57 years ago today Jim Laker took all ten second-innings wickets in the 1956 Ashes Test at Old Trafford to bowl himself in to Test Match history.
4th TEST, 26-31 July 1956
England 459 (Sheppard 113, Richardson 104)
Australia 84 (Laker 9-37) & 205 (Laker 10-53)
England won by an innings & 170 runs - [Scorecard]
Watch Jim Laker bowl himself in to Test Match history on You Tube
Fresh from taking 18 wickets at Headingley to level the series, Laker and Lock arrived at Old Trafford to be greeted by one of the strangest pitches produced for a Test Match in Manchester. It later transpired that groundsman Bert Flack had been told not to water the pitch and for it not be given a final cut.
A crowd of 30,000 saw Richardson (104) and Cowdrey put on 174 for the first wicket, and at the end of the first day England were 307-3. Rev. David Sheppard went to make a patient 113 as England piled up 459.
When Australia batted the openers played themselves in until Laker and Lock came on. At tea they were 62-2 and the first ball after tea Burke was caught at slip, the only wicket to fall to Lock.
In just 35 minutes after tea Australia lost their remaining eight wickets for 22 runs in good light, on a warm sunny day. Laker’s first spell had been 0-21 but in 22 balls after the break he took 7-8 to finish with 9-37. At the close of the second day Australia were 53-1.
On the third day storms prevented all but a few minutes play. The fourth day was little better, closing with Australia 84-2.
It looked as if the twice flooded pitch was benign on the final morning, with Australia 112-2 at lunch. Then the sun emerged to bake the surface to a crust. Lock beat Craig repeatedly but as the wicket became devilish, it was Laker who trapped him after four and half defiant hours.
Four wickets went but McDonald stood firm and was still there at tea but, after 337 minutes (of ‘one of the best innings I have seen on a wet wicket’-Cowdrey), he perished in Laker’s leg-trap for 89 and it was virtually all over.
Laker ran through the tail with last man, wicketkeeper Len Maddocks, his 19th and final victim. Two months after taking 10-88 for Surrey against Australia, Laker’s match analysis was 19-90 in 68 overs. No bowler before or since has taken more than 17 wickets in a Test.
That night Jim Laker travelled back to London ready to play the following day for Surrey. He stopped at a pub just outside Litchfield. He watched at the end of the bar as everyone crowded around the T.V to watch the news report of his marvellous feat. He left the pub unrecognised.
Picture: England's Jim Laker traps Australia's Ian Craig lbw for 38 (S&G/S&G and Barratts/EMPICS Sport)