Allan Donald run out in the semi-final of the '99 World Cup ensured Australia reached the finals, and the celebrations on the field became one of the most photographed events in the history of cricket © Getty Images

 

Arunabha Sengupta recounts some of the most celebrated run outs in the history of the game and shows that some of the blunders on the pitch are as fondly remembered as the extraordinary feats with the bat and the ball.

 

On two supremely critical occasions in the recent past, Ravichandran Ashwin moved in laborious strides and managed to get himself somewhat quixotically stranded in the middle of the pitch. However, with the same uncertain steps he may have walked into the eternal memory of cricket fans.

 

Cricketers are remembered not only because of their extraordinary feats, but also for the fiascos and blunders demonstrated on the ground. Heroic tales are admired and recounted, but pathos and farce do also fill up shelves. In this regard, run outs, with their curious mix of brilliance, tragedy and often comic hilarity, create impressions that are more often than not indelible – reinforced by the millions of encores on YouTube and other channels.

 

Inzamam-ul Haq is a prime example, whose great achievements with the bat are often pushed to the rear recesses of memory and what comes flashing back to us are the preposterous ways he fell yards and often miles short of his ground, bails and stumps whipped off by fielders who had ample time to pause between chuckles. Alan Donald‘s streaks of lightening across the pitch which brought him 330 Test wickets are remembered with respect, but we also recall his loss of mind, reason, wicket and match in the famed World Cup semi-final of 1999.

 

Some able cricketers of yore even surmounted the hurdles of limited coverage on television, as their stuttering shuttles between the stumps became legends through word of mouth. Denis Compton, the great English middle order maestro, was reputed to have been an atrocious runner. John Warr said of him, “He was the only person who would call you for a run and wish you luck at the same time.” Former Australian opening batsman, Graeme Wood, is remembered less for his nine Test match hundreds and more for being a part of the Kamikaze opening pair with Rick Darling. One of this pair was dismissed run out in each of their four Test matches together.

 

Below, we take a look at 10 unforgettable famous run outs in the history of the game – tales of revelry, farce, tragedy and, on some occasions, controversy.

 

1. Australia vs India, Sydney, 1947

 

In a previous tour match, against an Australian XI, Vinoo Mankad had warned Bill Brown when the batsman had started down the wicket before the ball had been bowled. When Brown repeated it in the Test, Mankad had run him out by taking the bail off. The Indian all-rounder did not see the need to provide any further warning and whipped off the bails. Brown threw his bat down in disgust and remonstrated angrily. But Australian captain Don Bradman remarked that a batsman setting off for a run before the ball had been bowled was guilty of taking unfair advantage.

 

2. Karachi vs Bhawalpur, Karachi, 1959

 

He had been at the wicket for more than two days, in excess of 10.5 hours and had struck 64 boundaries. Hanif Mohammed was simply impossible to dismiss, right from the first afternoon to the fag end of the third day. Responding to Bhawalpur’s 185, Karachi were 771 for six. Hanif had already registered the world record first-class score, going past Bradman’s 452. One ball away from close of third day, he was still there on 498. Seeking to complete his quintuple century off the last ball of the over, thereby allowing captain Wazir Mohammed to declare, Hanif played towards point and called Abdul Aziz for two. But, the fielder moved fast and the opening batsman was short by a yard and a half, run out for 499.

 

It took another three and a half decades for an extraordinary left hander from the Caribbean to strike the first half thousand in a first class innings. However, Karachi won the semi final of 1959 by an innings and 479 runs.

 

3. Australia vs West Indies, Brisbane, 1961

 

From a precarious 92 for six, Alan Davidson and Richie Benaud had added 134 runs for the seventh wicket, and by all logical contemplation should have taken Australia home with ease. There was just seven runs to win with four wickets in hand. Benaud played Gary Sobers to midwicket, and Alan Davidson, who had taken 11 wickets in the match and scored 44 and 80, was slow to respond. Joe Solomon threw down the stumps with a direct hit that was just a precursor of things to come.  When the last over of this fascinating match began, Australia needed six with three wickets in hand. Wes Hall geared up to send down eight balls at a pace like fire.

 

The first resulted in a leg bye, and off the second Benaud tried to hook an express bouncer and gloved it to the ‘keeper. Ian Meckiff survived the third, and scampered a bye off the fourth as the ball went through to Gerry Alexander. Wally Grout swung at the next ball and sent it high towards square-leg for what should have been a regulation catch. However, Wes Hall somehow managed to land up between the ball and the fielder and fumbled the catch, the batsmen crossing over in the process.

 

Meckiff struck the next ball cleanly, and as the batsmen tried to scamper three, Conrad Hunte speared in a superb throw, streaking into the stumps down on the full, catching the Australian ‘keeper out by a foot.

 

With the scores tied, last man Lindsay Kline squared up to face another thunderbolt from Hall, while the original captain cool, Sir Frank Worrell, whispered a few words to the bowler about the possible reception back home if he bowled a no ball. Kline played the ball well, deflecting it towards the square-leg, and Meckiff responded by charging down the wicket. But Joe Solomon, for the second time in the space of a few balls, took aim from where just one stump could be seen and hit bull’s eye. Although the man on the radio mixed up the totals and announced in frenzy that the West Indies had won by one run, it ended as the first Tied Test in history!

 

4. West Indies vs Australia, Lord’s, 1975

 

A decade and a half later the same two sides faced off in another highly-charged encounter – the first World Cup final. Only Rohan Kanhai had survived from the 1961 Tied Test, and the greying maestro made a steady 55 as Clive Lloyd counter attacked fiercely, blasting his way to 102 off 85 balls.

 

The Australians, chasing 291, were done in by some exceptional fielding. The mercurial Vivian Richards manufactured three dismissals in the form of opener Alan Turner and the Chappell brothers. When at 233, Max Walker became the fourth man to be caught short of the crease, the menacing fast bowling pair of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson were left to score 59 more for the last wicket.

 

Amidst a lot of drama, including a pitch invasion when a catch off a no ball prompted thousands to believe that the match was over, the terrible two mixed common sense with a resolve to win. They made their steady way till just 17 runs were required off the final nine balls, when Thommo took a swing at Holder and missed. As the ball went through to ‘keeper Deryck Murray, the two of them contemplated running a bye. Murray, alert as ever, hit the stumps with an under-armed throw, and with this fifth run out, West Indies was home, the first ever World Cup champions!

 

5. India vs England, Bombay, 1981

 

Krishnamachari Srikkanth, the flamboyant and ever erratic opening batsman, made his debut in this low scoring Test match at Bombay against England. Managing to sneak ahead by 13 runs when the Englishmen were all out for 166, India began their second innings, looking to consolidate.

 

Srikkanth, who had been out for a duck in the first innings, had moved to 13 when he played a ball towards John Emburey at gully. Believing that the ball was dead, the rookie started out on a stroll around the batting area. The English spinner, noticing him out of ground, threw down the stumps. The endearingly rotund Swarup Kishen, a regular feature in the ’70s and ’80s, stood at square-leg and slowly raised his finger.

 

Skipper Sunil Gavaskar at the other end dropped his bat in disgust, even as it took the debutant a long while to realise that he was out.

 

In the end, Kapil Dev scored a rollicking 50 ball 46 in the face of odds, and followed it up by snapping up five English wickets to ensure that the dismissal was not that costly, and India triumphed by 138 runs.

 

6. MCC vs Rest of the World, Lord’s, 1987

 

It was the MCC Bicentennial match. The Marylebone Cricket Club was playing Rest of the World at the Mecca of cricket.

 

A featherbed of a wicket, along with a washed out final day, ensured a tall scoring draw, but the match is fondly remembered as the stage of Sunil Gavaskar’s retirement, after he had batted nearly seven hours for 188.

 

The MCC batted first and Graham Gooch and Mike Gatting went on a run feast. When the last hour of the first day started, the hosts were sitting pretty, having piled up 250 plus with only three wickets down.

 

West Indian off-spinner Roger Harper hopped and skipped his way to bowl to Gooch. The Essex stalwart stepped out and drove. Against any mortal off-spinner it would have been a regulation single to long-on, but this was Harper. In a blink of an eye, he had moved across the wicket, latched on to the ball and fired it down the pitch. All Gooch could do was bend down to protect himself. The stumps were broken and Gooch trudged back, probably the only time on English grounds, to tumultuous applause for the man who brought about his dismissal.

 

7. Pakistan vs South Africa, Brisbane, 1992

 

It was in the group match against South Africa in the 1992 World Cup that Inzamam-ul Haq got out in a way that promised a lot of side splitting moments in the years to follow.

 

Having restricted the Proteans to 211, Pakistan was cruising along at 135 for two. Inzamam, stroking the ball ominously, had raced to 48 from 43 balls. He now tapped one towards point, and attempted an adventurous single – never advisable against the South Africa of the 90s. Imran Khan, at the other end, sent him back, but Jonty Rhodes, prowling in the cover point area, calculated the time and distance perfectly while running full tilt. Having swooped the ball up without breaking stride, he flung himself horizontally, uprooting the stumps while airborne, at a precarious parallel to the ground. Pakistan never recovered from this aerial jolt and folded for 173. Rhodes went on to repeat his magic many a time on the field, and equally prolific was Inzamam in manufacturing innovative ways of ending up stranded in the middle of a pitch.

 

8. India vs Pakistan, Eden Gardens, 1999

 

The first Test match of the Asian Test Championship was an exciting encounter which ended with a bitter after-taste.

 

There was some fantastic cricket to start with. Pakistan recovered from 26 for six to reach 185, and India, shaken by two consecutive Shoaib Akhtar deliveries which yorked Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar, ended 38 runs ahead in the first innings.

 

Saeed  Anwar, dropped early in the innings by Mohammed Azharuddin, carried his bat for 188 even as Javagal Srinath snapped up eight second innings wickets. Requiring 279 for a win, Sadagoppan Ramesh and VVS Laxman gave a rousing start, adding 108 for the first wicket. Tendulkar came in at 134 for two, with the intent of winding it all up quickly. Having already square cut Wasim Akram for a blistering boundary, he on-drove him past the midwicket. It was a long chase, and the batsman was returning for the third run when substitute Nadim Khan threw the ball from the outfield. Tendulkar grounded his bat, but collided with Shoaib Akhtar, who for some reason, was backing up on the crowded pitch. The impact displaced Tendulkar’s bat from the crease even as the freakish throw hit the stumps. The densely-packed fans at the Eden were stunned when television umpire KT Francis concluded that the batsman was short of ground.

 

The angry spectators almost started a riot before Tendulkar reappeared, looking distinctly unhappy, walking around the venue to placate the crowd and ensure that the game could go on.

 

Ultimately, India ended up 46 short, but the stadiums had to be vacated by the police on the fifth morning to allow the match to continue. A prominent English daily of Kolkata commented that the Pakistan captain Wasim Akram had the opportunity to win millions of Indian hearts by calling Tendulkar back, but in the end decided to win a Test match.

 

9. Australia vs South Africa, Edgbaston, 1999

 

The tag ‘chokers’ got imprinted on the South African cricket psyche on this day of the most thrilling World Cup semi-final. Brilliant bowling by Alan Donald and Shaun Pollock had restricted Australia to 213, and a battle of skills between Jacques Kallis and Shane Warne had kept the contest in fine balance. It was surprising to say the least when the man in phenomenal batting form, Lance Klusener, walked out with just 31 deliveries remaining to score 39 runs with four wickets in hand. An over and eight runs later, Pollock had his stumps rearranged by Damien Fleming. With 10 to go, and 18 to get, Mark Boucher was bowled by Glenn McGrath. With 16 required off eight, Steve Elworthy was run out.

 

When the last over started, Klusener was on strike with nine required. Fleming ran in twice to see his best offerings biffed to far off regions for boundaries. Klusener had raced to 31 off 14 balls, one run was needed off four. With the field closing in, Klusener blasted the next ball to Darren Lehmann, and Allan Donald, backing up way too far, would have been out by a mile had a direct hit been scored.

 

However, the lesson was not learnt. The next ball was bludgeoned to mid-on, and Klusener charged down the wicket. Donald grounded his bat, dropped it, picked it up and ran almost as an afterthought. In contrast, the Australians were like an icy mass of calmness. Mark Waugh passed the ball to Fleming, who rolled it to Gilchrist and the wicket-keeper broke the stumps.

 

Australia went through by virtue of being ahead of South Africa at the Super Six stage, and the celebrations on the field became one of the most photographed events in the history of cricket.

 

10. South Africa vs Australia, Port Elizabeth, 2006

 

After all the comedy, tragedy and controversy, it is now time for some spectacular stunts.

 

Australia was cruising along at 99 for one in the third ODI, when Simon Katich pushed Adam Hall to the left of AB. de Villiers and rushed out for his 50th run. However, de Villiers dived to his left, and even as he was in the motion of rolling over, somehow flipped the ball back – and amazingly it hit the stumps and caught the scampering batsman several feet short of ground. It perhaps took the batsman a while to realise that the ball had been released by the sprawling fielder. When South Africa batted, de Villiers top scored with 68, but Australia won the match by 24 runs.

 

(Arunabha Sengupta is trained from Indian Statistical Institute as a Statistician. He works as a Process Consultant, but cleanses the soul through writing and cricket, often mixing the two. His author site is at http://www.senantix.com and his cricket blogs at http:/senantixtwentytwoyards.blogspot.com)