Ask Steven

Is Hashmatullah Shahidi's double-hundred the fastest for a team in Tests?

And did Sunil Gavaskar open the bowling in his debut Test?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
Shahidi's double-hundred came in Afghanistan's sixth Test, the earliest (along with West Indies) that a team has got an individual double-century  •  Abu Dhabi Cricket

Shahidi's double-hundred came in Afghanistan's sixth Test, the earliest (along with West Indies) that a team has got an individual double-century  •  Abu Dhabi Cricket

Which two bowlers took nine wickets in an innings in a Championship match for the same side? asked Gerry Schlittner from England
This unique occurrence came during the match between Glamorgan and Yorkshire in Swansea in 1965. Both sides chose four spinners on what the Times called "a dusty brown wicket". It offered assistance from the start: Brian Close took 6 for 52 as Glamorgan were bowled out for 140.
And then Glamorgan's spinners took over. Slow left-armer Jim Pressdee carved through the visitors' batting, finishing with 9 for 43 as Yorkshire - whose team contained ten men who had or would play Test cricket - succumbed for 96. His victims included Geoff Boycott, who made 18 in two hours, "keeping his head as closely over the ball as a lepidopterist poring over his pinned specimens", according to the Times, before he finally fell. The only man to escape Pressdee's clutches was John Hampshire, who was run out by Peter Walker from short leg.
Pressdee knew he owed much to the offspin and cutters of Don Shepherd at the other end, and insisted that Shepherd accompany him off to share the applause at the end of the innings. Glamorgan were then bowled out for 121, setting Yorkshire 166 to win, and now it was Shepherd's turn: he took 9 for 48 (Pressdee had only 1 for 73, but it was the important scalp of Boycott) as Glamorgan won soon after tea on the second day.
Hashmatullah Shahidi scored Afghanistan's first double-century, in their sixth Test. Has any country had a quicker 200? asked Jonathan Fox from England
That splendid unbeaten 200 by Hashmatullah Shahidi, in the second Test against Zimbabwe in Abu Dhabi, was indeed Afghanistan's first double-century. It came in their sixth match, which equals the record: Clifford Roach made 209 in West Indies' sixth Test, against England in Georgetown in 1929-30.
Zimbabwe's first double-century came in their ninth Test, thanks to Dave Houghton in 1994-95, while the first for Australia and Pakistan arrived in their 16th Tests (thanks to Billy Murdoch in 1884, and Imtiaz Ahmed in 1955-56). New Zealand waited 18 Tests (Martin Donnelly in 1949), South Africa 26 (Aubrey Faulkner in 1910-11), Sri Lanka 25 (Brendon Kuruppu in 1986-87), and India 45 (Polly Umrigar in 1955-56). England's first double-century did not arrive until their 75th Test, when Reginald "Tip" Foster made 287 on debut in Sydney in 1903-04, but Bangladesh's took one match longer (Mushfiqur Rahim in 2012-13). Ireland have played only three Tests so far, and have not yet managed a double-century.
Sunil Gavaskar bowled one over in his debut Test - did he open the bowling? asked Murali Krishnamurthy from the United Arab Emirates
As recent celebrations noted, Sunil Gavaskar made his Test debut for India 50 years ago, against West Indies in Port-of-Spain in March 1971. It's strange but true that his first serious action in Tests was as a bowler: he didn't quite take the new ball, but did come on as first change, for what looks like the eighth over of the match. It went for nine runs, and he wasn't asked to deliver another one.
Gavaskar did open the bowling on five occasions in Tests, including both innings against England in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1976-77. In all he bowled in 29 different Test innings, only once sending down more than five overs (a respectable 12-3-37-0 against England at Old Trafford in 1971).
He finished with one wicket for 206 runs, but his single scalp was a distinguished one: Pakistan's Zaheer Abbas, for 96, in Faisalabad in 1978-79. Gavaskar also took a solitary wicket in one-day internationals (for 25 runs), and remarkably it was Abbas again, for 48 this time, in Sialkot on that same 1978-79 trip.
What is the largest number of runs in a Test that produced a result? asked Saksham from India
The highest run-aggregate in a Test with a positive result is 1753, in the third Ashes Test of 1920-21, in Adelaide: Australia (354 and 582) beat England (447 and 370) by 119 runs. Like almost all Tests in Australia until the Second World War, this was a timeless match (in other words, it was played to a finish); it ended late on the sixth day. The most runs in a time-limited Test that ended in a positive result is 1723, in another Ashes classic, at Headingley in 1948: Australia (458 and 404 for 3) beat England (496 and 365 for 8 declared) by seven wickets late on the fifth day.
Which cricketer's life story was called Tiger's Tale, and whose was Time of the Tiger? asked Philip Cross from England
The 1969 book Tiger's Tale was a book by the Nawab of Pataudi, India's captain, looking back on his early career - including the devastating accident that cost him the sight of one eye - and the 1967 tour of England. There have been other books about Pataudi since, but he never put his name to another volume of autobiography before his death in 2011. The title came from his long-standing nickname, "Tiger" - and the same applies to the other book you mention. Time of the Tiger was a biography of the great Australian legspinner of the 1930s, Bill O'Reilly. Published in 1970, it was written by the Australian journalist RS Whitington. When he was nearly 80, Tiger O'Reilly brought out his own book, Sixty Years in Cricket, in 1985.
And there's an addition to one of last week's questions, from Paul Neazor in New Zealand
"Your question about debutants who were dismissed off the first ball of a Test could have a footnote. In his first Test for New Zealand, against England in Wellington in 1977-78, John Wright got a big nick off Bob Willis first ball. Bob Taylor took the catch. But the most important Bob, umpire Monteith, didn't hear anything in the wind and gave Wright not out. He batted the rest of the day and a bit of the second morning for 55."
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Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes