Cricket lovers usually speak of Tilak Raj and Malcolm Nash when it comes to conceding the most runs in an over. Both of them conceded 36 runs to Ravi Shastri and Gary Sobers respectively. But Bert Vance went for 77 runs in a first-class match in February 1990.
This happened on the last day of the Wellington’s Shell Trophy match against Canterbury in Christchurch. This was the last game of the season and to secure the title it was a must win game for Wellington. They declared their innings on the final morning leaving Canterbury a target of 291 in 59 overs. Canterbury started losing wickets at regular intervals and slumped to 108 for 8. But Lee Germon and Roger Ford were trying their best to draw the match.
When the penultimate over started, coach John Morrison and Erv McSweeney, Wellington’s captain-wicketkeeper decided to let Canterbury score enough runs so that reach close to the target. Bert Vance who was a batsman and nearing the end of his career was given the ball. When the over started Canterbury was 196 for 8 and Germon was batting on 75.
Vance bowled 17 balls, with only the second ball being legitimate. Rest were all no-balls. They were full tosses and slapped to the boundary. In the sixth ball, Germon reached his hundred and managed to score 70 runs in the over. He hit 8 sixes and 5 fours. Other batsman Ford scored 5 from the 2 balls he faced.
But the scorers were shocked and could not manage the scoreboard. They consulted the spectators for help. Evan Gray came to bowl the last over and both the teams were unaware that Canterbury had just 18 runs to score to win. Germon scored 17 runs off the first 5 balls of the last over. However since he was unaware of the score as the scorers were still busy with previous over’s proceedings, he blocked the last ball. When the players returned to the dressing room they came to know of the situation.
The arguments continued long after the match. “There were all sorts of debate discussing this outrageous situation,” recalled Morrison. Wellington were not given any points for this match but due to favourable results from two other matches they managed to win the championship.
It is unfortunate that Vance over did not receive more than just a footnote in the record books but the 182-run ninth-wicket stand remains a Canterbury record.