Seventy years ago, sporting history was made in Queenstown when a schoolboy cricketer from Queen’s College created a world record which remains unbeaten to this day.
The feat, now draped in the mists of time, took place on Saturday, March 25 1950, when Queens 1st XI captain Wynton Edwards took all 10 wickets for no runs in an inter-schools match against Selborne College.
Whether this astonishing bowling feat by a farmer’s son from Hofmeyr has any parallel in a corresponding class of world cricket cannot be verified as the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, affectionately known as the “Cricketer’s Bible,” records only similar performances in first class cricket.
In this sphere the world record is held by Hedley Verity, who took ten wickets for 10 runs at Leeds in 1932.
South African Ernie Vogler, playing for Eastern Province, claimed all 10 Griqualand West wickets for 26 runs at Johannesburg in 1906.
No cricketer on record, as far as can be traced, has ever taken all 10 wickets in an innings for no runs.
Perhaps East London’s walking cricket encyclopedia, Peter Martin, can throw some light on the subject.
However, in any class of cricket, young Edwards’ feat would qualify for inclusion in Ripley’s “Believe it or Not.” The mathematical odds against a bowler in a game of cricket achieving this most perfect of all performances must be astronomical.
And what’s more, Edwards received no help at all from the umpires because he clean bowled five of his victims and had the other five caught.
He sent down 9.7 overs (eight-ball overs in those days).
His wickets in that historic match came like this: A wicket with his very first ball when he dismissed Redmund Geach, Selborne’s SA School’s player and star batsman, through a brilliant catch in the slips; a wicket in his second over, caught at short leg; two more came in his third over, one with a yorker and another caught behind.
His fourth over was a maiden and with the last ball of his fifth over, he made it five for none with a catch close in.
Only an element of luck prevented a run in the next over.
The ball caught the edge of the bat and rose steeply. The wicket-keeper, leaping high, managed to deflect the ball to gully who took the catch. Edwards’s seventh over gave him his seventh wicket.
There was no wicket in the eighth over.
Edwards scattered the stumps with the third ball of his ninth over, making it eight for nought, and the first ball of his 10th over swung sharply and skidded off the pitch to strike the top of the middle stump for his ninth wicket.
Amid tense excitement, Selborne’s No 11 survived the next five balls but the seventh saw him finally dismissed.
“Among the first to congratulate Edwards were the Selborne team who seemed almost as pleased with the achievement as if one of their own men had done it.
Edwards was cheered off the field by the Queen’s side midst further applause while one or two greybeards scuttled off to consult their Wisdens,” was a quote from the local newspaper’s report on the match.
The late Ivan Busse, a former Queen’s College schoolmaster and one of the umpires, said some years later: “I was at the bowler’s end and it is truly amazing that of the 79 balls bowled by Edwards, not one snick penetrated the field or was hit away for runs. I am grateful I was not called upon to make one LBW decision.”
After bowling himself into cricket immortality, Edwards went on to represent his school at Border schools’ level at both cricket and rugby.
After school he returned to the family farm in Hofmeyr before moving to Molteno where he remained for the rest of his life.
Apart from playing the odd match for Eastern Province Country Districts, Wynton confined his active sport to the country districts, later becoming a single handicap golfer and president of the Molteno Golf Club. He served the Molteno municipality for many years as a town councillor. He married June Hopley, sister of Dale and Border sportsman, Bun Hopley in 1956 and died in Molteno in 2009 aged 79.