Reading about cricket is a favourite passion to millions of cricketers, cricket followers and cricket lovers. Numerous unusual incidents have happened ever since the game has been played. Though not exactly fun, they have made the game more interesting. So here are some of those bizzare incidents recorded in various places and here I bring them all what I have collected together. Christopher Martin-Jenkins, the famous BBC commentator has written a book with a fine collection of such incidents, but I have not laid my hands on it. But am able to collect just a handful of them published in a sports magazine and a majority are from my cricket reading/following. Most of the listed incidents are from the bygone era, quite obviously. Titles to each one have been given by me.
Here we go!
The youngest of the Grace brothers, Fred, caught Australian big-hitter George Bonnor at point off a skier so high that the batsmen were well into their third run when the ball lodged in his hands. Bonnor said afterwards that he ‘ought to have it!’.
E.M.Grace, in his appearances for Thornbury, struck so many balls so hard and so far, many of them never to be seen again, that one umpire, took to keeping up to nine spare balls. This worked well enough to preserve the continuity of play until the day ‘EM’ hit an earth-shaking double century and used up the entire quota in the umpire’s pocket! (With no buildings as obstacles, sprawling grounds In those days were common in England).
Pat Morfee, who played for Kent between 1910-12 has been credited with possessing the largest pair of hands in first class cricket. It is said that he could hold six cricket balls in one hand, though the records do not say whether his ‘mitts’ were renowned for their safety (while fielding)!
Change of hands
L.O.B Fleetwood-Smith of Australia began his career as a right arm medium pacer but earned fame as a left arm wrist spinner!
A.D.Denton of Northamptonshire had only one leg and played county cricket in 1919.
C.A.Aubrey Smith Captain of England that toured South Africa in 1888-89, later became a Hollywood film star.
J.W.H.T.Douglas, the England Captain was also an Olympic Boxing Champion (middleweight)!
Warwick Armstong of Australia bowled 2 consecutive overs (unintentionally from the same end) in a Test against England at Manchester in 1920-21. A.M.Moir of New Zealand for NSW and Australia repeated the feat at Wellington in 1950-51!
C.B.Turner, who often opened the bowling for NSW and Australia with his medium paced off-spinners rubbed the ball in the dust so that he could grip it better.
In 1904, left hander Gilbert Jessop batting for Gloustershire against MCC scored 61 runs with only one hand (his little finger of his left hand broken) with 13 fours. The MCC attack was spearheaded by the fastest bowler of the day, Charles Kortright!
The Steepest Delivery
The steepest delivery was bowled by Charles Kortright, playing at Wallingford in a club match. The ball rose so steeply that is passed over the batsman and ‘keeper and cleared the boundary without bouncing again. He thus registered the only known instance of six byes.
When S.M.J.Woods of Brighton College in 1880’s he bowled an over in which he hit the stumps 8 times but got only 3 wickets. The first 3 deliveries were no-balls, the 4th bowled a man, 5th touched the leg stump and went for byes, 6th an 7th bowled men and the 8th hit the stumps but failed to remove the bails and went for 4 more byes!
At Sleaford on August 20, 1892, a Mr.Aitken for the local side clean bowled 3 men with successive balls, each time breaking a stump in halves – the leg, middle and off stumps respectively!
Bowled from behind the wicket
In 1948, a ball from Jack Young of Midlesex hit Warwickshire’s M.Donnelly on the foot, bounced over his head, landed behind the wicket, spun back and removed the bails!
In the Harrow V/s Winchester match in 1965, R.N.Burchnall was struck on the head by a bumper which knocked his cap off his head onto the wicket where it hung without dislodging a bail!
The most exhausted batsman
T.A.Fison, batting for Hendon against Highgate School in 1879 hit 264 not out in 3½ hours and ran every one of them. He then left the wicket and the scorebook records his departure as “retired to catch train to continent”!
Harold Charlwood, playing at the oval, gave a dolly catch in the deep and was dropped. He had already taken two runs and was run out when on his third. Meanwhile the second run had been signaled ‘one short’. He went down in the score book as “dropped made one run, ran one short and was run out - all in one hit!”
During a Test in South Africa, there was such a strong wind that the ball bowled by slow bowlers against the wind often failed to reach the batsman! The bails were stuck on the stumps with chewed gum to prevent them from failing off too often!
One of the most breathtaking sights ever in cricket was Gregor McGregor’s wicket-keeping to fast bowler S.M.J.Woods for Cambridge when the Scot stood up for his bowler’s fizzing Yorkers and kickers. Only once was he hit on the big toe.
The big toe
Sammy Woods was considered to be among the fastest bowlers in the world even though he bowled off only two paces. His confidence depended upon his being able to ‘feel de pitch wid de toe’ and unless he could sense the big toe of his right foot against the turf he was lost. He was pursued by his captain to wear shoes. He would tear off the toe portion secretly, so that he could feel the turf.
‘Stringy Bark’ Woods, amused himself by bowling at the English team visiting Australia in the nets. The first ball cracked a post in an adjoining net. The next two hit the backnetting on the full. The batsman then retired, saying he had a letter to write to his insurance company. The story goes that when England lost the test series, ‘Stringy Bark’ said to his brother Sammy Woods “I told you they would. They don’t know the first bloody thing about fast bowling”.
Sunil Gavaskar batting capless on a windy day in the Manchester test of 1974 had his hair cut on the field by Umpire ‘Dickie’ Bird. The wind was blowing the hair into his eyes.
The record for the quickest ‘pair’ was achieved by Glamorgan’s Peter Judge, last man in against India at Cardiff. He was bowled first ball by Chandu Sarwate and to save time when the county followed on, Judge and Clay stayed on the field to open the second innings. Sarwate bowled Judge again, first ball!
The only occasion when a fielding side appealed for bad light was during the South Africa V/s Australia Test in 1935-36 at Johannesburg. The appealer was Herbie Wade, the South African Captain. His reasoning was that his fieldsmen could get hurt!
The Timeless Test
The timeless test dragged on for 10 days, without a result at Durban from March 3 to 14, 1939. The touring England team had to catch the next boat home with the threat of World War II looming large!
For the Ashes
The bodyline tour of 1932-33 has been discussed threadbare. It is, however, not widely known that because Larwood of the devastating speed has successfully used the most deadly and shameful weapon ever used in Test Cricket, Jardine, his captain under whose instruction he had done it, had presented him an ashtray, inscribed simply “For the Ashes – from a grateful skipper”!
The third test at Edgbaston in 1974 between India and England, was supervised by the most senior and most junior Test umpires – Charlie Elliott (43 tests) and Bill Alley making his Test debut, respectively. Alley gave Gavaskar out caught behind off the first ball of the match and he raised his finger again to uphold an ‘lbw’ appeal against Engineer to terminate the Test and the series!
By a splendid of coincidence, the Centenary Test at Melbourne in 1977 produced a result exactly identical to that in the first ever test match on the same ground exactly a hundred years before on March 17, 1877, Australia won by 45 runs after gaining a first innings lead of 49 runs. On March 17, 1977, Australia won once again by 45 runs after securing a first innings lead of 43 runs, against all odds!
Most Dreadful Delivery
When ‘Punter’ Humphreys played in a trial at Tonbridge, he bowled a no ball and was immediately sent off by Lord Harris. Later his lordship explained: “I did that for your own good, Humphreys. A fast bowler can be excused a no ball occasionally, but not a slow bowler like you”!
Caught not with hands
When fielding at shortleg for Surrey at Kingston in 1946, Alf Gover ‘took’ an unusual catch between his thighs while in the act of pulling on his sweater and dismissed R.N.Exton. He could see nothing as his sweater was over his head. It was Jim Laker’s first wicket in first class cricket!
Bowled, Off and Leg
In the first Test between England and India at Old Trafford in 1974, Mike Hendrick bowled Madal Lal for 2 and had his off and leg stumps knocked out with the middle stump left intact!
Sportsmanship at its best
Jubilee Test 1980, Bombay – G.R.Vishwanath, the Indian skipper calling back Bob Taylor of England at a crucial stage, when he was declared caught. He went onto make a century which helped them win the match!
The famous bouncer
Ernest Jones, the Australian fast bowler is credited to have bowled one of cricket history’s most famous balls – a bouncer that went through Dr.W.G.Grace’s beard in 1896.
Two Matches a Day
Graham Gooch once played two first class matched on August 30, 1988. He fielded for Essex V/s Surrey at the Oval after batting for England in the Test Match at Lord’s against Sri Lanka.