Rory Burns became the unwanted owner of five personal records – if mildly obscure ones – when he was dismissed in the England second innings of the first Test versus India in Chennai.
The Surrey left-hander was only the third player in history to be dismissed by the first ball of an innings by a spinner, the first to be so dismissed by an Indian spinner, and the first to be removed by an off-break bowler, when a delivery from Ravichandran Ashwin spat and turned outside his off stump and he edged to Ajinkya Rahane at slip.
Not only that, it was the first time a spinner had removed an opener with the first ball of an innings in 114 years and the only time it had happened outside London.
With the previous examples happening in 1888 and 1907, it seems the feat is a rare one and by the law of bowling averages, we might have to wait until the 22nd Century for it to occur again.
In 1888, Bobby Peel, the Yorkshire slow left-armer, removed Alec Bannerman, of Australia, in the second innings a Lord’s, and in 1907, the South African leg spinner Bert Vogler had England opener Tom Hayward trapped lbw from the first ball of the third Test of the series at the Oval.
In a total contrast to events in Chennai, Peel’s effort came in a low-scoring game as England twice failed to total three figures and Australia, who also failed to do so in their second innings, finally won by 61 runs by dint of a first innings total of 116. The top individual score of the match was the 24 WG Grace scraped together in England’s second innings.
Despite the dramatic opening to events in South London 19 years later, Vogler took only one more wicket in the innings and, while there was a hundred for CB Fry and a fifty for Tip Foster, who at the time rated Vogler the best bowler in the world, the game ended in a draw.
Vogler was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year the following year, but his career petered out in Australia where he was targeted for rough treatment by Warwick Armstrong’s team and never played first-class cricket again; Peel’s career also fell into decline after he was suspended for being drunk on the field and bowling a ball in the wrong direction.
Ashwin’s career, in contrast, continues on an upward trajectory as he closes in on becoming the fourth Indian bowler to reach 400 Test wickets. Already the fastest Indian bowler to 300 wickets, he picked up his 28th five-wicket haul when he bowled Jofra Archer on his way to figures of six for 61, meaning he is now just 14 short of the landmark. He should reach it before the end of the series but if he is denied by a combination of England’s improved sweeping and Rishabh Pant’s relative ham-fistedness behind the stumps, he will no doubt celebrate it on the summer’s return tour to England.
In the meantime, he can reflect on another job well done: his nine wickets in the match ensured his passage past Sir Richard Hadlee and Dayle Steyn to become the second-highest Test wicket-taker after 75 Tests. The man above him? Muttiah Muralitharan.
Jingle by James Sherwood