What’s glove got to do with it?

Unusual dismissals.


I don’t mean a telling off by your boss that leads to a date in small-claims court. I mean those rare moments in history when a batsman has been sent walking in a rather rogue manner.

There are 10 ways to be dismissed in cricket (11 if you include “retired out”).

There have been 2,235 Tests matches in history to date, meaning that there has been the opportunity for 89,400 wickets to have fallen in Tests.

How many wickets have fallen in the “unusual dismissals” category?


Of those 10, Mahela Jayawardene and Marvan Atapattu were both declared “retired out” against Bangladesh in September 2001, while Sir Len Hutton was triggered in August 1951 for “obstructing the field”.

But the other seven all fall into the same category – the most usual of the unusual dismissals – “handling the ball”.

Among the seven batsmen to have been guilty of unwanted gloving are some of Test cricket’s most illustrious run-getters – and Test captains to boot (or should that be to glove?).

The men unlucky in glove (in chronological order)

1 Russell Endean The wicketkeeper whom Hutton obstructed during the aforementioned unusual dismissal

2 Andrew Hilditch Australian national selector during their dominant period in the late 90s and early 00s

3 Mohsin Khan Once scored 101* out of a team total of 135-1, and was the first Pakistani to score a double-century at Lord’s

4 Desmond Haynes Only player in Tests to have carried his bat three times, two of which were with individual scores of less than 100

5 Graham Gooch Holds the record for most runs scored in a Test when he hit 333 and 123 against India

6 Steve Waugh Took 92 wickets at 37.44 in Tests, and is a joint-holder of the record for most 90s in Tests (10 with Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar)

7 Michael Vaughan Twice dismissed in the 190s, with only Mohammad Yousuf having been dismissed thrice just short of 200

What compelled these adroit artisans to ignore the willow and manually stop the ball from heading towards their stumps? Did they learn from their mistake and become a run-scoring great as a result of the incident? Why have no tailenders handled the ball?

William Rudd has the story (if there is one).

No-one who has ever been dismissed “handled the ball” has been lower than five in the batting order.

This suggests that it is the preserve of good batsmen and the averages back this up – the “average career average” (hereby known as the ACA) of all “handled the ball” victims is 40.34.

At the time of their unusual dismissal (hereby known as their AWH – “average when handling”), their combined average was 38.69.

Here are the batsmen’s averages listed in chronological order from left to right.Those who handled the ball early in their careers tended to see their averages rise, whereas those who handled the ball late in their careers saw their averages fall. Coincidence? No?

To get to an ACA of 40.34, this suggests that the unusual dismissal helped improve their performance. This is especially true if the dismissal happened early in their career, enabling lessons to be learnt.

An example of youthful handling is Michael Vaughan who handled the ball 16% of the way through his test career.

His average at the time was 33.95 and this increased to 41.44 over the next eight years, becoming captain soon after the incident.

Could it be that this learning experience inspired the 2005 Ashes win? Probably not, but hey, numbers.

The Australia captain prior to the 2005 Ashes who had lorded over England for years was Steve Waugh – another ball-handler.

Name Total Tests Test of handling % of tests played AWH ACA Growth in Ave
Endean 28 20 71% 38.18 33.95 -11%
Hilditch 34 3 9% 23.16 33.95 47%
Khan 48 14 29% 43.18 37.10 -14%
Haynes 116 33 28% 37.76 42.29 12%
Gooch 118 102 86% 43.67 42.58 -2%
Waugh 168 135 80% 50.93 51.06 0%
Vaughan 82 13 16% 33.95 41.44 22%

In short, don’t handle the ball.

William Rudd is an accountant. 


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