On 23 September 2016, I was honoured to witness live Toby Roland-Jones taking a hat-trick for Middlesex, sealing the County Championship for my beloved county – naturally I Ogblogged about it – here…
…but that wasn’t the first time I had witnessed a hat-trick live. Indeed, it wasn’t the first time that month, September 2016, that I had witnessed a hat-trick live – I saw Middlesex on the wrong side of one at Trent Bridge, Nottinghamshire – Ogblogged about here – just 17 days before the day of glory…
…but that Trent Bridge one wasn’t the first hat-trick I had witnessed live, although it was the first professional one.
The first hat-trick I witnessed live (and the last one for more than 40 years) was, remarkably, my own.
I don’t have many glorious feats of cricket to report. Let’s be honest about it; I’m not much good at playing cricket. I love it, but I’ve never been much use at it. But on 9 July 1975, the last match of 2AK’s trophy-winning season, I reported with little ceremony in my diary the following:
The irony of having watched The Ascent Of Man after such an auspicious sporting achievement is not wasted on me.
I remember the hat-trick remarkably well. I am pretty sure we were playing up on Alleyn’s top fields – not the very top one but the large, “lower top field”. That was mostly used as the second eleven pitch, but for the juniors I recall that field was divided in two, with a couple of strategically located mini-squares, so all four classes could play at the same time.
I can’t remember the name of the master who was umpiring. I do remember that my first wicket was a clean bowled and the second was a caught and bowled. The master and I then had the following conversation:
“Do you realise that you are on a hat-trick, Mr Harris?”
“What are you proposing to do about it?”
“I’m going to try and bowl the same ball again, Sir.”
Which I did.
The “same ball” being pretty much my only ball. A moon ball, ludicrously slow, with an attempt at spin on it; probably a bit of top spin but nothing else in its favour other than being straight.
You see, I was very keen, so I used to practice bowling in the back drive against the garage door for ages. I didn’t get much better at bowling, but I was usually at least able to bowl the ball straight in those days.
In my memory (undoubtedly a falsy) the master was rolling on the floor laughing when I took the third wicket in three balls. I’m sure he really did laugh, anyway.
9 July 1975, a truly memorable date in (my personal) cricket history. The ill-fated 1975 Ashes series started the very next day; I don’t think this fact is even faintly relevant to my story, but I wanted to write it nonetheless. I can write what I like on Ogblog.
A lot of very good bowlers have played an awful lot of cricket without ever taking a hat-trick. I know that I’m not and wasn’t ever a good bowler. My hat-trick was at a very elementary level and only has significant meaning to me. But it is a memory I have carried with me all my days since and I shall continue to cherish that memory until I am gaga and/or dead.
I wonder who the hat-trick victim was? That much has slipped my mind completely. His too, almost certainly.