The All-England cricket team that toured Australia in 1861-1862. Back, from left: George Wells, Felix William Spiers, George Bennett, Roger Iddison, William Caffyn, Thomas Sewell, George Griffiths, William Mudie, Charles Lawrence, Christopher Pond and Thomas Hearne; front, left to right: William Mortlock, HH Stephenson (c), Edward Stephenson    Getty Images
The All-England cricket team that toured Australia in 1861-1862.
Back, from left: George Wells, Felix William Spiers, George Bennett, Roger Iddison, William Caffyn, Thomas Sewell, George Griffiths, William Mudie, Charles Lawrence, Christopher Pond and Thomas Hearne; front, left to right: William Mortlock, HH Stephenson (c), Edward Stephenson Getty Images

July 23, 1866. George Wells of Sussex got out before George Bennett of Kent delivered the ball. Arunabha Sengupta looks back at the incident.

The diminutive George Wells was known in the cricketing circles as Tiny Wells. According to his Wisden obituary, Wells was one of the shortest of men to earn fame on the cricket ground. Not that he was one of the best cricketers of his time, but he was useful and his short stature did a lot for his popularity in the south of England.

Yes, he was short of being a top rate cricketer. But he nevertheless represented both Sussex and Middlesex, as also MCC, and achieved fair amount of success with his bat in a few seasons. 1864, 1865 and 1866 were particularly fruitful. And when HH Stephenson took an English team to Australia in 1861-62, Wells was one of the members.

One peculiarity of Wells batting style was his taking guard very close to the stumps. And as a result, this little man was hit wicket thrice in his career.

The first time it was while batting against Surrey in 1860 when he hit his own wicket against the bowling of William Caffyn. Five years later, he fell in similar fashion once again, this time to the under-arm lobs bowled by Robert Tinley.

But it was in 1866 that he took the mode of dismissals to the next level. He was batting well against Kent at Gravesend and had already got to 61 when he went back too far to square up to George Farmer Bennett. Even before the bowler had released the ball, Wells had trod on the stumps and dislodged the bails.

Bennett stopped and appealed, along with his teammates, and all the while the ball remained in his grip. And umpire James Dean, after thinking for a whole, raised his finger. Wells, Dean argued, had been in the act of playing the ball.

The batsman had to leave, but one wonders whether he was happy with the decision.

Bennett was particularly chuffed at the dismissal. While the much-feared Edgar Willsher bowled his over-arm fast stuff without success from the other end, this right-arm round-arm slow bowler ran through the Sussex innings, capturing 7 for 67. When Kent batted captain William Norton got a hundred, and Willsher bowled brilliantly in the second innings. However, the Lillywhite cousins John and James put their heads down to get fifties and the match ended in a draw.

Incidentally, Bennett also went on that trip to Australia with Stephenson s men. And when there was a First-Class match at the MCG between The World and Surrey XI, both Wells and Bennett played for The World and put together a 68-run association for the third wicket. Bennett also captured 14 wickets in the match in the course of the World s 6-wicket win.

Brief Scores:

Sussex 195 (Charles Smith 53, George Wells 61; Farmer Bennett 7 for 67) and 304 (Charles Smith 45, James Lillywhite Jr 67, John Lillywhite 59; Edgar Willsher 6 for 72) drew with Kent 352 (Henry Richardson 92, William Norton 120, Phillip Hilton 41; James Lillywhite Jr 7 for 98) and 25 for 3.