May 28, 2008

Run, run, run

Batsmen who have been let down by their - or others' - running

Daniel Vettori's run-out in the first innings at Old Trafford was, in his own words, silly. Cricinfo looks back at 11 other instances where batsmen have been left high and dry

Michael Atherton is left floundering after being sold down the river at Lord's in 1993 © PA Photos

Mike Atherton Lord's 1993
All manner of random century-makers adorn the honours boards at Lord's - Ajit Agarkar, Bernard Julien and Trevor Franklin among them. One notable absentee, however, is the man who held England's batting together for the best part of a decade. Mike Atherton played 15 Test matches at Lord's, seven of them as captain, but never bettered his 99 against Australia in 1993. There have been few more agonising demises, either. After a first-innings 80, Atherton was battling hard in the follow-on, and as would become the norm, all of England's hopes rested on him. On 97, he clipped a leg-stump delivery from Allan Border down towards the Grandstand boundary, where Merv Hughes lumbered round to field. Atherton immediately had designs on a third run, but his partner, the less-than-rocket-booted Mike Gatting, decided otherwise. As the throw came in, Atherton was sent back, slipped on the lush turf of the neighbouring wicket, and was on his hands and knees when Ian Healy gleefully whipped off the bails. Click here to watch the incident on YouTube

Christopher Mpofu Bulawayo, 2005
An out-and-out No. 11, even by Zimbabwe standards, Mpofu created an unwanted record in the first Test against New Zealand when he was stumped for 0 twice on the same afternoon. In the next Test at Bulawayo, he topped even that. As Blessing Mahwire took the single to bring up his 50, a delighted Mpofu completed the run and then trotted down the pitch to congratulate his colleague. Sadly, he didn't wait for the fielder to send in his throw, and when he did, Brendon McCullum rather sheepishly flicked off the bails with an oblivious Mpofu still celebrating at the non-striker's end. "It was a farcical end to a farcical series," Wisden lamented.

Muttiah Muralitharan Christchurch 2006-07
Eighteen months later McCullum was at it again - and this time the controversy raged for days. You would, however, have assumed that the man at his mercy, Muttiah Muralitharan, should have known better. He and Kumar Sangakkara had been engaged in a tense battle for survival in a low-scoring contest, and had added 27 vital runs for the tenth wicket when Sangakkara clipped Shane Bond down to fine leg to bring up an excellent century. Murali tapped his bat into his crease to complete the run, then turned at once to congratulate his partner. At the same instant, the return throw came in from the boundary, and McCullum didn't think twice about breaking the wicket and putting in his appeal. The ball was not dead, so it was a justifiable move (if not entirely in the spirit of the game), and when New Zealand lost five wickets in pursuit of 119 for victory, it assumed even greater importance in hindsight. The Sri Lankans were furious, and a week later translated that anger into a crushing series-levelling win - with their two protagonists sharing the spoils with ten wickets and 156 not out respectively.

Up the creek ... Allan Donald and South Africa's World Cup dreams end in confusion © Getty Images
Allan Donald Edgbaston 1999
Arguably the most famous run-out in international history, and certainly the most costly in the limited-overs game. There could hardly have been more at stake when South Africa's No. 11, Allan Donald, came to the crease with eight balls of the World Cup semi-final still to be bowled. At the other end, Lance Klusener was single-handedly battering Australia out of the tournament, so all Donald had to do was back up wisely and run like the wind when called upon. The final over began with South Africa needing nine to win from six balls, and when Klusener thumped Damien Fleming through the covers twice in two balls, the game was as good as over. But then, suddenly, the vertigo kicked in. Klusener couldn't pierce the field with his next swivel-pull, and Donald, stranded halfway down the pitch, would have been out by a mile had Darren Lehmann's shy from mid-on hit the stumps. South Africa still had three balls to get their single, but the batsmen's minds were now scrambled. Klusener smacked his next shot back past the bowler, but a chastened Donald was rooted in his crease. Klusener continued to charge, Donald belatedly responded but dropped his bat in the process, and when Fleming rolled the ball to Adam Gilchrist, who completed the run-out, Australia were through to the final on the strength of their earlier victory in the Super Sixes. Click here to watch the incident on YouTube

Inzamam-ul-Haq Faisalabad 2005-06
No run-out list is complete without an appearance from the king of the calling cock-up, although on this memorable occasion he was actually done a massive disservice by the third umpire, Nadim Ghauri. It just so happened that Inzy was in the batting form of his life in 2005, and in this match he had already chugged to his 23rd Test century when Steve Harmison fielded in his follow-through and winged a return back towards the batsman. Inzamam jumped to avoid being hit as the ball fizzed past him, but while he was airborne, the shy broke the stumps. The square-leg umpire happened to be Darrell Hair, who in referring the decision upstairs, added to the perception that he had an anti-Pakistan bias. But it was Ghauri who ultimately pulled the plug on Inzy's innings. Before the match was out, however, Inzy was back at the crease, and back in century-making mode, as England's run of six consecutive series wins was brought to an emphatic end.

Steve Waugh Perth 1994-95
It is said that twins are meant to be telepathic, although clearly no one mentioned this little fact to the Waugh brothers. Famously indifferent towards one another during their decade of dominance in Australia's middle order, their attitude seemed to be that they'd spent nine months hanging out in the womb together and so didn't have a whole lot more to discuss. A modicum more communication might have been appreciated in Perth during the 1994-95 Ashes, however. Steve was closing in on his eighth Test century when he was joined by the No. 11, Craig McDermott, who suffered a back strain. A runner was called for, and out to the middle came Mark - the ideal man to guide his brother through the nervous nineties, you might have thought. Not so. McDermott had survived happily enough for 25 minutes, but his runner nonetheless decided to take off for an improbable single. Graham Gooch shied successfully at the non-striker's end, and the teams trudged off the field with Steve unbeaten on 99.

A yard from victory: Ian Meckiff fails to beat Joe Soloman's direct hit and Test cricket has its first tie © Getty Images
Ian Meckiff Brisbane, 1960-61
Perhaps the most famous finish to a Test, and in no small part thanks to Ron Lovitt's iconic photograph of the conclusion. After a see-saw fifth afternoon in the opening Test between Australia and West Indies, the last over began with Australia needing six to win and three wickets in hand.

Richie Benaud holed out in between scrambled ones and twos, and Wally Grout was run-out off the sixth delivery (it was in the era of eight-ball overs) by a bullet-like throw from deep midwicket. Off the next ball - the penultimate - with the scores level, Lindsay Kline clipped Wes Hall to square leg. Ian Meckiff responded to Kline's call immediately but Joe Solomon swooped and, with one stump to aim at, scored a direct hit with Meckiff a yard short. Such was the confusion that a distressed Meckiff was sure Australia had lost, turning to Hall and saying, "fancy losing like that", while a jubilant Rohan Kanhai was equally certain West Indies had won. Richie Benaud, Australia's captain, was utterly deflated that what he saw as a sure-fire winning position had been squandered. "Don't worry," Don Bradman told him. "You'll find that this is the greatest thing that has ever happened to the game of cricket." Click here to watch the incident on YouTube

Dean Jones Bridgetown 1990-91
It probably didn't affect the outcome, but it caused an almighty row. Australia, 221 in arrears on the first innings, were 73 for 3 when Jones was comprehensively bowled by Courtney Walsh off a no-ball. But Jones did not hear the umpire's call and set off for the pavilion. Carl Hooper, in the slips, rushed from slip, picked up the ball and uprooted the middle stump as Jones, alerted to the situation by Allan Border, the non-striker, vainly attempted to regain his ground. Even though Law 38 made it clear that Jones was not out as he had not attempted a run off the no-ball, Clyde Cumberbatch, the square-leg umpire, standing in his 11thTest, gave him out. Both captains later admitted that they were ignorant of the laws, although Bobby Simpson, Australia's coach, showed Cumberbatch the relevant law in Wisden at the next interval, hoping for a belated reprieve. Border helped calm the situation, saying "we probably would have done the same thing".

Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid await the third umpire's decision ... a riot followed © Getty Images
Sachin Tendulkar Kolkata 1998-99
Rarely can a run out have provoked a near riot in a ground packed with 100,000 spectators, but this was an India-Pakistan Test, and the batsman was Tendulkar. Chasing 279, India were 143 for 2 when Tendulkar clipped Wasim Akram to wide long-on. As he returned for the third run, seemingly in no danger, he slammed into Shoaib Akhtar, who had moved into position to back the return to the bowler's end. Shoaib, watching the throw a couple of yards beyond the stumps, did not see Tendulkar, who was also ball-watching, and the pair collided. To make matters worse, as substitute Nadeem Khan's throw crashed into the stumps Shoaib and Tendulkar were in a tangle with Tendulkar's bat flailing in the air. Steve Bucknor, responding to an appeal, referred the decision to the third umpire, who gave Tendulkar out. Pandemonium followed and play was halted for an hour. "Angry spectators decided Akhtar was culpable, and threw bottles and rubbish at the Pakistanis," Wisden observed. The damage was done and India never regained the initiative. Another, more serious, riot followed the next day, as India teetered on the brink of defeat. Click here to watch the incident on YouTube

WG Grace The Oval, 1882
The master of sharp practice, Grace almost caused a riot in the second Test played in England. As Australia's second innings progressed, the ball was returned to the wicketkeeper after a single and, in turn, tossed to Grace at point. Recollections of what followed differ, but what is not in doubt is that Sammy Jones, at the striker's end, assumed the ball was dead and ambled out to pat down a divot. In a flash Grace whipped off the bails, appealed, and the furious Jones was given out. Some of the Australians went as far as to claim that Jones had looked at Grace before leaving his crease and that Grace had nodded, indicating he could safely do so. In the more temperate language of the time, Tom Horan referred to Grace's act as "sharp practice". But behind the scenes there was no such restraint. Fred Spofforth, Australia's demon fast bowler, stormed into the England dressing room, called Grace a cheat to his face - amid a torrent of more general abuse - before stomping out with the parting shot: "This will lose you the match". It was no idle boast. Spofforth took 7 for 44 as England, chasing 85, were bowled out for 77 ... and the legend of the Ashes was born.

Mike Gatting Lord's, 1988
Despite his reputation as one of the game's less mobile players, Mike Gatting was usually surprisingly quick between the wickets. In the 1988 NatWest Trophy final at Lord's, Middlesex had made a shaky start when Gatting, their captain and premier batsman, strode to the middle. He was at the non striker's end, not having faced a ball, when Wilf Slack drove to Steve O'Shaughnessy at long-on. Rather than take the first run quickly, Gatting ambled to the striker's end, oblivious that O'Shaughnessy had fired in a return from in front of the pavilion to the keeper rather than the bowler. Gatting had his back to the fielder as he sauntered the single, and looked utterly startled as the ball fizzed past him and Steve Rhodes whipped off the bails with the batsman still a foot short. He trudged off, shaking his head all the way at the injustice of it all. At least there was a happy ending as 18-year-old Mark Ramprakash made 57 to steer Middlesex to victory.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo