Cricinfo XI

Comedy of errors

Andrew Miller on some of the more comical dismissals in cricket's history

Andrew Miller

August 8, 2006

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Inzamam-ul-Haq's comical hit-wicket dismissal at Headingley prompted us to look back at 11 other instances when the fall of a wicket has been accompanied by peels of laughter

Inzamam-ul-Haq seems to find new ways of getting himself out © Getty Images

Shivnarine Chanderpaul - New Zealand v West Indies, Napier 2005-06
A classic case of the hare and the tortoise. When Runako Morton drove Chris Martin into the leg-side and legged it for a quick single, Chanderpaul at the non-striker's end could hardly have been less interested, and refused to budge. Daniel Vettori fielded with a tumble and lobbed his return to the keeper, whereupon Morton banged his bat in the crease and stalked back to the dressing-room, ready to inflict some serious damage to the fixtures and fittings. But, there was a twist. Morton had made a last-minute stretch for the non-striker's end, while Chanderpaul, slow to react, had dabbed his bat back into the same crease. Five minutes of replays ensued while the third umpire untangled the ridiculous scenario. In the end it was decided that Chanderpaul had arrived in the crease a split-second too late. As the two batsmen passed in the outfield, they could hardly have given each other a wider berth.

Sachin Tendulkar - Australia v India, Adelaide 1999-2000
There've been some collector's items in Glenn McGrath's 542-wicket Test career, but to trap Sachin Tendulkar, the world's best batsman at the peak of his powers, shoulder before wicket for a duck has to rank among the more memorable. India's innings was already in tatters when Tendulkar arrived at the crease at 24 for 3 chasing an improbable 396 for victory. He survived three balls from Shane Warne then avoided a short ball from McGrath first-up, but McGrath's second delivery was also dug in. This time it failed to get up, and struck Tendulkar on the shoulder as he turned turtle. Umpire Daryl Harper upheld the appeal, though replays suggested it might have been a near-miss. The demoralised Indians crashed to 110 all out.

Sachin Tendulkar: once dismissed shoulder before wicket © Getty Images

Chris Read - England v New Zealand, Lord's 1999
Try as he might, and he did mighty well yesterday with his maiden Test fifty, Chris Read will find the memory of his second Test innings hard to eradicate. Thrust in at the deep end as England planned for life after Alec Stewart, the 20-year-old Read was all at sea against the wily Chris Cairns and his sleight of hand. Read had already patted one delivery, a no-ball, back to the bowler but Cairns followed up with a 71mph doodlebug that Read at first assumed was a beamer heading straight for his head. He ducked down in a panic, only for the ball to float innocently down towards his feet and through his panic-stricken defences into middle and off stumps. He was gone for a seventh-ball duck, and despite a hard-fought 37 in the second innings, he has been fighting an uphill battle to prove his batting prowess ever since.

Paul Adams - South Africa v Australia, Port Elizabeth 1996-97
Adams was known as "the frog in the blender" on account of his bewildering bowling action, but when faced with the master spinner, Shane Warne, it was his batting that got into a tangle. In the second Test at Port Elizabeth he unwisely opted to try out his reverse-sweep, but instead of picking out the gap at third man he succeeded only in shovelling the ball straight into Mark Taylor's hands at slip. Warne immediately fell about laughing and even Adams managed to see the funny side, but South Africa's coach, Bob Woolmer, was less amused. "That was a little disappointing," he intoned. "There was no need to mock him."

Inzamam-ul-Haq - Pakistan v India, Peshawar 2005-06
Poor old Inzy - he does attract these moments. Two months after he had been run out while evading a shy from Steve Harmison at Faisalabad, he was guilty of the opposite crime - getting in the way of the ball as it floated towards the stumps. The incident occurred at a crucial juncture of the opening one-day international against India at Peshawar. Chasing a hefty 329 for victory, Pakistan were handily placed at 289 for 5, needing another 40 from 41 balls. So long as Inzamam was at the crease, the game was in the bag. But then Suresh Raina fielded the ball at mid-off and threw the ball back towards the stumps. Inzamam was a good two or three metres out of his ground, and blocked the path of the ball with a nonchalant defensive push. The Indians appealed, and after a brief conference, umpire Simon Taufel raised his finger. "I can't understand the rule," Inzamam lamented afterwards. "In Faisalabad I leave the ball and I am out and in Peshawar I strike the ball and I am out."

Shane Warne was in splits after dismissing Paul Adams at Port Elizabeth © Getty Images

Ian Botham - England v West Indies, The Oval 1991
"He just couldn't quite get his leg over." Jonathan Agnew's innocent and accurate description of Botham's freakish demise led to one of the most infamous fits of the giggles in history, as Brian Johnston, the BBC's endearingly puerile octagenarian commentator, dissolved into a helpless pool of mirth as he attempted to summarise the day's play, live on Test Match Special. Botham, who had been recalled for his first Test of the summer, attempted to pull a delivery from the gangly Curtly Ambrose, but overbalanced and flicked his leg bail with the inside of his thigh as he attempted to straddle the stumps. "Aggers, do stop it," squeaked Johnston as he realised he was about to lose his composure in the commentary box. Botham, however, had the last laugh, as he strode out in the second innings to hit the winning boundary, as he completed his first victory over West Indies in 11 years and 20 matches.

Yousuf Youhana - West Indies v Pakistan, St Vincent 2004-05
Mohammad Yousuf, as he is now called, is better known these days as a relentless accumulator of big hundreds, but in the past he has often a candidate for the daft dismissal. This was one of his more classic faux-pas, as he defended a ball from the non-spinning offspinner, Chris Gayle, and hurtled down the pitch for a run. Unfortunately for Yousuf, the ball had dribbled back past the stumps and into the path of the wicketkeeper, Courtney Browne, who picked up and whipped off the bails in an instant. Yousuf was gone for 30 as Pakistan stumbled to a sub-par total of 192, but happily for them, West Indies were equally careless when their turn came to bat. Nobody managed more than Dwayne Bravo's 27, as they slumped to defeat by 59 runs.

Mike Atherton - England v Australia, Lord's 1993
Tragedy or comedy? I guess it depends on your allegiance. But for Atherton, it was undeniably the latter, as he was deprived of a precious Ashes century at the home of cricket, no less. Looking back on it, it was probably a little foolish to attempt a third run with the less-than-sprightly Mike Gatting as a partner, but all such thoughts are dispelled when you're on 97 and glory flits into your vision. Atherton clipped a delivery down the hill towards the Mound stand, where Merv Hughes lumbered round the boundary's edge to field. Atherton thought about a third, but as he changed his mind, he slipped on the lush grass of the neighbouring wicket, and was desperately crawling on his hands and knees when the throw came in and Ian Healy whipped off the bails. It was only Atherton's fourth Lord's Test, but in 11 subsequent attempts, he never made it to three figures.

Alan Revill - Surrey v Derbyshire, The Oval 1953
In an impassioned letter to The Daily Telegraph last month, the 88-year-old England legend, Alec Bedser, hit back at an article that suggested, unfairly, he had been little more than a county "dobber". Derbyshire's middle-order batsman, Andy Revill, would doubtless back up Bedser's assertion, after being struck on the hand in a Championship match at The Oval in 1953. The ball lifted sharply from a good length, and as Revill shook his hand in shock and pain, his glove flew off and landed on the stumps, dislodging a bail. The umpires, AED Smith and AE Pothecary, agreed that Revill's actions had come as part of his overall shot, and so he was adjudged hit wicket. Bedser finished with 5 for 42 in the innings, as Surrey won by eight wickets.

Joe Solomon - Australia v West Indies, Melbourne 1960-61
Never let it be said that the Aussies are an unsporting bunch. West Indies' Joe Solomon discovered the crowds were on his side when he was the victim of a bizarre piece of misfortune at Melbourne in January 1961. With the nation still buoyant after the thrills and spills of the previous month's Tied Test, the fact that their team was closing in on a comfortable victory mattered less than the quality of cricket on display in the middle. And so, when Solomon - an attractive Calypso opening batsman - played back to a Richie Benaud topspinner and watched his cap fall onto his stumps, the fans were rather indignant that the Aussies bothered to appeal. Boos rang out around the MCG, but at least Solomon's partner, Conrad Hunte, gave them something to cheer about again with a fine rearguard century.

Roy Fredericks - West Indies v Australia, Lords 1975
Fredericks was never a batsman to stand on ceremony. One of the finest exponents of the hook shot, he took the fight to the fearsome pairing of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson on a lightning quick track at Perth in 1975-76, when he clattered them all around the ground for a magnificently belligerent 169. But the hook was also the cause of one of his most memorable downfalls as well, in the opening exchanges of the 1975 World Cup final at Lord's. Lillee banged in a bouncer, Fredericks threw the kitchen sink at it, and both men watched as the ball sailed high and handsomely into the crowd. But sadly for Fredericks his momentum was too great, and as he pivoted on his back leg, he slipped into his stumps to be given out hit wicket. It mattered not, however, as West Indies's captain, Clive Lloyd, was on hand to score the century that put the result beyond doubt.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

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Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007

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