The regular Monday column in which our editor answers your questions about (almost) any aspect of cricket:
Ashley Giles and Andrew Flintoff both completed the allrounder's Test double in the series against South Africa. How many people have done this for England before? asked David Castor of Bristol
They were the ninth and tenth players to achieve the 1000-run/100-wicket double in Tests for England, and remarkably they completed the feat on the same day - the third in the third Test against South Africa at Cape Town. Giles, who took his 100th Test wicket when he dismissed Brian Lara at Lord's last year, recorded his 1000th run: not long afterwards Flintoff, who breezed past 1000 runs some time ago, took his 100th wicket when he had Herschelle Gibbs caught behind. Only eight players had previously done this double for England: Wilfred Rhodes, Maurice Tate, Trevor Bailey, Fred Titmus, Ray Illingworth, Tony Greig, Ian Botham and John Emburey. For a list of players from all countries who have completed this double in Tests, click here.
Bangladesh came back from 0-2 down to win their one-day series against Zimbabwe 3-2. Has any other team done this? asked Sanjay Naik
There have been nearly 50 five-match one-day series, and only one previous side before Bangladesh last month has come from two-down to win a series 3-2. That was South Africa, who were two down in Pakistan in October 2003, but ended up by winning the series. There are eight further instances of a side coming from two behind to draw a one-day series (not necessarily a series of five matches, though).
Who had the longest Test career, in terms of time? asked Colin Woodford of Paddington
This is Wilfred Rhodes, the Yorkshire allrounder who is one of the ten men mentioned above to do the Test double for England. Rhodes played the first of his 58 Tests against Australia at Trent Bridge in June 1899 (this was WG Grace's last Test), and he played his last one in April 1930, a nine-day marathon against West Indies at Kingston. Rhodes was 52 in that match - the oldest test player ever - and his Test career lasted about seven weeks short of 31 years. Another Yorkshireman is second on the list; Brian Close played his first Test in 1949, when he was England's youngest-ever player at 18, and finished up almost 27 years later, playing his last Test against West Indies at Old Trafford in 1976. England's Frank Woolley is third, with a time-span of 25 years 132 days (1909-34), ahead of George Headley of West Indies (24 years 10 days - 1930-54) and John Traicos, whose last Test for Zimbabwe ended over 23 years after his first, for South Africa in 1969-70.
Which batsman has been hit wicket most often in Tests? asked Anup Barve
Leading the way with five such dismissals is Denis Compton, the legendary England batsman of the 1940s and '50s. Compo is two in front of India's Mohinder Amarnath, who hit his own stumps three times. Amarnath made something of a habit of getting out in strange ways, as he was also out obstructing the field and handled the ball in one-day internationals. There are ten other players who have been out hit wicket twice in Tests, including one current player in Brian Lara, and a recently retired one in Romesh Kaluwitharana. Among bowlers, Australia's Graham McKenzie inflicted the most hit-wicket dismissals, with four.
Shahid Afridi will probably be playing his 200th ODI in less than two months - and he's still only 24. Will he be the youngest to reach that landmark? asked Zain Afridi (no relation, we think!)
The second final of the VB Series at Sydney was Shahid Afridi's 199th ODI, and he is indeed not 25 until March 1. The previous-youngest to reach 200 was Sachin Tendulkar, who was around 25 years and five months old when he clocked up 200. And he is well clear of the next man, Chaminda Vaas of Sri Lanka, whose 200th ODI came when he was almost 29.
Regarding last week's question about batsmen monopolising an innings, I remember Asanka Gurusinha doing something remarkable in a Test against India. Where does he come in the percentage list? asked Jeremy Anderson
The match you're talking about was Sri Lanka's one-off Test against India at Chandigarh in 1990-91. In their first innings Sri Lanka were bowled out for 82, of which Gurusinha made 52, or 63.41%. It's a remarkable effort, but still only places him fifth on the alltime Test list, behind the innings of Charles Bannerman (67.35%) and Michael Slater (66.85%) which were mentioned last week, VVS Laxman's 167 out of 261 (63.98%) for India against Australia at Sydney in 1999-2000, and Gordon Greenidge's 134 out of 211 (63.51%) for West Indies against England at Old Trafford in 1976.
There's also an afterthought to last week's question about slow scorers:
I'm indebted to the Melbourne statistician Charles Davis for reminding me that his treatise on fast scorers, which was the lead article in the 2004-05 Wisden Cricketers' Almanack Australia, also unmasked Test cricket's dawdlers. Mr Davis - who runs his own statistical website sportstats.com.au - researched all the Test matches for which no official scorebook survives, and made estimates of the balls faced by each batsman based on the length of innings and the prevailing over rate during the innings. It might only be an estimate, but, he says, "It is far, far more accurate than might be expected." His calculations suggest that Alec Bannerman, the brother of the first Test centurion Charles, was actually the slowest runscorer of them all, with 1108 runs at between 22 and 23 per 100 balls in Tests. Of those with more than 1000 Test runs, Trevor Bailey lies second with 26-27 runs per 100 balls, and Jim Burke third with 28-29. William Scotton, the defensive batsman mentioned in last week's column as a noted early stonewaller, averaged between 22-23 per 100 balls, similar to Bannerman, but scored only 510 Test runs. Mr Davis adds that, since he completed that article, he has collected more information that suggests that Geoff Rabone, the New Zealander who scored 562 runs in 12 Tests between 1949 and 1954-55, might have scored at a rate even slower than Bannerman, at just under 22 runs per 100 balls.
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.