Today, we’ll talk about Jim Laker’s 10 wickets from an innings, a record which can only be equaled, not broken. Laker’s achievement is something we talk about even after more than 6 decades to it. Yes, he took all 10 in 1956, a world record then and forever since. Only, that he has it jointly with Anil Kumble. So, let’s have a relook into his career and what all transpired before Jim Laker’s 10 wickets in Manchester.
Jim Laker was an off-break bowler of England who took 19 wickets in a Test against Australia in 1956 at Old Trafford, Manchester in a home series. Out of these, 10 wickets he took in an innings and was for decades, the only bowler to do so. Born in 1922, this off-spinner debuted for England in 1948 and went on to play 46 test for his country for next 11 years.
First Instance of Jim Laker’s 10 wickets
In the summers of 1956, Australia came to England for the Ashes, and this changed all in Jim Laker’s career and got him what his career required, a reckoning. And that came on May 16, thanks to his Surrey Skipper Stuart Surridge. On May 16 Surrey was playing against Australia, as a part of the warm up/tour matches, at The Oval, London.
Laker had asked his Skipper to be excluded for the game, as he wasn’t in the best frame of mind after watching over his ailing daughter overnight. But Surridge disagreed and made him play the game. And it brought what was needed for an otherwise dull career of the offie. Jim Laker took 10/88 in an innings to inspire his inclusion into the national team.
The Ashes 1956
In 1956, when Laker came out with this stupendous achievement, he wasn’t new to the team. He had already played 24 tests for the England Team in 8 years. Cricket wasn’t that frequent in that era. While he had taken 7 wickets in his debut innings in 1948, he hadn’t had that achievement filled career for next 8 years. In between these years, he was in and out of the team as well.
Laker’s impact in the series can be understood from the fact that he not only took 46 wickets from the 5-match series, the second best by a spinner was 15 wicket. Australia lost 88 wickets in the series and 46 went on Laker’s spin. Such was his impact.
In the first match, Jim Laker took 6 wickets, while in the second he took 3, all from the match. These bowling spells looked ordinary, but then came the third match which got him into rhythm. He took two 5 & 6 from the two innings in the third test before entering into the record making fourth test.
4th Test- Jim Laker’s 10 Wickets
The fourth test between Australia and England at Old Trafford was a repetition of what the bowler showed in The Oval, even bettered his two months old bowling feat against the touring side. England won the toss to decide the first use of the pitch. They scored 459 in the innings with Peter Richardson & David Sheppard scored centuries while Skipper Ian Johnson took four wickets for the tourists. History was to unfold in the test which would see Jim Laker’s 10 Wickets in the third innings.
Star studded Australia came into bat, only to collapse like a pack of cards, to be bowled out for 84 with Jim Laker taking 9 out of 10. Tony Lock locked the remaining one wicket. Jim Laker’s figures were 16.4-4-37-9. Such was the accuracy that four of these nine wickets were onto stumps.
And then came the second innings and Jim Laker’s 10 Wickets. Jim Laker figures were 51.2-23-53-10 as Australia were bowled out for 205. Jim Laker’s 10 Wickets from the innings were his second such feat from all cricket, first in international cricket.
Two world records were made in this test match: 10 out of 10 wickets in an innings, and 19 out of 20 wickets in a Test.
Kumble equals Jim Laker’s 10 wickets feat
This record is relevant even today coz there can’t be a bowler with 11 wickets from an innings. Indian Leg Spinner Anil Kumble, however, equaled his “innings” feat in 1999 against the arch-rivals Pakistan. Pakistan were playing a two-match Test Series in India.
India had won the toss and batted first at Arun Jaitley Stadium (then Feroz Shah Kotla Ground), New Delhi in February 1999. They scored 252 from their first innings with Sadagopan Ramesh top-scoring with 60. Saqlain Mushtaq took 5/94.
Pakistan responded with 172 with Kumble taking 4. India scored 339 in their second innings with Ramesh scoring 96. Saqlain took 5/122. Pakistan, in response, were bowled out for 207 with Anil Kumble taking 10/74. The bowling figures read 26.3-9-74-10 as the Indian Legend had equaled Jim Laker’s 10 wickets feat.
This was the story of Jim Laker’s 10 wickets feat and of Kumble equaling the wicket numbers.