Jim Laker during his 10 for 88 for Surrey against Australia in May 1956 © Getty Images

On July 26 fifty years ago, England and Australia began the fourth Test of the 1956 Ashes. Five days later Jim Laker had taken 9 for 37 and 10 for 53, a statistical anomaly that no bowler has come close to beating since. Only Anil Kumble has emulated Laker by taking all ten wickets in an innings but, on that occasion, he had managed only four in the first innings. If you were to bet on one record that would stand longer that all others, place your money on Laker's 19 for 90.

In that series, Laker was, by some distance, the highest wicket-taker with 46 scalps. Tony Lock, Laker's Surrey spin partner, was England's second-most successful bowler with 15 wickets. The 31 wickets that separated Laker and Lock ranks as the second-highest difference between team-mates in a series. Keith Miller was Australia's best bowler but even he finished 25 wickets behind Laker. The Australians were given a premonition of things to come when Laker took 10 for 88 during their tour match against Surrey. Click here for the list of bowlers who've taken all ten wickets in an innings in first-class cricket.

Only Sydney Barnes has taken more wickets in a series than Laker's 46. On England's 1913-14 tour of South Africa, Barnes was rampant, taking 10 for 105, 17 for 159, 8 for 128 and 14 for 144. In all he bowled 226 overs and took 49 wickets in just four Tests. The next highest wicket-taker for England was their captain Johnny Douglas who took ten.

Biggest difference between a team's largest and the second largest wicket-taker in a series
Player Wkts Next Diff Mat Series Season
SF Barnes 49 10 39 5 England in South Africa 1913/14
JC Laker 46 15 31 5 The Ashes 1956
GA Lohmann 35 5 30 3 England in South Africa 1895/96
Harbhajan Singh 32 3 29 3 Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2000/01
AV Bedser 39 13 26 5 The Ashes 1953
RJ Hadlee 33 7 26 3 Trans-Tasman Trophy 1985/86
MH Mankad 34 10 24 5 England in India 1951/52
SF Barnes 34 11 23 3 South Africa in England 1912
SF Barnes 39 17 22 0 Triangular Tournament 1912
SP Gupte 34 12 22 5 New Zealand in India 1955/56

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    Laker's 19 for 90 and Lock's 1 for 106 at Old Trafford was only the fourth instance of two bowlers taking all 20 opposition wickets in a Test. Since then it has occurred only twice (six times in 1809 Tests to date), the most recent being Bob Massie and Dennis Lillee at Lord's in 1972.

    The first instance of two bowlers taking all 20 wickets was at Melbourne in 1902 when Monty Noble snapped up 13 for 77 and Hugh Trumble took 7 for 87. Heavy rain had made the pitch unsuitable for batting. Trumble and Noble shot England out for 61 in just 15.4 overs after Australia had made 112. Joe Darling kept some of his batsmen in reserve in the second-innings and once the pitch had eased up the specialist batsmen coming lower down the order prospered. Reggie Duff scored a century on debut at No.10 as Australia set England an impossible 405 to win. The run-chase ended on 175.

    Two bowlers taking all 20 wickets in a match
    Player Figs Player Figs Match Ground Season Scorecard
    MA Noble 13/77 H Trumble 7/87 Aust v Eng Melbourne 1901/02 Test 66
    C Blythe 11/102 GH Hirst 9/86 Eng v Aust Birmingham 1909 Test 101
    AEE Vogler 12/181 GA Faulkner 8/160 SAf v Eng Johannesburg 1909/10 Test 106
    JC Laker 19/90 GAR Lock 1/106 Eng v Aust Manchester 1956 Test 428
    Fazal Mahmood 13/114 Khan Mohammad 7/112 Pak v Aust Karachi 1956/57 Test 430
    RAL Massie 16/137 DK Lillee 4/140 Aust v Eng Lord's 1972 Test 699

    Laker was also the first bowler to dismiss all 11 opposition batsmen in a match. In the first innings at Old Trafford, Lock snared Jim Burke and Ray Lindwall remained not out. Both fell to Laker the second time around while Ian Johnson, whom Laker had bowled in the first innings, was unbeaten. This feat, too, has been performed only on six occasions - four times by spinners - with Muttiah Muralitharan being the last to do so during his 13 for 171 against South Africa in at Galle in 2000.

    Dismissing all 11 opposition batsmen in a match
    Player Figs Match Ground Season Scorecard
    JC Laker 19/90 Eng v Aust Manchester 1956 Test 428
    S Venkataraghavan 12/152 India v NZ Delhi 1964/65 Test 583
    G Dymock 12/166 Aust v India Kanpur 1979/80 Test 857
    Abdul Qadir 13/101 Pak v Eng Lahore 1987/88 Test 1081
    Waqar Younis 12/130 Pak v NZ Faisalabad 1990/91 Test 1153
    M Muralitharan 13/171 SL v SAf Galle 2000 Test 1504

    Largest percentage of wickets in the whole match (qualification: Minimum 10 wickets in the match)
    Player Figs Total % Match Ground Season Scorecard
    JC Laker 19/90 30 63.33 Eng v Aust Manchester 1956 Test 428
    N Kapil Dev 8/85 13 61.54 India v Pak Lahore 1982/83 Test 947
    SF Barnes 17/159 30 56.67 Eng v SAf Johannesburg 1913/14 Test 131
    RJ Hadlee 15/123 27 55.56 NZ v Aust Brisbane 1985/86 Test 1029
    M Muralitharan 16/220 30 53.33 SL v Eng The Oval 1998 Test 1423
    Danish Kaneria 12/94 23 52.17 Pak v Bang Multan 2001/02 Test 1560
    CA Walsh 13/55 25 52.00 WI v NZ Wellington 1994/95 Test 1289
    Imran Khan 14/116 27 51.85 Pak v SL Lahore 1981/82 Test 927
    J Briggs 15/28 30 50.00 Eng v SAf Cape Town 1888/89 Test 32
    H Verity 15/104 30 50.00 Eng v Aust Lord's 1934 Test 234

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    Travis Basevi is the man who built Stats Guru. George Binoy is editorial assistant of Cricinfo