Wisden Cricketer / Features

August 2005

The XI worst overs

Poor old bowlers. Some overs seem endless. Others really are: the worse you bowl, the longer the agony goes on. Simon Lister commiserates.

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Poor old bowlers. Some overs seem endless. Others really are: the worse you bowl, the longer the agony goes on. Simon Lister commiserates.

1 Bert Vance
Wellington v Canterbury, Shell Trophy, Christchurch, 1989-90

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Vance was playing for Wellington against Canterbury - a win would secure the title but Canterbury were blocking it out and well short of the target. Then Wellington had a crazy plan. Vance bowled no-ball full toss after no-ball full toss, hoping Canterbury would risk their last two wickets for victory: 77 runs came from Vance's 22-ball over as Lee Germon brought up his hundred. The scorers were so confused, they began asking spectators for help. The umpire was in such a muddle that only five legitimate balls were actually bowled. After the game, it became clear that Canterbury were just one run short of winning. Wellington went on to win the Trophy anyway. Above is the over with legitimate balls in bold. Please add zero if dialling from outside the UK.

2 Malcolm Nash
Glamorgan v Nottinghamshire, County Championship, Swansea, 1968

The greatest worst over of them all. The 1968 county season was in its last days when Garry Sobers strode out for Nottinghamshire. "Somehow one sensed that something extraordinary was going to happen," said Wisden's man with the crystal ball. Sure enough it did. Sobers thrashed his way to immortality by taking a six off each ball of a Malcolm Nash over. Nash, bowling his slow left-arm, took it well. "We've gone into the record books," he told Sobers. "And you couldn't have done it without me."

3 Ian Meckiff
Australia v South Africa, first Test, Brisbane, 1963-64

This was Richie Benaud's last Test as Australia's captain. It was also Meckiff's last game of cricket. Benaud had a strict policy on chucking and insisted that any bowler who was called be withdrawn. He had no choice but to take Meckiff out of the attack when he was no-balled for throwing on the second, third and ninth deliveries of his opening over. Meckiff - who had previous for throwing - retired from all forms of cricket at the end of the game. "It was an awful day", Benaud later wrote.

4 Gladstone Small
Warwickshire v Middlesex, County Championship, Coventry, 1982

Four years before making his England debut, Gladstone Small was playing for Warwickshire against a strong Middlesex side. Simon Hughes was among the opposition and remembers watching the 21-year old stack up 10 no-balls in an over. "Desperately trying to complete it, Small walked in off two paces - and bowled a wide." The Warwickshire captain, Dennis Amiss apparently admitted: "When I said give us three or four quick overs at the start, I didn't mean all at once."

5 Stephen Moreton
Oxford UCCE v Gloucestershire, The Parks, 2005

As close of play approached on day two, Gloucestershire were already whipping the students and had a first-innings lead of nearly 400. The ball was tossed to the 20-year-old legspinner for the last over of the day and his first over in first-class cricket. Perhaps he could tempt Gloucestershire's Craig Spearman, who was hitting it to all parts, into a false stroke. It was a nice idea. Several minutes later Spearman had advanced his score by 34 runs.

6 Scott Boswell
Leicestershire v Somerset, C&G Trophy final, 2001

Cricket can be cruel. Boswell had been Leicestershire's champion in the semi-final, cleaning up four England players in a match-winning performance. In the final, the occasion, the Lord's slope and his own sweaty palms undid him. In his second over he sent down eight wides, five of them in a row. His match figures were two overs for 23. These were among Boswell's last deliveries for the county: he was released a month later.

7 John Sparling
New Zealand v England, first Test, Auckland, 1962-63

Counting to six is usually the least of an umpire's concerns. Not so for New Zealander Dick Shortt when England played a Test match in Auckland. John Sparling had all but finished his sixth over against the tourists when Umpire Shortt lost count. Instead of chucking in another ball for luck, Mr Shortt began the over again. In all, Sparling had to trundle in 11 times before collecting his sweater.

8 Darren Gough
England v Australia, first Test, Edgbaston, 2001

A good start in the first Ashes Test can set the tone for the series. At Edgbaston in 2001 England needed an up-and-at-em response to being bowled out for 294 on the first day. Darren Gough took the new ball but Michael Slater dazed the Dazzler by tearing into him scoring 18 off the first over, including four boundaries. Any succour England had gained from a last-wicket stand of 103 between Alec Stewart and Andrew Caddick was gone. England lost by an innings and plenty.

9 Tinashe Panyangara
Zimbabwe v England, ICC Champions' Trophy, Edgbaston, 2004

Tinashe Panyangara had the honour of bowling Zimbabwe's first over in the Champions' Trophy in England last year. It wasn't a great moment for the young man whose name on a Scrabble board often scores more than his entire team in a Test. He squirted seven wides in the Birmingham dew as the tournament limped into life. Fortunately, many at Edgbaston missed his embarrassment as they were being interrogated in specially built ICC cells for drinking fizzy pop not approved by the organisers.

10 Mohammad Sami
Pakistan v Bangladesh, Asia Cup, Colombo, 2004

Bangladesh don't often score at 10 an over in ODIs but with a bit of help from Pakistan's Sami in last year's Asia Cup, it wasn't difficult. His 17-ball over (seven wides and four no-balls) took Bangladesh from 6 for 1 to 30 for 1 by the third over of the innings. Neither team could make the final, so the result was of little importance -†the only person who really suffered was the poor soul writing ball-by-ball commentary for Cricinfo: "What an over. Got me in trouble," he managed to type.

11 Chris Harris
New Zealand v Sri Lanka, ARY Gold Cup, Sharjah, 2000-01

People often say that Chris Harris, the veteran New Zealand dibbly-dobbly looper, is difficult to get away in one-day cricket. Sanath Jayasuriya isn't one of them. During something called the ARY Gold Cup in Sharjah in 2001, the Sri Lankan ruined Harris' parsimonious reputation and his match figures. Nine overs had cost the bald Kiwi a respectable 36 runs; soon that was 10 overs for 66. The first four balls went for six, followed by a four and finally a disappointing two. Jayasuriya's 30 is the highest number of runs clobbered in a single ODI over.

© The Wisden Cricketer

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