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Ask Steven

What's the most wicketless overs bowled by spinners in a Test innings in Sri Lanka?

And when was the last time a Test featured two players over 38 years of age?

Steven Lynch
Steven Lynch
Jack Leach and Dom Bess sent down 64 fruitless overs in the first Test, the third most wicketless overs by spinners in Sri Lanka in an innings  •  Getty Images

Jack Leach and Dom Bess sent down 64 fruitless overs in the first Test, the third most wicketless overs by spinners in Sri Lanka in an innings  •  Getty Images

Was England's 64 overs in the second Test in Galle the most in an innings by spinners in any Test in Sri Lanka without taking a wicket? asked David Morrison from England
Quite surprisingly perhaps, the 64 overs by Jack Leach (38-5-119-0) and Dom Bess (26-2-76-0) in the first innings of the second Test in Galle comes in only third on that particular list. When Sri Lanka ran up 756 for 5 in Colombo in 2006 - the match in which Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene shared a Test-record partnership of 624 - South Africa's spinners sent down 74 fruitless overs, most of them by slow left-armer Nicky Boje (65-5-221-0). And when Sri Lanka made 326 for 5 to beat Zimbabwe in Colombo in 1997-98, the visiting spinners - Paul Strang, Andy Whittall and Murray Goodwin - delivered 67.5 overs without taking a wicket.
In all Tests, there have been three innings which included 93 wicketless overs by spinners, all by England: against Australia at Old Trafford in 1964 (Fred Titmus 44-14-100-0, John Mortimore 49-13-122-0), against West Indies in Kingston in 1973-74 (Pat Pocock 57-14-152-0, Derek Underwood 36-12-98-0; it's possible that Tony Greig, who took 3 for 102, throttled back and bowled some spin here), and against Pakistan at The Oval in 1987 (John Emburey 61-10-143-0, Phil Edmonds 32-8-97-0).
There were two 38-year-olds - Anderson and Perera - in the second Test at Galle. When was the last time a Test featured two players over 38? asked Ishan Ghose from India
You're right that both Jimmy Anderson and Dilruwan Perera had celebrated their 38th birthdays before the recent second Test in Galle. It was the first Test match since May 2017 to feature two players over 38: playing what for both of them was their final Test, for Pakistan against West Indies in Dominica, Misbah-ul-Haq was 42 and Younis Khan 39 (Misbah was a fortnight short of his 43rd birthday).
The record number of players aged 38 or more in a single match appears to be nine, which has happened twice in Ashes Tests: in Sydney in 1920-21 (Warwick Armstrong, Warren Bardsley and Hanson Carter for Australia, Johnny Douglas, Jack Hobbs, Harry Makepeace, Wilfred Rhodes, Bert Strudwick and Rockley Wilson for England), and at The Oval in 1926 (Hobbs, Rhodes, Strudwick and Frank Woolley for England, Bardsley. Herbie Collins, Charlie Macartney, Arthur Mailey and Arthur Richardson for Australia).
Lahiru Thirimanne took five catches in England's first innings at Galle. Was this a record? asked Ranjan de Silva from Sri Lanka
Those five slip catches by Lahiru Thirimanne in England's first innings of the second Test in Galle equalled the Test record. This was the 13th such instance, but Thirimanne was the first to do it for Sri Lanka, and the first to take them all off the same bowler (Lasith Embuldeniya).
The first man to take five in a Test innings was Australia's Vic Richardson - the grandfather of the Chappell brothers - against South Africa in Durban in 1935-36. That wasn't equalled until 1976-77, when Yajurvindra Singh marked his debut for India with five catches against England in Bangalore (now Bengaluru); since then it has become relatively common.
I noticed that both Pakistan's openers in the notorious Oval Test of 2006 were dismissed in the nineties. How often has this happened in Tests? asked Jamie Powell from England
In that match at The Oval in 2006 - which Pakistan forfeited after being accused of ball-tampering - Mohammad Hafeez made 95 and Imran Farhat 91 in their first innings of 504. That was the third instance of both openers being dismissed in the nineties in a Test, and there has been one more since.
It happened first in Lahore in 1978-79, when Sunil Gavaskar made 97 and Chetan Chauhan 93 against Pakistan. Two more Indians - VVS Laxman (95) and Navjot Singh Sidhu (97) - repeated the feat against Australia in Kolkata in 1997-98. And finally, in the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan in Melbourne in 2009-10, Shane Watson (93) and Simon Katich (98) both fell just short of hundreds for Australia.
Who had scored the most runs after 93, 100 and 150 Test matches? asked Muhammad Kamran from Pakistan
The first part of this question is remarkably specific! I wondered if it was to see whether Garry Sobers, who played 93 Tests in all, was top of the list - but actually his 8032 runs places him fifth, admittedly not far behind the others. Top after 93 matches is Kumar Sangakkara, who had 8244 runs at that point of his career. Also ahead of Sobers are Matthew Hayden (8139 runs), Younis Khan (8078) and Virender Sehwag (8054). On recent form, Steve Smith looks likely to smash this record: he currently has 7540 runs from 77 matches.
For 100 Tests, Sangakkara (8651 runs) drops behind Brian Lara, who had 8916 runs by the end of his 100th match. Younis had 8640 runs and Hayden 8508, with Rahul Dravid between them on 8553.
When we get to 150 Tests, it should be borne in mind that only nine players have won this many caps. The most runs at this point is 12,320 by Ricky Ponting, ahead of Jacques Kallis (12,260), Dravid (12,063), Sachin Tendulkar (11,877), Alastair Cook (11,712), Shivnarine Chanderpaul (10,963), Allan Border (10,876), Steve Waugh (9631)… and Jimmy Anderson (1181).
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Steven Lynch is the editor of the updated edition of Wisden on the Ashes