Cricket at Old Blighty: Top five bowling spells witnessed in Manchester across formats
The Old Trafford stadium, situated to the south of Manchester's city centre, has been hosting fierce cricket contests for generations now. The third home of Lancashire County Cricket Club, the stadium is often confused with its name double, the other Old Trafford which is more famous these days - as the home of soccer giants Manchester United.
Cricket was first played in the ground in the 1850s with the LCCC playing its home games of the season there. International Test cricket came to the venue in 1884, and since then, the stadium has had its rich share of history. Ever-famous for the records that we have seen springing from the pitch here, such as the 254 runs that came off Joe Root's bat in 2016, and the ten-wicket haul of Jim Laker in a single innings against Australia, back in 1956.
Australia were the victims again in 1981 when Ian Botham lit up a dreary and dull day by clearing Dennis Lillee to the ropes over and over again, and in 1995 Dominic Cork made sure that anyone having a lazy day were shaken violently with that hat-trick against Windies right at the start of a game. In 1999, over 22,000 watched Pakistan against India in the World Cup in the same venue as Tendulkar put up a virtuoso performance against the eventual runners-up.
Despite being one of the oldest cricketing venues around, the stadium still continues to host games, as it would do so once again on July 3rd, as India face off hosts England as part of a 3-match T20I series. The game at Old Trafford will be the opener in a two-month long bilateral series that covers all formats of the game.
Before we go at it, let us take a look at some of the best bowling spells that the "Old Blighty" has ever witnessed.
#1. J.C. Laker, 9/37 and 10/53 against Australia, 31 July 1956
Nearly sixty-two years ago, one of Test cricket's greatest individual achievements was completed. On 31st July 1956, the England off-spinner Jim Laker walked off the Old Trafford having taken all of the ten wickets that fell in the fourth innings.
In the second innings, he had taken all but one wicket, thereby ending the game with nineteen out of the possible twenty wickets! It is still the record not only in Test matches but also in first-class cricket.
To this day, no one has been able to repeat the feat, as Jim Laker stands super-tall in the list of best bowling figures across an entire game. Courtesy of Jim's efforts, England won the game by an innings and 170 runs, and who else could have been the man of the match.
In the second innings, Jim's figures read 16.4 - 4 - 37 - 9, while in the fourth it was 51.2 - 23 - 53 -10, which becomes 68 - 27 - 90 - 19. Let the enormity of those bowling figures sink in.