Watch: During a Test match against New Zealand at the Gabba in 2008/09, Andrew Symonds was awarded eight runs off one ball bowled by Iain O’Brien.
Australia were 124-4 in the 46th over after Ricky Ponting opted to bat in Brisbane. O’Brien began the 46th over with a bouncer, and Symonds ducked. O’Brien bowled short again, and this time Symonds pulled – only to be dropped by Aaron Redmond at mid-wicket.
Like any fast bowler would, O’Brien responded with another short-pitched ball, this time outside off-stump. Symonds pulled ferociously, but the ball slowed down on that enormous ground. By the time Redmond could field the ball, Symonds and Michael Clarke had already run three. Now they decided to pick up ‘one for the throw’.
New Zealand wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum ran to intercept the throw. He gathered the ball, turned around, and threw it – only to realise that Symonds had made his ground and, worse, there had been no one backing up. The ball raced to the fence.
Rudi Koertzen improvised, putting up eight fingers to signal the runs to be added to Symonds’ and Australia’s tallies – two runs more than what cricket commentators often refer to as ‘maximum’ and one more than even what India got against Bangladesh at Chattogram in a penalty-run incident.
Two balls later, O’Brien had the last laugh, when Symonds edged one off him to McCullum.
There are 14 instances of batters running nine in a ball in the history of first-class cricket, none of them after 1949. Of them, only one – by Frederick Ponsonby of the MCC against Cambridge University at the Parker’s Piece in Cambridge in 1842 – was without overthrows.
However, even that count was bettered by Samuel Wood of Derbyshire against Cuthbert Burnup of the MCC at Lord’s in 1900. This was the year of the ‘revised net system’, when they ran an experiment, doing away with boundaries in some first-class matches. Instead, the grounds were surrounded by high nets, and the batters had to run for everything.