Ted Alletson's place in cricket history was secured over a period of 40 minutes on the 20th May 1911. Coming into bat at number nine, with Nottinghamshire looking almost certain to lose their Championship match against Sussex, Alletson produced a display of hitting never seen before or since.
Alletson up to that point had had trouble establishing a regular place in the powerful Nottinghamshire side. A fast-medium bowler who used his long arms to generate pace and bounce, he spent much effort attempting to develop a ball that broke away from the batsman at pace- essentially a fast leg-break. In consequence his accuracy suffered at times. A safe out-field with a good throw his batting up to this point had been of no consequence, his undoubted strength hampered by a lack of footwork.
The story of his great innings has been told many times, by John Arlott in his monograph Alletson's Innings, by Gerald Brodribb in Hit for Six, and in Benny Green's History of Cricket. Only in the team because on an injury to Wass, Alletson himself was troubled by a sprained wrist. He scored 47 in the 50 minutes before lunch, with a couple of big sixes. Told to "have a go" by his captain at the interval he made another 142 in just 40 minutes. He hit eight sixes in all - including one square-cut into the pavilion but most of them huge on-drives hit cleanly on the up from the crease. The longest hit was estimated at over 160 yards. At one point he made 115 out of 120 in 7 overs, and the last 89 runs were made in 15 minutes - and much time was spent retrieving the ball from the far reaches of the Hove Ground. He took a particular fancy to Killick a slow-left armer, hitting him for 34 in an over (three sixes and four fours - including two no-balls), a record that stood until Sobers hit his famous six sixes. The bowling was of good quality - Killick was a more than useful county bowler, and Relf had played in Tests, but they could do little against the power of his hitting. He was eventually out caught on the boundary (many said over the boundary).
His innings attracted widespread interest, and crowds flocked to see whether he could repeat the feat in Nottinghamshire's next match. He made 60 in thirty minutes against Gloucestershire, and was asked to play in the Test trial, where he failed. Although he still made the occasional big hit, the magic of that Hove afternoon was lost. By next season he was again having trouble keeping his place in the Nottinghamshire side, and concentrating on his bowling.
His career end somewhat sadly. In 1913 it seemed that he had mastered the fast leg-break and he started taking wickets consistently. In the next match however, the umpires indicated that his delivery was not within the bounds of the law. He was taken off after two overs, and did not bowl again that season. He tried again in 1914, and again was taken off on the umpires' advice - the end of his first-class career at the age of 30.
He served in the Artillery in the First World War, and then went to work in the Nottinghamshire coal-fields. After twenty years in the mines he retired, crippled by arthritis, and spent much of his remaining years in a wheelchair. A lesser man might have been embittered by such a fleeting moment of fame, and a sad end to a cricketing career. Alletson however remained in good humour, and much interested in cricket until his death.
(Article: Copyright © 2002 Dave Liverman)
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