Home > Features > Moments in history >

Ball of the century: Agony for Sonny Ramadhin, ecstasy for Shane Warne

Ball of the century: Agony for Sonny Ramadhin, ecstasy for Shane Warne
Sonny Ramadhin bowls to Peter May in the 1957 Test series against England. The non-striker is Colin Cowdrey © Getty Images

On this day 55 years ago, Colin Cowdrey and Peter May used their pads to frustrate and blunt the spin of Sonny Ramadhin and put on a gigantic partnership. However, spin struck back exactly 36 years later when Mike Gatting was bowled by the “Ball of the Century” from Shane Warne.  Arunabha Sengupta takes a look at the mixed day for spinners.

June 4, 1957 – 98 overs in vain

In 1950, when Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine had bowled West Indies to a 326-run victory at Lord’s, Rex Alston had summarised the resulting revelry saying, “Such a sight has never been seen before at Lord’s.”

Valentine had taken seven wickets in the match and Ramadhin 11 andhalf of London’s West Indian population had streamed into the ground. Leading the merry-makers was Lord Kitchener (Aldwyn Roberts), a calypso star who had been in London since 1948. Kitchener, with a khaki sash over his bright blue shirt, carried a guitar which he strummed wildly, giving birth to the immortal calypso, “Those two little pals of mine, Ramadhin and Valentine.”

When the islanders returned in 1957, Valentine missed the first Test at Edgbaston, but Ramadhin’s brilliance in the first innings ominously threatened a replay of the 1950 series. Capturing seven for 49 with his mysterious flick of the wrist, Ramadhin restricted the home team to 186. Collie Smith blasted his way to 161, and half centuries by Clyde Walcott, Gary Sobers and Frank Worrell carried the visitors to 474.

Early on the fourth morning Brian Close was caught off Roy Gilchrist, and with the second innings score on 113 for three, the end seemed to be just around the corner.

However, it took them a while to go around this bend. Ramadhin bowled on and on, and the immaculate pair of Peter May and Colin Cowdrey kept thrusting their pads forward. There seemed no way to get past those barriers, as the batsmen batted through the fourth day.

On the fifth day, 4th June, the two middle-order maestros carried on in the same vein and took their partnership to a mammoth 411. When Cowdrey was finally caught by substitute Nyron Asgarali at long on off Collie Smith, he had batted 500 minutes for 154. May batted a hundred more minutes and remained unbeaten on 285 when he decided to close the English innings at 583 for four. Ramadhin, whose second wicket had come with the score on 65, bowled a backbreaking 98 overs, taking two for 179.

A tired, demoralised West Indian side stuttered to 72 for seven as the match ended in a draw.

Incidentally, this was the Test in which Test Match Special made its official debut – thus having plenty of history to describe from the box.

Although Valentine returned for the second Test, the threat of spin had been blunted for good, and England won the series 3-0.

June 4, 1993 – “Ball of the Century”

However, on the same June 4, 36 years down the line, the equalising blow for the spinners was struck in a big, big way.

On the second day of the first Ashes Test at Manchester, with the score reading 80 for one in response to 289, a young blonde, Shane Warne, was handed the ball by skipper Allan Border.

In front of them was the stocky, bearded frame of Mike Gatting, a man renowned for his ability against the turning ball. The spectators waited as bowler and captain conversed, eager to witness the much hyped leg-spinner’s first ball in an Ashes Test match.

At last, the field set with meticulous detail, Warne ambled in with his half walk, half trot action. His right arm went through the jerky circle, the ball was tossed up, with apparent harmlessness towards somewhere outside the leg stump. Gatting stretched forward, not quite getting to the pitch. The ball drifted away further down the leg side, prompting scorers to raise their pencils in marking off another dot ball, and then – it hit the turf. And with an almost electric whizz, it turned across the face of the bat, across the voluminous expanse of Mike Gatting, and travelled an enormous distance to clip the off bail.

For both Gatting and Ian Healy, the first reaction was surprise, a sense of disbelief … and then as the wicket-keeper erupted in joy, the veteran batsman made his shell-shocked way back to the pavilion.

Warne wore an expression of glee along with the scarcely believable suggestion that he had known what would happen all along.

This delivery – later dubbed the “Ball of the Century” – brought the spin back into cricket in a big, big way.

(Arunabha Sengupta is trained from Indian Statistical Institute as a Statistician. He works as a Process Consultant, but purifies the soul through writing and cricket, often mixing the two into a cleansing cocktail. The author of three novels, he currently resides in the incredibly beautiful, but sadly cricket-ignorant, country of Switzerland. You can know more about him from his author site, his cricket blogs and by following him on Twitter)

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 30, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 2, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Khulna

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 5, 2014 (14:05 IST)   at Adelaide

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 6, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Ahmedabad

More

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 15, 2014  at Ahmedabad

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 7, 2014  at Bengaluru

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 30, 2014  at Hyderabad

Match cancelled

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014  at Hamilton

No result

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 3 wkts

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test

Videos

Tendulkar provides teaser on upcoming book

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Younis Khan’s double ton puts Pakistan on top against Australia at stumps on Day 2 of 2nd Test

Duleep Trophy 2014-15 final: Central Zone 214/4 at stumps; lead by 111 runs

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Younis Khan continues piling up records for Pakistan

KL Rahul could be opening option for India’s tour to Australia

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Central Zone Duleep Trophy Duleep Trophy 2014-15 India Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Zone South Zone vs Central Zone Sri Lanka Sri Lanka tour of India 2014

India vs Sri Lanka 1st ODI at Cuttack, Preview: Teams aim for winning start

WICB officials should visit India to minimize damage: Andy Roberts

Younis Khan: I want to be remembered as team-man

ICC World Cup 2015: New Zealand prime minister urges Indian fans to attend the tournament

Mohammad Yousuf: Muttiah Muralitharan would not have been allowed to bowl under current ICC rules

Don Bradman dismissed twice on the same day

Virat Kohli’s captaincy opportunities important in context of India’s succession plans

Rohit Sharma looks to strengthen career after an inconsistent year

Younis Khan equals Javed Miandad’s record of most 150+ scores by Pakistan batsman

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Manish Pandey showing signs of fulfilling potential

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

678 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Younis Khan century during Pakistan vs Australia 1st Test at Dubai

Bigg Boss 8 Day 40 highlights: Upen Patel faces captaincy woes; Gautam Gulati punished again!

Ayurvedic treatment: 7 types of Ayurvedic massages you should know about

Petrol rate cut by Rs 2.41 per litre, diesel to cost Rs 2.25 per litre less

Birthday Special: 9 popular dance songs of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan!

Man promised iPhone 6, iPhone 5S, iPad 4 and Macbook Pro for Rs 51,000, gets a ‘heavy brick’ instead

James Franklin, Colin de Grandhomme relay catch at the boundary to dismiss Nathan McCullum

Beauty Tip #43 — Get fuller-looking lips with home-made sugar scrub

NGOs pursue education for all

International programme in Animal Husbandry

Bigg Boss 8 Day 40 recap: Gautam Gulati calls Arya Babbar a dog and Praneet Bhatt a double dholki

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here