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1983

All out for 14

When wickets fell so fast that Sylvester Clarke came out to bat without any socks on and soap all over his head

Martin Williamson

July 31, 2010

Comments: 23 | Text size: A | A

Desmond Haynes pulls Neil Foster, England v West Indies, fourth Test, 26 July 1988
Neil Foster: swung it and seamed it © PA Photos
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While low scores are not uncommon, team totals that barely make it to double figures belong to the era before motorised mowers and advances in groundsmanship led to a massive improvement in the standard of pitches. Of the 27 first-class totals below 20, only six were made after World War I. Perhaps the most remarkable of that half dozen came at Chelmsford at the end of May in 1983, when Surrey were bowled out for 14.

The first day of the County Championship match between Essex and Surrey had been washed out, and the second was unremarkable until the last session. Keith Fletcher had won the toss, batted, and made a typically painstaking hundred as Essex scored 287. In the break between innings, Surrey captain Roger Knight ordered the heavy roller. Some claimed that was the cause of what followed, but the Times was not convinced, Peter Ball writing that "bad or irresolute batting was the main reason".

Neil Foster and Norbert Phillip opened with the new ball, bowling with "fire, accuracy and speed", which none of the Surrey bowlers had previously managed. Phillip was known to be a dangerous bowler, and Foster, in his first match back from a serious back injury, supported him perfectly.

"Norbert bowled outswingers and Fozzie was swinging it and seaming it," Keith Pont told the BBC. "There were a lot of left-handers in the Surrey team and the bowlers were swinging it like an absolute boomerang. People were letting the ball go because it was starting two-and-a-half feet outside off stump. They were either being trapped lbw or being clean-bowled."

Alan Butcher was the first to go, caught down the leg side attempting a hook. "For a couple of years we had ended up batting the last 40 minutes at Chelmsford knowing the ball did normally swing around and we used to end up losing three or four wickets," he said. "On that evening it just seemed every time we missed the ball it was lbw or bowled or every time we nicked it the ball went to hand."

Within five overs Surrey were 8 for 4. Inside the dressing room, concern was starting to turn into panic.

"It was late in the day and the first three batsmen were padded up plus a night-watchman," Monte Lynch, who at No. 5 was one of six successive ducks that afternoon, told the Sunday Times. "The rest of us were in the plunge bath with an after-match drink. Suddenly the door was kicked open and our coach, Micky Stewart, was standing there like John Wayne, frothing at the mouth, shouting at us to get out and padded up." Stewart was not being over-cautious, as five wickets fell with the score on 8.

Graham Monkhouse finally got the scoreboard moving again when an outside edge fell inches short of Ray East in the slips and produced two runs. His partner by then was Sylvester Clarke, who Lynch recalled "went out to bat without any socks on and soap all over his head".

He had almost not made it. When Jack Richards had been dismissed shortly before, he returned to find Clarke relaxing in a bath. "Better pad up, Silves, we're in trouble," Richards told him. Clarke thought they were pulling his leg, and only when other team-mates said the same did he get out of his bath to check.

Clarke was never a batsman who believed in anything other than attacking, and heaved Foster over midwicket before being yorked. In the next over Monkhouse was trapped leg-before by Phillip. Foster finished with 4 for 10, Phillip with 6 for 4.

 
 
"We watched the procession from the dressing-room balcony with some amusement. It was like one of those speeded-up sequences from the Benny Hill Show, complete with its own percussive soundtrack of spikes on concrete as batsmen clattered up and down the pavilion steps" Derek Pringle on the fall of Surrey wickets
 

Derek Pringle was injured and so did not play, and he wrote in the Daily Telegraph two decades later: "We watched the procession from the dressing-room balcony with some amusement. It was like one of those speeded-up sequences from the Benny Hill Show, complete with its own percussive soundtrack of spikes on concrete as batsmen clattered up and down the pavilion steps."

"At the end of our innings, the Essex crowd went mad, clapping them off," recalled Surrey spinner Pat Pocock. "The two bowlers led the sides off, and back in the dressing room we looked at each other and we were just dumbstruck, as if we'd seen a ghost. Then somebody burst out laughing and everybody laughed."

"A friend came to the match," Pont said. "She'd never seen a professional game before. As I walked off she said: 'I really like this game - it's very exciting'."

In the Surrey innings there had been seven noughts, and Andy Needham - who was responsible for one of them - had his father make seven ties each with seven small silver ducks on them. "We all walked in as the Magnificent Seven with our ties and Micky cut them up," Lynch said. "He told us: 'If you're going to be famous, be famous for the right reasons'."

"I remember our captain, saying we 'hadn't batted awfully well' to the press afterwards, which didn't really help anyone," Butcher said. "The temptation to go and get plastered out of our brains on that second night was huge but then suddenly someone worked out, only half jokingly, we could still lose by an innings to the extras (20) we'd conceded, so that was scrapped."

Pringle told an amusing tale of one newspaper reporter who had left Chelmsford early to go to dinner. He called through his copy at the end of the Essex innings, concluding by telling the sub: "Finish with 'At the close, Surrey were ___ for ___. Fill in the relevant details". At 9.30 the journalist called in to check all was well. "Any problems?" he asked. "Well, yes, actually," replied the sub. "You left some blanks for us to fill in. Well, the numbers missing are 14 and 10. Surrey were bowled out for the lowest score in their history. We had to rewrite your piece in the office."

The following morning television crews were in evidence, along with a larger media contingent than usual at an early-season Championship match, to see if lightning would strike twice. They had wasted journeys. Rain delayed the start, and after an early wobble, which left Surrey on 18 for 2, Knight hit an unbeaten 101 as the game drifted to a soporific draw.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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Posted by Itchy on (August 3, 2010, 12:08 GMT)

I played in a school game where our side was bowled out for 4 (all sundries) - we did only have 9 players and batting at no. 9, I had the distinction of being 0 not out!

Posted by waseemsarwar on (August 2, 2010, 12:57 GMT)

Sarfraz Nawaz and Rashid Latif will say, after reading that article, Match was fixed, Players were corrupt and they were given heavy amount by Bookies. Geo Sarfraz Nawaz

Posted by Daniel_Cartwright on (August 2, 2010, 1:55 GMT)

Reminds me of Highschool. In an 6 overs indoor match our team posted up only 44 for the opposition to chase, and well thats pretty decent for a highschool's junior team, but we got the opposition all out for 8 in 2 overs. There were 6 wickets to be taken in the indoor match.

Posted by ToTellUTheTruth on (August 1, 2010, 17:48 GMT)

Aaahh!!! Good old memories. In an u12 match, out team got bowled out for 13 on a horrible wicket. We bowled the other team out for 9!!! Me taking 9 wkts. Thanks for bringing back the memory of the finest performance of my life.

Posted by   on (August 1, 2010, 15:36 GMT)

hahaa.. pretty interesting and amusing a well... :-)

nice article..

Posted by KHAN_169 on (August 1, 2010, 14:53 GMT)

ONCE WE HAVE MADE 154 IN 20 OVERS AND THE OPPOSITION WERE ALL OUT AT JUST1 RUNS WHICH WAS WIDE THIS IS MY COLLAGE STORY

Posted by Oldmanmartin on (August 1, 2010, 10:31 GMT)

In 1953, when I was 9 and playing for my school 2nd XI we bowled the opposition out for 6, and won by 10 wickets in the first over. I batted no. 2 and didn't face a ball.

Posted by   on (August 1, 2010, 6:28 GMT)

@metrojonesy123

could not assume being bowled out for 4... hahaaha..

Posted by Test_Match_Fan on (August 1, 2010, 4:26 GMT)

That is too low of a score. Was the match fixed?

Posted by XX-warrior-XX on (July 31, 2010, 23:26 GMT)

Great article... very amusing.

Posted by   on (July 31, 2010, 21:56 GMT)

have played in sides at underage level that were all out for 7 and 11, one of the players in that side has hit a century for England since then

Posted by   on (July 31, 2010, 20:16 GMT)

once ma team was allout for mere 9..not as bad as my team....

Posted by george204 on (July 31, 2010, 13:11 GMT)

The strangest thing about that scorecard for me is that Surrey took 4 championship points from the match!

How can you concede the highest total of the match, be bowled out for 14, follow on, score at under 2½ per over in the second innings & deserve to take ANYTHING away from it?!?

& Micky Stewart cut up the joke duck ties? Talk about a sense of humour failure & a lack of perspective!

Posted by metrojonesy123 on (July 31, 2010, 12:50 GMT)

Being bowled out for 14 is bad, but not as bad as my club's U11's, they were bowled out for 4!!!!

Posted by Rajesh. on (July 31, 2010, 12:18 GMT)

14 all out........ Incredible........!!

Posted by Vivek.Bhandari on (July 31, 2010, 10:30 GMT)

the best part is the journalist's part...very amusing...:D

Posted by   on (July 31, 2010, 9:55 GMT)

@ siva87 who is this Lasith Malinga any way????? what a jok!!! lol.....

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (July 31, 2010, 8:44 GMT)

I remember BBC's old Grandstand programme, which normally ignored county cricket totally, giving a special report on this match. For excitement a collapse of epic proportions beats a ridiculous run-fest any day.

Posted by   on (July 31, 2010, 8:19 GMT)

@Murlax: Completely agree with you. I think its about time, pitches go green again. It'll restore life into the game that has been losing color off late

Posted by Murlax on (July 31, 2010, 5:42 GMT)

In this era of dead pitches and ridiculously high scoring games,seeing a game like this would definitely have been refreshing. Let the poor bowlers win once in a while! I still love the India tour of New Zealand back in 2003 when both teams got out for below 100 scores in the first innings. To see a batsman outclassed by quality swing bowling in testing conditions - that is a true test match.

Posted by   on (July 31, 2010, 5:39 GMT)

wow! kinda awesome article!

Posted by Jojy.John.Alphonso on (July 31, 2010, 4:47 GMT)

Now that was the silliest scorecard I've ever seen. Fighting comeback in the second innings though.

Posted by siva87 on (July 31, 2010, 4:07 GMT)

Very strange game.I think Lasith Malinga is capable of triggering such a dramatic collapse and Dale Steyn too...

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Martin WilliamsonClose
Martin Williamson Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.

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