Monty Panesar dives into the crease

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Zero off zero

Out without facing a ball? What does that feel like? A look at five of the most memorable diamond ducks in history

Liam Cromar  |  

Albert Rose-Innes
South Africa v England, Cape Town, 1889
There is a unique humiliation in a diamond duck. Any fool can get out first ball, but it takes a special sort of ineptitude to be dismissed without facing. Carry that on to the international stage and the humiliation is magnified. Or is it? Perhaps not in Rose-Innes' case. If you're playing in your country's first ever Test, it's hard not to set records of one sort or another, and not only did he register South Africa's first duck - the nation opened its cricketing account by losing two wickets for no runs - but in the next match he went one better, obtaining the first diamond duck for any nation in Test cricket. Yet the unusual feature of this achievement is that Rose-Innes didn't know that he'd done so at the time: the matches were not classified as Tests for several years. That may have taken the sting out of the situation for him - or delayed it. After all, golden ducks are ten a penny, but diamond ducks are forever.

It wasn't to be his only encounter with diamonds: he spent time among the real deal in the Kimberley fields. It's unknown whether he was proud of his entry in the annals of cricket history; it wasn't all bad, since he also collected the first five-wicket haul for South Africa - that will lustre on.

Eddo Brandes
New Zealand v Zimbabwe, Hyderabad, 1987
Question: what's more painful than being run out without scoring on ODI debut in a World Cup match, just when your team has the glint of an unlikely upset in their eyes? Answer: being run out without scoring on ODI debut in a World Cup match seconds after doing one's quad in.

Entering this fixture, Zimbabwe had won just the one match in their World Cup history, and at 104 for 7 chasing 243, basking in the shadow of that earlier triumph looked like the best they could hope for. Dave Houghton's sparkling 137-ball 142, however, gave a different tinge to proceedings, and it took a great Martin Crowe outfield catch to dismiss him. With Zimbabwe 22 short of the target, Brandes, a decent bat, stepped out; unfortunately for him, his cameo lasted one minute and comprised one attempted quick single.

Brandes: chicken farmer who got a duck on debut

Brandes: chicken farmer who got a duck on debut Stu Forster / © Getty Images

Iain Butchart, the set batsman, was looking to retain strike, and pushed it to Crowe on the 30-yard circle at mid-on. Halfway through the run, Brandes' quad went. Butchart later blamed himself, believing that it wasn't the best call in retrospect, considering how long Brandes had been sat waiting. Brandes, for his part, was inclined to blame his own lack of familiarity with the hot and humid conditions, maintaining that he'd normally have made his ground easily. Either way, few walks - or limps - back to the pavilion can have felt much longer.

Despite Butchart's valiant fifty, Zimbabwe fell short by an agonising four runs, courtesy another regrettable run-out. Brandes missed the next two matches, and Zimbabwe went on to lose all six of their group games. Five years on, though, Brandes, that crazy diamond, would shine like the sun.

Allan Donald
Australia v South Africa, Edgbaston, 1999
Diamond albatross, more like. If there was any justice, Donald that day would be remembered for taking four wickets, including those of Ricky Ponting and Darren Lehmann. Instead, he's remembered for this monstrous non-contribution.

Everybody here knows exactly what we are talking about: South Africa need nine off the last over with one wicket remaining, but a rampaging Lance Klusener flays Damien Fleming's first two deliveries to the off-side boundary. Third ball Klusener scrapes to mid-on and an over-keen Donald, backing up excessively, survives when Lehmann's throw goes wide. Donald shakes his head, smiles, and looks up in relief. Has the lesson been learned? Only at one end.

Donald's duck came in one of cricket's most memorable matches

Donald's duck came in one of cricket's most memorable matches © Getty Images

Fourth ball Klusener clouts back past Fleming and charges through, but Donald, having rightly registered the danger at the bowler's end, makes his ground. By the time he clocks that the only chance is to hare to the keeper, Fleming is underarming it to Gilchrist. The forlorn, batless figure of Donald doesn't get much further than halfway. There is a sad irony in that if he had been as incautious as he had been on the previous delivery, there's every chance he'd have made it.

Donald confronted the trauma head-on, employing a behavioural therapy known as "flooding", repeatedly viewing the footage until he could deal with it. That's one way to lose these walking blues. It seems that 18 years of replays haven't done the same for the general public; as South Africa still seek that elusive World Cup, it has become - probably unfairly - a symbol of the team's reputation of being ch… ary of the finish line. It's a diamond that South Africa would love to crush under the soles of their shoes.

Monty Panesar
England v South Africa, The Oval, 2008
Picture yourself in to bat at The Oval. Somebody calls you, you set off quite slowly… and you're gone.

Cricket is a team game played by individuals, we are often told. For a change, then, here's a diamond duck that had considerable individual impact but made virtually no difference to the team. After a 53-run partnership for the ninth wicket with James Anderson, ended only by Anderson bizarrely opting to let a straight one from Paul Harris plunk into his right pad, Steve Harmison had his eyes firmly on his first Test fifty. The flaw in the plan was that his partner was one Monty Panesar, not a name associated with outstanding batting ability.

Two balls in, Harmison decides that indiscretion is the better part of valour: tapping Andre Nel into the covers, he directs a yes run run run to Panesar, who to his credit is dutifully backing up and even more dutifully engages top speed. Unfortunately Monty's top speed rarely reflects the enthusiasm of its owner: Harris shies, the bails fly, Steve Davis refers it upstairs but everyone knows that it's not even close.

Fowl play: the end of Josh Hazlewood's 26-minute vigil in Auckland

Fowl play: the end of Josh Hazlewood's 26-minute vigil in Auckland © Getty Images

So much for the team game: viewed one way, Panesar denied Harmison his only Test fifty; viewed the other, Harmison thrust the ownership of England's first - and to date only - Test diamond duck on Panesar. On the other hand, both bowlers seemed to shrug off any disappointment quickly enough: in the second innings, Harmison claimed the wickets of Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis, while Panesar snapped up AB de Villiers and Morne Morkel. England would go on to win the match, but Harmison never scored his Test fifty. Perhaps more surprisingly, Panesar was never run out in a Test again. A lesson learned: he's now more lucid, in the sky of diamonds.

Josh Hazlewood
New Zealand v Australia, Eden Park, 2017
Diamond ducks in production are, in sharp contrast to the material they take their name from, fragile creatures. It only takes one declined single to leave the prospective recipient on strike for the next over, thus eradicating the chance of the sighting. With that in mind, therefore, Hazlewood's feat deserves special awe: at 26 minutes, it is far and away the longest diamond duck on record.

Hazlewood's partnership with Marcus Stoinis was worth 54 runs. A traditional partnership breakdown would baldly read Stoinis 48, Hazlewood 0, Extras 6 - which suggests that Hazlewood's contribution was nil. That's clearly unfair on the non-striker, however: strike he may not, but he still has to scurry to his ground, keep his friend serene, stabilise the situation.

It fell to Kane Williamson to play the role of diamond cutter: his moment of brilliance brought an end to a gem of an innings from Stoinis. Two moments, really, since his decision to move to an unusually straight short mid-on, lurking by Hazlewood, almost like a poacher behind a tree, was just as crucial. Stoinis hoicked into the on-side: Williamson pounced, turned, and flicked almost before Hazlewood realised he had come, been and gone.

It turned out to be, in retrospect, crucial in winning the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy: with the second ODI washed out, an Australia win at Eden Park would have ensured it remained in their hands. Instead, New Zealand were the ones sashaying down the boardwalk. As for Australia, you could call them the diamond dogs.

Liam Cromar is a freelance cricket writer based in Herefordshire, UK. @LiamCromar