Home > Features > Moments in history >

From England with love: George Lohmann’s stunning Valentine’s Day spell

From England with love: George Lohmann's stunning Valentine's Day spell

George Lohmann took eight wickets for seven runs and finished the Test with a hat-trick. Lohmann captured 112 wickets in 18 Tests matches at an average of 10.75 and a strike rate of 34.1 © Getty Images

On Valentine’s Day 1896, George Lohmann vanquished the South Africans with figures of eight wickets for seven runs. Arunabha Sengupta remembers the most monstrous spell of this demon bowler.

The country cared for him, provided the warmth to counter the cold viciousness of tuberculosis. Yet, the fair, blue eyed and handsome young man did not return the affection on Valentine’s Day 1896.

Had he been blessed with sturdier constitution, George Lohmann could have captured far more wickets in his career than the 112 in 18 Tests matches. The tally was acquired with a monster average of 10.75 and a strike rate of 34.1. Those who faced him unanimously marked him out as the most difficult to play. He hardly topped medium-pace, but could seam both ways, pitch them with uncanny precision on the proverbial coin, and experiment with flight, pace and angle without compromising on length and accuracy. More often than not he was unplayable, as borne out by his incredible figures – the best for any bowler with 15 or more wickets in the history of Test cricket.

Fifteen of those 18 Tests were played against Australia. And after the first two in the summer of 1886, his figures stood at one measly wicket for 87 runs. The avalanche commenced with 12 wickets at The Oval and continued till the end of his career 10 years later.

Wickets and woes

By the end of the Australian summer of 1891-92, Lohmann had played 14 Tests and had captured 74 wickets at 12.83. He was just 26, and his career promised to sail past every known and unknown horizon.

And then in 1892, fate inserted a deadly spoke in the joyous wheel of his cricketing and other fortunes. That summer he contracted tuberculosis. Following the instructions of the physicians of the day, he spent his winters in South Africa. Yet, he was far from a healthy man, a mere shadow of the youth he had once been.

He did turn out for Western Province and on the matting wickets of South Africa, he proved more unplayable than ever. When a second string England side toured under Sir Tim O’Brien in 1896, he joined forces with his countrymen and tormented the South African batsmen.

The first Test was played at Port Elizabeth – a three day fixture. Lohmann, a fleet-footed batsman with a good eye, opened the batting for England but could not open his account. Only CB Fry, batting with assurance and scientific acumen, scored 43, and the total of 185 hardly looked daunting.

By the end of the first day, however, England had commenced their second innings, and also lost a wicket.  Opening the attack and bowling unchanged for 15.4 five ball overs, Lohmann picked up seven for 38, including the vital wicket of Jimmy Sinclair. He used the matting wicket to diabolical effect – all his seven victims had their stumps rattled. South Africa managed just 93.

The Valentine’s Day annihilation

The following day, England lost wickets regularly, and CB Fry departed early enough to make it 72 for six. Arthur Hill and Sammy Woods got a partnership going and added 89 for the seventh wicket.

And finally, that colossal figure of English cricket, Lord Hawke, came in at number 10 and added 42 for the last wicket with Audley Miller. The total of 226 set an almost impossible target of 319, but importantly, the Englishmen batted long enough to make it almost inevitable that the match would spill into the third day.

But, Lohmann did not think so. He needed just 49 balls to skittle out eight batsmen for seven runs. Other than Robert Poore, who scored 10, no other man reached double figures. Five of the victims were bowled, and the monotony was broken with three men doing enough to get their bats to Lohmann’s deliveries to scoop catches. South Africa managed 30 in 18.4 overs, and the match ended with time to spare on the second day.

In his 16th over, Lohmann bowled Frederick Cook and Bonnor Middleton, and then had Joseph Willoughby was caught by Tom Hayward, to end the match with a hat-trick.

Fifteen wickets as cheap as they come was not enough for this young man starved of international cricket for half a decade. In the next Test at Old Wanderers, Johannesburg, brought on as first change, he took nine for 28.

Lohmann ended the series with 35 wickets at 5.80 apiece.

Yet, fate allowed him just one more Test match. After appearing for England at Lord’s against Australia three months later, his health failed him and he never played for the country again. At the end of the summer of 1896, he migrated to South Africa.

In 1901, when South Africa toured England, Lohmann was back in his homeland as manager of the visiting side. However, tuberculosis, which had plagued him for so long, claimed his life later that year. He was just 36.

(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)

World T20 League 2014

Oct 2, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

World T20 League 2014

Oct 2, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

West Indies tour of India 2014, Practice match

Oct 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Mumbai

Matador BBQs One-Day Cup, 2014

Oct 4, 2014 (05:00 IST)   at Woolloongabba, Brisbane

Matador BBQs One-Day Cup, 2014

Oct 4, 2014 (05:00 IST)   at Brisbane

More

World T20 League 2014

Sep 30, 2014  at Bengaluru

Barbados won by 6 wkts (D/L method)

World T20 League 2014

Sep 30, 2014  at Bengaluru

Perth Scorchers won by 3 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 29, 2014  at Hyderabad

Kolkata Knight Riders won by 36 runs

World T20 League 2014

Sep 28, 2014  at Mohali

Kings XI Punjab won by 7 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 28, 2014  at Mohali

Hobart Hurricanes won by 6 wkts

Photos

Cricket on Mt. Kilimanjaro

Videos

Brian Lara speaks on the art of batting

Mitchell Marsh helps Perth Scorchers clinch 3-wicket victory against Lahore Lions in CLT20 2014

Live Cricket Score Barbados Tridents vs Northern Knights CLT20 2014 Match 20: Barbados Tridents win by 6 wickets

Gautam Gambhir becomes second player after MS Dhoni to captain in 100 T20 matches

Consecutive century opening partnerships in ODIs for each team

Have Manish Pandey’s T20 performances eclipsed his impressive First-Class record?

Asian Games Asian Games 2014 Cape Cobras Champions League T20 2014 Chennai Super Kings CLT20 CLT20 2014 Dolphins India at Asian Games 2014 Kings XI Punjab Lahore Lions Perth Scorchers

Barbados Tridents vs Northern Knights CLT20 2014 Match 20: Tridents have their maiden win in CLT20 0214

Barbados Tridents vs Northern Knights CLT20 2014 Match 20: After decent start by Tridents, Knights make comeback with late wickets

Bangladesh Cricket Board: Nadir Shah ban still on

Barbados Tridents vs Northern Knights CLT20 2014 Match 20: Knights set target of 138 (D/L) in 19 overs

PCB unhappy with bouncy tracks at Dubai for Australia series

Highest score by a batsman when all the other batsmen got single digit scores in a T20 match

Gautam Gambhir becomes second player after MS Dhoni to captain in 100 T20 matches

Lahore Lions vs Perth Scorchers Match 19 CLT20 2014: Lahore likely XI

CLT20 2014: Lahore Lions vs Perth Scorchers Match 19 — Key Battles

Consecutive century opening partnerships in ODIs for each team

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

671 Posts | 6 Fans

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Kings XI Punjab- Final Match Highlights from IPL 2014

Microsoft’s Windows 10 unveiled

Ello might be ad-free, but it is far from claiming Facebook’s throne

Asian Games 2014 Live Streaming Day 12: Watch Live Stream & Telecast of 17th Incheon Asian Games

Navratri Day 7 Colour Blue: Simple and easy family styling tips for this Navratri

Alcohol could leave you sleepless even after you have quit

Bigg Boss 8 highlights: Payback time for Deepshikha Nagpal’s team with reverse Hijack, RJ Preetam’s team blames him for their defeat

Health Minister says UHAM to be world’s largest public health insurance programme

Pankaj Kapur saw son Shahid Kapoor’s Haider and said “It’s Okay”

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here