The regular Monday column in which our editor answers your questions about (almost) any aspect of cricket:



Shivnarine Chanderpaul: double-century on captaincy debut © Getty Images

Was Shivnarine Chanderpaul's double-century recently the highest score by someone in their first Test as captain? asked Chethana Attanayake from Sri Lanka

Chanderpaul's 203 not out against South Africa at Georgetown recently was only the second double-century by a player in his first Test as captain. The other man to do it was Graham Dowling of New Zealand, on his captaincy debut against India at Christchurch in 1967-68. Greg Chappell uniquely scored two centuries in his first Test as captain, for Australia against West Indies at Brisbane in 1975-76. Click here for an overall list of the highest scores by Test captains.

Where was the great West Indian batsman George Headley born? A friend of mine claims that he was not born in Jamaica ... asked Neil Singh from Kingston, Jamaica

George Headley was a prolific scorer for Jamaica, but he wasn't actually born there - he first saw the light of day in Panama in Central America. The other West Indian Test players born outside the Caribbean are Kenneth Weekes (USA) and Courtney Browne (England).

Who played in the most Test matches before being out for a duck? asked Niran Kulasekera from Colombo

The record-holder here is Aravinda de Silva, who played 44 Tests for Sri Lanka before being out for a duck - in his 45th match he was caught behind off Heath Streak for 0 against Zimbabwe at Bulawayo. To make up for lost time he collected three more ducks in his next five Tests. Next on the list is Alan Davidson, the old Australian allrounder, who went 37 matches before being out without scoring.

Now that Sussex have won it, how many of the other counties have not won the County Championship? asked Fred Johnson from Halifax

After Sussex's title win in 2003 there are now four counties which have never won the Championship. Durham only joined in 1992, so it's not entirely surprising that they haven't won it. But the others have been going much longer - Gloucestershire (who have finished runners-up six times), Northamptonshire (second four times) and Somerset (runners-up once, in 2001). Older Gloucestershire fans might feel a little hard done by - the Championship is generally agreed to have started in 1890, because that's when there was agreement between the counties about how the competition should be run. Before that, various newspapers and magazines ran unofficial tables - and Gloucestershire, with WG Grace to the fore, had a claim to the title in 1873, 1874, 1876 and 1877. To find the table from a particular year, click here.

I see from the records that there was once a first-class over that cost 77 runs. What happened? asked Renad Hakim from Bangladesh

This happened in a Shell Trophy match in New Zealand in 1989-90 between Canterbury and Wellington at Christchurch. Wellington were trying to keep Canterbury, who had lost some wickets, interested in going for their target of 291, reasoning that if they kept hitting out they might get out and Wellington might win. Bert Vance, not a regular bowler, came on for the last-but-one over, with Canterbury's ninth-wicket pair Lee Germon and Roger Ford batting, and sent down deliberate full-tosses and no-balls in an attempt to give runs away and get Canterbury nearer to their target. In all 77 came off the over, and Canterbury finished up only one short at the end of the next (last) one. In fact they probably should have won, as the umpires miscounted in all the mayhem and there were only five legitimate deliveries in the over between the 17 deliberate no-balls. We looked at this incident in more detail in a recent edition of our "Rewind To ..." column - click here for that.

You wrote recently about people who scored 90 or more on their Test debut - but how many people have failed completely and bagged a pair in their first Test? asked Danny McDonald from Stirling

This has happened to 34 poor souls in Tests now - click here for a complete list. The most distinguished name on the list is probably that of Graham Gooch, who bagged a pair on his debut at Edgbaston in 1975, but went on to score 8900 Test runs. There's also Saeed Anwar, who had a very distinguished career with Pakistan - and Sri Lanka's Marvan Atapattu, who actually managed only one run in his first six innings, but who recently completed his sixth Test double-century, and has now passed 5000 runs. I suppose the really unlucky ones are those who never got another chance, and nine of the people on that list never played another Test - Fred Grace and Gavin Hamilton of England, Rashid Patel of India, the New Zealanders Len Butterfield and Gordon Rowe, and a clutch of early South Africans in Cec Dixon, Percy Twentyman-Jones, Plum Lewis and Clarence Wimble.

And there's an afterthought to one of last week's questions, from Sanjeev

"In response to your answer to the question 'What's the highest first-innings total by a team which ended up losing the match?' last week, may I add the following footnote: In the 1981-82 Ranji Trophy Final at Delhi at Delhi, Delhi batting second scored 707 for 8 to overhaul Karnataka's first-innings total of 705 and win the match under the first-innings lead rule, then and still in force in the Ranji Trophy to decide winners in drawn matches. Surely this deserves an honourable mention?"

Steven Lynch is the editor of Cricinfo. For some of these answers he was helped by Travis Basevi, the man who built Stats Guru and the Wisden Wizard. If you want to Ask Steven a question, contact him through our feedback form. The most interesting questions will be answered each week in this column. Unfortunately, we can't usually enter into correspondence about individual queries