Playing two series together, and getting the wrong tattoo

Shivnarine Chanderpaul took nine wickets in his 164-Test career Getty Images

Is it right that R Ashwin was the fastest to reach 250 Test wickets? asked Mohan Arunagalam from India
R Ashwin made it to 250 when he dismissed Mushfiqur Rahim in the recent match against Bangladesh in Hyderabad. He is the 40th bowler to take as many, and the fastest in terms of matches: this was his 45th Test, compared with 48 for Dennis Lillee and 49 for Dale Steyn. The previous-fastest for India was Anil Kumble, who took 55 matches to make it to 250. In terms of balls bowled, Steyn was the fastest to 250: he needed 9927 deliveries, around 240 less than Waqar Younis, with Allan Donald next. Ashwin got there in 12,905 balls; Lance Gibbs (over 21,000) needed the most.

Australia are about to play a Twenty20 international at home, and a Test match the following day in India. Has such a situation ever happened before? asked Wayne Cortlandt from Australia
Australia got round their current fixture pile-up by choosing entirely different squads for their T20 series against Sri Lanka and the Test tour of India. David Warner, one of those who, given a bigger gap, might reasonably have expected to play in both, said in January: "It is very, very poor scheduling. To have your Test team going away to play a Test match... it doesn't make any sense to us." The nearest recent parallel I can think of was in September 1998, when India had one team - captained by Mohammad Azharuddin - playing Pakistan in the Sahara Cup one-day series in Canada, and another, skippered by Ajay Jadeja, for cricket's one and only appearance in the Commonwealth Games, in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. South Africa won the gold medal, beating Australia in the final; the matches are not considered full one-day internationals. Back in more leisurely times, England actually had two Test series on the go at once in 1929-30, with two different squads touring New Zealand and West Indies; two of the matches started on exactly the same day, while the first Tests of both were just a day apart. Before that, touring England teams played Test matches in Australia and South Africa at around the same time early in 1892 (these were privately raised teams, before tours were centrally organised).

Was Darren Lehmann the first man to win the World Cup as a player and a coach? asked Ash Abraham from Australia
Darren Lehmann won the World Cup as a player twice, and coached Australia to victory in 2015 as well. As a player, he had the last word in both his finals, hitting the winning runs against Pakistan at Lord's in 1999, then taking the catch to dismiss India's last man in Johannesburg in 2003. But Lehmann was beaten to this particular double by the man who was his coach in 1999: Geoff Marsh had been part of the side captained by Allan Border which pulled off a surprise victory over England in the 1987 World Cup final in Kolkata.

Who has taken the most Test wickets, without ever taking more than one in an innings? asked Robert Banks from England
You have to go a long way down the lists to find this one: Shivnarine Chanderpaul's optimistic leg-rollers claimed nine wickets during his 164-Test career with West Indies. His best return was 1 for 2, against Australia in Adelaide in 1996-97, his victim being Steve Waugh. There were nearly nine years between Chanderpaul's eighth wicket (Javagal Srinath in Kolkata in October 2002) and his ninth and last (VVS Laxman in Dominica in July 2011). On a related subject, the Australian statistician Charles Davis recently revealed on the Ask Steven Facebook page that Mohammad Ashraful of Bangladesh holds the record for the most Test wickets - 21 - without ever dismissing the same batsman twice.

I was sorry to hear of the death of the former England batsman Peter Richardson. I dimly recall that he held some sort of peculiar Test record, but can't remember what it is! Can you enlighten me? asked Albert McKenzie from England
The former Worcestershire and Kent batsman Peter Richardson, who died last week, played 34 Tests for England. I suspect the oddity you're thinking about is that he was caught by the wicketkeeper in every innings of his first Test series. I dimly recalled writing about this before, and Mr Google obligingly disgorged this from 2012: "This fate befell the Worcestershire left-hand opener Peter Richardson in his maiden Test series, at home against Australia in 1956. At Trent Bridge and Lord's he was caught behind in all four innings by Gil Langley; then when Langley was injured, Richardson was caught by his replacement, Len Maddocks, in England's only innings at Headingley (a rain-affected draw) and Old Trafford (when Jim Laker took 19 wickets; Richardson also scored his maiden century, and England won by an innings). Langley was back for the final Test at The Oval, and Richardson gave him a catch in each innings to make it eight out of eight. The bowling honours were spread around: Ron Archer and Keith Miller dismissed him three times each, and Richie Benaud and Ray Lindwall once. The former England captain Arthur Gilligan, in his account of the series, seems to have summed Richardson up well: 'An attractive batsman, rather prone to nibble.'"

Which Australian player had a tattoo of his player number, and then found out the number was wrong? asked Jason Bartlett from Singapore
The player involved in this rather embarrassing mix-up was the Australian opener Michael Slater, who later turned to commentating. He made his debut in the first Ashes Test of 1993, at Old Trafford. After being told there had been 355 previous Australian Test cricketers, Slater had himself tattooed with the number 356; he also bought a personalised car number plate with 356 on it. The problem was that Brendon Julian also made his debut in that match, and the convention then is that the numbers are doled out in alphabetical order - so really Julian was No. 356, and Slater 357. The need for expensive cosmetic surgery (for player and car) was avoided when Julian and the Australian board agreed the numbers could be swapped. "Given these fairly exceptional circumstances," said their chief executive James Sutherland, "we are happy to allow Michael to retain the number 356."

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