Horace Dennis Smith, a New Zealand fast bowler who was born on 8th January 1913 has a unique record in his name.


Horace Dennis Smith was a right arm medium fast bowler from New Zealand debuted in test in 1933 against England at the age of 20. Herbert Sutcliffe was already sent back to the pavilion by Ted Badcock at the very first ball of the match. Then Smith came to bowl the first over of his test career. His first delivery cut back to hit the middle and leg stumps. Eddie Paynter was bowled at the first ball of second over and England were 4 for 2. It might have been three wickets down for England soon and Walter Hammond was dropped at slip in the first over. Then he went on to make a terrific 227 to put a mammoth score of 560 for England.

 

Incidentally, Smith became the tenth bowler in this history of test cricket to a wicket with his first ball. It became the only wicket of his entire test career that consisted of one test match.  After conceding 113 runs in 20 overs and not taking another wicket, Smith was named the twelfth man in the next test match and was never called back again for another test. Smith became the second bowler from New Zealand to have added such record against his name. The first one was Matt Henderson. He also played his single test match against England in 1930. His first wicket was Eddie Dawson in the first ball of his career. The one down batsman Kumar Shri Duleepsinhji became the second and last wicket of Henderson’s career. Henderson and Smith had one more similarity. While both of them took wickets of one of the openers in their respective maiden test matches, Ted Badcock took the other opener out in both the matches.

Smith played 11 matches in first-class cricket. He made his debut at a very young age of 18 for Otago. In Plunket shield in 1932-33, he took seven wickets at 14.00. With a highest score of 52, he also batted well to add 147 runs for Otago. His opening partner in his only test, Ted Badcock was his teammate in Otago team and Smith was replaced by another Otago colleague Jack Dunning in New Zealand test cricket team. He took a transfer to Canterbury for the 1933-34 season but his stunt for Otago was more effective. He played six times for Otago and four for Canterbury and took seventeen wickets at 33.52 and scored 404 runs with an average of 22.44. Smith stopped playing first-class cricket too after turning 21.

There are twenty bowlers till date in the history of test cricket who have taken the first wicket with the first ball of their career. But there are only two who have failed to make it to the second and of them is Horace Dennis Smith. Another one is Hardus Viljoen from South Africa. Hardus played his first and only test match till date in 2016 and like Smith, he also played it against England. Since he is still very much active in the cricket circuit, we can hope for his test come back which will eventually make Smith the lone bearer of such record.

 

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