Bannister's a Top Ten Hit for the Bears; Fifty Years Ago This Week Jack Bannister, Playing for Warwickshire against Combined Serviced at the M& B Ground in Birmingham, Bowled Himself on to One of Cricket's Most Prestigious Lists. to This Day Only Three Bears - Bannister, Harry Howell and Eric Hollies - Are on That List: The Roll of Honour of Bowlers to Have Lodged an 'All-Ten' in First-Class Cricket. Brian Halford Reports
Byline: Brian Halford
"Gupte again baffles dark Blues" was the main headline on the back page of The Birmingham Post on May 29, 1959, above a story detailing the India spinbowler's success against Oxford University.
"Britain Davis Cup side to meet Chile" was next in precedence. Then, for some reason, "Dog saves girl trapped in river", a tale of canine heroism in Kenya, had found its way on to a sports page.
Cricket-lovers had to look hard to find, tucked halfway down, "Bannister takes all ten Services wickets." The sub-editor laying out that page was either a close friend of Mr Gupte, in a big hurry or possessed a highly tenuous grasp of cricket history. For Warwickshire seamer Jack Bannister had just become only the 33rd bowler - and the third for the Bears - to take all ten wickets in an innings in first-class cricket.
May 28, 1959 was the second day of
Warwickshire's three-day friendly against Combined Services at the M& B ground in Birmingham. The Bears dominated the opening day, declaring on 328 for four after Jim Stewart smashed the fastest century of the season, 151, supported by Ray Hitchcock's 60 and 58 from skipper MJK Smith.
By the close, the Combined Services were 64 for seven and history was in the making. Bannister had taken all seven.
While the Services bowlers summoned little from the wicket, Bannister obtained sharp lift and, assisted by sharp catching from his colleagues, made short work of the top and middle and orders.
So Bannister woke up next morning three wickets from a place forever in the record books. Could he complete the job? He could - with a little help from some friends.
"It was a wet wicket, right up my street," he recalls. "I had taken seven overnight but the footholds had gone. You could hardly stand up in them.
"But I knew the groundsman, Ray Weston, from when I played for Combined Services and I had a word and he put some new sods in for me. Strictly speaking it was against the rules but Dai Davies, who was umpiring at my end, let it go and the opposition didn't mind.
"It was a big help but I knew that, even with the new sods, the footholds wouldn't last long." With no time to waste, Bannister duly struck with the second ball of the day, John Fawkes lifting the ball to Billy Ibadulla in the leg trap. Pat Phelan counterattacked but then edged a drive and wicket-keeper John Fox fumbled then clung on to the catch. It was Bannister's 500th first-class wicket. Would his 501st bring cricket immortality? One wicket needed. One tail-ender.
Either number ten Doug Meaken or number 11 Rodney Pratt. …