January 18, 2017

The magic of getting all ten

How do bowlers who get nine-fors feel?

A series of images capture Hedley Verity's bowling action © Getty Images

One bowler taking all ten wickets in an innings is a rare event. I've never seen it happen at any level - not in a match I've been playing in, nor watching, whether spectating from the stands or following it live on television.

Hedley Verity's 10 for 10 for Yorkshire against Nottinghamshire in 1932 is still the best ever return for a bowler in a single first-class innings.

Writing in 10 for 10 - Hedley Verity and the Story of Cricket's Greatest Bowling Feat, a gem of an account recalling the momentous game, author Chris Waters delights in figures "so flawless, so symmetrically stunning", and describes a performance that "has an air of amazement that glows to this day".

Speaking to the press about his first ten-wicket haul in a single innings, when he took 10 for 36 against Warwickshire at Headingley a year earlier, Verity acknowledged the degree of luck required for a lone bowler to dismiss an entire team: "It was one of those rare days when everything is set right for the bowler at one end, but not for the man at the other end."

Waters notes that offspinner George Macaulay, who bowled in both of Verity's ten-for games, was heard to mutter to a team-mate during the Nottinghamshire record, "If he's good enough to get nine, let him earn the tenth. I shall get it if I can."

The scorecard from the match in which Verity took 10 for 10 © Wisden

Verity was good enough to earn that tenth, and with it a place in the pantheon of cricket icons, along with those other player-heroes who perished in the two World Wars.

Yorkshire's Macaulay wasn't quite as generous as Sri Lanka's Chaminda Vaas, who bowled outside off stump so Muttiah Muralitharan could try to pick up his tenth wicket against Zimbabwe in Kandy in 2001-02. The hapless tourists had made 234 for 9 at the close of play on the first day, and Murali went to bed that night with Jim Laker's Test record of 10 for 53 in his sights. Alas, the fairy tale was firmly grounded the next morning, first by Russel Arnold, who grassed a bat-pad chance, and then by umpire Srinivas Venkataraghavan, who turned down an lbw appeal against Travis Friend. Despite Vaas' efforts to gift that final wicket to his pal, Henry Olonga threw a bat at a wide one and Kumar Sangakkara pouched the edge. Yet the ever-noble Murali was magnanimous about his team-mates' fielding, and after the game he was optimistic about another chance to dismiss a side all by himself. "It depends on how my bowling goes, but getting [all] ten wickets is still achievable."

No, he never did. And yes, nine wickets is truly spectacular, but I wonder whether Murali, in his retirement, still thinks about bagging that tenth. Or is the need to achieve the ten-wicket feat by fair means more important than a number?

Nine yards: Richard Hadlee didn't hesitate to take the catch that denied him the tenth wicket in Brisbane, 1985 © Getty Images

Interviewed by Richie Benaud for a "career retrospective", Richard Hadlee recalled his 9 for 52 versus Australia at the Gabba in 1985-86. After he had demolished the first eight of the Australian line-up, Vaughan Brown floated one up to Geoff Lawson, who skied it towards Hadlee at midwicket. "Some people said to me, 'Why didn't you drop it?' I said, 'The game of cricket's not like that. You take every chance that you can.'"

Hadlee took the catch, Brown took his maiden Test wicket, and all ten scalps to one name in a single innings was again thwarted.

The full ten has to be earned, not only by great bowling but by good fortune too - or bad luck, if you're the dud bowler in that deadly attack.

I've played in one nine-fer game, back in the early nineties, during the summer I was picked to open the bowling for Leicestershire Schools. It was a gusty day, and I remember fighting my way through a run-up into a stiff wind - note how I'm setting up my excuses early - while at the other end a gangly inswing bowler, who possessed a lethal legcutter, seemed to sail on the breeze into the crease. And into the stumps. I can't remember how far he got into the ten before someone grabbed that one wicket to spoil his day, but it did seem that a spell had been cast by the gods of cricket, or wind. I must confess it would have been a more joyous episode for me to be part of had I not been battling for my place in the side.

A performance I can take unfettered joy in is Big Devon Malcolm's 9 for 57 against South Africa at The Oval in 1994 - the best return I've witnessed by an England player. He got to seven before Darren Gough crashed the party and denied him the whole team.

I've met Devon a couple of times, and for a man who put the fear of death into batsmen, he's about the loveliest fast bowler you'd wish to meet - off the pitch, at least. The Oval fireworks are the subject of his stock after-dinner speech, and although we know the script, and wait for that "You guys are history" line, we listen, revelling in the remarkable spell, along with Devon, who is still as enthralled by his performance as the audience. Although, I do wonder if he dreams of Graham Thorpe dropping Daryll Cullinan, and getting his name on that second-innings scorecard ten times.

Nicholas Hogg is a co-founder of the Authors Cricket Club. His third novel, TOKYO, is out now. @nicholas_hogg

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • IFTIKHAR on January 20, 2017, 18:49 GMT

    Where is Jim Laker and his 19 in a match?And Kumble?

  • Richard on January 20, 2017, 8:29 GMT

    Thanks to DONNIECK for correcting me over the name Rhodes. I'd overlooked the fact that had it been "the other" Rhodes, he would have been in his mid-fifties by the time this match was played. However, I note that the young Rhodes didn't bowl in Nottinghamshire's second innings - presumably Macaulay shared the new ball with Bowes.

  • N. on January 20, 2017, 4:32 GMT

    I wish you could have written about KapilDev's 9 wickets against West INdies at Ahmedabad in 1983 or so, and also about Anil KUmbale's perfect 10 against Pakistan at the Delhi Test.

    N. Sundararajan from Chennai

  • Kieran on January 19, 2017, 18:43 GMT

    Brahms. You have the wrong Rhodes. The Rhodes of this match was Arthur, not wilfred, a right arm medium fast bowler. Standard English 1st class opening bowler

  • Andy on January 19, 2017, 12:52 GMT

    In the match Hampshire against Warwickshire at Portsmouth in 1960 the Bears at about 5.45 pm on the fınal day and a 6.30 pm finish (no over regulations in those days!) were batting for a draw. With the score on 196 for four, Derek Shackleton was persuaded by his captain, Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie, to concede a four to enable the new ball - in those days available at 200 runs - to be taken. Shack then proceeded to take six wickets for no runs in the space of just 26 deliveries. Thus figures of 3-26 became 9-30, including the reluctant four. A match winning performance and his best ever fıgures.

  • Richard on January 19, 2017, 8:43 GMT

    In the Yorks v Notts scorecard, DONNIECK says that the Yorkshire openers scored 139 against an attack including Larwood and Voce to win the match, but look at Yorkshire's attack - Bowes is the only fast bowler in the side. Rhodes, who opened the bowling in the first innings, was slow left arm like Verity as was Leyland too. Macaulay was an off spinner but who bowled somewhat quicker than most of that ilk. It suggests that Yorkshire's attack was more suited to the conditions.

    Another 10-fer that comes to mind is by Sussex's Ian Thomson in the early 1960s. Ironically Sussex lost the match when they were bowled out for 23 in the fourth innings. Thomson was a very good county bowler but not really test class although he did play in five tests in South Africa in the 60s. He took 9 wickets in those tests - Boycott, in fewer overs, took 7.

  • ankita2945140 on January 19, 2017, 2:39 GMT

    Hi Mr Hogg, Looks like your article is focussed on those cricketers getting 9 wickets. However, there is nothing wrong in mentioning Jim Laker or Anil Kumble as taking 10 wickets is an achievement and cannot happen by chance. Rather than blame Indian umpires, try and focus on cricket. How many times have no Aussie umpires / umpires pad by Aussies not erred. Remember Sachin Tendulkar getting LBW to McGrath for HBW (Helmet Before Wicket). Stop being so anti-Indian and appreciate the fact that because of India, cricket has become such a great popular sport. To folks who have made comments that it's the help of umpires, I cannot imagine how many less wickets would Wasim and Waqar have due to DRS. It's a game! Back to Sydney-Gate in 2009, umpire Steve Bucknor did a blunder of his life and all Indian's hate him for that. Respect all achievments and nothing is easy in life. If you want people to buy your books, don't belittle Indian records.

  • javed on January 19, 2017, 2:15 GMT

    How about Jasu Patel's 9/69 against West Indies in Madras(?) in 1960(?) where India beat WI for the 1st time to win the series. Javed Helali, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

  • David on January 19, 2017, 1:29 GMT

    I was at the SCG the day Bob Holland took 9 in a Sheffield Shield match against South Australia. The other wicket was an lbw by Geoff Lawson against one of the South Australian tailenders (Tim May perhaps?). Lawson was roundly booed by the smallish SCG crowd for his troubles.

  • usmanapex on January 18, 2017, 23:41 GMT

    I think u forgot Zaheer Khan's 9 Wkts Haul for Worcestershire against Essex in 2006 .... The wicketkeeper dropped a sitter for the last wicket .. Otherwise ZAK would have been declared a Legend for that Club

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