Is the current India-South Africa series the first one in which three different batsmen from the same side have scored double-centuries? asked Arun from Finland
The current series between India and South Africa, which has featured double-centuries from Mayank Agarwal, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, turns out to be the fifth in which three different batsmen from the same side have reached 200. It is the first of those series to include only three matches, though.
Three Englishmen passed 200 in the four Tests of the 1938 Ashes series: Eddie Paynter made 216 not out at Trent Bridge, Walter Hammond 240 at Lord's, and Len Hutton 364 at The Oval. Two Australians also made double-centuries - Bill Brown and Stan McCabe, but not Don Bradman - making this the only Test series to feature five different double-centurions.
The feat was not achieved again for more than 44 years, when Zaheer Abbas, Mudassar Nazar and Javed Miandad all made double-centuries for Pakistan against India in 1982-83. Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Wavell Hinds and Chris Gayle all passed 200 for West Indies v South Africa in 2004-05, and finally Kevin Pietersen, Alastair Cook and Ian Bell did likewise for England against India in 2011.
Which bowler has dismissed the most opening batsmen in Tests? asked Jeremy Corke from England
This record changed hands in the Caribbean earlier this year, when England's Jimmy Anderson had Kraigg Brathwaite caught at second slip in St Lucia: that was the 156th time he had dismissed an opening batsman in a Test, one more than Australia's Glenn McGrath. Next come Muttiah Muralitharan (130), Kapil Dev (127) and Courtney Walsh (125).
There are nine others who dismissed more than 100 opening batsmen in Tests. Of all of them, Sri Lanka's Chaminda Vaas has the best percentage: 110 of his 355 Test wickets were opposing openers.
What's the highest opening partnership in a Test, where neither batsman managed to score a century? asked Ankur Jain from India
Unless I've missed something, the answer here is the stand of 192 between Sunil Gavaskar (97) and Chetan Chauhan (93) for India against Pakistan in Lahore in 1978-79. That just shades the 191 of another Indian pair, VVS Laxman (95) and Navjot Singh Sidhu (97) against Australia in Kolkata in 1997-98. There are only two other Test innings in which both openers were out in the nineties.
Who bowled the most overs in a single Test series? asked Roni from India
The hard-worked winner here is Shane Warne, who sent down 439.5 overs in the 1993 Ashes. That beat the previous record, set by the Jamaican slow left-armer Alf Valentine, who bowled 430 overs in West Indies' home series against India in 1952-53. Valentine also occupies third spot: in his maiden series, in England in 1950, he delivered 422.3 overs in just four Tests (Warne in 1993 had six Tests, and Valentine five in 1952-53). The record for a three-Test series is 236 overs, by Muttiah Muralitharan at home against England in 2000-01, while also in Sri Lanka, in 1996-97, Saqlain Mushtaq bowled 195.1 overs in a two-match rubber.
Here's the full list (note that Maurice Tate is shown in fourth place as he was delivering eight-ball overs).
How did New Zealand's Graham Vivian come to make his first-class debut in a Test match in India? asked Murray Evans from New Zealand
It seems that Graham Vivian was picked for New Zealand's tours of India, Pakistan and New Zealand in 1964-65, despite no previous first-class experience, because they felt they needed a legspinner on what were expected to be helpful subcontinental surfaces. He had just enjoyed a successful season for Auckland Under-20 side in their domestic competition, taking 12 for 74 in the match against Otago, and 23 wickets in three matches in all. His father, Giff Vivian, had played seven Tests in the 1930s.
John Reid, New Zealand's captain on that tour, had been impressed by Vivian's bowling in the nets, and he was invited to a trial in Christchurch, with three other legspinners, with a view to one of them making the tour party. "Vivian came out of the trial top," wrote Reid. "He bowled, in fact, immensely well. He beat all of us with his wrong'uns, he spun the ball sharply, he controlled very well indeed. He won the vote. The pity of it was that never on tour was he able to bowl as well as he did that day at Lancaster Park."
It was obviously very optimistic to expect Vivian, who was barely 19 when the tour started, to be able to perform immediately at the top level, especially as there were no warm-up matches in India and Pakistan. He played in only one of the ten Tests on the whole tour (including the England leg), taking the wicket of India's Salim Durani in Calcutta (now Kolkata).
Vivian was a superb fielder, and subsequently enjoyed a reasonable first-class career in New Zealand, scoring three centuries and taking 56 wickets. He reappeared on tour in the West Indies in 1971-72, playing four more Tests. He was the first man since 1898-99 to make his first-class debut in a Test (there had been a few in the 19th century, when some of the tours were privately organised). Only five men have done so since, most recently the 17-year-old Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman, against India in Bengaluru in June 2018.