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Duck Tales: Nine random duck trivia

n © Getty Images
Never eat a duck the night before © Getty Images

The first two parts of the series had been regarding the most talked-about duck streaks and duck-infested scorecards. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at  cricket trivia related to ducks.

Following long streaks of noughts and innings studded with ducks, let us now divert our attention towards some unusual trivia and anecdotes related to ducks.

1. David Hill and Daddles

Despite the many criticisms, Kerry Packer had been the trendsetter in more ways than one. Not only did he popularise night cricket, coloured clothing, and white balls during his World Series Cricket, he had also roped in better action-replays, more cameras, and added the stump microphone.

He also got David Hill (whom Rodney Marsh called a “television sports coverage guru”) to create Daddles — a character that is still a trademark of Channel Nine. It is, of course, the crying duck that tucks his bat under his wing (there have been subsequent modifications to this) and walks across the screen whenever a batsman is dismissed for zero.

2. Never eat a duck the night before!

There have been cricket superstitions been followed by batsmen over decades; not eating duck the night before you’re expected to bat is one of them. Unfortunately, on that fateful night of August 14, 1982 David Gower, Allan Lamb, and Robin Jackman had decided to act bold.

Pakistan had amassed 428 at the Lord’s Test, and England were struggling to save the follow-on; they were 226 for nine with Mike Gatting on 31 and Jackman on nought. He had duck that night along with Gower and Lamb.

After Gatting took a run the next morning Jackman was trapped leg-before by Imran Khan. England followed-on, and Mudassar Nazar trapped Lamb leg-before and had Lamb caught-behind; they had faced a mere five balls between them; in case you have not guessed it, all three men had scored ducks. Gower later wrote in his autobiography: “I’m slightly more superstitious now than I was then.”

3. Three ducks in one ball!

Poor Greg Blewett was minding his own business, batting on three for Nottinghamshire against Durham at Riverside. As James Brinkley ran in, the bails were dislodged by the wind; when the umpire attended to them, Blewett took guard, only to be interrupted again.

This time three ducks — perhaps the most ominous creature as far as batsmen are concerned — had appeared out of nowhere behind the umpire. Obviously, there was no stoppage in play this time: Brinkley delivered the ball, and Blewett was trapped leg-before.

A few ducks walk on Riverside Ground
A group of ducks walk on Riverside Ground at Chester-le-Street during the fourth Test between England and West Indies in 2007 © Getty Images

4. Durham ducks raid Wisden

The Wisden Trophy of 2007 was really a one-sided affair with England dishing out a 3-0 thrashing to the tourists. In the fourth (dead-rubber) Test at Chester-le-Street, however, a group of ducks decided to take a detour of the picturesque Riverside Ground while the West Indians were fielding.

The quacks did not help the cause of the West Indians. They lost the Test by seven wickets.

5. A walking duck

Out for a Duck (co-authored by Steve Waugh and Kersi Meher-Homji) mentions an incident where David Pritchard was walking out to bat when he came across the most bizarre nought one could imagine. To quote the authors, Pritchard “was knocked out on the way to the wicket when the number ‘0’ blew off the scoreboard and hit him on the head.”

6. Duck in the family

The Gregory family remains one of the greatest in the history of the sport. Ned Gregory had played in the first Test ever, only to be dismissed by James Lillywhite jr for the first duck in Test cricket. His brother Dave, Australia’s first Test captain, scored one and three (thus playing a spoilsport), which was a humongous tally for Test debutants from the Gregory fraternity.

Ned’s son Syd was bowled by William Attewell for a duck on his debut at Lord’s in 1890; Dave and Ned’s nephew (son of the New South Wales cricketer Charles) Jack, the greatest member of the clan, had started his illustrious career with eight and a blob against England at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in 1920-21.

7. Duck sandwiches

Against West Indies in 1978-79, Dilip Vengsarkar had achieved a pair sandwiched by hundreds: he had scored an unbeaten 157 not out in the second innings at Eden Gardens before scoring 109 in the first innings at Kotla. Sandwiched between the two was a pair at Chepauk.

Rahul Dravid, on the other hand, had reversed the filling and the bread in 2004: he had got a duck in the second innings at Gaddafi before going on to score his epic 270 (his career-best, and considered by many as his finest) at Rawalpindi in his last innings of the series. Back home, he started off with a duck against Australia at Chinnaswamy.

8. Double, redouble

If Dravid had sandwiched his double-hundred between two ducks, Clifford Roach had decided to split the two (aren’t ducks known for their ability to separate milk from water?). After scoring a pair against England at Queen’s Park Oval in 1929-30, Roach roared back with 209 in the first innings of the next Test at Bourda.

9. Two balls, two ducks, but a king’s pair? Not quite.

The second Test between Australia and Pakistan at Sharjah in 2002-03 is usually remembered for Hayden (119) outscoring Pakistan (59 and 53) by himself (Australia had scored 310). Glenn McGrath had Imran Nazir caught at first slip off the last ball of the first over of the match. At the other end, Brett Lee had started with a no-ball, but Taufeeq Umar dragged the next ball on to the stumps. Taufeeq returned with a two-ball duck against his name.

The first five balls of the second innings were safely negotiated by Imran Nazir, who drove the ball to Ricky Ponting at cover. Ponting dived for the ball and fielded it, and the striker had a shock when he found Taufeeq standing next to him! Ponting threw the ball back to McGrath, who dislodged the bails at the non-striker’s end: Taufeeq had been run out without facing a ball.

In other words, two balls faced, a pair registered, but it wasn’t exactly a king’s pair.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in and can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)

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