It was the on-drive that cost Peter May (above) his wicket © Getty Images
It was the on-drive that cost Peter May (middle) his wicket © Getty Images

May 11, 1957. In Surrey’s home match against Glamorgan, Peter May was run out in the most bizarre fashion. Arunabha Sengupta recalls the dismissal, while dwelling on the multitude of Davies and the destruction wrought by Tony Lock and Jim Laker.

The underdogs had got the champion side in a bit of a bother. On their home ground, Surrey, the undisputed champions of the 1950s, had lost three quick wickets; that too to unfancied Glamorgan.

Davies had struck and then Davies had struck again and Davies had caught.

Hugh Davies had got rid of Micky Stewart and then Billy Davies sent back Tom Clark.  Soon after that wicketkeeper Hayden Davies had caught Bernard Constable off captain Wilfred Wooller.

The three Davies were, incidentally, unrelated.

Surrey, at 40 for three, seemed to be gasping for runs. But, then, the two names at the crease were mighty ones — for Surrey and England.

Peter May was there, captain of England and the land’s finest batsman. And alongside him was Ken Barrington. Not exactly two men the bowling side wanted to see together.

And now a miracle occurred just as Glamorgan needed it.

May played the ball wide of mid-on and ran. It was a poor shot, and went straight up in the air. Bernard Hedges moved quickly to get under it, a sitter if there ever was one. Yet somehow, the fielder managed to drop it. And May, in the bustle of running, missed the vital second when the catch was spilled. Seeing the ball in the grasp of the fieldsman, he carried on running towards the pavilion.

A confused Hedges threw to wicketkeeper Hayden Davies, and Wooller snatched the ball from him.

Unfortunately, May had been batting at the Vauxhall End. If he had made for the pavilion from the other end, he would have been home and dry. But now, he was miles out of his crease. Barrington, who had also not seen the drop, was under the impression that May was out. Else, he had ample time to run to the striker’s end and save the wicket of his captain.

Wooller broke the wicket. The umpires had no choice but to uphold the appeal.

Was it sharp practice? Many of the Surrey members thought so, as did the Oval crowd. However, the home team was 48 for four.

What followed

It did not do the Glamorgan side much good. Barrington hit a fifty and wicketkeeper Arthur McIntyre scored an impeccable 96. Surrey reached 259, which on the Oval track of the day was quite an effort.

And then it was up to the terrible twirling twins, Jim Laker and Tony Lock.

In the first innings Glamorgan did well to get 62. Lock snapped up six, Laker three.  In the second innings the visitors managed just half of that, skittled out for 31. Lock took another six, Laker another three and no one else bowled the second time around.

Wooller, punished fittingly for the disreputable act, got just two and one. But, with these runs he did better than four of his teammates.

Yes, four unfortunate men got pairs. And that included Hugh Davies and Hayden Davies. Billie Davies did somewhat better, scoring one and four.

Brief Scores:

Surrey 259 (Ken Barrington 52, Arthur McIntyre 96) beat Glamorgan 62 (Jim Laker 3 for 10, Tony Lock 6 for 20) and 31 (Jim Laker 3 for 11, Tony Lock 6 for 14) by an innings and 166 runs

(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://twitter.com/senantix)