Big losing partnerships, and a professional problem
What is the highest opening stand for a team which ended up losing the Test? asked Anay Ghotikar from India
The highest first-wicket partnership for a team that ended up losing is 283, by Jack Hobbs (154) and Herbert Sutcliffe (176) for England in Melbourne in 1924-25. Australia won that match by 81 runs - England were set 372 to win but managed only 290, despite another century from Sutcliffe. That was, like all matches in Australia at the time, a timeless Test - in all there was play on seven different days. The highest opening stand in vain in a five-day Test is 276, by Adrian Griffith (114) and Sherwin Campbell (170) against New Zealand in Hamilton in December 1999 - after the opening stand of 276, the other nine partnerships managed only 89 runs between them. The highest partnership for any wicket in a match that ended in defeat is 363 for Pakistan's third, by Younis Khan (173) and Mohammad Yousuf (192) at Headingley in 2006, in a match England eventually won comfortably, by 167 runs. Oddly, the only other triple-century stand in a Test defeat also happened in 2006: in December Paul Collingwood (206) and Kevin Pietersen (158) put on 310 for England's fourth wicket in Adelaide but, inspired by Shane Warne, Australia somehow ended up winning.
A recent Cricinfo article made a point of saying that England won the Ashes in 1953 while being led by their first professional captain. What is the reason for mentioning the word professional? asked Vikas Vadgama
The point being made was that prior to Len Hutton in 1953 England were always (since the all-professional tours of the 1880s, anyway) led by an amateur captain, rather than a professional, really for reasons of class. One theory put about was that an amateur, who did not depend on cricket for his livelihood, would be in a better position to instil discipline - which all seems terribly old-fashioned these days. Lord Hawke, the famous Yorkshire (and, briefly, England) skipper at the turn of the last century, once said "Pray God no professional shall ever captain England!" In his defence it should be said that what he is thought to have meant is that it would be a sad day if there was no amateur player suitable to be captain. The same went for most English counties: until the 1960s it was extremely rare for a professional to be a regular county captain. Things changed pretty quickly, though: in 1962 the distinction between amateurs and professionals was done away with (meaning the end of the famous Gentleman v Players match at Lord's), and everyone became just cricketers.
I read that Jimmy Anderson took his 50th Test wicket at Lord's during the recent match against South Africa. Has anyone taken more than this? asked Rod Brewer from Brighton
By the end of last week's exciting Test against South Africa Jimmy Anderson had taken 51 wickets in Tests at Lord's. The only bowlers with more are Ian Botham, who took 69, and Fred Trueman, with 63. Botham also took 52 at The Oval, while Alec Bedser claimed 51 in just seven matches at Old Trafford. Those are the English records, but worldwide Muttiah Muralitharan took no fewer than 166 wickets at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo (admittedly he did play 24 matches there), as well as 117 in Kandy and 111 in Galle. Next come Heath Streak, with 83 wickets in Harare, and Dennis Lillee, with 82 in Melbourne. For the full list, click here.
Darren Sammy made his maiden Test hundred earlier this summer. Is he the first captain to score a Test century while batting at No. 8? asked Leon Overdulve from South Africa
Darren Sammy, in scoring 106 from No. 8 for West Indies against England at Trent Bridge in May, provided the 11th instance of a captain scoring a Test century from No. 8 in the batting order. Three of those were by Daniel Vettori, and two by MS Dhoni. Of the others, only Ray Illingworth (113 for England v West Indies at Lord's in 1969) and Heath Streak (Zimbabwe v West Indies in Harare in 2003-04) were scoring their first Test centuries - the others (Vettori, Dhoni, Imran Khan, Clive Lloyd and Wasim Akram) had all scored hundreds before becoming captain. But Shaun Pollock went one (or possibly two) better than all of them: both his Test centuries - 111 against Sri Lanka in Centurion in January 2001, and 106 not out v West Indies in Bridgetown two months later - were scored while he was captain and batting at No. 9.
Has anybody ever played in three Under-19 World Cups? asked Satyakant from India
There are eight players who have appeared in three Under-19 World Cups. The catch is that they are all from non-Test-playing countries, which are allowed an extra year's leeway (in other words their players can be under 20 rather than 19). Four of the eight are from Nepal: Kanishka Chaugai (who has played 20 Under-19 World Cup matches, more than anyone else), Paras Khadka, Raj Shresthra and Yashwant Subedi. Moneeb Iqbal (Scotland), Stefan Swanepoel (Namibia) and Greg Thompson (Ireland) all played in three as well, as did Papua New Guinea's Charles Amini, who took part in the 2012 tournament.
Further to last week's question about the most wickets in a series without a five-for, Dennis Lillee took 21 against India in 1980-81, with a best of 4 for 65. Is this a record for a three-Test series? asked Peter from Australia
That return by Dennis Lillee at home against in 1980-81 - when his figures were 4 for 86, 3 for 79; 4 for 80, 2 for 38; 4 for 65 and 4 for 104 - was indeed a record for a three-Test series. Rather to my surprise, it has been equalled since, though - against New Zealand at home in 2004 Steve Harmison also took 21 wickets, recording successive figures of 4 for 126, 4 for 76; 4 for 74, 3 for 57; 3 for 80 and 3 for 51. Apart from these two, the most wickets anyone has taken in a three-Test series without the aid of a five-for is 17, which has been achieved six times - most recently by Sri Lanka's Nuwan Kulasekara against Pakistan at home in 2009.