The best duck-hunters, and wicketkeepers who bowl
The regular Monday column in which our editor answers your questions about (almost) any aspect of cricket:
When Steve Harmison took his 7 for 12 against West Indies he dismissed four players for ducks - was that a Test record? asked Sam from Perth in Australia
It turns out that Harmison was the 21st bowler to inflict four ducks in a Test innings when he managed it at Kingston - Alec Bedser, Jim Laker (both at Old Trafford in 1956) and Glenn McGrath did it twice. But the record is five, which has happened three times. The first was by Ray Lindwall, the great Australian fast bowler, against India at Adelaide in 1947-48, when he started by dismissing Vinoo Mankad and Lala Amarnath before there was a run on the board. Sarfraz Nawaz of Pakistan matched that against Australia at Melbourne in 1978-79, during his astonishing matchwinning spell of 7 for 1 in 33 balls, on the way to figures of 9 for 86. And the most recent occurrence was by West Indies' Jermaine Lawson, on his way to eye-popping figures of 6 for 3 against Bangladesh at Dhaka in 2002-03. Bangladesh declined from 80 for 3 to 87 all out. Laker's tally of eight ducks inflicted in that famous match against Australia at Old Trafford in 1956 is the record for a single Test.
When Zimbabwe played Sri Lanka recently, the first bowler to take a wicket for them was Tatenda Taibu, who had started the innings as the designated wicketkeeper. Was this unique? asked Kamran Sekha from Karachi
That game at Harare, in which Taibu came on and broke the opening stand of 281 with a wicket with his third ball in Test cricket, did indeed provide the first instance of a person who started a Test innings as the wicketkeeper taking the first wicket in that innings as a bowler. But rather surprisingly something similar has happened once before. At Nagpur in 1983-84 the closing stages of a drawn game were enlivened when some of India's non-regular bowlers had a trundle in Pakistan's second innings, which was opened by their new-ball bowlers. And Syed Kirmani took the first and only wicket, that of Azeem Hafeez. He had started that match with the wicketkeeping pads on, but - given that he bowled the fourth over - presumably not that innings. Only six other starting keepers have ever taken off the pads and taken a Test wicket - the best return was the Hon. Alfred Lyttelton's 4 for 19 for England against Australia at The Oval in 1884. The others were Dick Lilley, Bill Storer and Jim Parks of England, Pakistan's Taslim Arif, and Cliff McWatt of West Indies.
Has anyone scored centuries against all 18 English first-class counties? asked Martin Jackson from Birmingham
Two people have done it - and by coincidence they both completed their sets last year, both against Middlesex. First to the landmark was Mark Ramprakash, who completed his set with 110 for Surrey against his old county at Lord's at the end of June. Just under two months later Carl Hooper completed his full hand too, with 201 against Middlesex at Old Trafford. Twelve players have scored hundreds against 17 different counties - Glenn Turner was the first, but retired before Durham became the 18th first-class team. Two current players have a chance to complete their sets: Stuart Law has scored hundreds against everyone bar his old county Essex, and Chris Adams only needs one against Northamptonshire. Adams, whose highest score in 22 innings against Northants to date is 84, has another chance to fill the gap next week, when Sussex play them at Hove (their match starts on May 25). Law, though, will have to wait - Lancashire and Essex are in different divisions this year. The only other current player with 17 is Graeme Hick, who has not yet played against his own county, Worcestershire.
I noticed that although Tatenda Taibu became Test cricket's youngest captain recently he wasn't the youngest player in his side. I believe that Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi was the youngest player in his side when he was first captain - is that the only time it's happened in a Test? asked Swami Guru
That's an interesting question, and you're right in thinking that the Nawab of Pataudi, as he was then, was the first to do it (in three Tests for India against West Indies in 1961-62, and two more against England in 1963-64). Five other people have had this unusual honour since: Javed Miandad (two Tests for Pakistan v West Indies in 1980-81; Kapil Dev (one Test for India v Pakistan in 1983-84); Hansie Cronje (four Tests for South Africa, 1994-95); Sachin Tendulkar (six Tests for India, 1996-97) and Graeme Smith (two Tests for South Africa v Pakistan in 2003-04).
When Zimbabwe were bowled out for 35 in a recent one-dayer, no-one made double figures. Was that unique? asked Deepak Bagra
That match at Harare was only the second time that no-one had reached double figures in a completed innings in a one-day international. The other occasion also involved Sri Lanka, and - not surprisingly - was the previous-lowest total in ODIs: Canada's 36 at Paarl in the 2003 World Cup. There have been eight instances where only one person has managed double figures in a completed one-day innings, two of them by New Zealand against Pakistan.
Which two Indian batsmen have batted on all five days of a Test? asked Mohit Mahajan
This one sounds like a quiz question ... and the answer is ML Jaisimha, who managed this odd feat against Australia at Calcutta in 1959-60, and Ravi Shastri, who did it against England, also at Calcutta, in 1984-85. It's only been done by three other people: Geoff Boycott (England v Australia at Trent Bridge, 1977), Kim Hughes (Australia v England at Lord's, 1980) and Allan Lamb (England v West Indies at Lord's, 1984).
Steven Lynch is editor of Wisden Cricinfo. For some of these answers he was helped by Travis Basevi, the man who built Stats Guru and the Wisden Wizard. 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.