Forget the express pace. When the forces are with you nothing beats swing bowling as a means of destroying batting line-ups on decent pitches. Ottis Gibson showed when he took all 10 for 47 for Durham against Hampshire on July 22, 2007, at Chester-le-Street in the English County Championship Division One.
West Indies all-rounder Gibson, who played two Tests for the west indies in the 1990s, swung the ball on his way into the record books, the 78th bowler to claim all 10 in a first-class inning. No one has taken 20 in a match but Gibson must have thought he had a chance when he took the first two in Hampshire’s second innings, after which his 38-year old body seemed to run out of puff.
Persistent swing is as rare as it is potent, which may be why even the best batsmen struggle to cope. It doesn’t seem to matter what pace you bowl at, 5 less it so age is no limiter. Bob Massie wasn’t expressed but his 16 wickets at Lord’s for Australia against England in 1972 still entrance even those skeptical about the power of the swing. Plenty of bowlers can wobble the ball to some degree but the skill is controlling it, especially when the movement is considerable.
Ottis Gibson’s Durham team-mate, Liam Plunkett, is a swinger but he is also a prayer, as England fans will know from watching him as he keeps wicket-keepers agile and their dry-cleaning bills high. Tellingly, Plunkett was not handed the ball during Gibson’s tour de force, but that was due to the slowness of the pitch. Adjusting to those conditions, Gibson cut his pace and swung the ball both ways.
The best players are not often fooled by movement alone and a full length is also required. That way, batsmen who are mostly pre-programmed to drive half-volleys anyway, are committed to the shot and cannot make late adjustments when the ball silent tactic can’t do for everyone and Hampshire’s opener, Michael Brown, Richard Johnson, the former England pace bowler, took Middlesex against Derbyshire in 1994.
Sometimes history requires a helping hand and as Johnson closed in on the feat Middlesex captain Mike Gatting, instructed the bowler at the other end (on that occasion Mark Feltham) not to get anyone out A useful medium-pacer, Feltham was less than impressed with the order. “I find taking wickets difficult enough without being told not to take them,” he said while trying to bowl that most tricky of deliveries — the unthreatening dot ball.
Ottis Gibson, who has played for nine different teams during his 18-year career (Barbados, Border, Durham, Gauteng, Glamorgan, Griqualand West, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, and West Indies) is also an England and Wales Cricket Board coach, But while you can teach the theory of swing, days like Gibson had last month owe more to divinity than theory. Ottis Gibson lands a perfect 10. Durham’s Ottis Gibson might be dubbed the oldest swinger in town after becoming the first bowler to take all 10 wickets in a county championship inning since Richard Johnson for Middlesex at Derby in 1994.
The 38-year-old Barbadian bowler cut down his pace and relied more on swing than the seam on a pitch which had sweated under covers on July 21 to finish with figures of 17.3-1-47- 10 as Hampshire were dismissed for 115. Gibson had five for 31 from 12 overs at lunch and eight for 47 from 17 over’s when rain brought a 90-minute break. He admitted: “It couldn’t have worked out better for me, because both times I started to feel tired and got a break.
I’ve got the ball as a memento and I’ll get Shane Warne (the Hampshire captain) to sign a copy of the score sheet — and you won’t be finding it on eBay tomorrow. It wasn’t going to bowl after lunch, but the captain said I wasn’t going to get many more chances to take all 10 at my age.” Following the July 21 wash-out, Durham added only seven runs in losing their three remaining first-innings wickets, all to David Griffiths, who finished with four for 46 on his championship debut.
Dale Benkenstein, last man out for 114, must have fancied his bowlers’ chances of exploiting the conditions, but he chose not to bowl! Liam Plunkett gave Graham Onions only five over’s at the start, preferring the medium pace of himself and Scott Styris. Five of Gibson’s victims fell to edged catches, two were Ibw, two bowled and Nic Pothas drove a return catch. Michael Lumb and Shaun Udal both departed when deciding at the last second to withdraw the bat, indicating the lateness of the movement.
Michael Lumb had just driven Gibson for two hours to reach 16 before he sparked the collapse by being third out with the total of 65 in the 20th over, just when Gibson was probably due for a rest. The only batsman to reach double figures was opener: Michael Brown, whose few scares came against Styris and Benkenstein as he carried his bat for 56. After the rain break, Gibson needed only three balls for the two wickets to complete his haul. Left-hander Griffiths fended the first just short of the gully and edged next to give Phil Mustard his fourth straight-forward catch.
Then the perfect script saw James Bruce’s off-stump knocked out for the first all 10 since Debasish Mohanty in India in 2000-01. While denying that he had applied to be the West Indies’ next coach, Gibson said he had spoken to people about the post, although he did not rule out continuing his playing career if a coaching post did not materialize. I’m trying to give the young guys here a lead,” he said.
This has been a great day, but I still won’t look much further than tomorrow.” Off Durham’s openers then took advantage of drying conditions to put on 95, with left-hander Mark Stoneman, 20, completing his maiden half-century. Will Smith made a 7 season’s-best 48 before falling in Warne’s first over.