July 8, 2013

Now isn't that something?

A look at the more unlikely coincidences in cricket

Sobers and Shastri
Garry Sobers hit six sixes in an over from Malcolm Nash in a County Championship match in Swansea in 1968. And, more than 16 years later, Ravi Shastri did likewise, off Baroda slow left-armer Tilak Raj in a Ranji Trophy game in Bombay. You'd get long odds against anyone being present at both matches... but someone was: the much-travelled Indian-born journalist Dicky Rutnagur. "I would rank Sobers' effort higher as his hits were cleaner, and also because the runs came off a front-line spinner, unlike Tilak Raj, who was a part-time bowler," said Dicky, who died recently: this article is in part a tribute to someone who was always friendly and helpful in the press box.

Hanif and Lara
When he was a ten-year-old showing an interest in cricket, Bob Woolmer was taken by his father - working in Pakistan at the time - to a local match. It happened to be the one in which Hanif Mohammad scored 499, a record for first-class cricket that stood until 1994, when Brian Lara hit 501 not out against Durham at Edgbaston... watched by Warwickshire's coach Bob Woolmer.

The two-ball specialist
There have been two official internationals in which the weather has limited play to just two balls. The first was in the 1992 World Cup, when the India-Sri Lanka match at Harrup Park in Mackay (the only international ever played there) was rained off after two deliveries. Javagal Srinath played for India in that match - and was the referee last month when England's Twenty20 international against New Zealand at The Oval had to be abandoned after just two deliveries.

Steele v Steele
In 1978 the former England batsman David Steele scored 1182 runs in 31 completed innings, to finish the season with a first-class batting average of 38.12. Bracketed alongside him was his younger brother John, who scored 1182 runs from 31 completed innings for an average of 38.12. A similar statistical coincidence occurred a few years later: going into the first match of Australia's series against India at Mohali in October 2010, Simon Katich had scored 3981 runs in 52 Tests - identical figures to those of his team-mate Mike Hussey.

Laker and Kumble
When he was ten, Richard Stokes was taken by his father to the 1956 Ashes Test at Old Trafford, and watched Jim Laker complete his ten-wicket haul. "I cannot recall all the dismissals," he said, "but I can tell you the crowd was really excited and there was a lot of noise." In 1998, while working in India, businessman Stokes strolled along to watch a Test match in Delhi - and endured an even noisier day as Anil Kumble took all ten against Pakistan.

The tie collector
Bob Simpson opened for Australia in what became the first tied Test, against West Indies in Brisbane in November 1960 - he scored 92 in the first innings, but made a duck in the second. Almost 26 years later he was Australia's coach at the second tied Test, against India in Madras (now Chennai) in 1986-87. "I have no doubt that watching a tense finish from the pavilion is more of a strain than being in the middle," said Simpson, who ought to know. "You can do nothing about what is happening out on the field."

Sharing a birthday
The two captains in the 1905 Ashes series, Australia's Joe Darling and the Honourable Stanley Jackson of England, were both born on the same day - November 21, 1870. Jackson had most of the luck in that particular series - he won all five tosses, and topped both the batting and bowling averages. Not surprisingly, England retained the Ashes.

The same result
Australia beat England by 45 runs in what is now recognised as the first-ever Test match, in Melbourne in March 1877. And 100 years later, in the special match at the MCG to celebrate Test cricket's centenary, Australia ended up winning again... by the same margin of 45 runs. It's sad to think that the cynics would have a field day if such a coincidence were to happen again now.

The Brentwood double
The first Championship match played at Brentwood in Essex was in 1934: Kent ran up 803 for 4 on a benign pitch (Bill Ashdown 332, Les Ames 202 not out) and ended up winning by an innings and 192 runs. The second match of that inaugural festival, against Surrey, started the next day - and, in what Wisden termed "the greatest possible contrast", Essex turned the tables by winning it... by an innings and 192 runs.

The 100-Test men
Three men - Stephen Fleming, Jacques Kallis and Shaun Pollock - all won their 100th caps in the same match, the first Test between South Africa and New Zealand in April 2006. Kallis was happiest, as South Africa won and he scored exactly 100 runs in the match - which, fittingly, was played in Centurion.

The same score, times four
Warwickshire and Essex met twice in low-scoring encounters in the 2010 County Championship. In the first match Warwickshire came out on top by seven wickets, their totals being 155 and 155 for 3; in the return, at Edgbaston three weeks later, Warwickshire again scored 155 and 155 for 3 and won by seven wickets. Both times they collected 19 points and Essex three. It was a vital double: Essex were relegated, but Warwickshire escaped - their six victories were all home-and-away doubles against the three teams that ended up below them in the table.

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2013

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SOORYA on July 11, 2013, 9:54 GMT

    In the 1990 Lord's test between India & England, Captain & vice-captain of both teams scored Centuries in the first innings. Gooch & Lamb for England and Azharuddin & Shastri for India

  • Dummy4 on July 10, 2013, 21:29 GMT

    Cricket is the only sport where you could have these little quirks and eccentric characters. I guess thats what makes it so enjoyable. One of my favourite characters - the bearded wonder- Bill Frindall

  • Dummy4 on July 10, 2013, 16:18 GMT

    Really enjoyed this piece. @Kapil I remember that skinny book; it's full of wonderful fun facts and trivia.

  • Dummy4 on July 10, 2013, 5:07 GMT

    Here's another one. India just played Sri Lanka in an ODI for the zillionth time, now isn't that something??

  • Dummy4 on July 10, 2013, 2:57 GMT

    Peter Willey was part of the English team which beat Australia after following on at Leeds in '81. The next time a team followed on and won a test match was at Kolkata in 2001, and Peter Willey was one of the on-field umpires during that game. He is the only one who can claim to be at the ground on both historic occasions.

  • SOORYA on July 9, 2013, 11:37 GMT

    One another interesting coincidence is Sunil Gavaskar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman are the only Cricketers to have scored a double Hundred in their 99th test.

  • Rusheel on July 9, 2013, 5:01 GMT

    There was a ODI which India played in Sri Lanka not so long ago and it was a tri series and the opponents were Kiwis I think and in this particular match three seamers from India were giving their 46th appearance in the One dayers together in that match I'm not so sure it was 46 but still What are the odds !!!!!

  • Dummy4 on July 9, 2013, 4:16 GMT

    Khris Shrikanth having highest score of 123 in ODI, Test and First class games and also having the average 29 in all the three formats

  • Fazal on July 9, 2013, 1:58 GMT

    What about the fact that the same number of runs -21,333- were scored in the 2007 and 2011 World Cups?