For all those enthusiasts - especially the ones who played some sort of cricket in their life, either for school, college, or club, this is especially relevant - the latest column of my colleague and friend Martin Williamson, on Cricinfo is a must read.
Martin's dug deep into various libraries and picked out some startling things to write about, but this one takes the cake. He writes about the 1990 New Zealand domestic match between Canterbury and Wellington where a captain instructed a bowler to deliberately bowl enough no-balls to give away as many as 77 runs in one over. There are ways and ways to make a mockery of the game - Stephen Fleming once engineered a game in the VB Series to come up against the right opponents in the final, and I wrote about that here - but this doesn't just take the cake, it begs you to suck the cherry and lick the icing. Just read what Williamson writes:
Although when the penultimate over started Canterbury were eight wickets down, Germon, their wicketkeeper and no dunce with the bat, was still in and on strike. Morrison and Erve McSweeney, Wellington's captain-wicketkeeper, hatched a plan and Bert Vance, the New Zealand batsman who nearing the end of his career and so had no bowling figures of any note to worry about, agreed to help them.
The idea was to feed Canterbury enough runs so that they would get close enough to the target and then perhaps risk their last two wickets going for glory. They began the over on 196 for 8 with Germon 75 not out.
Give away runs in a first-class match? For free? This is what cricketers are made of? These are the people fans worship, chatting endlessly over beer or coffee, about domestic cricket?
I don't know about you, but some of us would give a hell of a lot (Not an arm, but one missing little-finger may be manageable) just to have been able to play one first-class match. And to think in New Zealand people bite the hand that feeds them, and we don't care. At least now we've been reminded about how low people can stoop, with no concerns to the sanctity of the first-class run or wicket.