Herath's world record, and left-armer dominance
Rangana Herath took nine wickets in Pakistan's first innings at the SSC. How many other left-armers have done this in a Test? asked Mahindra Perera from Sri Lanka
The short answer is none: Rangana Herath's 9 for 127 in the second Test against Pakistan in Colombo was the first Test nine-for by any left-arm bowler. The previous-best was 8 for 11, by the Lancashire and England spinner Johnny Briggs against South Africa in Cape Town in 1888-89. Briggs had taken 7 for 17 in the first innings, so had record match-figures for a left-armer of 15 for 28. Next on the innings list is Hedley Verity's 8 for 34 in 1934, which set up England's only victory against Australia at Lord's in the 20th century.
I noticed that 29 of the wickets in the second Test in Colombo were taken by left-arm bowlers. What's the Test record? asked Chris Morrison from Australia
The Test record is ... 29, in the match which has just finished in Colombo. Fourteen of them went to Rangana Herath, six to Wahab Riaz, five to Junaid Khan, three to Abdur Rehman and one to Chanaka Welegedara. The previous record was 28, set more than 125 years ago in the second Test between South Africa and England in Cape Town 1888-89, in the match mentioned above in which Johnny Briggs took 15 wickets. There were 26 dismissals by left-arm bowlers in the final Test between India and Pakistan in Bangalore in 1986-87 (Sunil Gavaskar's final Test), including ten from Maninder Singh and nine by Iqbal Qasim.
How many people have captained, kept wicket and opened the batting in the same Test? asked Dhanushka Edussuriya from Sri Lanka
This arduous treble has been performed by only three people in Test cricket. Between 1907 and 1911 South Africa's Percy Sherwell did it in seven Tests, scoring 115 in one of them, against England at Lord's in 1907. West Indies' Gerry Alexander did it in two Tests in Pakistan in 1958-59 (he didn't open in both innings of either game), and Pakistan's Imtiaz Ahmed followed suit, opening in five innings in four Tests in which he captained and kept wicket. He scored 54 against Australia in Lahore in 1959-60. Imtiaz opened and kept wicket in the match in Dacca in 1959-60 when Alexander opened, but wasn't captain in that one.
Gary Ballance scored 503 runs in the series against India. Was this a record for England? asked Scott McCallum from England
Gary Ballance was the eighth batsman to reach 500 runs in a Test series for England against India; he was soon joined (and just surpassed) by Joe Root, who finished with 518 in the 2014 series. The list is headed by Graham Gooch, with 752 runs in just three Tests in 1990 - a series he started with 333 and 123 at Lord's. Next comes Michael Vaughan, with 615 runs in four Tests in 2002. England's other 500-run men are Ken Barrington (594 in India in 1961-62), Mike Gatting (575 in 1984-85), Alastair Cook (562 in 2012-13), Kevin Pietersen (533 in 2011) and Ian Bell (504 in 2011). The Indian record-holder in a series against England is Rahul Dravid, with 602 runs in four Tests in 2002. Vijay Manjrekar (586 in 1961-62), Sunil Gavaskar (542 in 1979 and 500 in 1981-82) and Budhi Kunderan (525 in 1963-64) also reached 500 runs in a series against England. For the full list, click here.
Was Dane Piedt the first South African to take eight wickets on Test debut? asked Daan Koorneef from Austria
Offspinner Dane Piedt, who took 8 for 152 against Zimbabwe in Harare last week, was the seventh South African to take eight wickets on his Test debut (among the others are Vernon Philander, Marchant de Lange and Lance Klusener). Five men have bettered this: James "Bonnor" Middleton took 9 for 130 against England in Port Elizabeth in 1895-96, Peter Pollock 9 for 99 against New Zealand in Durban in 1961-62, Kyle Abbott 9 for 68 against Pakistan in Centurion in 2012-13, Syd Burke 11 for 196 against New Zealand in Cape Town in 1961-62, and Alf Hall 11 for 112 against England in Cape Town in 1922-23. Piedt took a wicket (Mark Vermeulen) with his first ball in Test cricket: the only other South African to do this was Ernie Vogler, who dismissed England's Ernie Hayes with his first ball at the old Wanderers ground in Johannesburg in 1905-06. In a unique double, later in the same game Vogler himself fell to Jack Crawford's first delivery in a Test. For the full list, click here.
How do I find a list of the people who have scored the most double-centuries in Tests? asked Amit Kumar from India
That is one of the tables on ESPNCricinfo's records pages: to see it, click here. Don Bradman, with 12 double-centuries from just 52 Tests, still leads the way - but Kumar Sangakkara is closing in. He currently has ten, although he has needed almost two- and-a-half times as many Tests as the Don to get that close. Brian Lara comes next, with nine scores of 200 or more, ahead of Wally Hammond and Mahela Jayawardene with seven, then five batsmen on six: Marvan Atapattu, Javed Miandad, Ricky Ponting, Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar.
Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2014. Ask Steven is now on Facebook