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June 3, 1953. Facing the legendary Surrey attack in the 1950s was always a backbreaking task. It made matters worse when Derbyshire batsman Alan Revill manufactured a new way to get out. Arunabha Sengupta recalls the curious hit-wicket dismissal that was caused by a flying glove.
Taking on Surrey in the 1950s was one of the labours suited for a cricketing Hercules. The county side won seven continuous championships from 1952, most of them by huge margins. Yorkshire came second in 1952, but finished 32 points behind the brigade led by Stuart Surridge.
The bowling attack was stacked with splendid weapons – lethal and legendary. There was Alec Bedser, with Peter Loader often sharing the new ball. And then there were the spin twins Jim Laker and Tony Lock, aided by a brilliant battery of close-in fielders. Finally, Surridge himself and Eric Bedser provided excellent foil for the bowling greats. When these luminaries had knocked over the opposition batsmen, worthy men like Peter May and Ken Barrington piled on the runs for the champion county.
On the Oval track, most often tailor-made for the offerings of Bedser, Lock and Laker, taking on the Surrey bowling was always a handful. Additionally, if one manufactured novel ways of getting out, the result was bound to border on the calamitous.
It was with some trepidation that after winning the tossvisiting captain Guy Willatt decided that Derbyshire would bat first. And it was the relatively innocuous medium pace of Surridge that drew first blood by removing veteran Charlie Elliott.
Lock was introduced early, bowling in tandem with Alec Bedser, and immediately tied the batsmen in knots. Willatt and Arnold Harmer fought hard to take the score to 50 before Surridge snapped up a sharp catch off Lock to dismiss the latter.New batsman Alan Revill nudged a single and squared up to face Bedser.
The great England bowler ran in. The ball climbed nastily from short of good length. Revill went back to play defensively and was struck a painful blow on the right glove. As the ball dropped in front of him, he winced, took his right hand off the handle and shook the glove off.
As he looked closely at the smarting hand, there was a curious appeal. Turning back, he saw that the stinging hand had made him jerk off his glove with some force, and as a result it had travelled all the way to crash against the stumps. The bails had been dislodged. The poor batsman was hit-wicket.
Rubbing his injured hand, Revill morosely picked up the discarded glove and walked back.
Bedser picked up five, Lock three and Laker one. Derbyshire managed just 107 in their first innings.
However, the visitors did not give up. Their attack was spearheaded by England medium pacer Clifford Gladwin, who had shared the new ball with Bedser in Tests – and together with the Surrey great had knocked off the final few runs during that 1948-49 thriller at Durban. In this match, he ran in tirelessly, capturing eight Surrey wickets, restricting the lead to just eight runs.
However, Bedser, Lock and Laker continued their act of destruction in the second innings and a total of 126 meant a paltry target of 119. Surrey won by eight wickets.
Derbyshire 107 (Alec Bedser 5 for 42) and 126 (Tony Lock 4 for 29) lost to Surrey 115 (Cliff Gladwin 8 for 50) and 120 for 2 (David Fletcher 64*) by 8 wickets.
(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)
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