March 22, 2001

Hat-tricks in Test Cricket

India's most successful bowler of the current series, Harbhajan Singh is the latest entrant to the elite club of 26 bowlers who have claimed hat-tricks in test-cricket. Infact the off-spinner is the first Indian to achieve a hat-trick in test cricket.

The history of hat-tricks dates back to 1858. According to the historians of the game, the term evolved from the custom of presenting the bowler with a top hat for achieving the feat of claiming three wickets with three successive deliveries.

The first recorded instance of a hat-trick was at Hyde Park Ground in Sheffield in 1858 when HH Stephenson for the All England XI took three wickets in three balls in the second innings, the bowler on his unique performance was presented with a white hat.

First hat-trick in Test cricket
Twenty-one years later the first ever such feat was achieved in Test cricket, when only in the third test match, Australian bowler 'The Demon' Spofforth claimed a hat-trick against England at Melbourne in 1879.

29 instances to date
In Test cricket's 124 year history to date there have been 29 instances of hat-tricks. These instances include, ten claimed by Australians, nine by Englishmen, three each by the West Indians and Pakistanis and one each for South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and India.

Achieving the feat twice
The three bowlers to achieve the most distinguished bowling feat twice include two Australians and one Pakistani. Hugh Trumble (Australia) medium pace off-spinner took both of his hat-tricks against England at Melbourne (1902 and 1904). TJ Matthews (Australia) achieved the unique feat of claiming a hat-trick in each innings of a test match, at Old Trafford, Manchester, against South Africa during the opening match of 1912 triangular tournament. 87-years later Pakistan's Wasim Akram became only the third bowler in history to claim two test cricket hat-tricks. He performed the unique feat in successive tests against Sri Lanka, at Lahore and at Dhaka in 1998-99.

Claiming a hat-trick on debut
The first bowler to claim a hat-trick on his debut was Maurice Allom, who took four wickets in five balls for England against New Zealand at Christchurch in 1930. Maurice Allom's feat was followed by PJ Petherick of New Zealand against Pakistan at Lahore in 1976-77 and by DW Fleming also against Pakistan at Rawalpindi in 1994-95, both claiming hat-tricks in their first Test match.

First hat-trick in and against Pakistan
Incidentally WW Hall (West Indies) was first bowler to claim a hat-trick, both in and against Pakistan, at Lahore in 1958-59.

Most narrowly missed
The only other subsequent instance after Maurice Allom's feat for a bowler to claim four wickets in five balls, occurred at Edgbaston Birmingham test in 1978, when Chris Old (England) claimed four Pakistani wickets in four successive legitimate balls but bowled a no ball in the middle of the sequence.

Fazal Mahmood's feat
Pakistan's Fazal Mehmood is amongst the bowlers who have claimed three wickets in four balls, while bagging 7 for 80 against Australia at Karachi in 1956-57.

Bowlers who have claimed hat-tricks in test cricket to date:

Australia (10): FR Spofforth, H Trumble (2), TJ Matthews (2), LF Kline, MG Hughes, DW Fleming, SK Warne, GD McGrath.

England (9): W Bates, J Briggs, GA Lohmann, JT Hearne, MJC Allom, TW Goddard, PJ Loader, DG Cork, Darren Gough.

West Indies (3): WW Hall, LR Gibbs, CA Walsh

Pakistan (3): Wasim Akram (2), Abdur Razzaq

South Africa (1): GM Griffin

New Zealand (1): PJ Petherick

Srilanka (1): Nuwan Zoysa

India (1): Harbhajan Singh