John Edrich's unbeaten 310 had 52 fours (and 5 sixes) — a Test record that stands till date © Getty Images
John Edrich’s unbeaten 310 had 52 fours (and 5 sixes) — a Test record that stands till date © Getty Images

On July 9, 1965, John Edrich blazed his way to an unbeaten 310, an innings that featured the highest number of boundaries. Ken Barrington’s 163 was, no doubt, overshadowed owing to Edrich’s heroics, but England romped its way to a huge win over a helpless New Zealand attack. Karthik Parimal looks back at that defining knock.

When John Edrich walked out to bat on the morning of July 8, 1965, at Leeds, little would he have expected to set a few records that would remain untouched 48 years (and counting) down the line. He wasn’t England’s first choice at the time. But, as Abhishek Mukherjee wrote in an article that describes the southpaw’s career in detail, Edrich dominated the domestic circuit in the 1965 season and was roped in the moment Geoff Boycott decided to rest for the third Test against a frail New Zealand side. Edrich’s Surrey team-mate Ken Barrington was picked in place of Ted Dexter.

First day’s massacre

At 13 for 1, after Bob Barber was packed off by Bruce Taylor, the duo of Edrich and Barrington occupied the crease. A green layer on the pitch assisted the New Zealand bowlers perceptibly on the first morning, but Barrington remained unfazed. He scoured for runs and found them, whereas Edrich played second fiddle and tied things up at the other end; in fact, his first runs came after spending almost thirty minutes in the middle.

Together, though, they struck a rhythm and prevented further casualty before lunch. A dry surface greeted them for the second session and, from here, Edrich stepped up a gear.

Although Barrington approached his century first, Edrich was easily the dominant of the two. He unfurled an array of strokes, ranging from straight-drives to cover-drives and on-drives. At 40, he was grassed in the slips, and soon he would make them pay for it.

Barrington willingly stepped away from the limelight as Edrich raced to a ton and then 150 in quick time. “Edrich excelled with the cover drive which he placed with perfect precision and he celebrated his 150 by driving Pollard for his second six and soon came his third, also from Pollard — a mighty on-drive into the corner of the cricket-football stand,” noted Wisden.

Agreed, the bowling attack was not first-rate, but it could not have been dismissed as amateurish either. It was one of the finest returns to the national team; a better script couldn’t have been written. The grey skies opened twice, providing momentary relief to the hapless Kiwi bowlers, but upon resumption, the massacre continued.

Nothing could break the breezy momentum of the two English batsmen. Dick Motz, alongside Taylor and Richard Collinge, was one of the few bowlers who often managed to arrest the leakage of runs, whereas Brian Yuile and Ross Morgan were pummelled. England reached 366 for 1 at the end of the first day’s play, with Edrich batting on 194 and Barrington on 152, with multiple records, waiting to be surpassed, in sight.

The two players, who wouldn’t have made the cut if Boycott and Dexter weren’t injured, had left an indelible mark.

The incredible triple and tumbling records

The next morning, Barrington added 11 more runs before a delivery, which bounced higher than anticipated, took the edge of his bat and made its way into the wicket-keeper’s gloves. The 369-run partnership was 13 short of England’s highest second-wicket stand — held by Len Hutton and Maurice Leyland — against all countries. It was, nonetheless, Barrington’s highest score in England.

Edrich, though, batting on 199 at the time of his partner’s dismissal, was unruffled and continued with his onslaught. He soon reached 200 and, despite losing Colin Cowdrey, continued to be a thorn in the flesh of the Kiwi bowlers. In Peter Parfitt he found an able partner, but it was Edrich who was responsible for the bulk of the scoring. “Parfitt hit only two boundaries, but he helped to add 109 in 97 minutes. Whether concentrating on defence or making progress with the cover and straight drive besides the cut, Edrich rarely looked like getting out,” noted Wisden’s match report.

At 287, another opportunity was presented to the slip cordon and, yet again, it wasn’t taken. At 299, rather than choosing to cut risks and scamper through for a single, Edrich launched into a drive off Motz that sped to the long-off fence for a boundary.

It was his 50th four, one that saw him break into the elite list of players with scores of 300 or above. Sir Garfield Sobers (365*), Len Hutton (364), Hanif Mohammad (337), Wally Hammond (336*), Sir Donald Bradman (334 and 304), Andy Sandham (325) and Bob Simpson (311), were the only 7 batsmen to have bagged a triple-hundred at the time.

The other record that Edrich wrote his name on was for most boundaries in an innings — 52 fours and 5 sixes (238 runs), comprising 76.77 not out of his total score. The next in that list, to name a few, feature Matthew Hayden (218 out of 380 — 57.36%), Inzamam-ul-Haq (206 out of 329 – 62.61%) and Virender Sehwag (202 out of 293 – 69%).

Two more boundaries followed from Edrich’s willow, taking him to 310, before skipper Mike Smith decided to close England’s innings on 546 for 4. In response, the Kiwis could muster just 193 and 166 from their two innings — Fred Titmus took 4 wickets from 6 deliveries to finish with figures of 26-17-19-5 in the second innings — thereby conceding defeat by a massive margin of an innings and 187 runs. A note that best sums up the brilliance of Edrich’s performance is that New Zealand’s combined total barely passed his score of 310.

Brief scores:

England 546 for 4 (John Edrich 310*, Ken Barrington 163) beat New Zealand 193 (John R Reid 54; Ray Illingworth 4 for 42, David Larter 4 for 66) and 166 (Vic Pollard 53; Fred Titmus 5 for 19, Fred Rumsey 3 for 49) by an innings and 87 runs.

(Karthik Parimal, a Correspondent with CricketCountry, is a cricket aficionado and a worshipper of the game. He idolises Steve Waugh and can give up anything, absolutely anything, just to watch a Kumar Sangakkara cover drive. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/karthik_parimal)