On 31st July 1956, English Off-spinner Jim Laker took himself to a different plane with his outstanding bowling effort and achieved a record is may remain unbroken for ages.
Quite a few bowlers have taken all 10 wickets in a first-class match. Hedley Verity, who died on 31st July 1943, had once taken 10 wickets for just 10 runs against Nottinghamshire. But till 1956 no one could achieve the feat in a test match. Earlier in the season, Laker playing for Surrey against the touring Australians took all 10 wickets with a spell of 46-18-88-10. Now it was time for him to replicate the feat in tests.
In the 4th test of the 1956 Ashes at Old Trafford, there were furores by the Australians as the pitch looked under-prepared to help English spinners Jim Laker and Tony Lock. England batted first and posted 459 runs in their first innings thanks to centuries from Peter Richardson and David Sheppard. Australian spinners Richie Benaud and Ian Johnson took combined 6 wickets for 274 runs.
Australian openers batted steadily and added 48 runs, once Laker started bowling from Stretford end the turned on its head. He broke the partnership by taking out Colin McDonald and then immediately bowled Neil Harvey with a peach of a delivery to create a huge impact on the entire Australia team as panicked set in. Post Tea Australian batsmen surrendered meekly to Laker and from 48 for no loss got all out for 84 with Laker taking nine wickets and Lock getting the other wicket. It was the best ever bowling performance in an Ashes test and Australians had to follow on with a deficit of 375 runs.
Australia again started well and reached 53 for 1 at the end of day two with only Harvey getting a first-ball duck of Laker. Day three and day four were affected by rain and very few overs were possible. By the end of the day, four Australia were on 84 for 2 with Laker picking another. On day five, the rain stopped but in a drying sticky wicket Laker was lethal. He bowled brilliantly and once again ran through the Australian batting line up. From 114 for 2, the Australian were all-out for 205 with Laker picking up all the 10 wickets. It was a magical performance and put Laker into immortality for his achievement.
Australia lost the test match by an innings and 170 runs as Jim Laker finished with the match record of 19 for 90. Only Sydney Barnes had 17 wickets in a test match in 1913 as no other bowler could take more than 16 wickets in a test match and only Anil Kumble could take 10 wickets in an innings against Pakistan in 1999.