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Ask Steven

How many batters have made their first two centuries in the same Test?

And who is the most economical bowler in Tests?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
Canadian actress Margaret Bannerman, who gave Jack Hobbs a kiss on his becoming the oldest Test centurion  •  Getty Images

Canadian actress Margaret Bannerman, who gave Jack Hobbs a kiss on his becoming the oldest Test centurion  •  Getty Images

After Jack Hobbs became the oldest to score a Test century, in Australia in 1928-29, he wrote that a famous actress kissed him at a party afterwards. Who was this actress? asked Pushkar Pushp from India
This incident followed Jack Hobbs' 142 in the fifth Test in Melbourne in March 1929. At 46 years 82 days, Hobbs was the oldest man to score a Test century, a record he is likely to retain for ever.
In his 1935 book My Life Story, Hobbs tells the tale of what happened next. "My 142 had a very jolly sequel in the evening of the day it was scored. My diary says: 'When I walked into the hotel dining-room, the orchestra struck up "See the Conquering Hero Comes", and followed by playing "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow". The guests at the tables rose up and joined in.' One of those guests was a famous English actress; she came right across the room and gave me a kiss! It was most embarrassing. I will not give her name away."
Hobbs might have been too gallant to spill the beans, but the press was less reticent. The New South Wales paper the Newcastle Sun ran the headline "Jack Hobbs blushed", and named the lady as Margaret Bannerman (no relation to the old Australian batters Charles and Alec, as far as I can tell!) She was actually Canadian, although she had a long career in London theatre, and also appeared in several silent films. Margaret was born in Toronto in December 1896, so was 32 when she surprised Hobbs; she died in the United States in 1976. For the newspaper story, click here.
Imam-ul-Haq just scored his first two centuries in the same Test. How many people have done this? asked Damith Sampath from Sri Lanka
That double of 157 and 111 not out by Imam-ul-Haq for Pakistan against Australia in Rawalpindi recently made him the 12th man to score his first two centuries in the same Test. That includes the two who did it on debut - Lawrence Rowe for West Indies vs New Zealand in Kingston in 1971-72, and Yasir Hameed for Pakistan vs Bangladesh in Karachi in 2003.
The first to do this was Australia's Warren Bardsley, with 136 and 130 against England at The Oval in 1909; the most recent before Imam was Shai Hope, for West Indies vs England at Headingley in 2017.
In between, the feat was also achieved by India's Vijay Hazare (against Australia in Adelaide in 1947-48), Jack Moroney of Australia (vs South Africa in Johannesburg in 1949-50), New Zealand's Geoff Howarth (vs England in Auckland in 1977-78), Duleep Mendis of Sri Lanka (vs India in Madras in 1982-83), Pakistan's Wajahatullah Wasti (vs Sri Lanka in Lahore in 1998-99), Phillip Hughes of Australia (vs South Africa in Durban in 2008-09) and the New Zealander Peter Fulton (vs England in Auckland in 2012-13).
Imam will be hoping that, unlike Wasti and Hameed - the others to achieve the feat for Pakistan - he manages to reach three figures again in Tests. Of the rest, Moroney, Fulton and Hope (to date) never scored another Test century either.
In the first Test at Rawalpindi, Pakistan's openers put on 252 without being separated. Was this the highest unbroken first-wicket stand in Tests? asked K Lokaraj from India
Abdullah Shafique, who made his own maiden century, and Imam-ul-Haq put on 252 in the second innings of the first Test against Australia in Rawalpindi. That was indeed the highest unbeaten opening stand in Tests - just: Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes added 250 without being separated for West Indies against Australia in Georgetown in 1983-84.
The highest unbroken opening partnership in all first-class cricket is 451, by Sanjay Desai and Roger Binny for Karnataka (who declared, and won by an innings) against Kerala in Chikmagalur in 1977-78.
Given a minimum of 200 wickets, who's the most economical bowler in Tests? asked Robert Aldridge from England
Some 80 bowlers have now reached the milestone of 200 Test wickets - and of those, only one went for less then two an over: the great West Indian offspinner Lance Gibbs, who conceded 1.98 per six balls during his 79-Test career. Next come Richie Benaud and Derek Underwood, with 2.10. The top five are all spinners: the leading seamer, in sixth place with 2.21 an over, is England's Alec Bedser, just ahead of the West Indian pair of Garry Sobers (2.22) and Curtly Ambrose (2.30). The versatile Sobers mixed seam with spin during his career.
The leading current bowler is India's Ravindra Jadeja, whose economy rate of 2.42 an over puts him 12th at the moment.
Ravindra Jadeja scored 175 then took nine wickets against Sri Lanka recently. Has anyone bettered this in a Test match? asked Ankur Jamil from India
Three men have scored a century and taken ten or more wickets in the same Test. The first to do it was Ian Botham, with 114 and 13 for 106 for England against India in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1979-80. He was followed by Imran Khan, with 117 and 11 for 180 for Pakistan vs India in Faisalabad in 1982-83, and Shakib Al Hasan, with 137 and 10 for 124 for Bangladesh against Zimbabwe in Khulna in 2014-15.
Before Jadeja did it recently against Sri Lanka in Mohali, three others had paired a century with nine wickets in the same Test. Jimmy Sinclair made 106 (South Africa's first Test century) and took 9 for 89 against England in Cape Town in 1898-99; Richie Benaud paired 100 with 9 for 154 for Australia against South Africa in Johannesburg in 1957-58; and Jadeja's India team-mate R Ashwin scored 103 and took 9 for 190 against West Indies in Mumbai in 2011-12. Of these, Jadeja's 175 not out is the highest score involved.
Shiva Jayaraman of ESPNcricinfo's stats team helped with some of this week's answers.
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Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes