Clarke's mark, and boring scoring
Michael Clarke has scored three Test double-centuries in 2012. Is this a record? asked Shashidar Reddy from India
Michael Clarke's 259 not out against South Africa in Brisbane - which followed 329 not out and 210 against India in January - made him only the third man ever to score three double-centuries in Tests in the same calendar year. The other two were also Australians: almost inevitably, the first was Don Bradman, whose series-record 974 runs in England in 1930 included 254 at Lord's, 334 at Headingley and 232 at The Oval. And Ricky Ponting did likewise in 2003, following 206 against West Indies in Port-of-Spain in April with 242 (in Adelaide) and 257 (Melbourne) against India at the end of the year.
What is the lowest strike rate for a batsman scoring 200 or more runs in a Test series? asked Phil Cattrall from Australia
The first thing to be said here is that we don't have balls-faced information for a lot of early Tests, and without that any answer is going to be incomplete. But using the information we do have, the slowest rate known is Geoff Boycott's 263 runs from 1163 balls faced - a strike rate of 22.61 per hundred balls - during the six-match Ashes series in Australia in 1978-79. That was even slower than my first guess, Trevor Bailey in the 1958-59 Ashes, during which his 68 in the first Test in Brisbane occupied a mind-numbing 458 minutes. But all told, in that series "The Boil" collected exactly 200 runs at a strike rate of 23.36. Just to cheer everyone up, the highest known strike rate for anyone scoring 200 or more runs in a Test series is 121.32, by Shahid Afridi in the course of making 330 runs from 272 balls for Pakistan at home to India in 2005-06.
Who has the lowest average of batsmen who have scored five Test centuries? Surely Mohammad Ashraful must be up there... asked Vaughan Garner from Australia
As you suspect, Mohammad Ashraful of Bangladesh easily heads this list - his overall Test average, despite his five Test centuries, is a modest 22.60. The only other man under 30 is Grant Flower of Zimbabwe, who averaged 29.54 with six centuries (one of them a double). Daniel Vettori, who has made six Test hundreds so far, currently averages 30.10.
At one point of his Test career Kevin Pietersen had scored more runs than anyone at that stage except Don Bradman. How is he doing now that he has scored more runs than The Don? asked George Calvin from England
After 25 Tests Kevin Pietersen had scored more runs (2448) than anyone except Don Bradman (3194). Next at that stage were Everton Weekes (2431) and Viv Richards (2426). After his 50th Test, Pietersen (4455) had slipped to seventh, in a list Bradman (6790) leads by a country mile from Sunil Gavaskar (4947). And now, after 88 Test matches, KP has 7076 runs, which places him 13th of all batsmen at that point of their careers. Garry Sobers (7782 runs) tops that list, ahead of Virender Sehwag (7694) and Matthew Hayden (7683).
Is it true that Shaun Pollock has bowled more maiden overs than any other bowler in Tests? And who holds the corresponding record in one-day internationals? asked Keith D'Souza from India
It's not true, no: Shaun Pollock delivered 1222 maiden overs in Tests, but that places him only seventh on a list headed - like the overall wicket-taking one - by Muttiah Muralitharan (1794 maidens) and Shane Warne (1761). The only fast bowler ahead of Pollock on the list is Glenn McGrath, with 1470 maidens. In all, 12 bowlers have delivered more than 1000 maidens in Test cricket. Where Pollock does lead the way is in one-day internationals - he delivered 313 maidens, ahead of McGrath and Chaminda Vaas, with 279. Murali (198) is again the leading spinner, but he's also behind Wasim Akram (238) and Kapil Dev (235). And, before anyone asks, the most maidens to date in T20 internationals is five, by Ajantha Mendis, just ahead of five bowlers with four - Harbhajan Singh, Angelo Mathews, Ray Price, Graeme Swann, and Ireland's Trent Johnston.
Rahul Dravid took a solitary wicket in his career of 164 Tests. But who has played the most Tests without taking a wicket? asked Seena John from Sri Lanka
Rahul Dravid did indeed take one Test wicket - that of the West Indian wicketkeeper Ridley Jacobs as the match in Antigua meandered to a draw in May 2002. That wicket means that the person who played the most Tests without ever taking one is Alec Stewart, who had only two brief bowling spells - both wicketless - during his 133-match career. Next come Brian Lara (131 Tests) and Inzamam-ul-Haq (120). The most Tests without ever bowling is 119, by Ian Healy: the record for a non-wicketkeeper is 111, by Stephen Fleming.