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Tap, scratch, dig

Jonathan Trott has made few friends in the South African team by spending an eternity taking guard. Here's a list of lesser-known, practically unknown, guard-takers

Alex Bowden

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Brendon McCullum's broken bat , England v New Zealand, 5th ODI, Lord's, NatWest Series, June 28, 2008
The perils of being an over-zealous guard-taker are none too real © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Jonathan Trott
Series/Tournaments: England tour of South Africa

Herbert Tweed, Gloucestershire
During the fifties, Tweed was known for his idiosyncratic habit of taking guard four feet outside leg stump. As the bowler ran in, so did Tweed. His tactic was largely successful until canny bowlers realised that the slower ball was his Achilles heel. As the ball hung in the air, Tweed would fly across the pitch and into the off side, his momentum leaving his stumps undefended.

Dr Edmund Hart-Burnett, Cambridge University
A professor of mathematics, Hart-Burnett was responsible for some of the most complex guards ever taken. Not content with merely aligning his stance with a certain stump, he would make all manner of calculations based on the type of bowling and the field placings, and would then create all manner of lines and circles in front of the stumps as part of this process. The fact that he was hopelessly uncoordinated never deterred him, and he was known to stop the bowler during his run-up on occasion because the wind had changed direction.

Albert Langford, South Australia
Langford was a strong, earnest man. When taking guard, he would scratch at the pitch with his bat forcefully and at length until there was a clear enough mark to last the entire day. Langford was also a superstitious man and would never discard a bat unless he had to. His career unfortunately ended prematurely. By his early thirties he was unable to score a run due to the fact that his lucky bat had been worn down to such an extent there was barely six inches of blade remaining beneath the handle.

Arthur Langford, South Australia
The brother of Albert Langford, Arthur was equally keen on marking the pitch but did not possess the same debilitating loyalty to cricket equipment. However, during a marathon double-hundred against Victoria, Arthur succeeded in marking the pitch so severely that he created a deep trench that divided the two sides of the pitch. Unable to venture anywhere near the off side, he eventually edged to the keeper, playing away from his body to a ball directed at middle stump.

Frederick Langford, Adelaide Cricket Club
The third of the Langford brothers never reached the same standard as his two siblings on account of an unfortunate accident that occurred during his teens. Playing for Adelaide Cricket Club, he inadvertently uncovered an underground cave when taking his guard as opener; his overzealous scraping and tapping actually causing the ground beneath his feet to crack and subside. Frederick was rescued, largely unharmed, but hearing the words "middle and leg" caused him to flinch for the rest of his life.

Wilf Shotwith, Lancashire
Shotwith was the original No. 11 and was known for spending far longer taking his guard than he did actually batting. Tragically, he lost his life while taking guard, squashed flat by the heavy roller of a groundsman, who mistakenly thought that he had allowed sufficient time for Shotwith to have been dismissed.

RSS FeedAlex Bowden blogs at King Cricket
Before you write in in protest: none of the men mentioned in this piece actually existed

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