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June 4, 1957 – A marathon stand that helped England save the Test

The series started with the Test match at Birmingham which was marked to be the first at the venue in 28 years.

England 1957
England team. (Photo by Getty Images)

West Indies toured England in the year 1957 for a 5-match Test series having won the series 3-1 during their last tour in 1950. During that 1950 tour, the Caribbean team was one down in the series before bouncing back with the help of the spin twins Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine.

The pair shared 59 wickets between them and was a threat to the hosts in their 2nd tour of England. The series started with the Test match at Birmingham which was marked to be the first at the venue in 28 years. England elected to bat first on winning the toss only to face the wrath of Ramadhin on the very first day of the series. The off-spinner recorded his best bowling figures of 7/49 in the first innings as the hosts were diminished to 186.

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Windies responded strongly with the bat bagging a near 300-run first innings lead. Collie Smith knocked 161 during his 341-minute stay and shared a 190-run 6th wicket partnership with Sir Frank Worrell (81) fifties for Sir Clyde Walcott (90) and Sir Garry Sobers saw the visitors finish with 474/10.

The origin of a marathon:

Peter May
Peter May. (Photo by Getty Images)

England were 102/2 in their 2nd innings another 176 runs behind Windies’ total by end of the 3rd day. Windies resumed on Monday after a rest day with an early wicket which turned out to be their only success for a while. The England skipper Peter May and Colin Cowdrey scripted an unbeaten 265-run stand for the 4th wicket on the 4th day as the hosts finished the day on 378/3. May completed his double century while Cowdrey struck 154 before Collie Smith broke the stand.

The pair batted out 520 minutes for the 411-run partnership which is the only 400-run stand for England in Test cricket till date. Peter May declared the innings on 583/4 while he was unbeaten on 285 after a 600-minute stay at the crease. The visitors clearly missed the services of Alf Valentine as the debutant Roy Gilchrist wasn’t effective on a flat track. They walked out to bat their 2nd innings in the 2nd half of the final day and the target was 296.

English cricketers Peter May (1929 - 1984) and Colin Cowdrey (1932 - 2000)
English cricketers Peter May and Colin Cowdrey. (Photo by Getty Images)

Fred Trueman dismissed the openers early to keep the hopes of a win alive. Spinners Jim Laker and Tony Lock bowled 51 overs between them for five wickets to reduce West Indies to 68/7. However, the visiting team’s captain John Goddard batted 40 balls without scoring to ensure the game ended in a draw. The partnership and the comeback gave the hosts physiological advantage as they won the series 3-0 as West Indies lost by an innings margin on all the three occasions.

Records that came along:

Though ball by ball data is not available for those matches, the Cowdrey and May stand that lasted 1146 balls is the 2nd biggest in terms of balls faced. The 387-run opening stand between New Zealand’s Glenn Turner and Terry Jarvis in 1972 Georgetown Test was the biggest according to estimations as the pair broke Cowdery-May’s record by batting for 1152 balls. Sonny Ramadhin bowled 98 overs during England’s innings which is the most by any bowler in a Test inning.

Scorecard
Scorecard of England’s 2nd innings. (Photo by Getty Images)

The 588 balls he bowled are also the joint-most in a first-class innings along with Arshad Ayub who took 5/203 for Hyderabad against Madhya Pradesh in the 1991/92 Ranji Trophy Pre-Quarters. The 129 overs Ramadhin bowled in the game are also the most by any bowler in a Test match.

His partner Denis Atkinson bowled 72 overs without picking a wicket during the 2nd innings. Atkinson is one of the two bowlers till date who has bowled 50+ overs in a Test innings without taking a wicket. Nicky Boje bowled 65 overs without success during the marathon stand between Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara in 2006.

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