60.

Mulder is one of three to take 3-1.

Here you can also see Alok Kapali’s hat-trick innings.

The best for India is 3-8 by RK Chauhan against SL in 1993-94. Three others have taken 3-9: Ravi Shastri (on debut), Maninder Singh and Umesh Yadav

Elgar’s unusual record

South Africa’s 3-day rout of West Indies included an obscure record for captain Dean Elgar.

He is one of the few captains who won a Test without scoring a run, taking a wicket or a fielding dismissal. Here is the complete list of captains who achieved this:

Note that Babar Azam did the same earlier this year.

There are some famous names here (including Bradman in his last Test in 1948).

No Indian captain here, although Clive Lloyd did this against India in 1976. That was the Test famous for the bouncer barrage and India being 97 all out with 5 batsmen unable to bat due to various injuries.

Meanwhile, here is the short list of Indian players whose side won a Test without any contribution by them:

Ishant Sharma achieved this earlier in the year. There is also Pujara with one of his rare ducks.

Also note 3 separate players in the test against NZ at Chennai in 1955-56, which is remembered for the long-standing opening record of 413 by Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy.

TAIL PIECE: If you have any connection with Maharashtra, you can create memes about the Elgar Parishad.

Royal notes on June 10

June 10 would have been Prince Philip’s 100th birthday. He fell two months short, somewhat like Bradman with his 99.94.

Queen Elizabeth II is now past her 95th birthday and is the longest-lived British monarch. It should be remembered that her mother (known in later years as Elizabeth, the Queen Mother) missed reaching 102 by a few months. As she lived from 1900 to 2002, she saw the entire 20th century.

After some years we can expect to hear this after a long gap:

As is well known the line of succession is Prince Charles followed by Prince William. But it does not follow that they would be known as Charles III or William V.

(Footnote: a line of succession running into several hundreds is on record. Prince Philip was about #220 on this list, by virtue of being a descendant of Queen Victoria)

Like the Pope, the monarch has some freedom in choosing his/her name. The tradition seems to be to choose from the set of given names.

Thus, the current heir apparent to the British throne, Charles, Prince of Wales, whose full name is Charles Philip Arthur George, may elect not to be known as “King Charles III” out of concern about comparisons with Charles II of England (who was known for his Catholic sympathies), Charles I of England (who was executed after the English Civil War) and the Jacobite “Young Pretender” Charles Edward Stuart (who claimed the title “Charles III”).

So he may choose to be Philip 1 or Arthur 1 or George VII. The earlier King Arthur is too far back to count. Perhaps he did not even exist.

Similarly, Prince William’s full name is William Arthur Philip Louis and he could choose any of these. Arthur, Philip and Louis would all be numbered 1, though William would be 5 (Queen Victoria’s predecessor was #4).

There has been talk that Prince Charles (b.1948) may choose not to become monarch, thus clearing the way for Prince William (b.1982). (And of course his mother may outlive him, as in the case of his grandfather George VI)

It would be nice to see a headline “King Charles III meets King Kim III in Pyongyang”. Though it may well be Queen Kim I:

Captains in one Test-May 2021

There are as many as 45 Test captains who were captain in exactly one Test:

From this we come to

Captains who won their only Test:

Only 10 of the 40, the most recent being Mashrafe Mortaza. Even in his case, he was injured soon after the match started and Shakib Al Hasan was the effective captain. This was Bangladesh’s first Test win abroad, though it was against what was virtually a 3rd XI of the West Indies.

Shastri is the only such captain from India. Perhaps India’s performance in the late 80s may have been better if he had captained.

CA Smith was playing in his only Test. Later he was better known as a Hollywood actor.

Captains who lost their only Test:

Not surprisingly, the 19 members here are almost twice the number of those who won their only Test. The latest was Ben Stokes, who was substituting for Joe Root.

India has two prominent players in Borde and Pankaj Roy.

DB Carr played only in 2 Tests overall. This loss was India’s first win in any Test, which oddly enough coincided with the death of King George VI. The captain appointed for that series was the equally undistinguished ND Howard who played his only 4 Tests in that series.

AR Richards, JH Anderson and N Betancourt were playing in their only Tests.

Captains who drew their only Test:

The most recent was BA Murphy in 2001. From India there is HR Adhikari. Prominent players here include DL Murray, G Kirsten, RR Lindwall and TW Graveney.

Taberer was playing his only Test.

Braking trains on steep gradients

Normally, diesel and electric locomotives of today have methods of braking while going downhill.

In the days of steam, other methods were used. In the Indian subcontinent have the heavily trafficked ghat sections to the south-east and north-east of Mumbai. These were electrified in the mid-1920s.

Here is a picture of a downhill goods train on one of these routes before electrification:

Here it is mentioned that there are three “special weighted brake vans” after the two locos to comply with regulations. Perhaps the idea was to have higher adhesion on the tracks to prevent them from moving too quickly on the downgrade.

This line had a maximum gradient of 1 in 37. This picture seems to be taken from a catch siding.

Elsewhere in undivided India, there was a BG line with even steeper gradients of 1 in 25, on the line leading up the Bolan Pass to Quetta and beyond. Here, the regulations specified having “skeleton” brake vans of low tare weight and no cargo which were added to downwards goods trains to provide extra braking power but with less weight than regular brake vans.

Here is an example of these wagons, taken from a video from Pakistan shot in 1982:

This was supposed to be at a place between Quetta and Bostan. The gradients are not so severe here, but these must have been destined for a goods train going down the Bolan.

Test captains compared-all round performance

Records up to May 15, 2021 (after Zim-Pak series).

Overall records (see criteria below):

Imra, Sobers and Pollock lead here. Most would be called genuine all-rounders (during their tenure as captain) except for the last 3.

Kapil and L Amarnath represent India. Shakib and JO Holder are the current players, though they are not likely to captain in future.

Match performances (50 and 5wi):

This is in chronological order.

The only double century (219) here is by the long-forgotten DS Atkinson. That was in the context of a match-saving 7th-wicket partnership of 347 with CC Depeiaza.

There is another 150+ score by Sobers in 1966.

There are several others with a century and 5wi, led by Imran with a century and 11 wickets. Even Border has a fifty and 11 wickets with his occasional bowling. More recently Rashid Khan made a fifty and took 11 wickets for Afghanistan.