MEMORY LANE - A DAY TO REMEMBER FOR RICHARD JOHNSON AT DERBY!
With Middlesex taking on Derbyshire at the end of this week in our second County Championship clash of the season, we look back to a memorable first-class clash between the two sides in 1994.
This week’s ‘Memory Lane’ article features a match when the club’s current Assistant Coach Richard Johnson wrote himself into the record books and into Middlesex history, when he became only the third man in the club’s existence to take all ten opposition wickets in an innings!
The two times the feat had been achieved before Johnson’s heroics, two and a half decades ago, were firstly way back before in 1900 and then again in 1925. Johnson remains the only Middlesex bowler to repeat the feat.
The first to record the milestone was the infamous Australian Albert Trott – yes THAT Albert Trott! Not content with writing his place in history by becoming the first and only man to clear the Lord’s Pavilion with a straight six in 1899, Trott then weighed in with the ball for good measure, claiming his place in the annals of history when picking up all ten Somerset first innings wickets at Taunton, to return figures of 10 for 42.
It took over twenty years for this to occur again, when it was another household name who achieved the feat! George Oswald Browning Allen, or ‘Gubby’ Allen, as he is much better known, took all ten Lancashire wickets at Lord’s, eight of them clean bowled, finishing with figures of 10 for 40, which remain the best innings bowling figures in the club’s history.
So, 74 years on, to late June 1994 and to the County Ground in Derby, where visiting skipper Mike Gatting lost the toss and was asked to field by home captain Kim Barnett.
As the hosts Derbyshire piled on the runs in their first innings, few, if any, could have predicted what lay ahead.
A first innings hundred from Barnett, who top scored with 148, put the home side well in the game and in a strong position after an hour’s play on day two when they were dismissed by Middlesex for a more than respectable total of 344.
Heading in to bat, Middlesex’s formidable batting line up put the Derbyshire bowlers to the sword, as Gatting, Mark Ramprakash and then John Carr each compiled hundreds, whilst West Indies legend Desmond Haynes weighed in with a useful 46.
By the time the Middlesex innings finally came to an end, they had amassed a first innings lead of 201 runs before lunch on day three, eventually dismissed for a commanding 545.
Johnson’s figures of 1 for 65 in the first innings didn’t suggest that history was about to made, and when given the new ball in the second innings things didn’t exactly start well explains Johnson…
“My first ball was a rank long hop which was smashed by Kim Barnett through point for four. After a few more mediocre deliveries I finished the over with another short and wide one, which Barnett smashed right at Embers (John Emburey) at point who took the catch. I grabbed my jumper back off umpire Peter Willey at the end of the over, told him that I wasn’t really feeling it today, and he answered that with luck like that I could well end up with a five’fer!”
Johnson was up and running with the prize wicket of first innings centurion Barnett, and he quickly followed this with the wickets of Vandrau, bowling him for a duck, and O’Gorman, thanks again to Emburey again taking the catch.
The wickets of Adams, Cork, Rollins and Warner followed, and Derbyshire went in at tea seven wickets down - their seventh wicket falling with only 43 runs on the board, and Johnson with all seven to his name, for just 22 runs from twelve truly impressive overs.
At tea the thought of claiming all ten opposition wickets hadn’t even crossed Johnson’s mind, as he was more focussed on resting and icing a sore knee, which he was suffering from at the time and was due an operation on in a couple of weeks’ time…
“I was sat there with an ice pack on my knee and Shiny (Kevin Shine) came up to me and said you do know that you’ve got to keep bowling after tea don’t you? I explained to him that I was struggling a bit and he just told me to keep going and that I would never get a better chance to get all ten wickets.
So I carried on after tea and luckily got a wicket pretty early, which gave me the lift I needed to just keep going.”
That eighth wicket soon became nine for Johnson and for Middlesex, which brought Devon Malcolm to the crease, giving Johnson a more than sporting chance of making history…
“Devon Malcolm walked out to the middle and I thought, hello, I’ve got a real opportunity here. I bowled him one of the best Yorkers I’d bowled all game and somehow, I don’t know how, he managed to dig it out and take a single. That was the last ball I got to bowl at him.
I then thankfully bowled my best ball of the day to the bloke at the other end, and it moved away, found the edge, nicking off to Ramps (Mark Ramprakash) at about third/fourth slip who took the catch.
We then just jumped on top of each other and to be honest I don’t remember much after that, it was all a bot of a blur.”
Johnson finished with figures of 10 for 45, as Derbyshire were dismissed for just 105 and Middlesex ran out winners by an innings and 96 runs.
Johnson remains pretty-calm when talking of the achievement today and explains that the magnitude of what he’d done didn’t really register with him at the time…
“I was young, and at the time you don’t really appreciate what you’ve done. You just do your thing and want to keep playing. It’s really only as time has passed that you begin to realise quite how special an achievement it was and how proud it makes you to have done it.”
Johnson remains one of a special trio of only three Middlesex players to achieve this incredible milestone, although two quicks under his guidance have come mighty close to joining him in that select group.
Steven Finn’s 9 for 37 against Worcestershire in 2010 and James Harris’s 9 for 34 against Durham in 2015 have threatened to topple Johnson, although for the time being, he maintains the bragging rights over his seamers.
Thanks to Richard Johnson for talking the time to relive that special day at Derby back in 1994.