Philander, and an opening paradox
Vernon Philander reached 50 wickets in only his seventh Test. Is this a record? asked Max Kruger from Johannesburg
The South African fast bowler Vernon Philander took his 50th wicket in only his seventh Test (13th innings) against New Zealand in Wellington last week. The only man to reach 50 quicker from the start of a career - he did it in six Tests - was the early Australian bowling star Charles "The Terror" Turner, who passed 50 in 1888. One other man, the England fast bowler Tom Richardson, matched Philander by taking his 50th wicket in his seventh Test, back in 1896. Four bowlers, including the more recent Australians Rodney Hogg and Terry Alderman, reached 50 in eight Tests. Only Hogg (113 days to Philander's 135) has got there quicker in terms of time. For a full list, click here. My colleagues on the List column went into this record in more detail last week.
Pakistan's openers shared a double-century partnership against India recently, but they still lost. Was this a first for one-day internationals? asked Zain Ghassan from Pakistan
Mohammad Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed put on 224 for the first wicket in that Asia Cup match in Mirpur last month - but there has been one higher opening stand in ODIs which couldn't insure against defeat: in Kochi in March 2000, Herschelle Gibbs and Gary Kirsten put on 235 for the first wicket, against India again, but South Africa still lost. There have been two other first-wicket stands of over 200 in a losing cause: 212 by David Boon and Geoff Marsh for Australia v India in Jaipur in 1986-87, and 203 by Gavin Hamilton and Fraser Watts for Scotland v Canada in Aberdeen in 2009. In all there have been 11 double-century stands for any wicket in ODIs which the side concerned still lost, the 235 of Gibbs and Kirsten being the highest of these.
Three bowlers took six wickets in an innings during the recent third Test at Wellington. How often has this happened? asked Kenneth Carlton from Auckland
That instance in New Zealand's recent Test against South Africa at the Basin Reserve - where Mark Gillespie, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel all took six-fors - was the tenth occasion in all that three different bowlers had taken six or more in an innings in the same Test. The first time it happened was back in 1884, in the first Test ever played at Lord's, when Ted Peate took 6 for 85 and George Ulyett 7 for 36 for England, and Joey Palmer responded with 6 for 111 for Australia. In the concluding match of the 1997 Ashes series, at The Oval, three bowlers - Michael Kasprowicz, Glenn McGrath and Phil Tufnell - took seven wickets in an innings, a unique occurrence in Tests.
What is the most runs in a Test by a wicketkeeper? asked Dulip Dinshaw from Mumbai
The most runs by the selected wicketkeeper in a Test is 341, by Andy Flower, who made 142 and 199 not out for Zimbabwe against South Africa in Harare in September 2001. Flower is also second and third on this list, with 287 (55 and 232 not out) against India in Nagpur in 2000-01, which followed 253 (183 not out and 70) in Delhi the previous week! Next comes the South African Dennis Lindsay, with 251 (69 and 182) against Australia in Johannesburg in 1966-67. Flower's 232 not out in Nagpur is also the highest individual Test innings by a wicketkeeper, just ahead of Kumar Sangakkara's 230 for Sri Lanka v Pakistan in Lahore in 2001-02. In all there have been six Test double-centuries by wicketkeepers, the others coming from Adam Gilchrist of Australia and Sri Lanka's Brendon Kuruppu, and the Pakistan pair of Imtiaz Ahmed and Taslim Arif.
Which cricketer called his life story The Man in the Middle? asked Ian Bull from London
This was the autobiography of the prolific West Indian opener Gordon Greenidge, written with the help of the Hampshire journalist Pat Symes and published by David & Charles in 1980 - quite early in Greenidge's career, I suppose, considering he only really established himself in the Test side in 1976, and played on till 1991. The title refers to the fact that Greenidge, while born in Barbados, was brought to live in Britain in his early teens. He could have chosen to play for England, and was tempted to do so after being overlooked for West Indies' 1973 tour despite being in good form for his adopted county, Hampshire. In the end he chose West Indies - and scored 7558 runs in 108 Tests for them in a very distinguished international career.
The Australian player Archie Jackson passed away at the age of 23. Has any Test player died at a younger age? asked Michael Seymour from the Philippines
The precocious Australian batsman Archie Jackson scored 164 on his Test debut against England in Adelaide in 1928-29, when he was only 19, but succumbed to tuberculosis little more than four years later. He died, aged 23, on the day Australia surrendered the Ashes in the Bodyline series. The only Test player to have died when younger than Jackson is the left-arm spinner Manzarul Islam Rana, who was killed in a motorbike accident in his native Bangladesh in 2007, when only 22. For the full sad list, click here.