31st July 1956 was a day like no other. A day that created history. A day that witnessed “Once in a lifetime” event. Jim Laker made the Australians dance to his tune. He became the first bowler in test history to grab all 10 wickets in a innings following up his 9 in the first. He finished with match figures of 19/90. Except Laker, no other bowler has picked more than 17 wickets in a first class game.
It was the 4th test of Ashes 1956 at Old Trafford. England captain Peter May won the toss and opted to bat first. Centuries from Peter Richardson and David Shepphard and a sublime 80 from Colin Cowdrey helped England put 459 runs on the board, setting the match up for Jim Laker. Laker bundled out the Australian batting line up cheaply for 84, finishing with 9/37 enforcing them follow on. Then in the second innings he picked up all 10 as England won by a thumping margin of innings and 170 runs.
Laker was the second bowler in first class cricket to claim all 10 wickets vs Australians, the first being Ted Barratt in 1878. 43 years later, Anil Kumble emulated Laker”s record of 10 wickets in an innings vs Pakistan.
Old Trafford has witnessed two of the best spin bowling performances in history of cricket in last century, Laker”s 19/90 and Warne”s “Ball of the century” in 1994.
Records are meant to be broken, but there is high degree of uncertainty whether anyone will break Laker”s record of 19 wickets in a match. If that has to happen it is going to take something vert very special indeed!!!
– by Atharva Apte