Allan Border
7 for 46 v West Indies, Sydney, 1989

The ball turned from the start in Sydney, but West Indies would have not been perturbed by the prospect of facing Allan Border, who had taken 16 wickets in his 100 Tests till then. Australia were playing two specialist spinners in Peter Taylor and debutant Trevor Hohns, while West Indies had brought in Roger Harper for Patrick Patterson.

West Indies were in control in their first innings at 144 for 1. Border then turned it around, with wickets off deliveries that would remind one of tactics used by kids in the 1990s to take wickets in computer games like Allan Border Cricket. Two short balls well outside off, and both Richie Richardson and Carl Hooper only managed to find the fielders on the offside. Border then got the big wicket of Viv Richards, who was given out caught at silly point. Gus Logie got an inside-edge on to the stumps, and Border had his maiden five-for - in both Test and first-class cricket - when Jeff Dujon was caught in the deep off the sweep.

Border went on to get Australia's best figures by a spinner at the SCG; his 7 for 46 - he took four more in the second innings - set up a consolation win for the hosts.

Michael Clarke
6 for 9 v India, Mumbai, 2004

On a pitch that was tailor-made for the spinners, it was a part-timer who had the most astounding figures. In 2004, Australia headed into the final Test against India in Mumbai with the series already won, and started on a dominant note, bowling out India for 104. India had three specialist spinners in Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, and Murali Kartik, but Australia managed to take a lead of 99 as 18 wickets fell on the second day.

Offspinner Nathan Hauritz, making his debut, opened the bowling for Australia in the second innings. Ricky Ponting, though, perhaps missed a trick in not turning to Clarke's left-arm spin earlier than the 57th over. Clarke, who didn't bowl in the first innings, required only ten balls to strike; he had Rahul Dravid caught behind for his first Test wicket. He then blitzed through the rest of India's line-up - in 38 balls, he had taken six wickets for nine runs. It still remains the only six-for by a spinner for less than ten runs.

Clarke's effort, though, didn't win Australia the match, as they crashed to 93 all out chasing 107 - 20 wickets fell as the Test ended in three days despite a first day marred by rain. Clarke however did turn a Test against India in Sydney less than four years later.

Basil Butcher
5 for 34 v England, Port of Spain, 1968

Butcher, an occasional leg-break bowler, had only bowled in one innings in his Test career spanning 31 Tests before Port of Spain. West Indies put on 526 for 7 declared in the first innings. The hosts had a setback after fast bowler Charlie Griffith suffered a leg injury after three overs. Colin Cowdrey led England's reply with his 148, and put on 113 for the sixth wicket with Alan Knott before Butcher, who was the sixth bowler to be brought on in the innings, had him caught behind. It sparked a collapse from 373 for 5 to 404 all out; Butcher had figures of 5 for 34 off his 13.4 overs. Wisden reported: "In three overs, Butcher took four wickets and in his full spell of 10 overs, interrupted by rain, five for 15."

West Indies gained a lead of 122, and Garry Sobers made an adventurous declaration, setting England a target of 215 on the final day. The visitors scored at more than four an over to seal a seven-wicket win.

Butcher took only those five wickets in his Test career, averaging less than six balls per match in his 44 Tests.

Denis Compton
5 for 70 v South Africa, Cape Town, 1949

After bowling out England for 308, South Africa seemed on course to take a big lead in the third Test in Cape Town, having lost only two wickets for 298. However, Denis Compton, bowling his slow left-armers, triggered a slide. He caught and bowled Dudley Nourse, South Africa's captain, for 112, and Billy Wade was dismissed for a duck to make it 298 for 4. Bruce Mitchell, the other centurion in the innings, was bowled five runs later. A 39-run stand for the sixth wicket followed, but Compton struck again. He took the final wicket - No.11 Cuan McCarthy was stumped - as the last five wickets fell for 14 runs.

Compton bowled 25.2 overs (eight-ball overs) for his 5 for 70, and three more overs in the second innings as the Test ended in a draw. He took 25 wickets in his 78 Tests at an average of 56.40, with 2 for 32 being his next-best figures.

Simon Katich
6 for 65 v Zimbabwe, Sydney, 2003

Katich, who made his debut in the Ashes in 2001, had to wait two years for his second Test, against Zimbabwe in Sydney. Australia's weakened attack had Brad Hogg as the only specialist spinner, and Katich, a chinaman bowler himself, bowled seven overs as Zimbabwe scored 308 in the first innings. Katich then scored his maiden fifty as Australia managed a 95-run lead, with left-arm spinner Ray Price taking 6 for 121.

Without an injured Brett Lee, Katich had greater bowling responsibilities in Zimbabwe's second innings, and he out-bowled Hogg. He removed Stuart Carlisle, Zimbabwe's top-scorer in the first innings, and opener Trevor Gripper in the space of five overs. He went to take the vital middle-order scalps of Craig Wishart and Tatenda Taibu. Price became his fifth victim, and he had his sixth when Andy Blignaut was the last man out for 44.

Katich took 21 wickets in 56 Tests at an impressive average of 30.23, with the Sydney haul his only five-for.

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Mathew Varghese is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo