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Getting started with a six (or a couple of blobs)

"Hello Test cricket, bye bye ball": Mark Craig hit his first ball in Test cricket for a six Getty Images

Has anyone hit his first ball in Test cricket for six? And how about his last ball? asked Julian Metcalfe from England
The only player so far to hit the first ball he received in Test cricket for six was the New Zealand offspinner Mark Craig, who cracked Sulieman Benn of West Indies over the long-off boundary in Kingston in June 2014. In the field that day, probably nodding approvingly, was Chris Gayle, who remains the only man to hit the very first ball of a Test match for six - from the debutant Sohag Gazi of Bangladesh in Mirpur in 2012. The only man known to have hit his last ball in Test cricket for six was another West Indian, Wayne Daniel, against Australia in Port-of-Spain in 1984.

Lasith Malinga took a T20 hat-trick the other day, to go with three in ODIs. Does he hold the record for international hat-tricks? asked Mahinda Villarayan from Sri Lanka
Lasith Malinga's hat-trick against Bangladesh in Colombo last week was only the fifth in T20 internationals so far. Malinga has also taken three hat-tricks in one-day internationals - against South Africa in Providence during the 2007 World Cup (when he uniquely claimed four wickets in four balls), against Kenya in Colombo during the 2011 World Cup, and against Australia in Colombo later in 2011. The only other man to take four international hat-tricks is Wasim Akram - two in Tests (in successive matches against Sri Lanka in 1998-99), and two in ODIs (both in Sharjah in 1989-90).

I noticed that India's openers Gavaskar and Srikkanth were both out for ducks against England in 1981-82. How often has this happened in ODIs? asked Harshad Patel from India
That match in Ahmedabad in 1981 was actually the first case of both openers being out for a duck in a one-day international innings. It happened again to Sunil Gavaskar and Kris Srikkanth not long afterwards, against Zimbabwe in Tunbridge Wells during the 1983 World Cup, in the match in which Kapil Dev's stunning 175 not out rescued his side from 17 for 5. There have been a total of 38 such instances now, the most recent by Peter Moor and Chamu Chibhabha for Zimbabwe against Afghanistan in Sharjah in 2015-16.

I was sorry to see that Misbah-ul-Haq is going to retire. Will he be the oldest Test captain of all? asked Khalid Iftikhar Ahmed from Pakistan
Assuming Misbah-ul-Haq leads Pakistan in the Tests in West Indies as planned, he will become - at almost 43 years of age - the fifth-oldest Test captain of all time, and the oldest for nearly 70 years. The top three are all English: WG Grace was 50 in 1899, Gubby Allen 45 in 1947-48, and Wally Hammond 43 in 1946-47, while Warren Bardsley was also 43 when he stood in as Australia's captain in some of the Tests in England in 1926. Misbah also has the chance to move up from sixth to fourth on the list of oldest Test century-makers. He's already the oldest captain to make a hundred, doing so against England at Lord's last year.

Has anyone umpired Tests in all ten possible countries, plus the UAE? asked James Armstrong from England
I think there are four men who fit the bill here. Steve Bucknor's record 128 Tests included appearances in all ten Test-playing countries, plus two matches in Sharjah, while Billy Bowden (84 Tests), Asoka de Silva (49) and Daryl Harper (95) all stood in the ten traditional countries and the UAE as well. Note that for these purposes I'm considering the West Indies as one country: if you count the Caribbean nations separately, then Bowden stood in Tests in 17 different countries.

Which Test player was nicknamed "Mystery"? asked Brian Hanagan from Australia
I think there may have been more than one player who acquired this nickname, but the one I first thought of was the former New Zealand batsman John Morrison, who later became a TV commentator. He played 17 Tests between 1973-74 and 1981-82, his 656 runs including 117 against Australia at the SCG in his second match, in 1973-74. Morrison had a mysterious grey streak in his hair when he was playing, but the nickname owed more to his slow left-arm bowling, which looked innocuous from the boundary but which nonetheless claimed a few victims - only two in Tests, but 51 in all first-class games. "There was also a bit of a mystery as to my whereabouts after play was over," admitted Morrison with a smile.

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