The column where we answer your question September 5, 2005

Winning after following on, and when Denis met Eddie

The regular Monday column in which Steven Lynch answers your questions about (almost) any aspect of cricket

VVS Laxman helped India secure a rare follow-on victory in 2001 © Getty Images

The regular Monday column in which Steven Lynch answers your questions about (almost) any aspect of cricket:

How often has a team been forced to follow on but gone on to win the Test? asked Adeel from Pakistan

This has happened three times in Tests now, and Australia have been on the receiving end each time. The first occasion was at Sydney in 1894-95, when England won by 10 runs despite being forced to follow on 261 behind. The next occasion was in the famous match at Headingley in 1981, when Ian Botham's heroics with the ball revived England after they followed on, then Bob Willis bowled Australia out as England sneaked home by 18 runs. In another famous match, at Kolkata in 2000-01, it was the batting of VVS Laxman (281) and Rahul Dravid (180), who put on 376 after India followed on 274 behind, who set up a 171-run victory over Australia. And of course it very nearly happened at Trent Bridge last week ... but not quite.

A friend of mine who was coached by Derbyshire's Denis Smith in the 1950s says Smith told him that Eddie Gilbert, the Australian Aboriginal, was the fastest bowler he ever faced. But when would Smith have faced him? asked David Carpenter

I couldn't think at first when Denis Smith might have come up against Eddie Gilbert, who was an exceedingly fast bowler, from a short run-up, who never played outside Australia. Some thought that his action was suspect, and he was called for throwing in one match in 1931-32. Smith never made a Test tour of Australia - he won two Test caps, both against South Africa at home in 1935 - but he did go there with MCC in 1935-36, in a tour that also included New Zealand. The team was captained by Surrey's Errol Holmes, and included ten players under 30, which was unusual for English cricket at the time. The idea of the tour seems to have been to give experience to the younger players, and I suspect there was also an element of bridge-building after the acrimonious Bodyline tour three years previously. During the 1935-36 tour MCC played Queensland at Brisbane, and that's when Smith faced Gilbert. He did very well, too, scoring 109 and putting on 204 for the first wicket with Wilf Barber, who made 91. Gilbert didn't take a wicket, and MCC won by an innings.

In the second Test here in 1990-91, both Andrew Jones for New Zealand and Asanka Gurusinha for Sri Lanka scored centuries in each innings. How often has this happened in a Test? asked Isaac from New Zealand

The match you're referring to was at Hamilton in February 1991: Andrew Jones made 122 and 100 not out for New Zealand, and Asanka Gurusinha replied with 119 and 102 for Sri Lanka. The only other time that batsman from opposing sides managed this in a Test was at Adelaide in 1946-47, when Arthur Morris scored 122 and 124 not out for Australia, and Denis Compton made 147 and 103 not out for England. At Wellington in 1973-74 both Ian and Greg Chappell scored two centuries in the match for Australia against New Zealand. For a complete list of twin centuries in a Test, click here.

I think I saw recently that Sanath Jayasuriya had reached 10,000 runs in ODIs. How many other people have reached this landmark? asked Ajith Silva from Colombo

Sanath Jayasuriya did indeed reach 10,000 one-day runs recently, during his 67 in the final of the IndianOil Cup against India at Colombo's Premadasa Stadium last month. He is the fourth player to achieve this feat. The others are Sachin Tendulkar, who currently leads the way with 13,642 runs in ODIs, Inzamam-ul-Haq (10,971) and Sourav Ganguly (10,092). Of current players, Brian Lara is closest to joining this list with 9354 runs. For a full list of the leading runscorers in ODIs, click here

What was the Gentlemen v Players match all about - how and when did it start and finish? asked Frank Winslade

This was an annual match - traditionally at Lord's, although there were often similar matches at Scarborough and elsewhere as well - between a side of paid professionals (the Players) and a team of amateurs (the Gentlemen). The first recorded match was at Lord's in 1806, when the Gentlemen (who were aided by two professionals to balance the sides!) won by an innings. The last such matches were in 1962, after which the distinction between amateurs and professionals was abolished in England. The captains in the last match at Lord's were Ted Dexter (Gentlemen) and Fred Trueman (Players). The heyday of the fixture was in WG Grace's time, towards the end of the 1800s - he played in 85 such games all told, and scored more than 6000 runs with 15 centuries.

Has there ever been a match in which a bowler has bowled two overs in a row? asked Sebastien Pittet from India

It may have happened more than once, but the most famous occurrence of this was in the fourth Test of the 1921 Ashes series, at Old Trafford. The England captain Lionel Tennyson tried to declare late on the second day of the scheduled three-day match - but the first day had been washed out, and Australia's captain Warwick Armstrong pointed out a complicated rule in force at the time, that prevented a declaration in a two-day game (which the match had become) unless the side batting second had at least 100 minutes to bat that evening. Around 25 minutes was lost while the captains and umpires debated the issue, and when the England innings eventually resumed Armstrong bowled the first over, having also delivered the last one before the attempted closure. Armstrong never divulged whether he had done this deliberately, although his biographer Gideon Haigh suspects that he liked people to think that it was.

Steven Lynch is the deputy editor of The Wisden Group. 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, contact him through our feedback form. The most interesting questions will be answered each week in this column. Unfortunately, we can't usually enter into correspondence about individual queries