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Ask Steven

What's the fielding record for most catches off one bowler?

Also: what's the record for most balls used in a Test?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
Viv Richards pulls Derek Pringle, England v West Indies, 1st ODI, Old Trafford, May 31, 1984

Viv Richards scored more than two-thirds of West Indies' total during his marauding 189 not out at Old Trafford in 1984  •  Getty Images

Was Mushfiqur Rahim's 144 against Sri Lanka the highest percentage of runs in an ODI total for Bangladesh? asked Rafsan Niaz from Bangladesh
Mushfiqur Rahim's splendid 144 against Sri Lanka in Dubai at the weekend - moments after he came in, his side were 2 for 3 - represented 55.33% of Bangladesh's eventual total of 261. That was a national record, narrowly ahead of Tamim Iqbal's 125 out of 228 - 54.82% - against England in Mirpur in 2009-10.
The overall record for a full ODI innings (one in which the side was bowled out or used up their full allocation of overs) remains 69.48%, by Viv Richards in scoring 189 not out in West Indies' 55-over total of 272 for 9 against England at Old Trafford in 1984.
Who scored the most runs if we consider just his first and last Tests? Is it Alastair Cook? asked Kumar Sagar from India
Alastair Cook scored 60 and 104 not out on his Test debut, against India in Nagpur in 2005-06, and 71 and 147 in his avowedly final match, at The Oval last week. That's a total of 382 runs - but three men have done better than that.
Top of the list is Bill Ponsford, the prolific Australian opener. He made 110 and 27 on his debut, against England in Sydney in 1924-25, and signed off with 266 and 22 at The Oval in 1934 - that's a total of 425 runs in his first and last matches. Next, with 396, comes England's Andy Sandham: he started modestly enough, with 21 against Australia at The Oval in 1921, but signed off with 325 and 50 against West Indies in Kingston in 1929-30.
Another Englishman, Reginald "Tip" Foster, collected 392 runs in his first and last Tests, most of those coming in his debut 287 in Sydney in 1903-04.
I noticed that Alastair Cook took 40 catches off Jimmy Anderson in Tests. Was this a record? asked Devendra Kumar from Nepal
Alastair Cook's 40 catches from the bowling of Jimmy Anderson is the England record for a fielder-bowler combination (not including wicketkeepers). The next best for England is 28, by Cook off Stuart Broad; next comes Ian Botham, with 22 catches from the bowling of Bob Willis.
The overall Test record is Mahela Jayawardene's 77 catches off Muttiah Muralitharan. Rahul Dravid caught 51 in the field from the bowling of Anil Kumble, and 51 off Harbhajan Singh; Mark Taylor took 51 off Shane Warne. Cook comes next, just ahead of three combinations who managed 39: Matthew Hayden and Mark Waugh off Shane Warne, and Garry Sobers off Lance Gibbs. For the full list (which does include wicketkeepers), click here.
Surrey recently completed their ninth successive victory in the County Championship. When was there last a run like this ? asked Roger Butcher from England
Surrey's three-wicket victory in Worcester last week, which confirmed the County Championship title - their 19th, but first since 2002 - was their seventh in a row. That's the best sequence in the Championship since 195… by Surrey again, on the way to winning the sixth of what became seven successive county titles.
Surrey still have two more matches this season, but they will have to continue their current form well into next year to threaten the overall record: Middlesex won a remarkable 21 matches in a row in 1920 and 1921. Not surprisingly, they lifted the Championship title in both of those seasons, the first one completing a satisfying farewell for their long-serving captain Pelham "Plum" Warner.
They seemed to change the ball a lot in the final Test. Was it some sort of record? asked David Simpson from England
There were indeed a lot of ball changes during the final Test at The Oval: I counted four (so five different balls) in England's second innings alone. There didn't seem to be any official explanation, so we have to assume it was a bad batch of balls, or perhaps the umpires were being unusually sensitive. I did hear a suggestion on BBC Radio's Test Match Special, emanating from the former Test umpire John Holder, that the ball gauge used by the officials is only supposed to be used for new balls, not older ones.
There isn't an official record for this sort of thing, but I suspect the nadir came during the 1924-25 Ashes series. Arthur Gilligan, England's captain on that tour, remembered in the 1939 Wisden: "In the second Test at Melbourne, after only 15 runs were on the board - I was bowling at the time - I noticed that a great piece of leather had come off the ball. I immediately showed it to umpire Bob Crockett, who consulted his colleague and a brand new ball was brought out. Before lunch that day we had no fewer than four new balls with the total no more than 87! When we adjourned, we discovered that, by mistake, a wrong packet of balls had been delivered to the ground and that we had No. 3 grade balls instead of No. 1. It was agreed between Herby Collins and myself to play out the first innings with both sides using the No. 3 grade variety, and it is interesting to note that we used eight new balls before the score reached 200 and Australia had seven. It came as quite a relief when we embarked on the second innings."
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Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes