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Cricketing coincidences


Cricket_coincidencesCricket is not just a game of glorious uncertainties, but also of staggering coincidences. The second ODI of the recently concluded series between Afghanistan and Zimbabwe ended with a scoreline that was an exact reversal of the first ODI’s scoreline - a statistical peculiarity that added to the fascinating list of cricketing coincidences. Here is a look back at the quirkiest and the spookiest of them.

Identical margins

•  The inaugural Test match between Australia and England at Melbourne in 1876-77 saw the hosts win by 45 runs. In 1976-77, the two teams faced off at the same venue to commemorate the centenary of Test cricket. Having been set a challenging 462 for victory, England made a valiant attempt thanks to Derek Randall’s 174, but ultimately went down fighting…losing by 45 runs.

•  Three of the first four games at the 2004 Asia Cup ended with identical margins of victory. The opening day saw Bangladesh (221/9) beat Hong Kong (105) and India (260/6) beat the UAE (144) by 116 runs each. As if this was not enough, hosts Sri Lanka (239) posted a 116-run win of their own the next day, bowling the UAE out for 123.

•  When Sachin Tendulkar scored a historic 200* at Gwalior in 2009-10, it enabled India (401/3) to beat South Africa (248) by 153 runs. In 2011-12, Virender Sehwag surpassed the feat, striking 219 at Indore to power India (418/5) to a handsome win, again by 153 runs. Another Indian, Rohit Sharma, became the new record-holder in 2014-15 by scoring 264 against Sri Lanka at Kolkata. After amassing 404/5, India romped to victory by – you guessed it– 153 runs.

In attendance, twice over

•  During the Ashes summer of 1956, ten-year-old Richard Stokes, in the company of his father, witnessed Jim Laker become the first man to take ten wickets in a Test innings, as the Surrey off-spinner gobbled 10/53 at Old Trafford. In 1998-99, Stokes, now 53, was working in India when he got a chance to go to the famous Delhi Test. History repeated itself before him, as he watched Anil Kumble return figures of 10/74 to demolish Pakistan.

•  Just like Stokes, the late Bob Woolmer was a ten-year-old, accompanied by his father who was then working in Pakistan, when he saw Hanif Mohammed hit a first-class record score of 499 in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy semifinal at Karachi in 1958-59. The record was broken in 1993-94 by Brian Lara, who smote 501* for Warwickshire against Durham at Edgbaston. Woolmer was in attendance again, this time as coach of Warwickshire.

•  Only two men have hit six sixes in an over in first-class cricket. Garfield Sobers was the first, when he took half a dozen maximums off Glamorgan’s Malcolm Nash while playing for Nottinghamshire at Swansea in 1968. In 1984-85, Bombay’s Ravi Shastri did the same at Bombay, the hapless bowler being Baroda’s Tilak Raj. Indian journalist Dicky Rutnagar is the only person known to have witnessed both these instances.

Numbing numbers

•  The inaugural ODI, played between old foes Australia and England at Melbourne in 1970-71, saw England get bowled out for 190, to which Australia replied with 191/5. The next time the two teams faced each other in the one-day format in Australia was only in 1974-75, at Sydney. The roles were reversed this time – Australia were bowled out for 190, and England replied with 191/7.

•  Two consecutive editions of the World Cup, in the Caribbean in 2007 and in the subcontinent in 2011, featured the same number of total runs scored – exactly 21,333 runs were scored in each of the tournaments.

•  Australia’s Dennis Lillee and Rodney Marsh, both from Western Australia, are the most successful bowler-wicketkeeper combination in Test history, with 95 victims. Both debuted in 1970-71 and retired in 1984-85. While Lillee finished with 355 Test wickets, Marsh collected 355 dismissals (343 catches and 12 stumpings) behind the wicket.

Brothers in arms

•  Former Australian batsmen Steve and Mark Waugh are fraternal twins born within four minutes of each other, with Steve having arrived first. In an uncanny resemblance, their final first-class averages were almost the same – Mark (52.04) beating Steve (51.94) by a mere 0.1 points.

•  David Steele, of 1975 Ashes fame, scored 1,182 runs from 31 completed innings at an average of 38.12 in the 1978 first-class season for Northamptonshire. In the same year, his younger brother John also scored 1,182 runs from 31 completed innings at an average of 38.12, for Leicestershire.

•  South Africa-born England all-rounder Tony Greig had an impressive start to his Test career, as he took 4/53 in the second innings of his debut Test, against Australia at Old Trafford in 1972, to star in his team’s 89-run win. Ten years later, his younger brother Ian made his Test debut, against Pakistan at Edgbaston, and went on to take 4/53 in the first innings as England won by 114 runs.

What’s in a surname?

•  Three unrelated players with the surname Banerjee played exactly one Test each for India, and all of them were right-arm pace bowlers. Sudangsu ‘Mantu’ Banerjee played against the West Indies at Calcutta in 1948-49, Sarobindu ‘Shute’ Banerjee later in the same series at Bombay, and Subroto Banerjee against Australia at Sydney in 1991-92.

•  Three unrelated players with the surname Murray – Deryck from Trinidad, David from Barbados and Junior from Grenada – have played Test cricket for the West Indies. All of them were wicketkeepers.

•  Two players with the surname Ryder have played Test cricket. Jack Ryder played 20 Tests for Australia in the 1920s, scoring three centuries, while Jesse Ryder has played 18 Tests and scored three centuries for New Zealand thus far. Jack’s highest score was 201*, against England at Adelaide in 1924-25. Jesse’s highest score is 201, against India at Napier in 2008-09.

Dates of reckoning

•  England wicketkeeper-batsman Alec Stewart, who retired in 2003, finished his Test career with a tally of 8,463 runs. Stewart was born on 8th April, 1963.

•  The two rival captains in the 1905 Ashes – England’s Stanley Jackson and Australia’s Joe Darling – were both born on the same day: 21st November, 1870. Darling died in 1946, Jackson in 1947.

•  Two Indian batsmen have scored a Test century on India’s Republic Day, i.e. 26th January – Vijay Hazare in 1947-48 and Virat Kohli in 2011-12. Both the hundreds came against Australia at the Adelaide Oval in the fourth and final Test of the respective series, and both the batsmen scored 116. India lost both Tests heavily, and both the series by a margin of 4-0.

•  Indian off-spinner Ghulam Ahmed made his Test debut on New Year’s Eve, 1948, against the West Indies at Calcutta. Exactly ten years later, he began what was his final Test, on New Year’s Eve, 1958, also against the West Indies at Calcutta.

A few other quirks

•  Three Indian princes had the distinction of representing England in Test matches against Australia, and each of them scored a century on their Ashes debut. Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji scored 154 at Old Trafford in 1896, his nephew Kumar Shri Duleepsinhji scored 173 at Lord’s in 1930, and Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi scored 102 at Sydney in 1932-33.

•  Hannan Sarkar of Bangladesh is one of only two batsmen to have been dismissed off the very first ball of a Test match thrice, the other being India’s Sunil Gavaskar. Remarkably, the bowler who got Sarkar out on all three occasions was Pedro Collins of the West Indies – at Dhaka in 2002-03, and in successive Tests at Gros Islet and Kingston in 2004.

•  Liam McCann has written in his 2006 book, Cricket: Facts, Figures and Fun, that Ralph Lindsay took a hat-trick for Port Elizabeth against Oudtschoorn in an annual match in South Africa in 1957, removing Voges, Jones and Le Grange in succession. In the same annual fixture in 1963, Lindsay repeated the feat, dismissing the same three batsmen, in the same order.


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Rustom Deboo is a cricket aficionado and freelance writer from Mumbai. He is an ardent devotee of T...

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