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Sri Lanka v England

Watch: The filthiest five-for in Test history?

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Dom Bess had a morning to remember on the first day of the first Sri Lanka-England Test, taking his second Test five-for to finish with career-best figures of 5-30.

However, the hosts had a day to forget, gifting the off-spinner three of those five wickets with poor shots, while a fourth came via a bizarre stroke of luck.

After Bess had claimed his first two wickets, the first a reverse sweep into the hands of first slip and the second an “absolute drag down” hit to backward point, ESPNcricinfo’s Matt Roller wondered if he was on course for the “filthiest five-for in Test history”.

It turned out to be a prescient piece of speculation. Bess’ third wicket came via a full-blooded sweep from Dasun Shanaka which struck the heel of Jonny Bairstow at short leg, lobbing up for an easy catch by Joss Buttler, an while the fourth was a good piece of bowling, the fifth was another gift, Wanindu Hasaranga walking outside off and aiming an ambitious reverse sweep only to have his middle stump clattered.

A tweet posted by CricViz backed up those claiming Bess had been fortunate. It stated that Bess’ Expected Wickets, a metric which measures how often the balls a bowler has bowled would get out the average batsmen, showed that he could have hoped to take 0.55 wickets in the first innings. Instead, he ended up with five.

Michael Atherton described it as “some of the worst Test match batting [he’d] ever seen”. On the below evidence, it’s hard to disagree.

Watch the first four of Bess’ five dismissals below:

The fifth is only available in screenshot form, but that still goes some distance to conveying it’s naffness.

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