Devon Malcolm becomes Shane Warne's hat-trick victim

Trick and treat: Warne gets Devon Malcolm with a topspinner

© Getty Images

High Fives

Boxing Day goodies

A brave innings, a hat-trick, a missed double, and more from the marquee event in Australian cricket's calendar

Peter Lalor |

Kim Hughes v West Indies, 1981
The MCG wicket in the 1980s is a nightmare. A short-pitched ball is as likely to hit you in the ankle as a fuller delivery on the head. And West Indies have all these awesome bowlers: the elongated Joel Garner, the divine Michael Holding, the malicious Andy Roberts and the malevolent Colin Croft, who is possibly the most difficult of them all. The top order has crumbled, Greg Chappell makes a duck, the score is 8 for 3 when Graeme Wood departs and Kim Hughes comes to the wicket.

He bats like a man possessed. The meanest bowling attack in the world on a deck bordering on the unplayable and he doesn't care. He cuts, he pulls, he slays demons. His father-in-law is dying, watching with a week to live. Hughes is aware of this. It is context. His innings continues for three sessions. Terry Alderman arrives and says he isn't staying out here long, but hangs in for the best part of an hour, and sees his Western Australia skipper bring up 100 before he has had enough. Ian Chappell said it was the "bravest" innings he ever saw.

Dennis Lillee bowls Viv Richards, 1981
This is from the same Test but is a highlight that deserves its own stage. A pause for the innings break, before Dennis Lillee and Terry Alderman return the favour and tear through the top order. Faoud Bacchus is first to go, then Desmond Haynes. Colin Croft is sent in as nightwatchman but can't keep Lillee out and the visitors are 6 for 3. The noise is deafening but the best is yet to come.

You have to remember West Indies are nearing invincibility. They have arrived unbeaten in 15 Tests (though with just four wins), and anyway here comes Viv. He swaggers to the crease and settles things down for a moment or two. It's going to be all right, man. Then Lillee comes in to bowl the last delivery of the day, the crowd urging him to the crease with the chant: "Lillee! Lillee! Lillee!"

He pitches it full and outside off, and Richards aims a loose-limbed drive toward the covers but the ball swings late, catches the inside edge and cannons into the stumps. West Indies are 10 for 4. The team rushes for the dressing rooms but the ground has erupted like never before. Nobody wants to leave.

Virender Sehwag opened proceedings in 2003 with a fizz 'n pop

Virender Sehwag opened proceedings in 2003 with a fizz 'n pop © Getty Images

Viru's first day, 2003
Look, Ricky Ponting's 257 in reply was something. But there was something else altogether about Virender Sehwag's 195 on that first day. Sure it was a tame pitch and the Australian bowling wasn't that flash, but Sehwag was extraordinary.

He redefined the way you went about it at the top of the order. Without him there is no David Warner. He only faced 233 balls, but what he did was simply scintillating. He was hit on the helmet twice and survived a run-out chance in the fifth over thanks to an Adam Gilchrist fumble. After that he seemed to figure he had nothing to lose.

In all, he hit 25 fours and five sixes and struck the ball so hard at times, you were sure it would come back to the bowler flattened by the power of his blade. He should have got the double but the Australians put every man on the boundary and Simon Katich had him caught there off a full toss.

Hair calls Murali, 1995
A lowlight more than a highlight, it was one of the worst moments ever witnessed in a Test match and it came completely out of the blue. I was at my parents' in the country for Christmas and watching the match on television, lying on the floor in front of the box.

Muttiah Muralitharan was just 23 and bowling on the first day, Australia two wickets down when umpire Darrell Hair called "no-ball". It wasn't a big deal at first, but then he called him again. And again. And again. Seven times in all, in three overs. Why? He'd been bowling earlier in the day.

No, no, seven times no: Hair called Murali repeatedly over three overs on Boxing Day 1995

No, no, seven times no: Hair called Murali repeatedly over three overs on Boxing Day 1995 © Getty Images

Listening back now you can hear the confusion from the commentators. Tony Greig can't understand what's going on; they can see his front foot is not over the line and his back foot is fine. "He's called him for chucking," I said to my father. Bill Lawry thought the same thing. I was horrified. Shocked. The hair on my arms stood up. This was just not on. Hair had humiliated Murali in front of the world. Some 55,000 people were watching live and there was this strange buzz coming from the ground. I'm still sorry it happened.

Shane Warne's hat-trick, 1994
Australia are in total command as the game limps into a fifth day. England, dejected, are 91 for 6 and on their way to a massive defeat and Shane Warne doesn't even have a wicket in the second innings.

He rights that situation by trapping Phil DeFreitas in front with the fourth ball of his 13th over. DeFreitas has played back, been hurried a little by a ball that didn't really turn. No big deal in the scheme of things. Darren Gough comes out - he's always good for a few runs, but he nicks off the first ball. It's a good delivery, one that bounces and turns. A good catch by Ian Healy too and now there's a little bit of interest. Two wickets, two balls. He couldn't, could he?

Of course he could, he's Shane Warne. Fielders encircle Devon Malcolm. Warne sucks in a few deep breaths and bowls a topspinner. It catches glove and squirts low and fast to short leg. It's wide of David Boon but somehow he dives to his right and pulls off a classic catch.

Peter Lalor is the chief cricket writer for the Australian @plalor

 

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