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Ask Steven

A horsey delivery, and doubles in double-quick time

Also: batsmen out on 199, keepers who opened after a long stint on the field, and the highest score by an England No. 8 on debut

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
Younis Khan was run out for 199 in Lahore in 2006  •  AFP

Younis Khan was run out for 199 in Lahore in 2006  •  AFP

Which Test bowler called his quicker ball "Mill Reef"? asked Daniel Cooper from England
I wouldn't have known this one but for a chance conversation with Yajurvindra Singh, the former Indian middle-order batsman perhaps best known for taking seven catches - equalling the Test record at the time - on his debut against England in Bangalore in 1976-77. Reminiscing about Bhagwath Chandrasekhar, he recalled: "Another delivery was what he called Mill Reef, after the Derby horse. That was his quicker one - he bowled John Edrich with it at The Oval in 1971. The next ball was the dreaded fast, rising googly - the hardest delivery of his to face, I always thought - to Keith Fletcher, who was caught at short leg." Chandrasekhar was on his way to figures of 6 for 38 as India closed in on their first Test victory on English soil. Mill Reef (the horse) had won the Epsom Derby earlier in 1971, and a few months later came home first in the prestigious Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in Paris as well.
How many people have been out for 199 in a Test, as KL Rahul was in Chennai? asked Hemant Karmarkar from India
The Indian opener KL Rahul's dismissal for 199 against England in Chennai on Sunday was the ninth instance of this in all Tests, all of them since October 1984, when Pakistan's Mudassar Nazar was caught behind against India in Faisalabad. The next one - and the only other Indian to be out for 199 - was Mohammad Azharuddin, against Sri Lanka in Kanpur in 1986-87. Since then it also happened to Matthew Elliott (1997), Sanath Jayasuriya (1997-98), Steve Waugh (1998-99), Younis Khan (2005-06), Ian Bell (2008) and Steven Smith (2015). Neither Azharuddin nor Elliott ever did make a Test double-century. Andy Flower (for Zimbabwe against South Africa in Harare in 2001-02) and Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka v Pakistan in Galle in 2012) have both been left stranded on 199 not out.
At Chennai, Parthiv Patel kept wicket for 157.2 overs and then came straight back out to open the batting. Was this a record? asked Rahul Yadav from India
Parthiv Patel's impressive effort in the final Test against England in Chennai turns out to be some way short of this particular record. In the third Test against New Zealand in Cape Town in 1953-54, South Africa's John Waite kept wicket for 165.3 overs then came out to open. And those were eight-ball overs, so he was behind the stumps for 1323 deliveries to Parthiv's 944. But Parthiv did much better in one respect: he grafted to 71, while Waite was out for 8.
I noticed that Dan Vettori took 116 Test wickets while he was captain. Is this a record for (a) New Zealand, and (b) everyone? asked James Morton from New Zealand
Daniel Vettori's 116 wickets while captain is a record for New Zealand - next comes John Reid, with 54 - but he's only fourth overall. One wicket in front is Garry Sobers, with 117 from 39 matches in charge, while Richie Benaud took 138 in 28. But top of the list is Imran Khan, whose 48 Tests as Pakistan's captain brought him 187 wickets. There are four others with more than 100 wickets as skipper: Kapil Dev (111), Wasim Akram (107), Bishan Bedi (106) and Shaun Pollock (103). Akram leads the way in ODIs, with 158 wickets while captain; next come Pollock (134) and Imran (131), before Waqar Younis with 97.
Virat Kohli scored a double-century against New Zealand in October, and another one against England in December. Was this the shortest period between Test double-centuries by a player? asked Allan Alexander from the United States
I was rather surprised to discover that there have been as many as 17 instances of a batsman scoring two double-centuries in a Test series. But I was slightly less surprised to discover that Don Bradman did it four times - in England in 1930 (when his scores included 254, 334 and 232), at home to South Africa in 1931-32, and in successive Ashes series in 1934 and 1936-37. Wally Hammond managed it twice: in Australia in 1928-29, and in New Zealand in 1932-33, when his two innings there were 227 in Christchurch and 336 not out in Auckland. Since then, only Michael Clarke has done it more than once: both at home, against India in 2011-12 and South Africa in 2012-13. The following have managed it once: Vinoo Mankad (India v New Zealand in 1955-56), Glenn Turner (New Zealand in West Indies in 1971-72), Viv Richards (West Indies in England in 1976), Gordon Greenidge (West Indies in England in 1984), Graeme Smith (South Africa in England in 2003), Ricky Ponting (Australia v India in 2003-04), Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka v Bangladesh in 2007), Thilan Samaraweera (Sri Lanka in Pakistan in 2008-09) and Brendon McCullum (New Zealand v India in 2013-14). Of these, the closest pair were scored by Smith, who in 2003 reached 200 on his way to 277 at Edgbaston on July 26, and by the end of August 1 had 214 of his eventual 259 at Lord's. The quickest repeat double-centuries for India were, like Kohli's, not scored in the same series: in 1993 Vinod Kambli was out for 224 against England in Mumbai on February 22, and reached 227 against Zimbabwe in Delhi on March 15. Mankad's pair in 1955-56 were completed on December 3 and January 7.
Apparently Liam Dawson's 66 at Chennai was the highest score by an England No. 8 on debut. Who held the record before? And has anyone from another country scored a hundred from there? asked Elliott Wilson from England
Before Liam Dawson's plucky 66 in the fifth Test against India in Chennai, the highest score by an England debutant batting at No. 8 was 59, by David Bairstow - Jonny's father - also against India, at The Oval in 1979. Dawson's effort, however, comes well down the overall list, which is headed by the New Zealander James Neesham. He marked his debut with an undefeated 137 against India in Wellington in 2013-14. Six other Test debutants have scored centuries from No. 8: Azhar Mahmood (128 not out for Pakistan v South Africa in Rawalpindi in 1997-98), Roger Hartigan (116 for Australia v England in Adelaide in 1907-08), Deepak Shodhan (110 for India v Pakistan in Calcutta in 1952-53), Scott Styris (107 for New Zealand v West Indies in St George's in 2002), Bruce Taylor (105 for New Zealand v India in Calcutta in 1964-65) and Thilan Samaraweera (103 not out for Sri Lanka v India in Colombo in 2001).
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Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes