Fast hundreds, and batting for a month
Who has scored the fastest century on Test debut? Was it Umar Akmal? asked Sabtain Bukhari via Facebook
Surprisingly perhaps, I don't think I've ever seen this particular list anywhere, probably because we often don't have full details, especially for early matches (even more recently we usually have the final innings details, but not always the time in which milestones were reached). Umar Akmal's century on Test debut - 129 for Pakistan against New Zealand in Dunedin in 2009-10 - came up in 132 balls, which is quicker than most, but I think the fastest debut hundred by that yardstick is Dwayne Smith's for West Indies against South Africa in Cape Town in January 2004, which he reached in 93 balls. Smith's hundred came up in 103 minutes, which I believe is also the fastest in terms of time. Abul Hasan of Bangladesh reached his recent debut hundred from 106 balls.
Which batsman has spent most time at the crease in his Test career? asked Ian McDonald from Guyana
The leader here is Rahul Dravid, who batted for 44,129 minutes - around 735 and a half hours, or about a month in all - during his distinguished 164-Test career. Actually he batted for a little longer than that, as annoyingly there's one innings we don't have the minutes for - India's brief (5.2 overs) second knock against New Zealand in Hamilton in March 2009, in which he scored 8 not out. Dravid is about 60 hours ahead of Sachin Tendulkar, who (before the final Test in Nagpur) had been at the crease for 40,486 minutes.
Some 15.29% of Fred Trueman's Test runs came in sixes. Is this a record? asked Andy Pearce from the United Kingdom
It's correct that 150 of Fred Trueman's 981 Test runs came in sixes. But the record in this regard (for a significant number of innings) is held by another fast bowler, Michael Holding. He scored 910 Test runs, with 216 of them - 23.73%, or almost a quarter - coming in hits over the rope. Two members of the Cairns family also beat Fiery Fred's percentage: Lance Cairns hit 168 of his 910 Test runs in sixes (18.10%), while his son Chris hit 87 sixes in a total of 3320 runs (15.72% in sixes).
Who has won the most Tests without ever losing one? asked Siddhartha from India
This record is held by the recent Indian offspinner Rajesh Chauhan, who finished on the winning side in 12 Tests, and never tasted defeat. Sam Loxton and Colin McCool, two fringe members of Don Bradman's 1948 Invincibles, both won ten Tests and never lost any either. Eldine Baptiste, the West Indian allrounder, played ten Tests in his career and finished on the winning side each and every time. Chauhan has also played the most Tests - 21 between 1992-93 and 1997-98 - without ever losing one. In this table he's ahead of McCool (14), Loxton and yet another Australian Invincible in Ernie Toshack (both 12).
I was looking at England's scorecard in the fifth Ashes Test of 1956 and noticed there were five ducks in their first innings. What's the record for any Test innings? asked Richard Wilson from London
There were five ducks in England's first innings at The Oval in 1956, three of them right at the end of the first day as England wobbled from 222 for 3 to 223 for 7 by the close. That is one of only three occasions when an England innings has included five ducks, the others both being against West Indies - in Bridgetown in 1953-54 and Headingley in 1976. But the overall Test record is six men out without scoring, which has happened three times: in Pakistan's first innings of 128 against West Indies in Karachi in 1980-81, for South Africa against India in Ahmedabad in 1996-97, and for Bangladesh against West Indies in Dhaka in 2002-03. In that last instance, five of the ducks were inflicted by the Jamaican fast bowler Jermaine Lawson, on his way to remarkable figures of 6.5-4-3-6.
I noticed that Shane Warne's best match figures in a Test were 12 for 128 - but South Africa won that match. Is this the record for wickets in a losing cause? asked Ahson Atif from India
You're right that Australia lost the Test in which Shane Warne took 12 for 128 - that was the famous match in Sydney in 1993-94 when South Africa skittled Australia for 111 in the final innings to squeak home by just six runs. Rather surprisingly, perhaps, there have been eight better match returns in a losing cause, four of them by other Australian bowlers. An Indian is top of the list, though: Javagal Srinath had match figures of 13 for 132 in Kolkata in 1998-99. He took 5 for 46 and 8 for 86, but Pakistan ended up winning by 46 runs. For the full list, click here. The best innings figures in a Test defeat are Kapil Dev's 9 for 83 for India against West Indies in Ahmedabad in 1983-84. Two other bowlers - Jack Noreiga for West Indies v India in 1970-71, and Subhash Gupte for India v West Indies in 1958-59 - took nine wickets in an innings in a match their side ended up losing.
Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2013