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Ask Steven

Fawad Alam has converted all his four Test fifties into hundreds. Is this a record?

Also: is Darren Stevens the oldest bowler to take a five-for in the County Championship?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
Fawad Alam is thrilled after scoring his fourth Test century, Zimbabwe vs Pakistan, 1st Test, Harare, 2nd day, April 30, 2021

Fawad Alam has a 100% conversion rate in his ten Tests so far  •  Zimbabwe Cricket

Fawad Alam has now extended all four of his Test half-centuries into hundreds - is this a record? asked Zaheer Ahmed from the UAE
Fawad Alam's 140 against Zimbabwe in Harare a few days ago made him the sixth man to convert his first four Test scores of 50-plus into hundreds. The first was the great George Headley, all in West Indies' 1929-30 home series against England, and he was followed by another West Indian, Everton Weekes, Australia's Neil Harvey, and the 1960s England pair of Norfolk-born left-handers, Peter Parfitt and John Edrich. Weekes went one better by making it five hundreds in a row, before a questionable run-out for 90 in Madras (now Chennai) spoilt the sequence, but Headley converted all his first six 50-plus scores in Tests to centuries.
In a recent IPL game, three of Punjab Kings' overseas players were West Indians. Has any franchise ever included four overseas players from the same country? asked Stuart from South Africa
I think the game you're talking about was the Punjab Kings' victory over the Mumbai Indians in Chennai on April 23, when their four permitted overseas players were Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran and Fabien Allen from the West Indies, and Australia's Moises Henriques.
But there have been 26 IPL matches so far in which a side used four overseas players from the same country, usually Australia. The first two were in 2010, when the Deccan Chargers fielded Adam Gilchrist, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Marsh and Andrew Symonds; the following year, playing for the Kings XI Punjab, Gilchrist and Harris were joined in eight matches by David Hussey and Shaun Marsh. Also in 2010, the Rajasthan Royals had chosen Aaron Finch, Adam Voges, Shane Warne and Shane Watson against the Kolkata Knight Riders; in 2011, Finch, James Hopes, Matthew Wade and David Warner all turned out for the Delhi Daredevils against the Pune Warriors.
In 2012 Gilchrist, Hussey, James Faulkner and Shaun Marsh appeared for the Kings XI against the Rajasthan Royals, while in 2013 Faulkner, Brad Hodge, Shaun Tait and Shane Watson played together twice for the Royals, who the following year selected Faulkner, Watson, Kane Richardson and Steve Smith in five matches, with Hodge replacing Smith in another.
The instances since have involved four South Africans: in 2016, the Delhi Daredevils had Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir and Chris Morris in three matches, while the Kings XI Punjab selected Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien and David Miller in two.
Darren Stevens completed a five-wicket haul on his 45th birthday last week. Is he the oldest to take a five-for in the Championship? asked Mike Berriman from England
Kent's seemingly ageless allrounder Darren Stevens, fresh from being named one of Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Year, took 5 for 53 against Glamorgan in Cardiff last Friday, which was his 45th birthday.
He's actually some way short of being the oldest bowler to take five in an innings in the Championship: Warwickshire's Willie Quaife claimed three in 1926, when he was 54 years old. The oldest to take a five-for in any first-class match was William Lillywhite, who was 58 when he took six for Over-36 against Under-36 at Lord's in 1850.
I think the last 50-year-old to take five wickets in a Championship innings was Tom Goddard, the Gloucestershire offspinner, who did it three times in 1952 at the age of 51. However, Stevens might just have been the first to take a five-for on his birthday - that one's a bit beyond the capabilities of our database!
We know about the 1000 runs before end of May record, but who has taken the most wickets before the end of May? asked Lee Davis from England
This record belongs to the Kent and England legspinner Alfred "Tich" Freeman, who took 65 wickets in May 1931, on his way to 276 wickets in the season (he didn't play in April that year, as Kent's first match started on May 2). Freeman was in the middle of an astonishing run that brought him 2451 wickets over ten seasons from 1926, including a record 304 in 1928. Freeman collected 86 wickets in August 1933, the record for a calendar month, but in 1930 he actually took 104 between May 21 and June 19. He played nine matches in that time, and took ten or more wickets in eight of them.
I understand that a county once played two first-class matches at the same time. When was this? asked Gerry Schlittner from England
This remarkable double has actually happened twice. In 1919, Warwickshire took on Derbyshire in a County Championship match in Derby and also played Worcestershire, who did not take part in the Championship in that first post-war season, in a friendly at Edgbaston, with both matches starting on August 4 (all that season's games were scheduled for two days).
Ten years earlier, in 1909, Surrey had gone one better by staging two home first-class matches simultaneously, both starting on June 21. It was not a great success for them: Lancashire won their Championship match by an innings The Oval with more than a day to spare, while not too far away in Reigate, Oxford University needed the full three days but also won by an innings.
There are more details of these matches in an interesting booklet called Double Headers, written by Keith Walmsley and published by the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians in 2013. For details of their other publications, and how to join the association, click here for the ACS website.
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Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes