Friday, 27 June 2014

Column 17, 2014 – Hat-trick

Printed in The Cricket Paper issue 89, Friday June 27, 2014.
[Full text below]

With his bizarre, unnoticed three-in-three at Headingly last Friday, Stuart Broad became the first English cricketer to take two Test hat-tricks.

Hat-tricks are rare. There have been only 41 in 2126 Test matches since 1877, the first by ‘The Demon’ Fred Spoforth in 1879. Broad is the fourth to get two.

In the eighteenth century, the game was basically a mechanism for gambling, and one etymological theory is that a hat was passed around admiring punters to collect for any player who took three wickets in consecutive balls. Another is that a player’s employer or club would have a commemorative hat made for him to mark such an achievement. Whatever its origins, the term was soon purloined by football, hockey, rugby and many other sports to mean simply three in a game – so the term has become familiar for feats that, while still impressive, are rather less difficult to achieve.

Though hat-tricks are rare in all forms of cricket, hat-trick balls are actually pretty common. We’ve had four already this season. When you think about it, most (maybe half) golden ducks will be followed by a hat-trick ball. And we all know how common they are, at every level.

It’s usually an excuse to set a comically attacking ‘schoolboy field’, which almost invariably results in a poor ball that has no chance of taking a wicket. The unaccustomed pressure on a bowler who suddenly finds himself with five slips and men crowding the bat, often induces an anticlimactic wide.

I’ve only witnessed one hat-trick, when Henry blew away Boscombe one gloomy Wednesday evening, in a surreal 8-ball over of yorkers that yielded five wickets.

Broad’s seemingly went unnoticed because it was split across overs and had another wicket sandwiched in the middle, as Plunkett removed Prasad. This has only happened once before, also to an Englishman. Ryan Sidebottom’s hat-trick in Hamilton was rudely interrupted when Panessar dispatched McCullum at the other end, before the wild-haired one could return to finish off his three.

The most unusual hat-trick belongs to Australia’s favourite pantomime villain Merv Hughes, the only one achieved across three overs. The first wicket was the last ball of an over, and the first ball of his next over turned out to be the final one of the West Indies’ first innings. He then had to wait a day and a half to remove Gordon Greenidge with the first ball of their second innings.

Of the four players with two, Hugh Trumble’s and Jimmy Matthews’ were both over a century ago, and Wasim Akram has long been consigned to the commentary box. Broad has already been involved in three – he was Peter Siddle’s third victim at Brisbane in 2010 – but as it stands he is the only person on the planet who is just three balls away from a hat-trick of Test hat-tricks. Now that really would be worth a commemorative hat.

- ends 488 words -

No comments:

Post a Comment