You can't do much more than take wickets with the first three balls of the match, and that's what Vaas did to kickstart Sri Lanka's World Cup encounter with Bangladesh in Pietermaritzburg in 2003. Hannan Sarkar was bowled, Mohammad Ashraful popped back a simple return catch, and Ehsanul Haque edged to second slip. "Vaas's celebration was appropriately wild," reported Wisden, "he looked like an aeroplane piloted by a drunkard. He took another wicket with his fifth legal ball (after a boundary and a wide), and Bangladesh were reeling at 5 for 4 by the end of the first over. The earliest hat-trick in a Test is Irfan Pathan's, against Pakistan in Karachi in 2005-06, when he struck with the fourth, fifth and sixth balls of the first over of the match.
Clarke was an early cricketing entrepreneur, assembling and promoting an "All England XI" that played lucrative matches around England during the 19th century, before county cricket really took hold. And Clarke, despite having only one eye, was also a handy bowler: in Canterbury in 1844 he took a hat-trick that is believed to be unique in first-class cricket. Spread over two innings, it included the same batsman (Kent's John Fagge) twice.
In more than 110 years and 1100 Tests up to 1988-89, there had been only 17 hat-tricks - and none of them had been spread over two innings, until West Indies' Walsh dismissed Tony Dodemaide to end Australia's first innings in the first Test in Brisbane, then ripped out Mike Veletta and Graeme Wood with his first two deliveries in the second innings.
In the very next Test after Walsh's inaugural split-innings hat-trick, the rumbustious Hughes came up with an even more complicated one, which was actually spread over three overs. In the second Test against West Indies in Perth in 1988-89, he dismissed Curtly Ambrose with the last ball of his 36th over, then (after another wicket had fallen at the other end) polished off the innings by removing Patrick Patterson with the first ball of his next over, to finish with 5 for 130. Then, with the first ball of West Indies' second innings, Hughes trapped Gordon Greenidge plumb in front, and went on to take 8 for 87. Actually the hat-trick was so unusual that Hughes didn't immediately realise he'd taken one, and had to be told about it later.
An unusual mixture of fast bowler and jazz saxophonist, the tall Surrey fast bowler Allom started what turned out to be a brief Test career in spectacular fashion, taking a hat-trick - and four wickets in five balls - for England in Christchurch in 1929-30, as New Zealand, in their inaugural Test match, lurched to 21 for 7.
Usually a bowler on a hat-trick has the luxury of knowing that the man who has to face the vital third ball is nervous, having just padded up quickly and being about to face his very first ball. But that wasn't the case with Australia's Fleming in Rawalpindi in 1994-95: he removed Aamer Malik and Inzamam-ul-Haq with the last two balls of an over, and when he started his next one the batsman at the other end was no rabbit blinking into the headlights but Pakistan's captain Saleem Malik, who already had 237 to his name. It didn't matter: Malik tickled a catch to Ian Healy, and Fleming had marked his Test debut with a hat-trick, like Maurice Allom (see above) and New Zealand's Peter Petherick (in 1976-77) before him.
The seasoned England slow left-armer Lock took a hat-trick for Leicestershire against Hampshire in Portsmouth in May 1967, which was unique at the time. He dismissed Butch White and Bob Cottam with his last two balls in the first innings, then bowled Danny Livingstone with his first ball in the second innings the following day. Since this was one of the first County Championship matches to include Sunday play, Lock became the first man to complete a hat-trick in a first-class match in England on a Sunday.
The Pakistan fast bowler Aaqib Javed took a memorable hat-trick against India in the Wills Trophy final in Sharjah in October 1991, first dismissing Ravi Shastri then removing Mohammad Azharuddin and Sachin Tendulkar with his next two balls. Aaqib didn't need any help from the fielders... but he needed some from the umpire, Udaya Wickremasinghe from Sri Lanka, as all three men were given out lbw.
The only man to take a Test hat-trick at Lord's, South Africa's Griffin should have savoured every moment of that 1960 match. But before he removed Mike Smith (for 99), Peter Walker and Fred Trueman with successive balls towards the end of England's innings, Griffin had already been no-balled for throwing 11 times - and he was called again during the supposedly light-hearted exhibition match that followed England's heavy victory. Griffin, who had only just turned 21, never played another Test match.
Gloucestershire's wicketkeeper Russell pulled off a different sort of hat-trick against Surrey at The Oval in 1986, taking catches off three successive balls - the first off Courtney Walsh and the next two from David "Syd" Lawrence. It was only the third known instance of a wicketkeeper's hat-trick in first-class cricket: one of Russell's Gloucestershire predecessors, William Brain, managed three stumpings off successive balls from legspinner Charlie Townsend against Somerset in Cheltenham in 1893, and George Dawkes of Derbyshire held three successive catches off Les Jackson against Worcestershire in Kidderminster in 1958. That last one might have confused a few spectators: Jackson's obituary in Wisden 2008 noted that "Dawkes looked not unlike him. An elderly lady in Southampton once tried to bash Dawkes with her brolly after Jackson hit Vic Cannings of Hampshire."
The only man to take three hat-tricks in one-day internationals, the explosive Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga shook up the South Africans in the 2007 World Cup with four wickets in four balls in Providence, the only instance of that in international cricket. His second hat-trick also came in the World Cup, against the overmatched Kenyans in Colombo earlier this year. His final victim there was completing an unwanted hat-trick of his own: spinner Shem Ngoche faced three balls in the 2011 World Cup and was dismissed by all of them. Malinga's third hat-trick came against Australia in August, also in Colombo.
Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2011.