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Ask Steven

How many batters have scored four or more centuries in three successive Tests?

And is there a Test cricketer who also played tennis in the Davis Cup?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
Everton Weekes (right) scored five hundreds in four successive Tests in 1948-49  •  Getty Images

Everton Weekes (right) scored five hundreds in four successive Tests in 1948-49  •  Getty Images

Jonny Bairstow has scored four centuries in his last three Tests - how many people have matched (or even beaten) this? asked Charlie Bowen from England
This purple patch by Jonny Bairstow has brought him 589 runs from 578 balls in his last five Test innings. After being out for 8 against New Zealand at Edgbaston, he added 136 in the second innings, then hammered 162 and 71 not out in the third Test at Trent Bridge. After that, he hit 106 and 114 not out against India at Edgbaston.
Two other Englishmen have scored four centuries in three Tests: Wally Hammond in 1928-29, and Graham Gooch in 1990. Overall, only ten other players have done it: the Australians Doug Walters (1968-69) and Ricky Ponting (2005-06), but not Don Bradman; South Africans Alan Melville (1938-39 to 1947) and Jacques Kallis (2007-08); two of the West Indian Three Ws, Everton Weekes (1948-49) and Clyde Walcott (1953-54 to 1954-55), but not Frank Worrell; the Pakistan pair of Mohammad Yousuf (2006-07) and Younis Khan (2014-15); India's Sunil Gavaskar (1970-71); and Aravinda de Silva of Sri Lanka (1997-98). Weekes actually made five centuries in successive innings over four Tests, the first of them against England in 1947-48, the rest in India the following year.
England scored at almost five an over hunting down 378 against India. Was this the fastest such chase in a Test? asked Stuart from South Africa
England rattled along at 4.93 an over in that remarkable chase at Edgbaston last week. Only two successful fourth-innings chases of more than 300 were completed more quickly, and neither involved quite as many runs: Pakistan's 302 for 5 to beat Sri Lanka in Sharjah in 2013-14 came at 5.25 an over, while West Indies' 344 for 1 against England at Lord's in 1984 came at 5.19 an over.
However, England's 299 for 5 to beat New Zealand at Trent Bridge a few weeks ago came at a higher rate than any other successful chase of 200 or more - an unmatched 5.98 an over.
Imtiaz Ahmed played in all of Pakistan's first 39 Tests before missing one. I believe this was a record at the time - is it still? And what is the record for each country? asked Najib Ahmed from Pakistan
You're right that the long-serving wicketkeeper Imtiaz Ahmed appeared in all of Pakistan's first 39 Tests, from their inaugural match in 1952-53 to the first Test in England in 1962. That was indeed a record at the time, but has since been surpassed by Alistair Campbell, who played in all of Zimbabwe's first 56 Tests; Andy Flower appeared in their first 52 as well. Next come Habibul Bashar, a fixture in Bangladesh's first 30 Test matches, and the Zimbabwean Grant Flower (also 30).
For the other countries, Ranjan Madugalle appeared in Sri Lanka's first 18 Tests, Jack Blackham in Australia's first 17 (the first 17 of all Tests), Clifford Roach in West Indies' first 16, and Curly Page in New Zealand's first 14. Amar Singh, the legendary CK Nayudu and Wazir Ali all played in India's first seven Tests. William Milton and Charles Vintcent played in South Africa's first three, while Tom Emmett and George Ulyett both appeared in England's first three Tests before missing the fourth.
Asghar Afghan and Rahmat Shah have played in all six of Afghanistan's Tests to date, while Andy Balbirnie, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O'Brien, William Porterfield, Paul Stirling and Stuart Thompson have appeared in all three of Ireland's.
In the recent Irish one-day competition, Barry McCarthy scored a century from No. 9. Has anyone else made a higher List A score from No. 9 or lower? asked David Evans from Ireland
Barry McCarthy's 110 - more than twice as many as he had made in any other senior innings - came for Leinster Lightning against Northern Knights in Ireland's Inter-Provincial one-day tournament at Pembroke CC in Dublin last week. His runs came from 59 balls, and included ten sixes.
There has been only one higher score from No. 9 or lower in a List A match: for the West Indians against the Sri Lanka Board President's XI at the Colts ground in Colombo in October 2015, No. 9 Carlos Brathwaite pounded 113 from 58 deliveries. The tourists had been in some strife at 109 for 7, before Brathwaite piled on 193 in less than 17 overs with Andre Russell, who hit 89 from 54 balls. Russell himself holds the ODI record for a No. 9, with 92 not out for West Indies against India in Antigua in June 2011.
Is it true that someone once played for Australia in Test cricket and tennis' Davis Cup? I can't work out who it is… asked Jamie Millican from Australia
It isn't true - but someone did come very close: Leslie Poidevin was Australia's 12th man for the first Ashes Test in 1901-02 and, after England won by an innings in Sydney, was in line for a probable debut in the second match in Melbourne. But he picked up a finger injury in practice, and was replaced by Reggie Duff - who scored a century on debut as Australia squared the series. Duff claimed a regular berth, and Poidevin's chance was gone.
Poidevin went on to play several seasons in England, first for WG Grace's London County and then for Lancashire. A good all-round sportsman, he was selected for the Australasian Davis Cup tennis team in 1906, alongside the future Wimbledon champion Tony Wilding, a New Zealander. They lost in the semi-final to the United States. Poidevin also competed at Wimbledon in 1909 and 1910, when he reached the semi-final of the men's doubles. An interesting account of his varied life was published by Red Rose Books in 2021.
Only two Test cricketers have also played Davis Cup tennis - Cotar Ramaswami (India) and Ralph Legall (West Indies). Wicketkeeper Legall's Tests came at home in 1952-53, against an Indian side managed by Ramaswami. The pair share another unusual distinction: the exact date of both their deaths is unknown.
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Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes