Bobby Simpson    Getty Images
Bobby Simpson Getty Images

February 13, 1967. Two fielding sides emerged on the ground because Australian skipper Bobby Simpson forgot to inform his Griqualand West counterpart that he was enforcing follow on. Arunabha Sengupta writes about the incident.

There was much on the mind of Bobby Simpson.

The men under him did not quite form the best Test side. And the depth of the South African unit under Peter van der Merwe was palpably enormous.

Trevor Goddard, who opened the batting and scored 47, captured 6 wickets in the recently concluded fourth Test. Denis Lindsay, the wicketkeeper, had scored his third century of the series, with a breather of 81 in between. The new fast bowling all-rounder named Mike Procter was disconcertingly quick and looked a threatening bat. And it was not as if there was any lack of specialist talent. After all Graeme Pollock had hit 209 in the second Test.

Down 1-2 after the fourth Test, his men struggling for form, Simpson was probably thinking of ways and means to put one over the Springboks in the final Test. True, that did not affect his performance.

Against a rather weak Griqualand West attack at the De Beers Stadium, Kimberley, Simpson had hammered 141. His partner Bill Lawry had made 107, his only hundred of the tour. The opening stand had amounted to 227. And then Grahame Thomas, keeping wickets in the game, had plundered 134. Tom Vievers had chipped in with 72. The tourists had piled up a huge 620. Half a dozen chances were missed in the slips. One wondered while Griqua captain Errol Draper sent the Australians in to bat on winning the toss, but some put it down to hospitality.

Griqualand West did not have the resources to make a match of it. Hence, with James Hubble and Johnny Martin picking up four apiece, they folded for 178 early on the final morning.

With it being the final day of the match, it was quite obvious that Australia would enforce follow on. However, Simpson just forgot to communicate the same to Draper. He apparently assumed that the Griquas would understand they were to bat a second time.

Thus, in the next few minutes, Simpson led his side out into the field while Draper led his. And then it hit Simpson. I just forgot, was his explanation.

Since the opposition had not been asked to follow on, the Australians had to go out to bat again. So, Graeme Watson and Brian Taber sprinted back to put on their pads and batted for half an hour to notch 25 runs. Following this, Simpson declared. It left them three hours to bowl the opposition out.

However, the Australians required just an hour and 40 minutes. Martin, bowling incisive Chinaman, took 7 for 30 and the hosts were bundled for 91 in 31.4 overs.

Brief Scores:

Australia 620 (Bobby Simpson 141, Bill Lawry 107, Grahame Thomas 134, Tom Veivers 72, Johnny Martin 60) and 25 for no loss decl. beat Griqualand West 178 (Ken Saggers 57; John Hubble 4 for 38, Johnny Martin 4 for 48) and 91 (Johnny Martin 7 for 30) by 376 runs.