This month, we’re celebrating cricket. It’s not like there’s a season in India that goes without celebrating the sport, but something about the World Cup every fourth year takes the cricket fever several temperatures higher. And it’s not like this year’s tournament has been disappointing for us. Our men’s cricket team recorded the fifth and one of the most difficult wins against New Zealand on Sunday. We’re crowning the World Cup table at present, desperately hoping the winning streak continues till India lifts the much-coveted trophy.
In the match prior to New Zealand’s, India defeated Bangladesh by seven wickets, and the chase master Virat Kohli recorded his 48th ODI century. In that match, Kohli also scored 14 runs off one ball right at the beginning of his innings. The scene became one of the many epic highlights of the match, and then, one thing led to another, and we stumbled upon this fantastical cricket legend.
Do you know that centuries before Kohli struck his magnanimous 14, somebody recorded 286 runs on a single ball? Well, at least that’s how the legend goes.
14 runs In 1 ball!— Johny Bava (@johnybava) October 19, 2023
Virat Kohli punished Bangladesh star Hasan Mahmud as the pacer crossed the bowling crease twice. In the first no-ball, Kohli took a double, while the free-hit in which Kohli hit a four, was a no-ball too. On the next free-hit, Kohli hit a superb six down the… pic.twitter.com/4Zj5R5W5zH
In the late nineteenth century, Pall Mall Gazette, a former evening newspaper in London, reported a unique cricket story in its ‘Sporting Notes and News’ section. The story was about a match played out in Bunbury, Australia, between ‘Victoria and a scratch XI from the neighbourhood.’
No sooner had the first ball been bowled than the opener sent it straight soaring in the air until it got tangled in the branches of a tall jarrah tree.
The neighbourhood team appealed a lost ball, but the umpire declared it wasn’t lost, given it was visible and in sight. The Victorians carried on with the running between the wickets whilst the Australian team sent for an axe to chop down the tree. Somebody even brought a rifle to dislocate the ball. Several missed shots and 286 runs later, the ball came down, but it was too late. The Victorians declared their innings and won the match with one hit.
As fantastical as it appears, it’s unlikely that it’s true. While the story has been narrated multiple times and has attained the status of being a legend, there isn’t substantial evidence to corroborate it.
Writing about this cricket legend, Michael Jones, in 2013, noted in ESPNcricinfo, “The story of the hit for 286 has been repeated countless times over the years, and is probably the most popular answer when the question of most runs off one ball comes up on internet forums, but appears to be nothing more than an invention of the Pall Mall Gazette.”
True or not, it surely makes for one hell of a story.