Monday, October 25, 1982.
South Australia, featuring West Indian legend Joel ‘Big Bird’ Garner and Rodney Hogg, were playing Victoria in a Sheffield Shield match at the Adelaide Oval, which was destined to end in a draw as Victorian captain Graham Yallop (Who top scored with 151) declared on 9 for 420 with 30 overs remaining on Day 4, setting South Australia a seemingly impossible 272 to win in the last session, in the years before attacking cricket took over the game.
Incensed by Yallop’s decision to impose such a meaningless declaration with such little time remaining, South Australian captain David Hookes, who top scored with 137 batting at No.5 in South Australia’s 1st Innings (He was dropped on 13 by Peter Cox at second slip), promoted himself to open alongside Rick Darling, and the player who once carted Tony Greig for 5 consecutive boundaries in the Centenary Test in 1977, proceeded to produce one of the most violently brilliant displays of batting witnessed on Australian soil.
In the space of 43 minutes, a crowd of 400 seemed to increase tenfold as Hookes flayed Rod McCurdy, Peter King (On his Shield debut) and Shaun Graf to all 4 corners of the Adelaide Oval, hitting 18 fours and 3 sixes to bring up his century in 35 balls (He survived an LBW shout on 99), what is still believed to be the fastest authentic century in terms of balls faced in the history of first-class cricket.
Funnily enough, in that video, when Hookes scores his century, that footage isn’t from the SA vs Victoria match in 1982, because that wicketkeeper behind Hookes is future Australian gloveman Greg Dyer, who didn’t make his Sheffield Shield debut for New South Wales until 1983/1984, meaning the match was most likely in 1986, when Hookes scored 243 against NSW.
The widely told story through the last 4 decades is that Hookes’ ton was off 34 balls, although cricket.com.au’s anniversary article today states that after looking at all available evidence with Lawrie Colliver, Hookes had actually faced 35 balls.
I would say the damage Hookes created in those 43 minutes could be shown in this fact.
Victorian all-rounder Peter King, who got his debut because Victoria didn’t have Dean Jones or Merv Hughes available, took 5 wickets in the 1st Innings for the visitors, then scored 54 with the bat, making him the the only player in Sheffield Shield history to score 50-plus runs and take five wickets in the maiden innings of a Shield debut.
King’s first ball to Hookes in the 2nd Innings was pulled so hard it landed on the roof of the old Member’s Stand, and before you knew it, Hookes had taken King for 38 off 2 overs, after which King was pulled for Shaun Graf to be the sacrificial lamb alongside Rod McCurdy.
As for the rest of the match, South Australia reached the 100 in the 7th over, in the 9th over Hookes made his century and Darling was caught behind for 11 with the score at 122, and just a few balls later, South Australia’s hopes of one of the greatest wins in Shield history came to an end, as Hookes would ultimately fall for 107 off 40 balls attempting to loft McCurdy one too many times.
Hilariously enough, Joel Garner then came out to bat at No.4, and Big Bird hit his first ball straight back down the ground for 6, ultimately making 19 off 10 balls, but South Australia continued to lose wickets as they finished with a fury, sitting on 7 for 206 off just 24 overs as Victoria sniffed a huge chance of an outright win, but the match ended early due to bad light, with McCurdy the pick of the bowlers, picking up 5/88 off his 12 overs, getting good reward for the abuse sustained by Hookes.
It is believed Percy Fender’s 35-minute whirlwind for Surrey against Northamptonshire in 1920 was quicker in terms of time, while Hookes’ record has since bested by Glen Chapple and Mark Pettini on 27 balls apiece in various English county matches, although both those centuries came with the opposition sending down what could be described as ‘Declaration Bowling’, a far cry from what Hookes faced at the Adelaide Oval.
Victoria 260 (Peter King 58, Peter Sacristani 55; Joel Garner 4 for 73) and 420 for 9 decl. (Graham Yallop 151, Julien Wiener 73, Braddon Green 70, Peter Cox 47)
South Australia 407 (David Hookes 137, John Inverarity 126; Peter King 5 for 88) and 206 for 7 (David Hookes 107; Rod McCurdy 5 for 88).
If you also want more photos, here’s a link to Lawrie Colliver’s scorecard from South Australia’s innings, which appears to provide the evidence Hookes’ ton was indeed off 35 balls, not 34.
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