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Ask Steven

Has anyone top-scored for their side in more consecutive innings than Joe Root?

And was Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts a big cricket fan?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
Shivnarine Chanderpaul top-scored for West Indies in seven consecutive innings in 2007  •  Gareth Copley/PA Photos/Getty Images

Shivnarine Chanderpaul top-scored for West Indies in seven consecutive innings in 2007  •  Gareth Copley/PA Photos/Getty Images

England and India will play nine Tests against each other in 2021. Is this a record for a single year? asked Darshan Shanbagh from India
The current five-Test series in England was preceded by four in India earlier in the year. England also met Australia in nine Tests in 1902 and in 2013, but the overall record is 11 Test matches in a calendar year - by India and West Indies in 1983. Clive Lloyd's side won a five-Test series at home 2-0, then triumphed 3-0 in a six-match rubber in India.
Australia and West Indies met in ten Tests in 1984, including one that spilled over by a couple of days into 1985. England played nine against Australia in 1921, if you count one that started on December 31, 1920, and continued into the following year. England had eight Tests against Pakistan in 1987, and West Indies in 2004; India and West Indies contested eight in 2002.
At Headingley, Joe Root top-scored for England for the fifth innings running - was this a first for Tests? asked Will Hewett from the West Indies
After top-scoring in both innings at Trent Bridge and then at Lord's, Joe Root made it five in a row with his 121 at Headingley. That gave him a share of the England record, set by Graham Thorpe in 2001 and equalled by Andrew Strauss in 2004-05.
Overall, George Headley top-scored in six successive innings for West Indies in the 1930s, as did Australia's Steve Smith more recently. But the record is held by Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who top-scored in seven successive innings for West Indies in 2007. Chanderpaul also managed five in a separate sequence in 2012, which included one innings in which he didn't bat. The others to manage five times in a row are two other West Indians, Viv Richards and Brian Lara; Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara; Vijay Hazare of India; and Eric Rowan of South Africa.
What is the highest aggregate contribution from the bottom four batters in a Test innings? asked Patrick Moran from Australia
The biggest contribution by the bottom four in any Test innings is 336 runs, by Pakistan against Zimbabwe in Sheikhupura in 1996-97. Most of them came from Wasim Akram, who hammered an unbeaten 257, the highest by a No. 8 in any Test match. All the rest came from Saqlain Mushtaq, who made 79 - the last two, Waqar Younis and Shahid Nazir, both bagged ducks.
That effort beat the record at the time of 307, set by Australia against England in Adelaide as long ago as 1907-08. Roger Hartigan made 116 on his Test debut in that innings, Clem Hill - batting down the order at No. 9 - added 160, and wicketkeeper Hanson Carter 31 not out (last man Jack Saunders made his customary duck). Hill normally batted much higher up, but as he recalled: "I was suffering acutely from gastric influenza. I batted on Friday [the first day; he was out for 5] but was in bed on the Saturday and Sunday and Monday, and my brother Roy, who was twelfth man, fielded as substitute for me. On the Tuesday, I was feeling a little better, so went along to the Oval."
Hill eventually went in to bat, but it was not plain sailing: "The doctor had given me some tablets to take. I don't know what they contained, but they enabled me to keep going. I was ill many times on the field. It was very hot weather, the temperature at times reaching 111 [43ºC]."
Has anyone ever bagged a pair in a Test by being run out in both innings? asked Vinod from Australia
The only man to suffer this unfortunate fate in a Test is the Guyanese fast bowler John Trim, for West Indies against Australia in Melbourne in 1951-52. He faced four balls in the first innings before being run out, then in the second tried a suicidal single from the first ball he faced, in an effort to give his well-set partner, Gerry Gomez, the strike.
Trim might have been unlucky in that second innings, as the watching journalist Johnnie Moyes related in his tour book:
The ball was returned to the wicket. It hit [Lindsay] Hassett's hands, but rebounded. Bails flew into the air and the umpire gave Trim out. My colleague, Alan McGilvray, was on the air at the time. He was using a pair of glasses which brought the game almost under his eyes. He was definite that the ball did not hit the stumps; that it was not 'in hand' when the wicket was broken. I was watching with the naked eye and therefore would not care to be dogmatic. But three of us at once exclaimed 'He didn't have the ball.' A picture published next morning explained, in the caption, that the ball had dropped from Hassett's hands on to the bails. That may have been correct, but the picture seemed to disprove it, because it showed the middle stump standing at quite an angle from the others. I doubt whether a ball falling a few inches would have that effect on the stumps.
Whatever the truth, it gave Trim his (unwanted) footnote in history. He did have the consolation of his best Test bowling figures - 5 for 34 - in Australia's first innings, between his brief appearances at the crease. It turned out to be the last of his four Test appearances.
In all, there have been 25 instances of a player being run out in both innings of a Test, by 23 different players (it happened to Ian Healy and Mark Taylor twice).
Is it true that the Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts was a big cricket fan? asked David McKenzie from England
It was indeed true - Charlie Watts, who died last week, and the Rolling Stones front-man Mick Jagger were often seen in the crowd at Test matches, most recently (I think) at Ireland's inaugural Test, against Pakistan at Malahide in May 2018.
Charlie had a big collection of cricket memorabilia. I actually met him at the big MCC Bicentenary auction at Lord's in 1987, when he bought several items, advised by David Frith, who was my editor at the time on Wisden Cricket Monthly. After the long sale, we all walked round the ground together in the dark - Charlie, David, me… and JT Hearne. Watts had bought a painting of the old Middlesex and England player, and we all loaded it into the car.
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Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes