Is it true that some of the characters in the musical Chess are named after cricketers? asked Will McAllister from England
Knowing that the lyricist of Chess was the cricket-loving Tim Rice - he was MCC's president in 2002 - I thought this was quite likely. And it's true: the world champion in the stage musical is called Freddie Trumper, after the great Golden Age Australian batsman Victor Trumper, while one of the Americans in his delegation (he's also a CIA agent) is Walter de Courcey, after the Australian batsman Jim de Courcy, who toured England in 1953. The musical's Russian grandmaster Anatoly Sergievsky does not appear to be based on any former wearers of the baggy green cap.
Tim Rice has previous form when it comes to slipping in cricket references: he confused American onlookers at the 1995 Oscar ceremony after receiving an Academy Award for the music for The Lion King, as his acceptance speech thanked (among others) Denis Compton, "a childhood hero". A flustered spokesperson had to admit: "We don't know who Denis Compton is. He doesn't appear to be at Disney Studios or have anything to do with them."
I know there hasn't yet been a Test triple-century in Ireland. But is there any other country which hasn't had one? asked Michael O'Kelly from Ireland
Apart from Ireland, where there has only been one Test so far (the only century was Kevin O'Brien's 118 against Pakistan in 2018), there have also been no triple-centuries in Tests in Zimbabwe, where the highest score is Kumar Sangakkara's 270 for Sri Lanka in Bulawayo in May 2004.
More surprisingly perhaps, there has not yet been a triple-century in the 241 Test matches played in South Africa. The highest is Gary Kirsten's epic 14.5-hour 275 against England in Durban in 1999-2000, which sneaked past Graeme Pollock's rather quicker 274 against Australia, also at Kingsmead, in 1969-70. In all there have been 18 double-centuries in Tests in South Africa, and nine in Zimbabwe.
In which Test was the wicketkeeper the first bowler to take an opposition wicket? asked Ajith de Silva from Sri Lanka
This unlikely feat was actually achieved by the Zimbabwe wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu, in a Test against Sri Lanka in Harare in May 2004. Sri Lanka's openers, Marvan Atapattu and Sanath Jayasuriya, had already cruised past Zimbabwe's modest first-innings total of 199. Taibu, who was playing in his 15th Test but, aged 20, captaining in his first, decided to take off the pads and have a bowl for the first time - and ended the first-wicket stand at 281. It remained the only time Taibu bowled in a Test, although he did strike twice in ODIs.
I seem to remember hearing about a batsman walking off in a Sheffield Shield game thinking he had been caught, but the dismissal going down as retired as he hadn't been. Who was this? asked Ross McDonald from Australia
This strange "dismissal" concerned Graeme Watson, the batting allrounder who played five Tests for Australia, and was the first to represent three states (Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales) in the Sheffield Shield. In his first match for Western Australia, in Perth in 1971-72, Watson had made 145 when he cut a ball from left-armer Warwick Neville into the gully and walked off, convinced he had been caught by Don Allen. After play the umpires informed Watson that he hadn't been caught at all, and instructed the scorers to record the dismissal as "retired out". I've never discovered why they didn't tell him before he left the playing area.
A similar thing happened to the Surrey and England bowler James Southerton, when playing against MCC at The Oval in 1870. Wisden reported: "Southerton cut a ball hard on the ground, which Mr [WG] Grace at point caught from the bound. Southerton thought the ball went straight from the bat to Mr Grace's hands, but neither of the umpires, point, nor any other man but Southerton thought so (Mr Grace did not toss up the ball); however, Southerton walked away, and although called back, did not walk back, so he lost his innings."
It also calls to mind a timid tailender in a 1920s county match, who was facing a rapid spell from Nottinghamshire's Harold Larwood. He is supposed to have edged the ball and walked off, despite the fielders telling him the ball had bounced in front of the wicketkeeper, saying "It was close enough for me!"
In which one-day international did brothers make their debuts - for opposing sides? asked Tom Johnston from England
The match in question was England's first official one-day international against Ireland, in Belfast in June 2006. Dublin-born Ed Joyce opened the batting for England, and later his younger brother Dominick Joyce faced the first ball for Ireland (he was out to the third, from Steve Harmison).
Ed later returned to play for Ireland, and appeared in their first Test match, against Pakistan in Dublin in 2018, before announcing his retirement. Another brother, Gus Joyce played for Ireland in an unofficial international in 2000, and their twin sisters Cecelia and Isobel had long careers with the Ireland women's team.
Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes