Part of our ‘Short Stuff’ series with short stories and facts about the cider county!
It is Tuesday 10th June 2014 and Sussex are batting against Somerset at Taunton. Having scored 214 in their first innings the south coast club are looking comfortable at 33 for 0 after the home team had struck 289 to give themselves a lead of 75. What happened next would be remembered by those at the game for some time as Sussex lost five wickets in ten balls with no runs scored.
In the sixth over of day Alfonso Thomas dismissed nightwatchman James Anyon, Rory Hamilton-Brown and Ed Joyce to finish the over. With the first ball of his next over he snared Matt Machan to become the first Somerset bowler to take four wickets in four balls in first class Cricket, and the first to achieve the feat at Taunton.
In between Peter Trego bowled a wicket maiden to claim the wicket of Chris Nash.
Claiming a double hat-trick (as four in four is sometimes known) in English cricket is incredibly rare and Alfi was the first man to do this since 2000, when Gary Butcher of Surrey destroyed Derbyshire. You would need to go back to 1972 for the previous occasion again when another Surrey player, Pat Pocock, also put Sussex to the sword at Eastbourne on the way to claiming an amazing five wickets in six balls, and then went onto to get seven wickets in eleven.
Alfonso’s amazing spell was only the 14th time that four in four had been achieved. The first was by Nottinghamshire’s Frank Shacklock against Somerset in 1893. In fact the cider county were on the wrong end of this incredible achievement in three of the first four occasions; in 1905 in Manchester when Walter Brearley became the third player to do this and again in 1907 when Somerset’s nemesis Albert Trott of Middlesex became the fourth player to make his way into the record books.
The first two occasions were achieved at Nottingham, the second being from Lancashire’s Arthur Mold in 1895. This is the joint most on a single ground with Derby also playing host to two occasions.
Somerset do not hold the record of being on the receiving end of the four in four most times. Sussex match Somerset’s three but Derbyshire have been dealt the blow on four occasions, most recently at Folkestone in 1951.
Surrey have the record for most bowlers getting four in four on four occasions, including two of the last three. Lancashire are second on three with Middlesex and Nottinghamshire two apiece.
No player has achieved the feat twice in English first class cricket. The only bowler to take four wickets in four consecutive balls in international cricket was Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga versus South Africa in March 2007.
The scorecard for Somerset v Sussex is here.
See Alfonso’s magnificent achievement via this link