Maximum runs taken off one ball has to be taken with a pinch of salt
By Kersi Meher-Homji
(as told to Bipin Dani).
Most level headed commentator gets excited and yells “It’s maximum” meaning it’s a six when Virender Sehwag, Adam Gilchrist, Garry Sobers, Chris Gayle, Herschelle Gibbs, Virat Kohli, Brendon McCullum, Vivian Richards, Rohit Sharma, Lokesh Rahul or David Warner jumps out and a sixer hits the sky.
When doing research on tall hitting in my book Six Appeal, I found that a hit for a six is not the maximum number of runs you can get with one hit. In the Super-8 competitions played in Malaysia and Australia in 1996, a hit over the boundary was awarded eight runs and not six. This was not at Test or first-class level. And of course there are overthrows resulting in eight or more runs off one hit at all levels.
When playing in a Governor’s Cup match in Malta on 28 May 1903, Lt-Col Philip Mitford ran 11 runs from one scoring shot, wrote Bill Frindall in Guinness Cricket Facts and Feats.
Reports on maximum runs taken off one ball has to be taken with a pinch of salt. According to Michael Jones in ESPNCricinfo, “Cricket has built up more than its fair share of urban legends over the years. Just as with any other subject, some of them are so far-fetched and easily proved false, it’s surprising that anyone could believe them at all.”
The story of a hit for 286 runs in 1893-94 has been repeated countless times over the years and is probably the most popular answer when the question of most runs off one ball comes up. But it appears to be a myth, nothing more than an invention of the Pall Mall Gazette.
Before 1910 in England, a hit over the fence counted only four runs in first-class and Test cricket. Only a huge hit right out of the ground (including the stands), which happened rarely, was awarded six runs. However, in Australia hits over the boundary line were credited with five runs and the batsman lost the strike.
The Australian team raised this point with its Board for the 1905-06 Test series and the Board decided that a hit over the boundary should count as six.
(The Author is a Cricket Historian and Researcher in Australia).