When one asks a trivia question on cricket – Who has conceded the most runs in a single over in any form of cricket? Many cricket fans in the modern era will say 43 runs conceded by Willem Ludick to Joe Carter and Brett Hampton in a List A game between Central Districts and Northern Districts in Hamilton in 2018. The feat is remarkable but the answer is actually wrong. In 1990, during the Shell Trophy tournament clash between Wellington and Canterbury, the domestic First Class tournament in New Zealand, Bert Vance of Wellington conceded 77 runs in one over. Yes, it is a true story. The legend of the 77-run over has only grown in time and it nearly cost Wellington the championship.
In the match played in Christchurch in February 1990, Canterbury was chasing 291 for a victory against Wellington and had stumbled to 196/8 with just two overs remaining in the match. Erwin McSweeney, the Wellington captain decided to give Vance, who had played four Tests and eight ODIs for New Zealand from 1988 to 1989 and an occasional offspinner one over with Canterbury seemingly out of contention to chase the target down. However, carnage ensured and Lee Germon, the future New Zealand captain tore into Vance who proceeded to deliver one of the game’s most expensive overs.
Vance bowled plenty of no-balls and in total, he bowled 19 balls with only five legitimate deliveries as the umpire lost track. Germon and the non-striker Roger Ford tore into his bowling the sequence of runs conceded was 0444664614106666600401. Germon hit eight sixes and five fours while Gray hit nine runs. With 77 runs being scored, Canterbury needed 18 runs to secure victory and in the last over bowled by Evan Gray, Germon hit 17 runs and the scores were levelled, with Germon unbeaten on 160. However, the drama had not ended.
Vance’s over had caused plenty of confusion. The scoreboard was rendered inactive as the scorers struggled to make sense of Vance’s over and they resorted to asking the spectators who were present at the ground as to what had happened. In the end, the match ended in a thrilling draw and Wellington went on to win the Shell Trophy championship that season.
After the end of his cricketing career, Vance opened a new clothing store called Vance Vivian in Wellington. In an interview to Cricbuzz during the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, Vance spoke about how lucky he was to have a family business to fall back on. “We didn't get paid much back then and had to work when the games weren't on. I always wanted to play sport, but after that, it was tough for some guys to find long-term employment. I was very fortunate to have the family business,” Vance said.
The 77-run over will forever be remembered as the most expensive over ever bowled in First Class cricket for the time being. Next time one prepares for a quiz, remember this answer for the most runs conceded in one over.