June 25, 2012

Un, dos, tres

The more unusual Test hat-tricks taken include one in the first over, the only one at Lord's, and twice in the same match

Maurice Allom
The tall Surrey bowler Allom was the first to take a hat-trick on his Test debut. It came against New Zealand in Christchurch in January 1930, and was chronicled by Allom's fellow Maurice - Turnbull of Glamorgan - with whom he was co-writing a tour book. "It must have been a close thing that he did not get the decision when he yorked Blunt's foot first ball; with the second, he knocked Dempster's off stump over with a break-back; Lowry struck at the third but missed; he was out lbw to the next; from the fifth, James went the same way as Dempster, well caught by Cornford, standing up off the inside edge; and to round the thing off, Allom completed the hat-trick by clean-bowling Badcock with an unplayable last ball. Four wickets in five balls with the score at 21, and including the hat-trick!" Turnbull explained. "Allom was whipping the ball back appreciably from the off and making tremendous pace from the pitch."

Alok Kapali
Although his Test career has been underwhelming - a batting average below 18 after 17 matches - 28-year-old Kapali has had one moment in the sun: he took Bangladesh's only Test hat-trick, polishing off Pakistan's first innings in Peshawar in August 2003. But his legspin has brought him only three more Test wickets, and his overall bowling average stands at a dizzying 118.16.

Geoff Griffin
As bittersweet goes, the experience of Griffin takes the biscuit: his hat-trick at Lord's in 1960 was South Africa's first in Tests, and the only one at cricket's most famous ground. But he chalked up another first in that match - the only man to be no-balled for throwing in a Lord's Test. Griffin, a fast bowler whose arm was apparently deformed after a childhood accident, never played another Test.

Merv Hughes
To the jovial Hughes falls the accolade of taking the most convoluted Test hat-trick: it was so complicated that even he didn't realise he'd done it at first. In Perth in 1988-89, Hughes had Curtly Ambrose caught behind with the last ball of one over, and ended West Indies' first innings with the first ball of his next one. Then, late the following day, he trapped Gordon Greenidge in front with the first ball of the second innings.

Peter Petherick
Offspinner Petherick was a late developer: he didn't make his first-class debut for Otago until he was 33, and the following season (1976-77) won his first Test cap in Lahore. He made up for lost time, though, taking a high-quality hat-trick - all Test centurions - in Pakistan's first innings: Javed Miandad, also making his debut, for 163, then Wasim Raja and Intikhab Alam for ducks. But Petherick played only five more Tests, finishing with 16 wickets, and soon drifted out of first-class cricket too. He later became a prominent lawn bowls player.

Damien Fleming
The third (and last to date) man to take a hat-trick on Test debut did it the hard way: after dismissing Aamer Malik and Inzamam-ul-Haq with the last two balls of an over in Rawalpindi in October 1994, the Victoria fast bowler Fleming had to wait an over, then to run in at Pakistan's captain Saleem Malik, who had the little matter of 237 runs to his name at the time. It didn't matter: Malik tickled a catch through to Ian Healy.

Jimmy Matthews
The first - and still only - man to take two hat-tricks in the same Test did so on neutral territory, in 1912. The Victoria legspinner Matthews, playing for Australia at Old Trafford, ended South Africa's first innings by dismissing Rolland Beaumont, Sid Pegler and Tommy Ward, and hastened the end of the second by claiming Herbie Taylor, Reggie Schwarz and the unfortunate Ward again (who thus bagged a king pair as the hat-trick man both times). They were Matthews' only wickets of the match - and he took only ten more in seven other matches.

Wasim Akram
It wasn't terribly surprising that Akram took a hat-trick against Sri Lanka in the final of the Asian Test Championship, in Dhaka in March 1999 - he finished up with four in international cricket, more than anyone else - but what was impressive was that he had taken another one the previous week, also in a Test against Sri Lanka, in Lahore (none of the batsmen featured twice). Akram was the first Test captain to take a hat-trick.

Irfan Pathan
The earliest hat-trick in a Test came in the first over of the match, in Karachi in January 2006, when the Indian left-arm paceman Pathan sent back Salman Butt, Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf, all for ducks. But Pakistan recovered rather well from 0 for 3, eventually winning by 341 runs!

Nuwan Zoysa
Another left-armer, the tall Sri Lankan Zoysa, almost matched Pathan's feat when he took a hat-trick - Trevor Gripper, Murray Goodwin and Neil Johnson all out first ball - with his first three deliveries against Zimbabwe in Harare in November 1999. But Zoysa's was the second over of the match: Chaminda Vaas had started proceedings with a maiden.

Jermaine Lawson
Jamaica's Lawson was fast, and at times unplayable: he once demolished Bangladesh with figures of 6 for 3. And he completed an unusual hat-trick against Australia in Bridgetown in May 2003. He ended the first innings by bowling Brett Lee and Stuart MacGill, and started the second - in which Australia needed only eight to win - by pinning Justin Langer in front. But Lawson's career was blighted by misgivings about his bowling action, and he played only 13 Tests, in which he took 51 wickets.

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2012