August 15, 1893 – The first-ever wicketkeeper's hat-trick in first-class cricket

The lesser-known hat-trick in cricket is wicketkeeper’s hat-trick which is recorded when a keeper takes a catch or effects a stumping in three consecutive deliveries.

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College Ground, Cheltenham
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The College Ground in Cheltenham, England. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

The term hat-trick is commonly used when a bowler claims three wickets on three consecutive deliveries and sometimes when a team picks three in three is referred to team’s hat-trick though not usually included as a record. The lesser-known hat-trick in cricket is wicketkeeper’s hat-trick which is recorded when a keeper takes a catch or effects a stumping in three consecutive deliveries. The first such hat-trick was recorded more than 100 years after the origin of first-class cricket.

The format kicked off in 1777 but first hat-trick by a bowler was recorded in 1840. As the number of matches played in the format increased, the appearance of bowling hat-tricks also improved. A total of five hat-tricks were witnessed in the 1868 season in England. However, the 1893 County Championship witnessed a hat-trick that turned out to be a path-breaker in the history of first-class cricket.

Somerset toured Cheltenham to face Gloucestershire in the 3-day fixture part of the county championship. The visiting team were bundled out for 197 after electing to bat first as William Murch and Frederick Roberts took four wickets apiece. Later, a five-wicket haul by Edwin Tyler kept the home team down to 166 as Somerset took a 31-run first innings lead. Gloucestershire were cruising at 140/5 before Tyler took four of the last five wickets to fall.

Somerset increased the command on the game as they were 270/7 into the last over of the 2nd day with their lead already crossing 300. At the point, the home team’s leg-spinner Charles Townsend ensured he closed Somerset’s 2nd innings on the same day. He stumped Arthur Newton on the 3rd ball of the 74th over (5-ball overs) before he dismissed George Nicholas and Tyler in similar fashion on the next two deliveries.

Charles Lucas Townsend
Charles Lucas Townsend. (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)

Thus, Townsend completed a hat-trick to bowl Somerset out for 270 and his team was up to chase 302 on the final day. William Sam Brain, the Gloucestershire wicketkeeper, was the man who effected stumpings on three consecutive deliveries. Thus, Brian became the first keeper in the history of first-class cricket to take a catch or effect a stumping with three consecutive deliveries. He is also till date the only wicketkeeper to effect stumpings on three deliveries straight in the history of first-class cricket.

Khershed Meherhomji in 1931, George Dawkes in 1958, Jack Russell in 1986 and Tony Frost in 2003 are some other known instances when the wicketkeeper’s recorded a hat-trick. Interestingly, all these four hat-tricks were completed with catches. There are a couple of instances where wicketkeepers rolled their arms to take hat-tricks in the first-class cricket. Bengal’s Probir Sen and in 1954/55 and Warwickshire’s Alan Smith in 1965 have taken hat-tricks while playing as keepers.

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