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When Dennis Lillee lost his wicket to Dennis Lillee

Although taking the catch to dismiss Dennis Keith Lillee (in picture) wasn't the highlight of Dennis John Lillee's career, but was definitely a landmark moment © Getty Images
Although taking the catch to dismiss Dennis Keith Lillee (in picture) wasn’t the highlight of Dennis John Lillee’s career, but was definitely a landmark moment © Getty Images

In a bizarre turn of events, Dennis Lillee got caught by his namesake on March 8, 1981. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at one of the most bizarre scorecard entries in the history of the sport.

The big one

By early 1981, Dennis Keith Lillee had firmly established himself as one of the greatest fast bowlers in history. When Queensland toured them for the last Sheffield Shield match (for both teams) of 1980-81, Lillee found himself pitted against Jeff Thomson, his old partner-in-crime. Lillee was on the same side as Rodney Marsh, but Greg Chappell, the third cog of their much-famed friendship, was actually leading Queensland.

New South Wales (NSW), till then the leader of the table, were on 122 points from eight matches. Western Australia were placed second at 114, while Queensland were marginally behind with 113. A win ensured ten points, which meant that both teams stood with a chance of clinching the coveted Shield.

The lesser one

Dennis John Lillee was, on the other hand, an innocuous Queensland leg-spinner. Born in 1945, he had made his debut in 1965-66 and had vanished somewhere into obscurity for fifteen seasons. Earlier that season, he had routed Tasmania at The Gabba with figures of five for 48 as Queensland had romped to a nine-wicket victory. In this match, however, he was dropped from the side, though he was named twelfth man.

The match

Chappell put Western Australia in, and almost immediately found success when Geoff Dymock removed Bruce Laird. Greg Shipperd batted on with impressive support from Kim Hughes and Mark O’Neill. Following the steps of his illustrious father, Mark played some excellent strokes before he fell for 42. Day One ended with Western Australia on 267 for six and Shipperd on an emphatic 138.

The dismissal

Shipperd fell early on Day Two when Lillee walked out to join Bruce Yardley. The score passed 300, the pair went for quick runs — and then it happened: facing his mate Chappell, Lillee gave one a nice plonk; the catch was taken by Dennis John Lillee — who was fielding as a substitute. There have been few scorecard entries as unusual.

Dennis Lillee caught by Dennis Lillee

The rest of the match

Hughes declared immediately, and Lillee, Terry Alderman, and Yardley bowled out the tourists for 186. Some brisk batting, especially from Laird and Craig Serjeant, helped Western Australia set a target of 409. Having already secured 11 bonus points all they needed to do was to stop Queensland from victory.

In the end, they almost won the match: Queensland had reached 211 for five when Yardley removed Ray Phillips, thus triggering a collapse; Dymock and Thomson soon followed, and it took a quintessential Allan Border rearguard performance to save the match: with a typically diligent 83 not out he saved the match in the not-too-confidence-oozing company of Carl Rackemann.

What followed?

- Western Australia clinched the Sheffield Shield with 125 points, three clear of NSW. Queensland finished with 118.

- Dennis John Lillee played 17 First-Class matches and finished with 33 wickets at 51.06.

- Dennis Keith Lillee, on the other hand, had 882 from 198 matches at 23.46. Of these 355 had come in the 70 Tests he had played.

Brief scores:

Western Australia 305 for 8 decl. (Greg Shipperd 140, Mark O’Neill 42; Greg Chappell 4 for 66) and 289 (Craig Serjeant 72, Bruce Laird 59; Jeff Thomson 4 for 63) drew with Queensland 186 (Martin Kent 67, Wayne Broad 46; Terry Alderman 4 for 33, Bruce Yardley 3 for 40, Dennis Lillee 3 for 59) and 232 for 9 (Allan Border 83*; Bruce Yardley 3 for 34, Terry Alderman 3 for 41).

(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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