Stephen Fleming takes 7 catches in a Test to equal world record

After taking seven catches in a Test match, Stephen Fleming (above), joined the company of Greg Chappell, Yajuvendra Singh and Hashan Tillakaratne © Getty Images

On September 19, 1997, Stephen Fleming, the captain of New Zealand, took seven catches — five in the first innings and two in the second, against Zimbabwe at Harare. He equalled the world record for taking most number of catches in a Test match. Sarang Bhalerao looks back at Fleming’s feat which came in a tight draw.
Chris Cairns batted in an uncharacteristic manner in the second innings of the Test match. His strike rate was 29.83, but his unbeaten 71 off 238 balls had engineered a great escape as New Zealand managed to hold on to a hard-fought draw after starring down the barrel for a major part of the Test match.

In the first Test between Zimbabwe and New Zealand at Harare, Grant Flower became the first Zimbabwean to score hundred in each innings. His 104 and 151 was a perfect case study in terms of concentration and class. Another record stood out: it was not a batting or a bowling record in this intriguing match. It was a fielding record where New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming snared seven catches in the game.

In the Zimbabwe first innings, Flower’s 104 powered the home team to 298. Cairns picked up a five-for. Fleming caught Guy Whittall, Flower, Heath Streak, Paul Strang and John Rennie. He thus became the fifth fielder to hold onto five catches in an innings.

List of fielders to hold on to five catches in a Test innings (non-wicketkeepers)

Player Team Against Venue Year
Victor Richardson Australia South Africa Durban 1936
Yajurvendra Singh India England Bangalore 1977
Mohammad Azharuddin India Pakistan Karachi 1989
Krishnamachari Srikkanth India Australia Perth 1992
Stephen Fleming New Zealand Zimbabwe Harare 1997

*Graeme Smith held onto five catches against Australia in a Test innings at WACA in 2012

New Zealand were bowled out for 207 in their first innings courtesy of disciplined bowling performance by the home team. Bryan Strang picked up three wickets and Fleming top-scored with 52. A lead of 91 gave the home team the advantage.

In the second essay, openers Gavin Rennie and Flower put on 156 for the opening wicket which was the country’s highest opening stand.

In the second innings, when Fleming caught Flower, he equalled Bryan Young’s record for holding onto the most number of catches in a Test match for New Zealand. Young had taken six catches against Pakistan at Auckland in 1993.

When Fleming caught his opposite number Alistair Campbell, he had equalled the world record for taking maximum number of catches — seven in the Test match. He joined the company of Greg Chappell, Yajurvendra Singh and Hashan Tillakaratne.

List of fielders taking seven catches in a Test match

Player Team Against Venue Year
Greg Chappell Australia England WACA 1974
Yajurvendra Singh India England Bangalore 1977
Hashan Tillakaratne Sri Lanka New Zealand Colombo 1993
Stephen Fleming New Zealand Zimbabwe Harare 1997

*Matthew Hayden joined the club when he held seven catches against Sri Lanka at Galle in 2004.

Zimbabwe declared their innings at 311 for eight leaving New Zealand to get 403 in the fourth innings. They lost eight wickets for 304 runs with Cairns and Shane O’Connor surviving anxious few moments.

Zimbabwe had come tantalisingly close to register a famous win, but New Zealand managed a remarkable jail-break.

Brief scores:

Zimbabwe 298 (Grant Flower 104; Chris Cairns 5 for 50) and 311 for 9 decl. (Grant Flower 151; Shane O’Connor 3 for 73) drew with New Zealand 207 (Stephan Fleming 52; Bryan Strang 3 for 29) and 304 for 8 decl. (Chris Cairns 71*, Blair Pocock 52, Adam Parore 51; Adam Huckle 3 for 84).

(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)