November 19, 2012

Hogging the show

Memorable one-man performances in Tests and first-class matches

Charles Bannerman
Bannerman - born in Kent but a proud Aussie nonetheless - scored the first Test century, in the very first match of all, in Melbourne in March 1877. By the time he had to retire hurt with a broken finger, Bannerman had made 165, which constituted 67.43% of the final total of 245. More than 2050 Test matches later, that - remarkably - remains a record.

Jim Laker
Probably the ultimate example of one man monopolising a match, or at least half the scorecard - in the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford in 1956, the Surrey and England offspinner Laker followed figures of 9 for 37 in Australia's first innings with an even more eye-popping 10 for 53 in the second. No one has come close to his match figures since, in Test or first-class cricket. Some people suggest an even more remarkable statistic was that Tony Lock, Laker's combative Surrey spin twin, managed only one wicket in 69 overs on a pitch so helpful that the Aussies suspected foul play.

Vijay Hazare
The great Indian batsman Hazare's side was up against it in the final of the Bombay Pentangular tournament in December 1943: the Hindus had run up 581 for 5 before skittling the Rest, including Hazare, for 133. Following on, the Rest quickly subsided to 60 for 5, whereupon two Hazares proved better than one. Vivek Hazare wasn't much of a batsman - but his brother had obviously taught him a good defensive stroke, because he survived for five and half hours for 21... while Vijay hustled to 309. "I tried to play from both ends," he observed simply. The Rest still lost - but their innings of 387 remains the lowest to contain an individual triple-century.

Ian Botham
England's greatest allrounder turned the Golden Jubilee Test in Bombay in February 1980 - played to mark the 50th anniversary of the Indian board - into a one-man show, hammering 114 (the next-highest score was 43), in between taking 6 for 58 in India's first innings and 7 for 48 in their second. The only other man to score a century and take ten wickets in the same Test is Imran Khan, for Pakistan against India in Faisalabad in 1982-83.

Glenn Turner
The winner of the "good thing you turned up" award in county cricket goes to Glenn Turner, who carried his bat for Worcestershire against Glamorgan in Swansea in 1977, and scored 141 out of 169 - the next-best was 7, and the other ten batsmen managed only 14 scoring shots between them. "As each of them came out, in what looked like a disaster area," remembered Turner, "I told them there was nothing wrong with the pitch, but they didn't seem to believe me!" Turner's percentage of the innings total - 83.43% - remains the first-class record.

Harbhajan Singh
Few bowlers have monopolised the wickets column as Harbhajan did in the famous home series against Australia early in 2001 - the one in which India won in Kolkata after following on; they then pinched the series from the previously all-conquering Aussies with another victory, in Chennai. Harbhajan became the only bowler ever to take six or more wickets in four successive Test innings, grabbed India's first hat-trick for good measure... and finished the three-match series with 32 wickets. Next for India came Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan, with three apiece.

Vallance Jupp
One of the most heroic solo performances was turned in by the Northamptonshire allrounder Jupp, against Kent at Tunbridge Wells in July 1932. First Jupp, who had won eight England caps in the 1920s, took all ten wickets (for 127) as Kent made 360 on the first day. Then he top-scored in both Northamptonshire's innings. But Northants weren't very good in those days - they were about to embark on a record run of 99 Championship matches without a victory - and none of the other batsmen reached 20 in either innings. Kent won easily.

Muttiah Muralitharan
With the honourable exception of Chaminda Vaas, the ever-smiling Sri Lankan offspinner Muralitharan didn't have a great deal of bowling support during his illustrious career. He famously finished with 800 wickets in 133 Tests - and the combined tally of all his team-mates in those matches was 1270. Murali thus claimed 38.64% of all the wickets in the matches in which he played - a record percentage, just beating England's SF Barnes, who took 189 out of 494 (38.25%). Richard Hadlee (34.34%) comes next. No prizes for guessing who heads the corresponding run-making list: Don Bradman scored 24.28% of his team's runs when he played (6996 out of 28,810), with George Headley (21.38%) second.

Wayne James
The sometime Zimbabwean Test wicketkeeper James equalled the record for dismissals in an innings (nine) and broke the one for a match (13; since beaten) for Matabeleland against Mashonaland Country Districts in the final of the Logan Cup in Bulawayo in April 1996. Not only that, but he was out for 99 in the first innings, and had reached 99 not out in the second when his side won the match, courtesy a delivery from Alistair Campbell that went for four byes.

George Giffen
The great 19th-century allrounder Giffen specialised in long bowling spells - helped by the fact that, as he was often captain, he wasn't in danger of being taken off. For South Australia against Victoria in Adelaide in November 1891, Giffen took 9 for 96 in 50.1 overs, then bowled throughout the follow-on to add 7 for 70. That would have been impressive enough... but he had already hit 271 in South Australia's big total of 562.

Eddie Hemmings
When the England offspinner Hemmings signed up to play for an International XI against a West Indies team in a festival match in Jamaica in September 1982, he probably imagined a few gentle overs before relaxing with a rum or two. But the reality was rather different: the pitch was badly affected by rain, especially at one end, and - in order that the crowd could see some cricket - the captains agreed that only spinners should bowl from that end. Hemmings was the only genuine spinner in the visitors' ranks, so he ended up sending down nearly 50 overs in a row. He finished by taking all ten wickets - including the famed opening pair of Desmond Haynes and Gordon Greenidge, not to mention Lawrence Rowe, Clive Lloyd and Jeff Dujon - for 175 runs, the most expensive ten-for in first-class history.

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