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Saturday, November 18, 2023

Butterfinger ! - who dropped a catch first !?!?

Know what is a butter-finger !!  - you are seeing a great catch by Logan van Beek !!


The debate now is perhaps whether India should play a batsman short and play Ravichandran Ashwin alongside – Bumrah, Siraj, Shami, Kuldeep & Jadeja !  - not many would remember that 4th ODI at Karachi on 21st Jan 1983 when a young teary pacer Thirumalai Ananthanpillai Sekhar debuted. As you would read, India lost that match badly – the bowling attack was :  Kapil Dev, Balwidner Sandhu, TA Sekhar, Maninder Singh and then .. ..  then .. .. Krish Srikkanth, Yashpal Sharma & Sunil Gavaskar. In a couple of days later, Sekar made his Test debut ended with figures of none for 86 – but his fate would have changed totally if the men in slip (remember it was Vengsarkar) had not put down two catches !! 

Any talk of Indian fielding would remind that great catch Kapil Dev took on that day at Lords – running good measure of yards back to safely catch Viv Richards off Madanlal – there was no fielding Coach, or Head Coach for that matter for 1983 Kapil Devils.  The fielding coach for the present team is T Dilip  who has not played even Ranji Cricket but has been successful in raising the standards of fielding and catching !  - Catches win matches ! 

Yesterday at Eden Gardens, Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi   operated in tandem for 16 overs, mesmerising the batters,  producing a dot once every two balls, a false shot once every four balls and almost the same number of wickets as boundaries - 3 vs 4. Then there was another tearaway -  Gerald Coetzee,  hitting the deck in the middle overs at 150kph – still SA failed. 

They had a poor start in batting - needed 52 balls to get their first boundary. Australia needed two. Marco Jansen leaked 12 runs off one delivery. Reeza Hendricks dropped Head on 40 and watched him hit a hat-trick of fours - one of those was a drop too - to get to his half-century. More than half the score they had to defend had vanished in the 15th over.  

In general teams like SA, Australia are more athletic and are very good fielding sides.  Yet, Australian fielders dropped five catches during the ICC ODI World Cup league match against South Africa;  Josh Inglis, Sean Abbott, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, and Marcus Stoinis all dropped a catch each as South Africa raced to 311/7 in the first innings.  

South African legend Herschelle Gibbs was a glorious cricketer, who alongwith Jhonty Rhodes took fielding to a different level.  However, 13th June 1999 was a day that Gibbs would want to forget as he dropped the catch of Steve Waugh !  Actually it was not even a drop, he caught and threw the ball up in a trice and failed to catch it back.  It was held that he had not had control over it and hence not considered as a catch !!   -  Waugh walked a couple of steps towards mid-wicket to say – ‘you have dropped the cup, mate!’- that  ultimately had an impact on how things would unfold in the semi-final.  

Australian chase didn't get off to a good start as they were reduced to 48/3 within the 12th over. Aussie skipper Steve Waugh played aggressively taking score to 149/3 in 30 when a flick of Lance Klusner went straight to Gibbs and his premature celebration ended up on the wrong side !  

India has   reached the World Cup final in emphatic fashion,  players are relishing  getting the best fielder medal, a dressing-room award given by their fielding coach, T Dilip. He has announced the winners in a creative fashion, sometimes via the giant screen, the Spidercam and even the boundary-side camera buggy. In the  semi-final against New Zealand, he kept it simple, declaring Ravindra Jadeja the winner through the dressing-room TV.    

Butterfinger – those of us played street cricket or beach cricket – the tennis ball would have been hit hard and would have gone up looking a lemon, coming down – you are under it, expecting it to land in your palm.  There is wind and it drops much away from where you stand or lands exactly on the hand and pops out – you drop your head in shame, not wanting to see any of your co-players – possibly that some let down expletives! Moment of embarrassment !! 


Butterfinger is a candy bar manufactured by the Ferrara Candy Company, a subsidiary of Ferrero.  It consists of a layered crisp peanut butter core covered in a "chocolatey" coating.  It was invented by Otto Schnering of the Curtiss Candy Company in 1923. The name was chosen by a popularity contest.  In its early years, the Butterfinger was promoted by Shirley Temple in the 1934 film Baby Take a Bow.  

The noun ‘Butterfingers’ would mean -  a person who drops things they are carrying or trying to catch: (not necessarily a cricket ball, someone dropping dish, plate and the like too) 

While everyone would have dropped something at somepoint of time, we are so engrossed with records that one would like to know – ‘who was the first to drop a catch first!’    

Today’s Guardian (UK newspaper) has an interesting article on this - Thomas Waymark,  was an English professional cricketer in the first half of the 18th century.   He is one of the earliest known players on record. In  1730 season, a match between the teams of his patron, Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond, and Sir William Gage was postponed "on account of Waymark, the Duke's man, being ill"  It was Waymark’s misfortune that the poet James Love (real name James Dance) was present at a highly anticipated game on 18 June 1744. 

The match was between a so-called England side, for which Waymark was playing, and one from Kent. It was held at the Artillery Ground, which still survives, hemmed in by London’s urban sprawl. The occasion was arranged by Lord John Sackville, an influential nobleman from Kent and Waymark’s great patron. It was a society occasion, and it is known that Prince William, the Duke of Cumberland, who was to attract infamy for the brutality with which he put down the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, was in attendance.

The match was low-scoring one,  keenly fought. England made 40, with Richard Newland, a leading player from Slindon in Sussex, making 18 of them. In response Kent made 53. England fared better second time round, making 70, leaving Kent 58 to win. It was near the end of the match when Waymark’s unfortunate moment came, with the last pair at the wicket needing just three to win. It was recorded by James Love as follows, with Waymark’s identity thinly, and completely ineffectively, disguised; 


The erring Ball, amazing to be told!

Slip’d thro’ his out-stretch’d Hand,

and mock’d his Hold.”


It was an unfortunate drop at an unfortunate moment, with Kent going on to win. Whether Waymark would have been singled out if he were from a more illustrious background is debatable, particularly when the language used by Love to praise Lord John Sackville’s catch in the same match is considered. It was Waymark’s bad luck that Love’s verse survived and is accepted to be the earliest known poem about the game.   


Now a dropped catch, in a vital game, would remain etched in memories of followers of the game and would be sure part of memes in social media.

Interesting !!
With regards – S Sampathkumar



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