What a way to go
Thought he was out caught
The sometime Test allrounder Graeme Watson had reached 145 in Western Australia's Sheffield Shield match against Queensland in Perth in 1971-72 when he cut a ball from Warwick Neville to Donald Allen in the gully and departed, convinced he had been caught. After play the umpires informed Watson that he hadn't been caught at all, and instructed the scorers to record the dismissal as "retired out". Quite why they didn't tell him before he left the pitch hasn't been explained. Just to show that nothing in cricket is new, a similar thing happened to the Surrey bowler James Southerton, when playing against MCC at The Oval in 1870. Wisden 1871 explained: "Southerton cut a ball hard on the ground, which Mr [WG] Grace at point caught from the bound. Southerton thought the ball went straight from the bat to Mr Grace's hands, but neither of the umpires, point, nor any other man but Southerton thought so (Mr Grace did not toss up the ball); however, Southerton walked away, and although called back, did not walk back, so he lost his innings."
Obstructing the field... twice
Obstructing the field is one of cricket's rarest dismissals, as Mark Ramprakash found out last summer in Cheltenham, when he became only the 22nd batsman ever to be given out this way in first-class cricket. But that list contains one name twice: Tom Straw, a Worcestershire wicketkeeper, was given out against Warwickshire in 1899, when he prevented a fielder from taking a catch... and, remarkably, fell the same way two years later, with Warwickshire again the opponents.
Stuck in aeroplane
Vasbert Drakes, the West Indian fast bowler, is one of the very few people in first-class cricket to have been timed out, a dismissal that only entered the lawbook in 1980. Drakes' case was even stranger than most, as not only was he not on the ground at the time, he had hardly arrived in the country! He was selected to play for Border against Free State in East London in September 2002. He had been playing for West Indies in the Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka but thought he could get to South Africa in time - only for his flight from Colombo to be severely delayed. Drakes missed out on batting but did take a couple of wickets on the second day.
Delayed by strained groin
Not long after Drakes was the third man to be timed out in a first-class match, the much-travelled seamer AJ Harris became the fourth. Playing for Nottinghamshire against Durham University at Trent Bridge in 2003, Harris strained a groin muscle and didn't expect to bat. But the plans changed as Chris Read neared a century, and Harris (and his runner) started to get changed when the No. 10 went in. But he was out third ball: by the time Harris was ready and hobbled down the pavilion steps, he met the players and umpires (including Read, stranded on 94 not out) coming in. Harris had exceeded the three minutes stipulated for his arrival: "No one appealed," he said, "but I was given out nonetheless."
Cap on stumps
The 1960-61 "calypso cricket" series between Australia and West Indies had it all - a tie, two more nail-biting finishes, several outstanding performances... and a man given out when his cap fell on the stumps. The unfortunate batsman was Joe Solomon, opening for West Indies in the second Test in Melbourne; such was the popularity of the tourists that the bowler, Australia's captain Richie Benaud, was jeered by the crowd for appealing for what was a legitimate dismissal. The same fate befell India's Ashok Mankad at Edgbaston in 1974, when he jerked his head back while fending off a bouncer from Chris Old, and his cap fell onto the stumps.
Bowled by a passing swallow
John Inverarity, now Australia's chief selector, was surprised to be bowled for a duck by Greg Chappell while playing for Western Australia in a Sheffield Shield match against South Australia in Adelaide in 1969-70 - surprised because he hadn't followed the flight of the ball. While Inverarity was trudging off, the reason for his misjudgment was spotted: the delivery had struck and killed an unfortunate swallow, which had flown across the pitch at just the wrong moment, and the ball had been diverted into the stumps. Inverarity was recalled, and went on to score 89.
Bowled by one that bounced behind the stumps
No, it wasn't Shane Warne's latest "new" delivery... this happened in a County Championship match at Lord's in 1948, when the New Zealander Martin Donnelly, playing for Warwickshire, was hit on the foot by the Middlesex and England slow left-armer Jack Young. The ball looped up over the stumps, bounced behind them... and then, probably because of back-spin, fizzed back and dislodged the bails. Donnelly was out for 55.
Jaw before wicket
Not all leg-before-wicket decisions involve the leg: Sachin Tendulkar was once famously given out in a Test when ducking down to a ball from Glenn McGrath that hit him on the shoulder. That probably hurt a bit, but not quite as much as when Tom Pugh, Gloucestershire's amateur captain, ducked a full-toss from the tall Northamptonshire and England fast bowler David Larter, during a county match in Peterborough in 1961. The ball hit Pugh flush on the jaw, breaking it in two places - and to add insult to injury he was also given out lbw.
"That's close enough for me"
It wasn't just Australians in the Bodyline series who weren't terribly keen on facing Harold Larwood at his fastest. During a county match at Grace Road in 1928, the Leicestershire fast bowler Haydon Smith sent down a few bouncers, before his batsmen reminded him who was lurking in the opposition ranks. When Smith came out to bat later, Nottinghamshire's fielders were quick to inform Larwood who the new arrival was. Duncan Hamilton's superb 2009 biography of Larwood takes up the story: "Larwood's opening ball reared past Smith's face. He didn't see it, but felt the cold air as it rushed past him. The second took the edge as Smith backed off towards square leg. The ball shot towards gully, where Sam Staples caught it on the bounce. Smith began to pull off his gloves and walk off. 'Wait a minute,' Staples shouted. 'It was a bump ball. I didn't catch it.' 'Yes, you f***ing well did,' said Smith, not daring to look back."
*(Just to spoil a good story, Wisden has no record of Smith ever being caught by Staples off Larwood. Another book says Smith hurried off after edging a catch to the keeper which bounced in front of him, saying it was at Trent Bridge in 1928: and Smith is indeed down as caught behind off Larwood in that match.)
Too late to bat
Alfred Boardman was a batsman who played ten matches for Surrey in the 19th century without much success - his highest score was 33 and he averaged less than 10. And his debut was rather unusual: summoned to play at Trent Bridge, he missed the start - and, because Surrey were shot out for 45, didn't have the chance to bat. Wisden records him as "had not arrived". He did manage 10 not out in the second innings, though.
Stumps broken by flying glove
Playing for Derbyshire against county champions Surrey at The Oval in 1953, Derbyshire's Alan Revill thought it was bad enough when he received a painful rap on the hand from a ball from Alec Bedser. But things soon got worse: while he was wringing his hand in discomfort, his glove flew off, back onto the stumps, and dislodged a bail. Revill, out hit-wicket, had plenty of time to inspect the damage back in the pavilion.
*April 2, 7.00GMT: The Wisden reference in the Smith-Larwood entry was added later to the column
Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2012.