© Wikimedia Commons
Monkey Hornby was a small man, but he ran frantically that day at The Oval. Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

July 14, 1873. Little AN ‘Monkey’ Hornby ran frantically on the first morning at The Oval, with Frank Wright in tow. Abhishek Mukherjee recalls an exemplary display of sprinting that made its way to Guinness Book of World Records.

AN Hornby was small, very small. He was often hyperactive as well. The combination was, not unexpectedly, enough to earn him the simian nickname — one by which cricket historians have affectionately referred to him.

Hornby was not a powerful man either, and had an infamously weak throwing arm. A perfect example of this was the run out of Billy Murdoch in the famous Oval Test of 1882, the one that gave birth to The Ashes. As Hornby, captain of England, picked up the ball near the boundary, Murdoch and Tom Garrett decided on an extra run. While all this was happening, CT Studd had reached very close to Hornby, who tossed the ball to Studd. The throw was accurate, and Murdoch was run out.

Despite everything, Hornby ran fast. He played Rugby Union for England (how with that frame?), Manchester, and Preston Grasshoppers, and football for Blackburn Rovers.

This story, however, took place nine years before the Test, albeit at the same ground. Surrey were playing hosts to the mighty Lancastrians, and Hornby walked out with Dick Barlow after Edmund Rowley opted to bat.

Though this was early in Barlow’s career, he and Hornby were no ordinary pair. In his iconic poem At Lord’s, Francis Thompson had immortalised the Lancashire openers, of whom Hornby was the dasher and Barlow the anchor.

Monkey business

James Southerton and James Street opened bowling, and a misunderstanding between the pair resulted in the run out of Barlow without a run on the board. Frank Wright walked out. He would go on to become part of history.

Exactly how they managed to run ten is not well-documented, and neither is the bowler, though one can assume it was one of Southerton and Street. What we do know, however, is that it was an all-run ten, and there were possibly no overthrows involved. Given Hornby’s small frame, it must have involved a lot of running.

Note: There is some speculation regarding whether there were overthrows involved in these 9 runs. Graham Ralph, a regular correspondent to The Guardian, communicated that the only all-run 9 (or more) without the aid of an overthrow was by Frederick Ponsonby for Cambridge University against MCC in 1842. Ponsonby, later Earl of Bessborough, is usually remembered as one of the co-founders of I Zingari.

McIntyre and Watson skittle Surrey

Wright was soon hit wicket off Southerton, and Hornby was bowled by Street for 20 (one must not forget that 10 of them came off one shot). It remained the top score of the innings as Lancashire were skittled out for 100 by Southerton (6 for 52).

It turned out to be sufficient, for Surrey folded for 33 (after being 30 for 3). No batsman reached double-figures. Barlow did not fail a second time, top-scoring with 40 as Surrey were set a near-impossible 183. Southerton, once again the star of the Surrey attack, claimed 6 for 52.

Surrey were reduced to 27 for 7 (none of the seven men reached double-digits). There were some face-saving performances from the tail, but they were bowled out for 76. The fast-bowling duo of William McIntyre (11 for 54) and Alexander Watson (8 for 47) bowled unchanged throughout the match, sending down 40 overs (26.4 six-ball overs) apiece.

What followed?

– Samuel Hill-Wood (some sources refer to him as Samuel Hill Wood), leading Derbyshire against MCC at Lord’s, emulated Hornby by running a ten off the bowling of Cuthbert Burnup with the aid of overthrows. However, one must remember that this was the season when the ‘net rule experiment’ was implemented in County Championship, so Hill-Wood had the added advantage of the ball never reaching the boundary despite overthrows. Given the heavy bats and small boundaries, it is unlikely that a third name will be added to the list.

The Guinness Book of World Records acknowledged the feats of Hornby and Hill-Wood in page 239 of the 1993 edition.

– A news regarding an all-run 286 had surfaced earlier this decade. As Michael Jones had pointed out in ESPNCricinfo, neither Peckham Pushers nor Camberwell Albion, the clubs in question, have been mentioned in South London Observer or other leading contemporary newspapers. Though one cannot disprove it, there is no documented proof regarding that all-run 286.

Brief scores:

Lancashire 100 (James Southerton 6 for 52) and 115 (Dick Barlow 40; James Southerton 6 for 52, Farrington Boult 3 for 29) beat Surrey 33 (William McIntyre 4 for 17, Alexander Watson 5 for 12) and 76 (William McIntyre 7 for 37, Alexander Watson 3 for 35) by 106 runs.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here)