Partnership-breakers, golden arms, people who roll their arms over – this one’s for you. David Wilkinson remembers 10 special performances from players who weren’t really bowlers.
10. Vaughan Out
Michael Vaughan’s going nicely as England breeze to 200-3 on the first day of the Trent Bridge Ashes Test, before a moment of apparent lunacy strikes Ricky Ponting – the kind of moment that only occurs when you’re captaining Australia towards their first Ashes defeat in 18 years – and he decides to bring himself into the attack. Before this, he’d bowled 79.5 overs in Tests and taken four wickets at 48.25, but it would prove an inspired move. After four tidy-enough but innocuous overs, Vaughan can’t resist having a nibble at a back-of-a-lengther that nips away, feathering behind to Adam Gilchrist. In a summer in which Ponting was generally outdone by his opposing skipper, this was a rare triumph.
9. The Only Way Is Pup
Back in 2004, when Michael Clarke’s back hadn’t gone and he had a haircut similar to that of Hazel Irving, he used to bowl some fairly useful left-arm spin. Nobody was too shocked, therefore, when he got his first Test wicket on the dusty plains of Mumbai. But five overs later, with the young Pup’s figures reading 6-9, the Indians were left shaking their heads in disbelief. The wickets weren’t rank long-hops either, with two lbw, one bowled and the rest caught close to the bat.
8. Border’s Control
A true Aussie great, famed for his obdurate batting and hard-nosed bastardry, Allan Border also did a bit of zero-hours bowling, filling in when Jean had to go and pick the grandkids up. His success with the ball was sporadic at best but on the few occasions that it worked – sorry, Gatt – it could be game-changing. At Sydney in 1989, his left-arm spin produced no less than 11 wickets in Australia’s Test match against the West Indies, including a remarkable 7-46 in the first innings which featured the scalps of Richardson, Hooper and Richards. He went on to take a respectable 39 Test wickets but, in a 156-Test career, more than a quarter of those came in this one match.
7. An Absolute Punt
Whenever Kevin Pietersen or Andrew Strauss is mentioned these days, the name of the other usually seems to follow not too far behind. This wicket, however, was well before text-gate and all that led to. On the fourth day of this County Championship clash in 2003, Pietersen was ticking along nicely and had reached 68 off just 57 balls – having scored a first-innings ton – when Middlesex threw the ball to Strauss. Tactical genius? Unlikely. They bowled everyone bar the keeper. But the future England skipper’s left-arm ‘rockets’ got through the defences of KP and he took the first of his three first-class wickets.
6. Elementary, My Dear Grace
This is the remarkable story of how the great WG Grace once had his wicket taken by none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The creator of England’s favourite detective played a handful of games for the MCC but only ever got one first-class wicket, and what a wicket it was. Grace, playing for London County, had amassed 110 at Crystal Palace Park before smashing a Conan Doyle long-hop straight into the hands of a fielder. Maybe if Conan Doyle hadn’t spent so much time writing about some Sherlock fella, English sport could be reminiscing about another great.
5. Hats Off To Boycs
The sort of match situation that part-timers and their fans love to see. It’s the final day of a Test, the draw’s inevitable and the mainline bowlers are tiring. In fact, this game was something of a part-timer’s dream: no fewer than 10 different bowlers were used by England. One of those batsmen who was finally let off the leash and given the ball was everybody’s favourite Yorkie, Geoffrey Boycott. Boycott, who liked to bowl with his cap on backwards, would go on to take seven Test wickets but here he recorded the impressive figures of 3-47, including the prized wicket of Graeme Pollock, clean-bowled. In tribute to his grandmother the opposition were using sticks of rhubarb, but they all count. They all count.
4. The Passion Of The Gilchrist
Adam Gilchrist, widely recognised as having changed the role of the wicketkeeper, was a dominant figure throughout his career – whether he was slapping bowlers wherever he wanted or prompting hundreds of schoolkids to say ‘Bowling, Shane’ whenever they tried their hand at keeping. He racked up over 2,000 dismissals in professional cricket, but none as a bowler… until his very last game. In only the third over he ever bowled he took a wicket. That’s 13 balls for every wicket. It could have gone down as a poetic end to Gilly’s career if he hadn’t proceeded to do the Gangnam Style dance.
3. The Nass-ter Blaster
Nasser: granite skipper, stylish bat, “f***ing three”, occasional leggie. Very occasional. Two first-class wickets he has to his name, despite starting his career as a twirler of some promise. ‘Who are those wickets?’ we hear you scream. One of them was Worcestershire allrounder Stuart Lampitt and the other was Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards – caught and bowled. It doesn’t get any better than that.
With the bat, the bearded stylist that was Mohammad Yousuf averaged over 50 across his Test career. With the ball, to be honest, you’d fancy yourself. Yousuf played 288 ODIs and only bowled two deliveries of filthy seam-up. From the second of those two deliveries – and trust us, they’re mighty fearsome – he picked up a key wicket against top-class opposition which changed the complexion of the game. Admittedly the game was a dead heat with both teams already out of the World Cup, the opponents were Zimbabwe and the wicket was a No.11 with an ODI career-best of 6, but watch the video on YouTube and tell us it means nothing to him. Pure unrestrained glee.
1. Tricky Lambert
Trying his best to kick-start a Test career in an era of particularly fine bowlers, Mark Ramprakash had the frustrating habit of getting in and getting out. In his first four matches – against the West Indies – Ramps had scored 27, 27, 24, 13, 21, 29, 25 and 25. At 19 not out in the final Test, with the score at 2-1 to the tourists, England needed one run to level the series. Occasional offie Clayton Lambert was having a twirl. Match-winning run and a nice not out, right? Wrong. After being caught by Lambert in the first innings, Ramps was struck in front to depart the scene for 19. Bye bye, red inker, and bye bye lovely series finale. The supremely talented Middlesex man would go on to suffer a few more moments of frustration at Test level.