Seventeen years ago, Nottinghamshire won the toss, piled up 527 and still managed to lose by an innings. Arunabha Sengupta looks back at one of the lesser-known miracles worked by Anil Kumble.
If a team ends the first day of a four-day match at 353 for one, it is generally assumed that they can’t lose from there. Let alone by an innings.
So, when the Nottinghamshire skipper, Tim Robinson, accepted the offer for light just after 6.10 pm on Thursday, he had every reason for smug satisfaction. He was unbeaten on 204, his second-wicket partnership with Graeme Archer already worth 285. Even Anil Kumble, the imported weapon for Northamptonshire known for his endless volley of poison-tipped spears, had looked rather less than threatening.
Northants, still well placed in the race for the County crown, did fight back the following day. Robinson was trapped plumb by the Zimbabwean all-rounder Kevin Curran. Captain Allan Lamb executed an extraordinary pirouette and double pike, pulling off an one-handed blinder at gully to send back the dangerous Chris Cairns. But, Archer carried on until David Capel got him leg before for 158. Kumble did pick up a few wickets towards the end to finish with four for 118, but the innings stretched on till tea, amounting to a massive 527.
Richard Montgomerie and Alan Fordham opened for the hosts and reached 149 without loss when stumps were drawn on the second day. A run-feast looked inevitable before a yawn inducing draw.
560 in a day
What Saturday brought forth was more of an orgy than a feast, the spread several times more lavish than expected, wild and unchecked. Northants amassed 560 in a day, with Fordham, Lamb and wicketkeeper Russell Warren blasting hundreds.
From time to time, Cairns worked up frantic pace, but he had little support at the other end. With a green coating bang in the middle of the pitch, both seamers and spinners seemed intent on adding that spot of colour to their offerings, and the batsmen had ample opportunity and time to rock back and pull or cut with disdain. Robinson winced and frowned, but could not help it.
As many as 219 runs were scored during the final session, with Curran and Capel rollicking along the time-tested path of blocking a few and smashing the rest. The score at the end of the day stood 709 for seven.
After a break to play the 50-over AXA Sunday League game, the teams regrouped for the final day on August 28.
August 28, 1995
Capel raced to his century from just 87 balls, the fourth hundred of the innings, and Northamptonshire declared 254 runs ahead – having added 72 from 35 minutes in the morning. Extras contributed a whopping 64.
When Nottinghamshire started their second innings, opener Paul Pollard was bowled by a superb in-ducker from Curran. But, Robinson and Archer once again started to frustrate Kumble, lunging out to defend, not allowing the ball to hit the pads.
They were cruising on 72 for one, the stalemate looming large, when Kumble got one to skid on to Robinson’s stumps. In the same over Paul Johnson was caught and bowled off a leading edge. In the next, Archer missed a straight one from Capel to be caught plumb. Suddenly, it was 72 for four.
Thirteen runs later, Kumble snared Cairns at the short-leg, and at the same score Curran induced a flash from Matthew Dowman, brilliantly held by Jeremy Snape. The score now was 85 for six.
It soon became 90 for seven when Curran castled Jimmy Hindson.
Lamb brought his fielders in and crowded the batsmen, but on this deadest of pitches, it did not take much to settle down. Wayne Noon and Andy Pick hung on and looked like playing out time. A couple of chances went abegging. Pick was put down by Lamb, and Kumble acquired a large bump on the head colliding with Tony Penberthy while trying to latch on to a looping edge from Noon.
However, after all these years, it is now well known that head injuries often added an extra dollop of menace to the tenacious Indian leg-spinner. Forty minutes after his collision, Kumble, tireless and persevering, had the stubborn Pick caught in the leg trap. After some gutsy resistance, Bobby Chapman fell to a controversial decision, caught at leg slip and it was nine down for 150. The last pair put their heads down and batted, as time ticked by. And with just three overs to go, Kumble spit out one of his missile-like deliveries, those that hastened across and hurried the best of batsmen. Poor Andy Afford was struck helplessly on the pads and it was all over.
Bowling virtually unchanged from midday, Kumble picked up five for 43 off 39.1 overs. Nottinghamshire lost by an innings and 97 runs.
Northants managed to remain in the race for the title – although at the end of the season they finished third behind Warwickshire and Middlesex.
However, the dubious record, still unbroken and likely to remain so for long, was created by Nottinghamshire – notchingup the highest ever total in First-class cricket while suffering the ignominy of an innings defeat.
Nottinghamshire 527 (RT Robinson 209, GF Archer 158, A Kumble 4-118) and 157 (Anil Kumble 5-43, Kevin Curran 3-39) lost to Northamptonshire 781 for 7 declared (A Fordham 130, RR Montgomerie 69, AJ Lamb 115, RJ Warren 154, KM Curran 70, DJ Capel 114*, JA Afford 3-223)
(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)