Majid Khan joined the ranks of the great hitters to smash 13 sixes in county cricket at Swansea in 1967. There is no doubt that nothing in cricket gives more delight to the spectator than the high-flying sixes.
‘Yet even from the pedant, what a deep ecstatic sigh When the batsman jumps to meet one and a sixer climbs the sky.’
There was a time when every county side had at least one batsman whose entry was hailed with the joyful prospect of sixes galore. These are now scarce, but once in a while, there comes a glorious splurge of six-hitting that lights up the whole world of cricket. A truly memorable exhibition was given at St. Helen’s Ground, Swansea, on Tuesday, August 8, 1967, by Majid Khan, the twenty-year-old Pakistan batsman. The son of Dr. M. Jehangir Khan, who played for India and Cambridge University in the 1930s, had already scored three attractive centuries since his arrival in England at the end of June; now came his fourth.
This was the situation. After two days’ play, Glamorgan and Pakistan were more or less level on scores, and runs were needed quickly to give any hope of a decision. With the Pakistan second innings score at 102 for two and the clock at one minute past twelve, Majid came into bat, and 89 minutes later, at the lunch interval, the total was 324 for three, and Majid’s score was 147*. In company with Saeed Ahmed (72*), he added no less than 215 for the fourth wicket in 85 minutes.
Majid Khan reached his fifty out of 73 in 39 minutes, his century in 61 minutes, and then added 47 in another 28 minutes. He had hit thirteen sixes and ten fours. These sixes included a hit off Shepherd to the top of the rugby stand (which produced a three-minute delay while it was being retrieved) and three others into the members’ enclosure, one of which sent the ball almost to the top of the 73 steps that lead up to the pavilion.
Majid Khan joined the ranks of the great hitters to smash 13 sixes in county cricket at Swansea in 1967.
Majid Khan joined the ranks of the great hitters to smash 13 sixes in county cricket at Swansea in 1967.
At the early stages of Majid Khan’s innings, Roger Davis, the Glamorgan off-spinner, had just taken three wickets for one run, but Majid immediately retaliated by hitting him for 4646 off consecutive balls and later on showed his delight in Davis’s bowling by hitting him for five sixes in an over. The first ball was sent over mid-wicket, the second was played to mid-on for no run, and the last four balls all went for six somewhere between the screen and wide mid-on. Such are the bare facts as recorded in the press reports.
Now for some comparison with other such performances. If you look in the record book, 13 sixes in an inning are only matched by John Reid 15 sixes in his 296-run inning for Wellington v. Northern Districts in 1962–63; however, his sixes occurred significantly less frequently than Majid’s, which averaged one six every seven minutes. It is no easy matter to go on hitting sixes throughout innings, and apart from these just mentioned, there are only about seventy instances of a batsman hitting seven or more sixes in an innings in the whole history of first-class cricket.
It would be fair to claim that the innings given above provide a thorough picture of all six-hitting records, but the situation is complicated by revisions in the legislation governing sixes. Until 1910, scoring a six usually meant hitting the ball right out of the ground and not just over the boundary line, as now. This means that batsmen of earlier days, including especially G. L. Jessop, who undoubtedly hit the ball over the boundary line more frequently than any other batsman ever has, seldom got six runs for doing so.
A truly memorable exhibition was given at St. Helen's Ground, Swansea, on Tuesday, August 8, 1967, by Majid Khan, the twenty-year-old Pakistan batsman.
A truly memorable exhibition was given at St. Helen’s Ground, Swansea, on Tuesday, August 8, 1967, by Majid Khan, the twenty-year-old Pakistan batsman.
In his famous 191 in 90 minutes in a festival match at Hastings in 1907, Jessop hit five balls right out of the ground (the shattered windows are still discussed there), and he also hit at least seven other balls over the ropes, i.e., giving him 12 sixes under present law. P. A. Perrin, when he scored 343* for Essex v. Derbyshire at Chesterfield in 1905 (and yet was on the losing side), hit no less than 68 fours, and it is believed on good evidence that fourteen of these pitched the ball over the boundary line. So it is seen that numerical comparisons are impossible. Consider the recent (but now abandoned) practice of limiting the boundary to 75 yards, which one great hitter of the 1930s referred to contemptuously as “mere spitting distance.”
To return to G.L. Jessop. In another match at Bradford in 1900, he hit at least fifteen balls over the boundary line in the course of his two innings. The very detailed press reports make this quite clear. We shall never, alas, know how many “sixes” he achieved during his career, but it must have been a vast number. I suppose that today he would be regarded as too “unsound” to appear in Test cricket. Since the change of law in 1910, the most consistent hitter of sixes has been A. W. Wellard, who easily tops the list of those who have scored many sixes in a season:
72 A. W. Wellard 1935
57 A. W. Wellard 1936
57 A. W. Wellard 1938
51 A. W. Wellard 1933
49, J. H. Edrich, 1965
48 A. W. Carr 1925
46 F. Barratt, 1928
40 H. T. Bartlett, 1938
Others who have passed the total of 30 include Barratt, Constantine, Hammond, K. G. Macleod, Watt, W. J. Stewart, Jim Parks, C. K. Nayudu, Whittaker (twice), Gimblett, Jim Smith, Marner, and C. C. Smart. Let us hope that Majid also reaches this total by the end of the season. According to some reports, he is nicknamed “The Assassin.” He reminds me somewhat of Keith Miller, who used to slaughter the bowlers so dramatically.
But I do not suppose he will ever match A. Wellard’s fantastic total of over 500 sixes in his whole career, which provided him with over one-quarter of his total aggregate of runs.
Majid’s innings are simply bristling with records. Few people, surely, have ever reached a hundred with 86 runs (9 sixes, 8 fours) made in boundaries, nor can many batsmen have scored more runs in an innings that lasted only an hour and a half. There is G. L. Jessop’s 191 in 90 minutes already mentioned, Alletson’s 189 in 90 minutes v. Sussex in 1911, and J. J. Lyons made 149 in 90 minutes v. MCC at Lord’s in 1893; but who else approaches this?
Majid Khan also scored 30 runs in an over, which has been surpassed only four times: by Alletson’s 34 (there were two no-balls), Inman’s 32, Smart’s 32, and Wellard’s 31. There is then the matter of four sixes off consecutive balls in one over. Wellard twice hit five sixes off five balls, and J. D. Lindsay, the South African, also performed the feat against Essex in 1961. Four consecutive sixes in one over have been achieved by R. E. Foster (off W. G. Grace) at Oxford in 1900, J. H. Parsons (off O. C. Scott) at Edgebaston in 1928, R. Benaud (off R. Tattersall) at Scarborough in 1953, and D. W. White (off J. D. Piachaud) at Oxford in 1960, and I believe that D’Oliveira performed the feat in a first-class match at Nairobi in February 1962. In earlier days, C. I. Thornton, the longest hitter of all time, and V. F. S. Crawford also hit four consecutive “sixes.”
There is all the difference between crude swipes to mid-wicket and the straight-driven six. Majid’s hitting was good. To quote Peter West from The Times: “This was a thrilling exhibition of controlled scientific hitting. Crude shots were rare indeed. The ball never found the edge of Majid’s bat until he was past his hundred.” And the bowlers were all front-line ones. In other words,
“far unlike the modern way
Of blocking every ball at play,
He firmly stands with bat upright
And strikes with his athletic might,
Sends forth the ball across the mead,
And scores six notches for the deed.”
These lines might have been written expressly for Majid Khan, amid the “modern” setting of 1967. They were written for John Frederick, Duke of Dorset. And the date is 1773. It seems that some of the spectators at Swansea felt that the Pakistan second innings should have been declared closed earlier, and at the height of Majid Khan glory, they began to protest with some slow hand-clapping!
Majid Khan Innings at Swansea: Stroke by Stroke.
1 1 4 4 4 6 4 6 16 1 1 1 1 1 6 2 1 6 6 6 6 6 4 1 1 4 1 1 4 2 4 1 1 6 4 4 6 1 1 1 6 1 6 1 1 and remains at 147, not out in just 89 minutes.
Here’s the latest list of the most sixes in a match.
G. L. JESSOP - A Great Hitter of Past
G. L. JESSOP – A Great Hitter of Past
A. W. Wellard - Another Great Past Hitter
A. W. Wellard – Another Great Past Hitter