David Hookes pulled the first ball he faced high over the midwicket boundary, sounding a warning of things to come © Getty Images © Getty Images
David Hookes pulled the first ball he faced high over the midwicket boundary, sounding a warning of things to come © Getty Images © Getty Images

October 25, 1982. In a brutal murder of anything thrown at him, David Hookes raced to a hundred off just 34 balls against Victoria. Arunabha Sengupta looks back at the mayhem that infused life into a dead match and brought spectators flocking back to the ground.

It was pure mayhem at the Adelaide Oval — a tornado of an innings which blew the bowlers away, left the fielders dazed and sent a tempest of life billowing through a dead match.

It had been a while since David Hookes had played for Australia.

If the World Series decision makers had not been hasty and partial to his debonair and dashing style, if they had not agreed to the suggestions of the Chappell brothers, if they had not overlooked another talented blonde young batsman in the form of Kim Hughes, things might have been very different. Hookes might have been the one leading Australia in 1979-80.

As things turned out, Hughes led a depleted Australian side to India to do battle with Dilip Doshi and Shivlal Yadav on the turning pitches while Hookes nursed a broken jaw, the result of an Andy Roberts bouncer. The left-hander thus, missed out on considerable education in the Test arena.

When he returned to the Australian side, Hookes batted with purpose against the West Indian pace attack, but soon suffered a knee injury. When the team toured Pakistan, he was hopelessly out of his depth, managing just 10 runs in six First-Class innings, falling to the guiles of Iqbal Qasim twice to bag a pair in the only Test he played.

Out of the Test side, he struggled for a couple of years before being appointed the captain of South Australia in 1981-82. Under his leadership, the state won their first Sheffield Shield title in six years.

The following year saw the rejuvenation of Hookes the batsman. And the glory was back in full blaze during the showdown against Victoria in October 1982.

The whomping willow

Victorian captain Graham Yallop was the trigger for the mayhem that was enacted on that Adelaide afternoon, when he chose to extend the second innings till the end of the second session on the fourth and final day. South Australia were left the impossible task of scoring 272 runs in 30 overs.

It seemed destined to be a session of prolonged boredom and going through the formal motions. Many of the spectators prepared for an early exit. But, Hookes had other ideas.

Yallop’s tactics had left him bristling. As South Australia started their reply, Hookes promoted himself to open the innings with Rick Darling.

The left-hander had already hammered 137 in the first innings, including a hundred between lunch and tea. However, fast as his scoring had been in the first innings, now the intention was pure violence — almost murderous.

The first delivery from Peter King was pulled high over midwicket, onto the roof of the members’ stand. The ball landed with a deafening rattle on the tin roof, sounding a warning of things to come. Yallop was not surprised, though. A 20-year-old Hookes had struck 6 sixes in an over in a minor match at London. If the Victorian skipper had delayed his declaration it had been due to the known ability of Hookes to pummel the bowling when he felt like it.

Soon King, who had taken 5 wickets in the first innings, was left with figures 2-0-38-0.

Shaun Graf was fielding at deep backward point while King and Rod McCurdy were being slaughtered. A shot whooshed past him to the boundary, barely five yards away, and he could only watch it as it rocketed into the fence.

After the end of King’s second over, Yallop walked up to Graf and said that he was up as the next sacrificial lamb in front of that punishing blade. Offered a field of his choice, Graf packed the off-side, which had a longer boundary, and bowled wide of the off-stump. It seemed an excellent plan to stem the run flow, but at the end of the first over he looked up and saw 18 runs against his name.

One particular ball was bowled a foot outside the off-stump, and Hookes walked inside the line and hit it past fine leg for four. When it was on the stumps, Hookes moved away to cut and drive through the off, or pulled past mid-wicket with equal élan. And a bit of width was absolute suicide. There were a couple of edges, but even they went for boundaries through the six. Yallop did not even risk bringing on the leg-spinner Jim Higgs and the left-arm spinner Peter Cox. McCurdy and Graf kept bowling and the ball kept flying to the deep field and beyond.

Hookes raced to his fifty in 17 minutes. And turning McCurdy around to square leg for a brace, he posted his hundred in 43 minutes off 34 balls with 17 fours and 3 sixes. The free stroking Darling was on seven as he crossed his three figure mark.

Glen Chapple and Mark Pettini have bettered the record since then, getting to their respective hundreds off 27 balls, but in both cases the bowling had been contrived and farcical. The effort of Hookes remains the fastest First-Class hundred with serious bowling on offer.

There were some 400 spectators when the South Australian innings began and by the time the match ended there were about 4,000. McCurdy was hit for 88 runs in 12 overs. Graf gave away 67 in 10. Hookes was ultimately out for 107, and there was a flurry of wickets as South Australia kept going for the runs. In the end they finished with 206 for 7 from 24 overs.The team did not win, but the point had been made.

Brief scores:

Victoria 260 (Shaun Graf 46, Peter Sacristani 55, Peter King 58; Joel Garner 4 for 73) and 420 for 9 decl. (Julien Wiener 73, Graham Yallop 151, Brad Geen 70, Peter Cox 47) drew with South Australia 407 (Andrew Hilditch 42, John Inverarity 126, David Hookes 137; Peter King 5 for 88) and 206 for 7 (David Hookes 107; Rod McCurdy 5 for 88).

(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://twiter.com/senantix)