Caught Off His Head (And Other Unusual Dismissals)

BY BOZZA

“Boz, how about you chuck on the pads?”

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Undeterred by my attempts to indicate an inability to hear him, with these words my captain in Emerald Hill’s 3rd XI drafted me into action in the dual roles of opening batsman and night watchman. While the task wasn’t a strenuous one, we had but two overs left in the day, my fear level was high. What was I going to do the following Saturday if I successfully navigated the short little session?

Averaging a tick under two with the bat to that point of the season, it was probably a little more confidence in my ability than it actually deserved. My skipper certainly didn’t share my outrageous optimism, little did I know but another tail ender was padded up in the event that I was dismissed. Thankfully for my purpose, the catching ability of slip fielders in Melbourne’s South Eastern Cricket Association’s I Grade is considerably worse than mine with the willow. Despite edging one to second slip I was able to leave the field at close of play, 1 not out.

The second day of our match with Kingston Heath began in glorious conditions for batting. Despite this fact the highlights package of my innings where I edged, and nudged, and played and missed my way to 3[i], looked more like an Australian in Pune than one in the gentle surrounds of downtown Cheltenham. While it is fair to say that my dismissal appeared imminent, the nature of the dismissal was a little harder to predict.

As I drew closer to surviving yet another over on the second day, opening bowler Wade Anderson forced his delivery down the leg side and I saw an opportunity to attack. Unfortunately, rather than a full cross batted swat or a straight batted noodle, I addressed the ball with a bat angled somewhere between both. The resultant top edge was destined for four, if not for the fact that my head was between the ball and glory. Rather than sail comfortably to the fine leg boundary, the ball dislodged my cap and ballooned ever so slowly to the fielder at square leg. Maybe it is with bitterness that I say this, but perhaps fittingly, square leg Marcel Lafontaine’s efforts to complete the catch almost matched the gracefulness of my stroke. With that all that was left for me to do was fetch my dislodged cap, make my way to the pavilion, and make arrangements to be seen by medical professionals. A golf ball size lump and a bloodied eye the final ignominy to a rather embarrassing and unusual dismissal.

As my partner traversed her way from our home in St Kilda to the venue in Cheltenham, rushing to assist me in my efforts to receive medical attention[ii], my mind drifted to other unusual dismissals in cricket history. As a result, I give to you:

‘A Less than Definitive List of Unusual Dismissals That I Remember’.

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Fancy Footwork – Carl Hooper c: Taylor b: Bevan 57 – SCG 1996

This moment is etched in my memory bank. A year on from Australia’s drought breaking series win in the Caribbean, the two teams were locked again in a spirited battle. On day five of a gripping contest, Carl Hooper had put all notion of chasing the winning target to one side and was desperately attempting to grind out a draw.

On 57 Hooper was squared up by a Michael Bevan delivery that bounced and turned viciously. Beaten by the turn, the ball brushed the all-rounder’s bat and appeared set to be a regulation catch for Mark Taylor at first slip. It was anything but. The Aussie skipper got his hands to the ball as it came to him at waist height but, unbalanced, he could not grasp the chance. As the ball fell to the ground, so too did Taylor, who despite falling backwards managed to get a boot to the sharply descending Kookaburra before it hit the turf. You can just imagine his joy when, as he his back hit the turf, the ball he had desperately lashed at with his foot, landed safely in his waiting hands.

With tha, Australia were well on the way to retaining the Frank Worrell Trophy and Mark Taylor had a highlight ready for replay again and again and again over the years ahead.

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Using your head – Peter Nevill run out (Zampa) 7 – Etihad Stadium 2016

At 3/77 the Renegades were in a world of trouble in their Melbourne Derby with the Stars at Etihad Stadium in the 2015/16 Big Bash. With their season tinkering on the edge, a big partnership from Dwayne Bravo and Peter Nevill was what the Renegades needed.

With leggie Adam Zampa operating, Bravo sensed an opportunity to boost the run rate. The 3rd ball of the 13th over enticed the West Indian all-rounder into a crunching straight drive. Rather than scorching the turf all the way to the boundary, this drive was destined for a more unusual result.

“I was in the process of trying to get my bat back into the crease,” non-striker Nevill described his involvement in the most unique of dismissals, “I obviously didn’t intend to touch the ball.”[iii] Unfortunately, despite his best intentions, Nevill did manage to deflect the path of the ball. The unintended deflection flew straight into the face of Zampa, before crashing into the stumps.

As all players, including Nevill rushed to see to Zampa in some distress after having the leather projectile open a wound on his nose. Despite the blow, the young leggie knew the significance of the pinball play, “I realised what had happened,” said Zampa. “As soon as it hit me I said it’s out, but it (his nose) was pretty sore!” Safe to say it wasn’t something the Stars would have planned for, but Zampa’s use of his head had earnt another wicket for his team.

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You owe me a beer – Andrew Symonds c: Dilshan b: Mubarak 66 – Telstra Dome 2006

Maybe there is something about the Docklands ground, because 10 years before Zampa’s run out heroics, the venue then known as Telstra Dome was the site of another non-striker assisted dismissal.

In the first match of the VB Series, Australia were off to a flying start against Sri Lanka. Andrew Symonds was in fine form having blasted his way to 66, and the Sri Lankans appeared bereft of answers to the big Queenslanders onslaught. Little were the tourists or the 33,000 in attendance able to predict the role Michael Clarke would play in the conclusion of Symonds’ fireworks display.

In the 40th over, Symonds struck a Jehan Mubarak off-break with furious intent. Unfortunately for Symonds but fortunately for a story about unusual dismissals, the force of the blow left non-striker Clarke with no time to react and could not avoid the ball cannoning into his ankle.  The impact of Clarke’s unintended interference was not over, the ball ricocheting off the future Aussie skipper and into the waiting hands of Tillekeratne Dilshan at a wide mid-off.

As the bemused Symonds departed to the arena, he signaled to Clarke that it was the younger man’s shout the next time the pair were at the bar. It was perhaps the least Clarke could offer after his involvement in one of cricket’s most unusual dismissals.

As advertised this is far from a comprehensive list, no doubt many of you have seen or heard of many others. Feel free to send through any others you think worthy of addition to the list of unusual cricket dismissals.

 

[i] If you consult ‘My Cricket’ my score is recorded as 2 but this is incorrect. Somehow rather than credit me with a run I scored off a no-ball, my team mate merely recorded 2 no-balls. Despite the pleas of a wounded and bleeding man, he refused to correct his error.

[ii] And to tell me that I should wear a helmet

[iii] Isabelle Westbury – ‘Zampa keeps head to affect run out’, cricket.com.au, January 10 2016

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