Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The India born Englishman whose world record still remains unbroken

He was born in Hazaribagh in today’s Jharkhand more than one hundred and twenty five years ago. He was son of Judge but soon became an orphan. Sent back to England, the orphan once was selected to play cricket for his school.
The cricket match he played went on for days and the boy, born in India, went on to make 628 not out, a world record that stands to this day as the highest individual cricket score ever by anyone.
None of the greatest cricketers-Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Kapil Dev from India, Don Bradman,, Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh or the Chappel brothers from Australia, Viv Richards, Brian Lara, Garfield Sobers, Rohan Kanhai, George Hadley from West Indies, Javed Miandad, Zaheer Abbas from Pakistan or any Englishman or South African came even close to breaking this record. Nor has today’s Jharkhand hero, Dhoni, come anywhere near of sniffing distance of this unique record.
Surprisingly, the record holder never played first class cricket and he was killed when in action on the French front. His body was never found though the place where his body was buried has been identified.
He is Arthur Edward Jeune (James) Collins, better known today as AEJ Collins. He was born in Hazaribagh on August 18, 1885 and he died while fighting the Germans in the first World War on November 11, 1914.
He is more remembered as a 13-year-old school boy who set the world record which may perhaps never be broken. The innings was spread over four afternoons and what is truly amazing is that he carried his bat through in a school match.
Apart from his stupendous batting feat, he had a bagful of wickets and helped skittle the opponents for less than 200 runs in both the innings.
Collins was admitted to Clifton College in Bristol where he studied under scholarship. He joined Clifton College in September 1897, becoming a member of Clark's House and later switched over to North Town House.
Clifton, by then, had earned a reputation in England for sports. Even W G Grace  had admitted his sons to the institution. Apart from Cricket, Collins had also played Rugby, won a bronze in boxing.
It was June 1899 and a junior school house tournament was in progress at the school grounds and the teams were Clarke’s House and North Town House. Such school matches generally ended after both the teams completed their two innings. However, the matches finished within the stipulated days and the school authorities had The match was played at a small ground off Guthrie Road, Bristol, which is today named as Collins’ Piece.
The ground was small and the boundary was 17 yards on each side behind the two sets of stumps. One side of the field sloped towards the school.
The match began on a Thursday-June 22. Collins was the captain too and he won the toss and elected to bat. He came to the crease at 3-30 p.m., and by close of day, he had scored 200 not out, being dropped thrice-on 50, 100 and 140.
The match recommenced on Friday after two and half hours of school and Collins once again came to the crease as he was the not out batsman
Collins batted on and on and at 400  he nearly got out but Victor Fuller Eberle, the youngest player and just 11 years of age, dropped a sitter. Collins realized that he was onto something when he crossed 485 and the by now fairly large crowd which had come to watch him, applauded.
Collins was told that he had just beaten the world record of Andrew Stoddart. He then continued and by the end of the day had made 509 not out. The team score was a mind boggling 680 for 8.
It was then that Collins’ feat got rave reviews. The Times newspaper reported the new world record in its Saturday edition.
It, however, misspelt his name as AEJ Collins and this name struck to him for life.
The next  day being Sunday, the match resumed after Mass at around 12-30 p.m, By then a large crowd had gathered and it warmly applauded Collins.
Collins had been dropped again, on 556 and when he reached 598,  another wicket had fallen. The next day, the school extended the playing hours so as to finish the game but Collins was determined to go on and he did so in style.
A tired Collins was again dropped –first on 605 and again on 619. After just 25 minutes; play, Collins lost his final partner, Thomas Redfern, caught by Victor Fuller-Eberle at Point for 13. Collins was not out on 628.
In all, Collins had played less than seven hours' cricket, carrying his bat. He had hit one six, 4 fives, 31 fours, 33 threes, 146 twos and 87 singles.
A thoroughly demoralised  North Town House, were bowled out  bowled out for 87 in just 90 minutes of play on Tuesday. The match resumed on Wednesday (June 28) and North Town again collapsed,  making 61 in just over an hour. Clarke House won by an innings and 688 runs. Collins bowled medium pace and tool seven wickets in the first innings and four in the second.
The scoreboard still hangs at the ground today.
Despite this achievement, Collins was never to play first class cricket. He joined the British Army in 1902 and studied at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich and became an officer in the Royal Engineers. He served with the 2nd Sappers and Miners in India, and was promoted to Lieutenant on June 23,  1907.
He married Ethel Slater in 1914 and was sent to France when the world war broke out. He was killed in action, as a Captain  on November 11,  1914 in the first battle of Ypres.
The only person who came close to this record was Charles Eady, the Australian Test player. He made 566 against Wellington in Hobart in less than eight hours. This innings was spread over three weeks in March 1902.
Others near to this record are Dadabhoy Havewala (515), JC Sharp (505 not out), Malhotra Chamanlal (502 not out), and Brian Lara (501 not out). They are the only four apart from Collins and Eady to have scored 500 or more runs in one innings in any form of cricket.
This is the record of the Indian born Englishman who still holds the record.

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