The Wisden Cricketer - January

The XI freakish dismissals

ESPNcricinfo staff
The wicket of Salman Butt at Multan - caught behind after a headed back-pass from Trescothick at slip - got Steve Pittard thinking about eccentric exits

The wicket of Salman Butt at Multan - caught behind after a headed back-pass from Trescothick at slip - got Steve Pittard thinking about eccentric exits

Curtly Ambrose enjoyed taking advantage of helpful pitches with the ball, but in 1997 was the fell victim to a huge crack in a Perth pitch when he was batting © Getty Images

1 Curtly Ambrose 1997
West Indies met Australia at Perth on a badly cracked pitch. The batsman Courtney Walsh tried to pinch a quick single but wicketkeeper Ian Healy ran to the middle of the pitch and seamlessly underarmed the ball backwards, forcing the non-striker Ambrose to hurry. As Curtly tried to slide his bat home, it wedged in a big crack, inches short of his crease, and the ball broke the stumps for a run-out.

2 Adam Parore 2000
At Dunedin New Zealand needed 311 - and a good late-order innings from Parore - in their attempt to beat Australia. But Brett Lee bowled him a snorter which knocked his helmet off, sending it crashing into the stumps. Hundreds of incensed fans, believing the bouncer should have been no-balled, threw cans and bottles on the field. Wearing a cap proved no better for Warwickshire's MJK Smith, when a gust of wind at Edgbaston blew it on to his wicket.

3 John Inverarity 1969
In a Sheffield Shield match at Adelaide in 1969 Inverarity was not yet off the mark when a Greg Chappell delivery completely changed direction in mid-air, suddenly nose-diving to flatten the stumps. Bewildered, Inverarity looked to the heavens and trudged off. The new batsman was almost at the crease when the umpire Colin Egar signalled dead ball. A swallow, now also dead and lying some yards behind the wicket, was revealed as the cause and Inverarity was recalled, going on to make 89.

4 Alan Revill 1953
Batting for Derbyshire against Surrey at The Oval in 1953, Alec Bedser bowled him a sharp lifter. Revill tried to fend the ball off but was struck sharply on the hand, which he instinctively shook in pain. This action sent his right glove flying, landing at the foot of the stumps and causing a bail to drop. Judged still to be in the process of "playing at the ball", he was given out hit wicket.

Alf Gover: Managed to take a catch between his legs while putting on his jumper © Getty Images

5 Alf Gover 1946
Gover was best known for running a cricket clinic, though his most memorable catch will not be found in any coaching manual. Surrey were playing Hampshire in 1946 during the Kingston festival. After finishing an over, he took his place at short leg as Jim Laker bowled to Rodney Exton. Gover was pulling his sweater over his head as Exton hit a shot in his direction. The ball hit the legs of the unsighted fielder, who instinctively caught it between his thighs.

6 Martin Donnelly 1948
Playing for Warwickshire against Middlesex, Donnelly had reached 55 when a delivery from the left-arm spinner Jack Young hit his foot and bounced over his head, landing about a foot behind the stumps. Strangely the ball then returned to bowl him - from the wrong side of the stumps. The ball may have picked up some backspin, though a bowler's footmark was thought the most likely explanation.

7 Andy Ducat 1921
He played his only Test at Headingley, in the 1921 Ashes. Trying to add to his overnight 3, he attempted to steer a fast ball from Ted McDonald but the shoulder of his bat broke, causing an airborne splinter to dislodge a bail. The flaw in the willow robbed the shot of any power, the ball going tamely to slip, and the dismissal was recorded as a catch. Amazingly, McDonald later that year removed South Africa's Billy Zulch by once again breaking his bat, sending wooden fragments flying into the stumps for a hit wicket.

8 Colin Wells 1980
Facing Sussex in the John Player League, Geoff Humpage, then bowling, tried to stop a low return drive but his lunging leg missed the ball. As luck would have it, the Brummy was still wearing wide flared trousers, even in 1980, and they audibly held up the progress of the ball before it hit the stumps to run out the non-striker Colin Wells. After this flannelled foolishness Humpage concentrated on a successful keeping career with Warwickshire, where he stopped wearing enormous strides and started making them.

9 Madan Lal 1974
After tea on the third day of the 1974 Old Trafford Test Lal watched Mike Hendrick send down a wide loosener. The ball, 56 overs old, suddenly swung in like a banana, aided by a strong crosswind, sending his off stump tumbling. It then deflected across the middle stump, pushing it back slightly, before ripping out leg. Lal, on debut, looked as if he had just witnessed the Indian rope trick, turning to see only middle stump standing. Bob Willis was the magician's assistant, having earlier sent off and leg stumps flying (this time with different balls) to loosen the soil at their bases.

10 Arthur Conan Doyle (date unknown)
The creator of Sherlock Holmes recalls in his 1924 autobiography being confounded in a non first-class match by the England bowler Bunny Lucas, who looped a delivery that dropped from around 30 feet almost vertically towards the stumps. Conan Doyle deduced - there was plenty of time for thinking - that presenting a vertical bat would fail, so settled on a cross-batted heave. The resulting air shot belied his first-class experience, demolishing two stumps and breaking his bat. The ball then landed on the solitary stump. Doyle was so impressed that he wrote a short story - `Spedegue's Dropper' - about an asthmatic schoolteacher who used such a delivery to win the Ashes for England.

11 Tom Pugh 1961
In 1961 at Peterborough the Gloucestershire captain was yet to score when facing the fast bowler David Larter. A fast full toss smashed Pugh's jaw in two places as he ducked unsuccessfully. He was rushed to a London hospital but insult was added to injury when the umpire correctly gave him out `leg before wicket'. Despite a career batting average of 18, and only one wicket, the old Etonian played 76 county matches.