Wisden's only animal, and Ponting's Test-playing uncle
Steven Lynch is away this week, but before he went he trawled the archives for a selection of classic questions that first appeared in the Ask Steven column on the Wisden.com website back in 2001:
What is the only animal to have its obituary in Wisden? asked Sam Connolly
The fortunate (or unfortunate) mammal was Peter, the Lord's cat, whose death was solemnly recorded in the obituary section of the 1965 Wisden: "CAT, Peter, whose ninth life ended on November 5, 1964, was a well-known cricket-watcher at Lord's, where he spent 12 of his 14 years. He preferred a close-up view of the proceedings and his sleek, black form could often be seen prowling on the field of play when the crowds were biggest. He frequently appeared on the television screen. Mr SC Griffith, secretary of MCC, said of him: `He was a cat of great character and loved publicity'."
Which Australian Test cricketer is Ricky Ponting's uncle? asked Cathleen Pringle
This is Greg Campbell, the fair-haired Tasmania fast bowler who won four Test caps in a career cut short by knee and wrist injuries. His sister Lorraine is Ponting's mother. Campbell made his debut in the first Test against England in 1989, at Headingley. That was the only game he played in that Ashes series, although he did raise a few smiles - and lots of MCC eyebrows - by putting up a placard on the dressing-room balcony at Lord's asking his fiancée to marry him. She accepted.
Who scored a century in a one-day international on his 21st birthday? asked Amrit Sharma
This was Sachin Tendulkar's old school pal Vinod Kambli. He was born on January 18, 1972, and on his 21st birthday in 1993 he smacked England all round the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. He just had time to reach 100 not out before the innings closed: at the other end Tendulkar was undefeated with 82 - they put on 164.
What is Raquel Welch's connection with cricket? asked Thomas Adams from New York
The only connection that I'm aware of is that Raquel Welch's son, Damon, married Rebecca Trueman, the daughter of the former England fast bowler Fiery Fred, in secret in Los Angeles in June 1990. The marriage was blessed at a church service in England the following year, when Fred apparently felt that "the dynamic curvaceous sex symbol of the late 1960s" (as Halliwell's Filmgoers' Companion describes Miss Welch) did her best to outshine his daughter. Sadly, the marriage didn't last.
In a recent quiz we were utterly bamboozled by a question asking for the name of the only Test cricketer who was born in Brazil. Who is it? asked Suresh
This mystery man is Ashok Gandotra, a left-hand batsman who won two Test caps for India. He was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1948. He played for Delhi and Bengal in the Ranji Trophy, and hit 169 for Bengal v Gujarat in 1974-75. In October 1969, with the Indian team in something of a state of transition, Gandotra made his Test debut against New Zealand at Hyderabad, and made 18 and 15 from No. 7 on a pitch which, according to some reports, had been treated with powdered cow-dung. Some unruly crowd behaviour (and lots of rain) prevented a probable New Zealand victory. Gandotra also played against Australia at Kanpur a month later. This time he made 13 and 8, and bowled one over. He wasn't selected again.
My son Neil Burns made a comeback to first-class cricket with Leicestershire in 2000, after a six-year spell out of the sidelines. Is this a record? asked Edmund Burns
Neil Burns's successful comeback is pretty unusual these days, but I'm afraid it's not a record ... it falls short by about 26 years! One of the strangest first-class careers of them all belonged to the Reverend Reginald Heber Moss. Born in 1868, he was a hard-hitting right-hander and a fast bowler. He played a few matches for his native Lancashire in 1886 and 1887, then went to Oxford University, where he won a Blue in 1889. The following year he played a few matches but didn't win selection in the Varsity Match - possibly because he was concentrating on athletics, in which he finished third against Cambridge in the shot putt. He turned out for Liverpool & District against the touring Australians in 1893, and that seemed to round off his first-class career ... until 32 years later he suddenly popped up for Worcestershire against Gloucestershire in May 1925. Not surprisingly, he didn't do very well - he was 57 by then - making 0 and 2. He also bowled three overs, at a rather more sedate pace than in his youth, and took a wicket - Gloucester's top-scorer Captain MA Green (54), who later managed England on tour overseas. Wisden, rather surprisingly, doesn't comment on Moss's remarkable (and brief) return to the limelight.
When Don Bradman hit 300 runs in a day in a Test, how many sixes did he hit? asked R Sivasubramaniam from Singapore
Don Bradman wasn't a great six-hitter - he preferred to keep the ball on the ground, to minimise the chances of getting out. At Headingley in 1930, when he made what remained his highest Test score, he didn't actually hit any sixes at all. BJ Wakley's monumental statistical tome Bradman the Great reveals that The Don went in at 11.38 on the first morning, and had zoomed to 105 at lunch (out of 136 for 1). He was only the third batsman to score a century before lunch on the first day of a Test (and only one person has done it since). Bradman reached his double-century at 4pm, and had 220 by tea. He completed his triple-century in five hours 36 minutes, and by the close had made 309 out of Australia's 458 for 3. Next morning he batted on to 11.39, when he was out for 334. In all he cracked 46 fours - but no sixes. Actually, Bradman only hit six sixes in his entire Test career - five against England, and one against India.
Which king once took a royal hat-trick at Windsor? asked Shelley Newman
This was the future King George VI. As Prince Albert, he was playing on the private ground below Windsor Castle, and with successive balls dismissed the then king, Edward VII; the next monarch, his father George V; and his brother, the future King Edward VIII (later the Duke of Windsor). Wisden remarked that George VI had thus proved himself "the best Royal cricketer since Frederick, Prince of Wales, in 1751". The ball with which he achieved the feat is on display in the mess-room of the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth.
Steven Lynch is editor of Wisden Cricinfo. If you want to Ask Steven a question, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The most interesting questions will be answered each week in this column. Unfortunately, we can't usually enter into correspondence about individual queries.