On 3 June 1932 Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees hit 4 home runs. Gehrig is one of baseball's greats, he holds the record for consecutive games played (2130 - there were allegations that to extend the record management would cancel the game if he was injured). He also holds the record for the number of grand slams hit - 23. If you don't know what a grand slam is, FB will elucidate further below. Gehrig's life however ended in tragedy as he died at the age of 38 from a form of what Europeans know as motor neurone disease, a condition which still bears his name in the US.
As baseball players go these guys were Test Match Quality. With other legends Babe Ruth and Bob Meusel, they formed part of what was called Murderer's Row, the Yankees celebrated batting line up of the 1930s. It was the Sehwag, Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman of its day and the name could equally have been applied to them in the recently passed golden years.
Natural cycle, grand slam - these are great terms. While grand slams are quite regular, natural cycles are statistically very rare. Another rare feat is that of the perfect game - a game in which a pitcher (or combination of pitchers) pitches a victory in which no opposing player reaches base. This feat has been achieved only 21 times in the history of major league baseball, most recently by Philip Humber of the Chicago White Sox on April 21, 2012. To add to the gum chewing romance, a perfect game is, by necessity, both a no-hitter and a shutout.
FB found himself wondering what a natural cycle could be in cricket. A batsman could not score 1,2,3,4,5,6 off successive balls in an over, because after ball 1 he would find himself at the wrong end. 2 batsmen could do it. Or a batsman could score in sequence off balls he faced which if there was no other scoring would take him all or part of 4 overs. Has this ever been done? Who knows? Is it worth finding out? Probably not since such a feat would be unlikely to have any impact on the game's outcome. But cricket could have a new concept of the full natural cycle in which 1,2,3,4,5,6 were scored followed by the sequence in reverse. Put 0 at each end and there is something of real beauty.
But if the natural cycle is of limited interest in cricket, then the grand slam is not. The equivalent - scoring the maximum available by the rules of the game from any one hit is scoring a 6 - but that is too mundane and all too common. Scoring the maximum available off an over is however less common and deservedly could be called the Grand Slam. These are very rare:
- In August 1968, Garfield Sobers playing for Notts against Glamorgan became the first player to hit six sixes off a single six-ball over in first-class cricket.
- In January 1985 Ravi Shastri did the same playing for Bombay against Baroda
- In March 2007, Herschelle Gibbs became the first person to hit six sixes off an over in a One Day International match when South Africa played Netherlands at the 2007 Cricket World Cup, .
- In September 2007 Yuvraj Singh hit six sixes for India against England during the inaugural ICC Twenty20 World Cup. And for the record the bowler was Stuart Broad now England's T20 skipper.
Does this mean that the concept of the perfect game is impossible in cricket? Not at all, says Fantasy Bob. What these baseball fans do not realise is that cricket is by definition the perfect game.