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    Brutal Bill Voce dismisses and disorients ‘Box’ Case with pace

    Brutal Bill Voce dismisses and disorients ‘Box’ Case with pace

    Bodyline had still not arrived on the horizon, but Harold Larwood and Bill Voce, armed with raw pace and aggression, had made Nottinghamshire a much-feared force in the county circuit. Box Case, after a particularly hostile spell, was dismissed and left disoriented at the same time.

    Updated: March 3, 2016 5:53 PM IST | Edited By: Abhishek Mukherjee

    Bodyline had still not arrived on the horizon, but Harold Larwood and Bill Voce, armed with raw pace and aggression, had made Nottinghamshire a much-feared force in the county circuit. On June 20, 1930 at Taunton, Cecil Charles Coles Box Case, after a particularly hostile spell from Voce, was dismissed and left disoriented at the same time. Abhishek Mukherjee looks back at the outcome of one of the most fearsome spells in history.

    Bill Voce was not Harold Larwood, but was outstanding nevertheless. More importantly, he was almost as quick, bore no inhibitions when it came to aiming at a batsman s body, and under Arthur Carr, helped torment batsmen all over England on either side of 1930.

    Voce, unlike Larwood, was large and barrel-chested. He ran in off sixteen paces, and though he seldom got the choice of ends, his whippy action allowed him to get the ball rise from an awkward length and ram into the batsman s rib. His appearance was often enough to send a chill down the spine of the batsman.

    Larwood did not play the Taunton match, but Voce did. Voce took new ball with Fred Barratt. Before stumps on Day One, Somerset were bowled out for 300. Arthur Staples medium-pace fetched him 5 for 78, while Voce had 3 for 71.

    Towards the end of the innings Voce tormented Somerset No. 10 George Hunt with balls aimed at his ribcage. Hunt would average an acceptable 15.42 in his career, so he was not exactly a walking wicket; but he was, after all, a tail-ender.

    An agitated Hunt switched to a left-handed guard, trying to prevent Voce from hitting him. He scored 17, and helped Somerset add 33 for the last two wickets.

    Left-arm spinner Jack White (5 for 100) and leg-spinner Jack Lee (3 for 69) then bowled out Nottinghamshire for 293. Somerset were 86 for 4 before lunch on the last day, but Frank Lee and White added 121 as the match approached a draw.

    Case solved

    Cecil Charles Coles Case was perhaps the only First-Class cricketer with a four-word name where every letter started with the same letter. To be fair, Nottinghamshire also boasted of the wonderfully alliterative William Wilfrid Whysall ( Dodger to most people), but Case had a clear 4-3 lead.

    Case had earned the nickname Box , though it is not very clear why. There are two theories (both mine):

    (a) The likely one: there is a thing called box case .

    (b) The remarkable one: his initials, CCCC, are four in number; the surface area of a box is a square, hence...

    But we are deviating. Case walked out at 207 for 5. Voce was hungry, and for a reason. He was stranded on 299 First-Class wickets.

    Case was not the greatest of batsmen. For someone who did not bowl, Case scored 8,574 runs at 22.09 with 9 hundreds. The only face-saving bit was that he occasionally kept wickets (though he never got a stumping).

    Of Case s batting, Wisden wrote that he was cramped in style, and with scarcely any free use of wrists or shoulders, Case yet batted far better than could be seen from the ring. His defence was very difficult to get through and, with little uplift of his bat, he put unexpected power into his drives and pulls.

    David Foot wrote in Sunshine, Sixes and Cider: A History of Somerset Cricket: The kindest adjective to evoke his style was probably ugly. He didn t go in for back lifts and expansive sweeps of the blade; he didn t really go in for attacking shots at all. There was no athleticism in his movement.

    Thus, he was neither efficient nor attractive, and what followed was not too prestigious. Voce had switched to leg-theory. The ball came straight at Case. In a hurry to get away, he collapsed in a heap, dismantling the stumps altogether.

    Of course, Case was not the first man to be a victim of leg-theory. Greater batsmen had succumbed to it before and after him. But what followed was ridiculous. Perhaps we should quote Gerald Broadribb here, from Next Man In: Case, in trying to avoid a bumper from Voce, fell on his wicket, and having extricated himself from the debris, was so disturbed that he made his way back to the pavilion carrying under his arm a stump instead of his bat.

    It sounds almost unbelievable, but Foot agrees that Case missed the ball, fell in a ludicrous heap and then picked up a stump instead of the bat.

    Similarly, David Frith, in his masterpiece Bodyline Autopsy: Case was so befuddled after Voce sent him collapsing into his wicket that he departed, dazed, with a stump in his hand instead of his bat.

    Chris Waters, in 10 for 10, wrote of a confused Case walking back to the pavilion clutching a stump instead of his bat.

    Case realised exactly what had happened only after Carr walked up to him: Would you mind leaving us that stump and taking your bat instead?

    But it must be noted that his subsequent scores against Nottinghamshire read 5, 8, 3, 16, 30, 3, 5, 12, 18, 19, 0, 3, 4, and 19 (he scored 0 and 1 in the match in question).

    As for the match itself, Somerset collapsed to 240, but there was no more time left for cricket.

    Brief scores:

    Somerset 300 (Reggie Ingle 54, Jack White 91, Arthur Wellard 51; Bill Voce 3 for 71, Arthur Staples 5 for 78) and 240 (Frank Lee 79, Jack White 64; Sam Staples 3 for 55) drew with Nottinghamshire 293 (George Gunn 48, Willis Walker 61; Jack White 3 for 69, Jack Lee 5 for 100).

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