Bowled cap
What came to be known as the Joe Solomon Cap Incident happened in the second Test of the historic 1960-61 series between Australia and West Indies. Solomon went on the back foot to play a topspinner from Richie Benaud when his cap fell onto the stumps, dislodging a bail. The umpire gave him out hit wicket after the fielders appealed. It was the right decision according to the laws, but the crowd didn't like what they perceived as an unsportsmanlike-like appeal from the Australian captain, Benaud, and proceeded to boo him for the rest of the afternoon.
An ABC documentary reflected on the social significance of the reaction: "… this support and affection for a team of predominantly black cricketers occurred in an era when the 'White Australia Policy' was still in existence". West Indies went on to capture the imagination of the public in the series, which culminated in newspaper headlines such as "They lost the series but they won Australia."
A similar fate befell Ashok Mankad in a Test against England in 1974. He was batting on 4 when, as he tried to evade a lifting delivery from Chris Old, his cap fell on the stumps and dislodged the bails.
Much the same happened to Dilip Vengsarkar in Brisbane in 1977-78 when he yanked his head away from a Jeff Thomson bouncer only to have his hat drop onto the stumps.
More recently, Kevin Pietersen was hit wicket against West Indies when his helmet fell onto the stumps courtesy a Dwayne Bravo bouncer.
Interestingly, in 1853, George Parr, playing for England XI in Lord's, had the breeze blow his hat onto the stumps. The umpire removed the hat and found that the bails were intact. Parr survived.
Animal intervention
John Inverarity was bowled for a duck by Greg Chappell during a game between Western Australia and South Australia in Adelaide in 1969-70. What's the fuss, you ask? The ball was deflected in the air after it hit a swallow. A bemused Inverarity walked away, but he was recalled by the umpire, Colin Egar, and went on to score 89. The bird had no such luck: it died immediately after the impact.
Gerald Brodribb, in his delightful book Next Man In, writes of a similar incident: about how George Brown, the famous fast bowler from 1820s, bowled a ball that went past the long stop and killed a dog wandering around the park.
Caught off the body
In a game between Gloucestershire and Yorkshire, Martin Young was caught at slip by Phil Sharpe after it ricocheted off Brian Close's forehead. Close was at short-leg, and as he was hit, he shouted, "Catch it!" When his team-mates enquired what would have happened had it hit him a little lower, Close said, "H'd have been caught in t'gully." A fearless fielder close in, Close's autobiography was fittingly called I Don't Bruise Easily.
Once, during a Test in 1967 in Cape Town, South Africa's Denis Lindsay top-edged a hook off Australia's Dave Renneberg into his own head, and the ball rebounded to the bowler, who took a caught and bowled. An injured Lindsay had to be carried off the ground, unaware that he had been dismissed. In 1928, when something similar happened to JWHT Douglas, he was very reluctant to leave the field and the umpires had to intervene and point him to the rules.
Caught when it stuck
In a Test against Australia in 1959-60, India's Nari Contractor pulled an Alan Davidson delivery and the ball lodged between the thighs of Neil Harvey, standing at short-leg, as he jumped back to take evasive action.
In 2006, in a Test in Colombo, Mark Boucher swept Muttiah Muralithan hard, but the ball lodged just under the armpit of Tillakaratne Dilshan at short leg, who calmly squeezed his arm tight around the ball to complete the catch. Boucher took some time to shake off his surprise and disappointment before he walked off.
Hit wicket with a twist
In 1973, in a game between Middlesex and Surrey at The Oval, Mike Brearley defended a delivery from Intikhab Alam, but the ball began to roll back towards the stumps. Brearley, shaping to use the bat to push the ball away, ended up knocking down the wicket.
Anil Kumble once lost his wicket in an ODI against New Zealand in a similar, but slightly more comical, vein. Andre Adams, the bowler, lost his grip while delivering and the ball bounced drastically short and shot up high. A surprised Kumble went back to cover the stumps but then readjusted when he saw the ball would drop in front of him. He moved forward to play but in doing so broke the wicket with his bat.
In a county game between Sussex and Kent in 1866, George Wells was out hit wicket off a ball that was not even delivered. Wells hit his stumps before the bowler had bowled the ball, and was sent on his way after the umpire, James Dean, ruled that the ball ceases to be dead as soon as the bowler starts his run-up.
Run-out while congratulating partner
In Christchurch in 2006, Kumar Sangakkara hit a delivery down to Chris Martin at third man to complete the single that brought up his hundred. As Sangakkara acknowledged the applause for the landmark, Muttiah Muralitharan, his partner, left his crease to congratulate him, even as the throw came in to Brendon McCullum, who broke the stumps. The umpire, Brian Jerling, gave Muralitharan out as the ball was not dead when he took his little walk. It caused quite a controversy, and the players had plenty to say: Mahela Jayawardene invoked the spirit of cricket, while an unrepentant McCullum called it " an opportunity to take a wicket" and said he'd do the same again, given a chance.
Caught off one that bounced twice
In a Test against Bangladesh in Mirpur in 2008, South Africa's AB de Villiers thought he had been thrown a gift when Mohammad Ashraful bowled a long hop that bounced twice before it reached him. De Villiers went for a big swing but top-edged it back to an equally surprised Ashraful, and was ruled out. Law 24, section 6 states that the umpire shall call a no-ball only if the ball bounces more than twice before reaching the popping crease. Graeme Smith wasn't too pleased at the decision but de Villiers, who hung around for a while before walking, later said he wasn't too surprised. "I was aware of the rule but I was hoping for someone to call it a no-ball or whatever."
Caught by committee
In the 1986 Leeds Test, Maninder Singh was out caught Graham Gooch in unusual fashion. Maninder edged Graham Dilley to second slip where Gooch spilled it towards the left of the keeper Bruce French, who swooped for it but could only scoop it up in the air. Whereupon Gooch acted quickly to kick the ball up with his right boot and calmly pouch the catch.
In the 1979 Test at The Oval, where India almost chased down 439 for a win, Dilip Vengsarkar was caught similarly. Vengsarkar had batted fluently for almost three hours in that fourth innings when he edged Bob Willis to the keeper, David Bairstow, who parried the ball towards slip. The ball bounded off the foot of Mike Brearley at first slip and an alert Ian Botham snaffled it one-handed at second slip.
Run-out off a no-ball
In 1990-91, in Georgetown, Dean Jones was bowled off a no-ball from Courtney Walsh and walked off, not having heard the call. Jones was about to return to the crease, having realised what had just happened, when a fielder threw down the stumps and he was given out by umpire Clyde Cumberbatch. Jones shouldn't have been given out as the Laws in effect at the time stated that the striker cannot be run out off a no-ball unless attempting a run.
Run-out while gardening
Kris Srikkanth got out in his debut Test, against England in Bombay in 1981, in a hilarious way. After having being out for a duck in his first innings, he had moved to 13 in the second when he jabbed a ball to John Emburey at gully and set off on his customary between-deliveries walk away from the crease. Emburey threw down the stumps and the umpire, Swarup Kishen, ruled Srikkanth out. India's captain, Sunil Gavaskar, already reportedly unhappy that Srikkanth had replaced Chetan Chauhan in the side, dropped his bat in disgust at the non-striker's end.
In similar vein, in a game between New South Wales and Victoria in 1934, Jack Fingleton was dropped at first slip and went gardening down the track. The fielder had immediately thrown the ball to the keeper, who broke the stumps. Though Fingleton was given out, the fielding captain, Bill Woodfull, recalled him.
Run out while in the crease
In a Test match in 1995 in Napier, Sri Lankan opener Dulip Samaraweera had just completed a run and was in his crease when Ken Rutherford's throw came towards him. Samaraweera jumped to avoid being hit and while he was airborne, the ball hit the stumps, whereupon he was (wrongly) given out.
Andy Sandham, in a match against Gloucester, finished a run by grounding his bat inside the crease; he happened to be standing outside it, though. When the throw came in Sandham lifted the bat, and the ball crashed into the stumps before he could drop his bat back in. He was given out, which under the Laws as they stood at the time (and till 1980), was the correct decision.
Postscript: Click here for another list of unusual dismissals, which includes, among others, the story of how Arthur Conan Doyle was once out hit wicket off a looping delivery that dropped from about 30 feet high almost vertically towards the stumps - and then bowled by it for good measure.

Sriram Veera is a staff Cricinfo