Alec Bedser took 8 for 18 and 4 for 17 © Getty Images
On May 16, 1953 Alec Bedser and Jim Laker combined to trounce Warwickshire for 45 and 52. Abhishek Mukherjee looks back at a County Championship match that got over in a single day.
Seldom has a side been bowled out twice on the same day of the First-Class match. What is even more humiliating for a side is, probably, to lose a match itself on the first day of a match — and lose by an innings! Warwickshire had to bear the brunt at The Oval in 1953 when Surrey was on their golden run in the 1950s.
Bedser routs the Warwicks
Things looked promising when Tom Dollery won the toss and elected to bat. With the ball doing a bit in Mid-May, Alec Bedser exploited the conditions beautifully with swing bowling of the highest class. Warwickshire were 8 for 3, all 3 had fallen to Alec Bedser — before they could say the word ‘Surrey’.
This brought Dick Spooner and the captain Tom Dollery to the crease. They hung around, and put up a formidable 19 for the fourth wicket — the highest of the innings. Alec Bedser removed both, and after the captain Stuart Surridge had a go, he was replaced by Tony Lock, who picked up 2 more.
The rest followed in a blur as Alec Bedser picked up the remaining 3 wickets — thereby finishing with a joint career-best 8 for 18 (he had taken 8 for 18 in the previous season too, against Nottinghamshire at the same ground), the last 6 wickets coming at the cost of 9 runs from 9 overs. He had bowled unchanged, and Warwickshire were bowled out for 45 in 26.5 overs.
Four Warwickshire batsmen — Tom Cartwright, Don Taylor, Keith Dollery (of no relation to the captain), and Eric Hollies scored ducks (Ray Weeks remained unbeaten on zero). Bowlers of the calibre of Eric Bedser and Jim Laker did not even get a chance to bowl. Spooner top-scored with 19, and was the only batsman to reach double-figures.
Constable protects Surrey
David Fletcher opened batting with Eric Bedser (which is often regarded as one of the masterstrokes of Surridge in the early 1950s), and right from the beginning the Warwickshire bowlers kept on picking up wickets. After Keith Dollery took out Bedser, Bernard Constable walked out to the centre, and took control of the match. The bowlers pegged away at the strong Surrey line-up, but Constable stood firm.
When Constable finally fell, Surrey had established a lead. Laker and Surridge put up 27, and batting at eleven, Lock struck a few lusty blows before he was injured, and had to retire hurt. Surrey finished at 146 in 39.1 overs, with a lead of 101 — which was definitely decisive on such a low-scoring match. Keith Dollery picked up 4 for 40, while Hollies finished with 3 for 48.
Bedser and Laker polish things off
When Fred Gardner and Cartwright put up 20 runs for the opening stand, the Warwickshire fans possibly contemplated a stubborn fightback. However, Alec Bedser and Laker (opening bowling ahead of Surridge in the absence of Lock) turned out to be too much for them.
Each bowler took an opener out, and then with the score on 26 for 2, Laker had Spooner caught and bowled, Tom Dollery caught by Surridge, and Ray Hitchcock caught by Alec Bedser, thereby claiming a hat-trick. Alan Townsend was run out for a blob as well, and Alec Bedser removed Weeks for a duck – thereby resulting in 5 successive zeroes in the line-up.
Fortunately, Charlie Grove hung around with Taylor and added 49, but both batsmen perished in quick succession. Hollies registered a pair (giving Alec Bedser his 600th County Championship wicket), and Keith Dollery remained unbeaten on zero. Warwickshire collapsed to 52, losing by an innings and 49 runs in a single day.
Laker finished with 5 for 29 while Bedser had 4 for 17, giving him match figures of 12 for 35. They had bowled unchanged in the second innings, which had lasted just 26.4 overs.
As many as 10 Warwickshire batsmen scored ducks in the match, and two more remained unbeaten on zero. In the second innings Taylor (20) and Grove (10) were the only ones to cross ten, and barring them, Gardner (7) and Cartwright (9) were the only other ones to open their accounts. Nobody else scored a single run.
Warwickshire 45 (Alec Bedser 8 for 18) and 52 (Jim Laker 5 for 29, Alec Bedser 4 for 17) lost to Surrey 146 (Bernard Constable 37; Keith Dollery 4 for 40) by an innings and 49 runs.
(Abhishek Mukherjee is a cricket historian and Senior Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He generally looks upon life as a journey involving two components – cricket and literature – though not as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the sport with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers that cricket has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks in street cricket, and blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in. He can be followed on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ovshake and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)