A rare tango

Double delight... James Anderson and Steve Finn.-AP

Two English bowlers took six-wicket hauls during the third Test of the ongoing Ashes series at Edgbaston — James Anderson (6/47) in the first innings and Steven Finn (6/79) in the second. The last time that two English bowlers took six-wicket hauls in the same Ashes Test was 34 years ago, when Ian Botham (6/95) and Bob Willis (8/43) did it at Headingly in 1981. The only two other instances of this happening were in the century before last — at Lord’s in 1884 and at The Oval in 1896. Interestingly, while there have been only four instances of two different English bowlers taking six-wicket hauls in the same Ashes Test, there have been nine instances of the same English bowler taking two six-wicket hauls in an Ashes Test.

The wall that makes mountains

Rahul Dravid is the only batsman in ODI history to have been part of two 300-plus partnerships. He was involved in a 318-run stand with Sourav Ganguly against Sri Lanka in 1999 and a 331-run stand with Sachin Tendulkar against New Zealand later the same year. There have ever been only three 300-plus stands in ODIs, with the other being between Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels (372) against Zimbabwe during the 2015 World Cup. In Test cricket, there are three batsmen who have been part of two 400-plus partnerships each — Don Bradman, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara.

In the ongoing Ashes series, all the four opening batsmen are left-handed. Has this happened earlier in any other Ashes series?

- Ajit Krishnan, Chennai, Tamil Nadu

It is true that all four opening batsmen in this Ashes series (as of August 5, 2015) have been left handed - Alastair Cook and Adam Lyth have opened for England, while Chris Rogers and David Warner have done so for Australia. Till July 20, 2005, there was not a single Ashes Test, out of the 290 played, where all four opening batsmen were left-handed. However, in the 33 Ashes Tests played since then, 20 have involved four left-handed batsmen. A couple of distinct combinations are (i) Langer, Hayden, Strauss & Trescothick; and (ii) Hughes, Katich, Strauss & Cook.

Is it true that Shantha Rangaswamy, a former India women's captain, was awarded a silk saree by a local emporium for becoming the first woman from India to hit a six in Test matches?

- Pralhad Kurundwadkar, Miraj, Maharashtra

While this would be a quirky little fact if true, there seems to be no authoritative source to suggest that Shantha Rangaswamy was in fact the first Indian to hit a Test six. That said, Rangaswamy does hold the record for being the first woman cricketer from India to hit a Test century, against New Zealand in Dunedin in 1977. The only women's cricketer from India to hit a Test six since 2003 is Thirush Kamini, who hit one six against South Africa during her knock of 192 in Mysore in 2014. Complete and accurate ball-by-ball data is unavailable for women's cricket prior to 2003.

Who is the most successful off-spinner in Ashes history?

- D Sairam, Vellore, Tamil Nadu

I suppose this question is based on the presumption that the most successful spinner in Ashes history is Shane Warne, a legspinner. That presumption would be correct because Shane Warne has taken 195 Ashes wickets, 38 more than any other bowler, spin or pace. The second spinner on this list is Australia's Hugh Trumble, an off-spinner who played between 1890 and 1904. He has taken 141 wickets from 31 Ashes Tests at an average of 20.88, which is better than the Ashes average of even greats such as Warne (23.25), Glenn McGrath (20.92), Ian Botham (28.04) and Dennis Lillee (22.32).

I noticed that four Pakistan bowlers conceded 70-plus runs in the fifth ODI against Sri Lanka. Has this ever happened before?

- J Bianca, Bangalore, Karnataka

This is an extremely rare occurrence. When those four Pakistan bowlers - Mohammad Irfan (0/73), Anwar Ali (0/71), Rahat Ali (2/74) and Yasir Shah (0/73) - conceded 70-plus runs in the fifth ODI of the recent bilateral series against Sri Lanka, it was the first time that this had happened in their ODI history. Overall, this has happened five other times in ODIs, with the guilty teams being Netherlands (v Sri Lanka, 2006), Afghanistan (v Australia, 2015), South Africa (v Australia, 2006), Australia (v India, 2013) and Sri Lanka (v India, 2014).