In first-class cricket, what’s the highest number of runs scored off a single over?

According to Guinness World Records, the highest number of runs scored off a single over, albeit under contrived circumstances, was 77. In February, 1990, Wellington faced Canterbury in a three-day Shell Trophy match at Lancaster Park, Christchurch, needing to win to secure New Zealand’s domestic first-class cricket championship. At tea on the third and final day, Canterbury were showing little interest in chasing the 291 runs they needed to win the match, which looked to be heading for a draw.

However, Wellington coach John Morrison, captain Ervine McSweeney and batsman Bert Vance concocted a plan whereby they might be able to win the match after all. According to Morrison, they agreed that they would attempt to bowl the opposition out but, failing that, concede enough runs to tempt them into trying to win the match in the final over. In the penultimate over, Vance, who had not previously bowled in the match, came on to bowl, as agreed.

As Morrison put it, ‘It’s fair to say Bert embraced the instruction rather more than we imagined.’ Of his first 17 deliveries, just one was legitimate. Otherwise, Vance deliberately overstepped the popping crease, time and time, and sent down a series of inviting full tosses, which the Canterbury batsmen gleefully dispatched to boundaries all around the ground. Lee Germon, batting at number eight, scored 160 not out, including 16 fours and eight sixes. In a farcical climax, no-one really knew what the score was and, despite Canterbury needing just two runs off the last ball to win, the match ended in an thoroughly confusing draw. For the record, Wellington won the Shell Trophy in any case.

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