Hattricks don’t happen often on a cricket field. But taking 4 wickets in 4 balls is even rare. Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga is the only bowler ever to pick up 4 in 4 not once but twice. There aren’t too many instances of bowlers achieving this feat. Interestingly, out of all the instances of 4 wickets in 4 balls, two took place in the same county season in England in 1996.
The first one happened at the start of the season on April 26. The great South African all-rounder Shaun Pollock was making his debut in the Benson & Hedges ODI series for Warwickshire at Edgbaston against Leicestershire. He picked up his first wicket in the form of Vince Wells in his second over when the latter miscued a pull shot.
But the real fun was yet to happen. In Pollock’s fourth over, Greg Macmillan was out caught behind off a peach of a delivery. The South African then got the opposition captain James Whitaker bowled off the very next ball; the latter had no clue about that one. Phil Robinson, the next man, was caught at forward short leg, like those test dismissals. The next batter, Darren Maddy, was caught in slips.
The commentators and the spectators were amazed. The same was the case with me as I was watching the match at my aunt’s place. Another reason why I can’t forget this match is that this was my first county match. Funnily, I didn’t know it’s called a county match and in which part of the world it was being played. I was watching just because it was cricket!
Leicestershire somehow recovered by finishing at 182 for 9 but Warwickshire won the match comfortably by 7 wickets (see the scorecard HERE).
The second instance, that happened in the same season, is even more legendary. India were on the tour to England in the same 1996 season. After the second test, they had a practice match against Hampshire on July 1. Before the start of the match, Kevan James wouldn’t have known that this was going to be the biggest day of his life and one of the most memorable days in the history of the game.
It appeared like one of those easy warm up games for the tourists when their openers Ajay Jadeja and Vikram Rathour were cruising at 192 for no loss. But the left-arm medium fast bowler Kevan had other plans. He first got Jadeja bowled. Soon enough in his later over, he got Rathor stumped. The great Sachin Tendulkar was trapped the very next ball as he was caught at short leg. The buddying talent Rahul Dravid was out LBW the next ball, which gave Kevan his hattrick.
There was more to come. Sanjay Manjrekar, the next batter, chased a wide delivery the very next ball and was caught in the slips by Paul Terry. Neither Kevan nor others could believe what they witnessed.
Kevan would have already felt that his day couldn’t have got better than this. But he was in for more greatness. When Hampshire went into bat, the left-hander came in at number 4 and went onto score a hundred. This remains the only instance in the history of cricket of a player to taking 4 wickets in 4 balls and also scoring a 100 in the same match!
The match ended in a draw (see the scorecard HERE) but the crowd that had come in witnessed something extraordinary that hasn’t happened even 27 years later. And they are the only ones to have witnessed this as the match wasn’t telecast and, hence, there is no video available.
Kevan James’ herculean effort didn’t get him a place in the England side though. He was 35 when this match took place, so age was clearly not on his side.