On the Front Foot: Pelted by bottles and cans, Snow business wasn't much fun

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The Independent Online

Forty years ago, England went to Sydney needing to win the match to win the series and the Ashes. They did so but not before a heck of a ruckus.

John Snow, who confirmed his greatness as a fast bowler on that tour by taking 31 Australian wickets, was warned for bowling bouncers in the climactic Test. When he went to the boundary at the end of the over he was attacked by a fan, then pelted by cans and bottles thrown on to the field.

The England captain, Ray Illingworth, led the team off. "I finished the over, went down to the fence and that's when the bottles and cans came flying over," said Snow.

"There were three English guys sitting in the stand about two rows back and they wanted to shake hands. I said we had better not with the bottles and cans [flying around] and thought I would just move along the fence a little bit to make sure I wasn't involved in anything. As I walked along I could see this bloke beating along, didn't think too much of it, stood there and watched the start of play and this bloke got hold of me, grabbed my shirt and pulled me. Fortunately the English guys had seen what was going on and they scampered round and got him round the neck and pulled him off me. So I got free, got out of range, and the next thing I knew Bob Willis tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'Come on Snowy, Raymond is taking us off'."

England eventually agreed to resume when the fans subsided and two days later won the match by 38 runs. It should seem like a walk in the park for the England of 2011. Some 30 years later, plans were made to bring Snow and his assailant together again but serious illness forced a cancellation.

"It would have been good to meet him again in different circumstances but it never happened," said Snow.

Boycott not such an expert

One notable absentee from that celebrated match was Geoff Boycott, the opening batsman who had done so much in helping to put England 1-0 up after five matches, scoring two hundreds and averaging 93.

Injury kept him out of the decider but, on the subject of winning in Australia, Boycott obviously knows what he is talking about. It was perhaps slightly surprising to hear him say on Test Match Special after three overs of the Melbourne Test: "I can't see how England are going to win this."

To which commentator Jonathan Agnew replied: "But we've only had 12 minutes." Geoffrey: "Well, I'm supposed to know what I'm talking about, so I'm an expert. That's why you do commentary, and I can't see any way."

Boycs was apparently on a roll after pointing out in Perth that Australia's 260 was nowhere near as bad as others were saying and would do nicely. So it proved, but he was spectacularly wrong in Melbourne having been emboldened by two early dropped catches. Of contrition so far there has been none.

ODIs reach landmark

More anniversaries. On Wednesday, it is 40 years since the first one-day international was played at Melbourne. It took place only because the first four days of the Test match were washed out.

Look what it led to. The first one-day half-century was scored by John Edrich, whose 82 took 119 balls, and England lost by six wickets. All sorts of events are planned to commemorate a form of the game invented by the accident of the weather.

2010 was Swann to remember

Graeme Swann took 64 Test wickets in 2010, more than any other bowler. The first men to take more than 50 wickets in a year were the Australians Hugh Trumble (53) and Monty Noble (51) in 1902.

Englishman Sydney Barnes's 1912 haul of 61 (in nine Tests) stood for 69 years until beaten by Dennis Lillee's 82 in 1981. The record calendar year tally is Shane Warne's 96 in 2005.