When New Zealand’s Bert Vance gave away 77 runs in 1 bizarre over

Christchurch, the venue of the 2nd Test between New Zealand and India from 29 February, saw one of the most bizarre overs of cricket in 1990 - when Bert Vance conceded 77 runs in an over. (File Photo/Reuters)

One of cricket's most bizarre instances played out in a First Class match in New Zealand on 20 February in 1990, when Bert Vance deliberately conceded 77 runs in one over - in a bid to force a result at the end of a match that looked to be heading for a draw.

This extremely odd over was bowled on the final day of Wellington's Shell Trophy match against Canterbury in Christchurch. It was Wellington's last game of the season and they needed to win to ensure that they secured the title.

Wellington scored 202 runs in the first innings. Canterbury declared after scoring 221 for 7. Wellington made a comeback and scored 309 in the second innings, setting a target of 291 runs. Canterbury never looked like chasing the target and the game was heading towards a draw.

With 95 runs needed off 12 balls and 2 wickets left, skipper McSweeney thought if his team's only chance of winning the match and the title was if he could lure the batsmen into sniffing a win and make them lose their wickets in the process.

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Coach John Morrison and McSweeney had a chat and came up with the idea to give Bert Vance - an unlikely candidate - an over. Before this, Vance had bowled only 39 overs in a career span of 6 seasons.

When the madness started

Vance came to bowl and bowled a stream of no balls. The first ball was a no ball, Lee Germon offered no shot. The next one was a legal delivery, Germon scored a boundary off that one. After that, there was a stream of deliberate no balls. Vance’s front foot landed way ahead of the crease on multiple occasions. He bowled a total of 17 no balls on the trot!

A total of 72 runs had already been scored with just one legal delivery in the over. McSweeney may have realised that Vance needed to bowl at least a few legal deliveries, otherwise they would end up on the losing side.

Surprisingly, Vance bowled two dot balls to Germon, followed by another no ball off which a boundary was scored — the 14th of the over. Only a single was taken off the next two balls. The umpire lost the count of the number of legal deliveries and called it an over after just five balls.

A total of 77 runs off 5 balls had been scored off the penultimate over of the season.

This bizarre over left 18 runs left to be scored off the last over. Left-arm spinner Evan Gray was brought back into the attack. Germon took a crack at the first five balls, scoring 17 runs off them. No. 10 Roger Ford ended up blocking the last ball and the match was tied.

Wellington lost 4 points for slow over rate, with Vance's over not helping their cause, but still managed to win the Shell Trophy as other results in the league went their way. The bizarre strategy behind bowling Vance, which looked to spectacularly backfire for a while, did not hurt Wellington in the end.

The over went as follows (the balls in bold are the legitimate ones) - 0444664614106666600401