Record Book – The fastest pair in Test history

  Pakistan’s first tour of England in 1954 was a momentous one. The visitors, led by Abdul Hafeez Kardar, became the first and only nation to win a Test on their first tour of England.

  This series-levelling win by 24 runs came in the final Test of the four-match series at the Oval, and was engineered by the legendary fast bowler Fazal Mahmood (6/53 and 6/46).

  However before that historic victory, the Test series was not exactly smooth sailing for the Pakistanis. The weather undoubtedly rescued them in the first and third Tests at Lord’s and Old Trafford respectively, while in the second Test at Trent Bridge, they were walloped by an innings and 129 runs.

  In that second Test, an off-spinning all-rounder named Mohammed Ebrahim Zainuddin ‘Ebbu’ Ghazali made his debut for Pakistan. Born in 1924 in erstwhile Bombay of pre-independence India, he was a decent performer for Maharashtra before partition and later for the Combined Services (Pakistan) in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.

  He also played for the Muslims in the Quadrangular tournament. He did precious little on his Test debut – batting at number eight (making 18 and 14) and did not bowl a single ball. Nevertheless, he was retained for the next Test at Old Trafford.

  In the rain-hit Test, England batted their way to a position of strength by scoring 359/8 (Ghazali wicket-less in his eight overs) in their first innings, built around a stylish 93 from the great Dennis Compton. The entire second day was washed out, and to Pakistan’s misfortune, they got the worst of conditions to bat in on the third day.

  Not surprisingly, they were skittled out for 90 in their first innings in spite of Hanif Mohammed’s assured start at the top. The last nine wickets fell for just 32 runs. The fifth wicket, at the score of 66, was that of Ghazali, who came in at number six.

  Ghazali was dismissed for a one-minute duck, caught by England’s captain David Sheppard off the slow left-arm bowling of Johnny Wardle (4/19). Leading by 269 and with the conditions still quite treacherous for batting, Sheppard had no hesitation in sending the Pakistanis in again.  

muhammad ghazali copy new      Pakistan’s Mohammed Ghazali, owner of the record for the fastest pair in Test history (source – expiredcricketer.blogspot.com)

  The second innings started off dreadfully. Fast bowler Alec Bedser, sharing the new-ball with Wardle, severely dented the top-order and the score slipped to 10/4. The fourth wicket to fall was that of the unfortunate Ghazali (batting at number five), this time caught by Wardle off Bedser, again for a one-minute duck.

  While there had been previous instances of batsmen being dismissed for a pair on the same day of a Test, none of them had been this quick. Till date, Ghazali holds the undesirable record of the fastest pair in Test history.

  The time between his arrival at the crease in the first innings and his dismissal in the second innings being a mere 120 minutes, i.e two hours. Pakistan were 25/4 when rain intervened again and the last two days were completely washed out. This was to be Ghazali’s last Test appearance, thus consigning his Test career to just two matches and a piece of trivia.

  Since then, Australia’s celebrated left-handed batsman Neil Harvey came perilously close to ‘surpassing’ the record, when he clocked 124 minutes between his innings against England on the second day at the same venue in 1956, a match forever associated with Jim Laker’s perfect ten.

  In these cases, it needs to be noted that the time during a lunch or a tea interval is taken into account while calculating the number of minutes. In as recently as 2011-12, Zimbabwe’s opener Hamilton Masakadza recorded a pair on the third day against New Zealand at Napier, and had it not been for the lunch break between his two innings, the record might have had changed hands – though one cannot be too sure.

  For the record, the fastest pair in all first-class cricket was achieved by Peter Judge of Glamorgan, who was astonishingly dismissed twice within two minutes – both times getting bowled by Chandu Sarwate – against the Indians at the Cardiff Arms Park in 1946.

  Judge was last man out in Glamorgan’s first innings and then, after Glamorgan captain Johnny Clay decided not only to reshuffle his batting order but also to do away with the between-innings break, was dismissed off the first ball of the second innings. The game ended in a draw.

  Ghazali played first-class cricket till 1955, following which he involved himself in cricket administration. He was the manager of the Pakistan team that toured Australia in 1972-73. He also made his name as a wing commander in the Pakistan Air Force.

  In 47 first-class appearances from 1942 to 1955, he scored 1701 runs at 27.43 and took 61 wickets at 34.27. Some of his best performances came towards the end of his career – his highest score of 160 was attained against Karachi in 1953-54, while his best bowling innings figures of 5/28 were recorded against Punjab at Lahore in 1954-55. He passed away in 2003.

  As mentioned above, Pakistan, after the lucky escape at Old Trafford, went on to create history with a win in the final Test at the Oval which helped them draw the series.

  The omission of Ghazali was one of the two changes made for that Test and due to his two-hour pair at Old Trafford, he was destined not to be part of one of Pakistan’s finest Test victories.

Match Scorecard

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