Greatest moments in Otago sport - Number 92

The Otago Daily Times counts down the 150 greatest moments in Otago sport.

No 92: Fisher gets a nine-for (1897)

Arthur Fisher shows his left-arm style. Photo from ODT files.
Arthur Fisher shows his left-arm style. Photo from ODT files.
Cricket was a very different beast when Otago left-armer Arthur Fisher was forging his reputation.

In the late 19th and early 20th century the game was played on surfaces which would, at best, be described as a minefield by today's standards.

The batsmen were very poorly equipped. A towel stuffed down their trousers and some wafer-thin leg guards was about as good as the protection got.

The contest between bat and ball was heavily stacked in the bowlers' favour and statistics from the era point to a game dominated by the ball.

That said, Fisher's remarkable achievement of nine for 50 against Queensland at Carisbrook in January 1897 should not be dismissed so easily. Bowling a good line and length is an art regardless of what era you play and there is plenty of evidence to suggest Fisher did as much as the pitch to earn his wickets during a first-class career which spanned 20 summers.

He bowled in tandem with spinner Alexander Downes for most of his career but had to carry the attack against Queensland.

The Otago Witness described his effort as "an excellent performance" considering what little support he had.

"The feat of securing nine wickets for 50 runs and of bowling with capital judgement throughout a long innings, whence he was not stimulated by the efforts of the other bowlers, can only be described as a distinctly fine one."

Hardly effusive praise and perhaps a reflection it was not so incredibly special for the time.

Interestingly, Otago lost the game by eight wickets. Had Otago won, the effort would have likely attracted more attention.

His record haul, though, has stood the test of time. It remains an Otago record with just two other bowlers taking nine wickets in an innings for the province.





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