The first to perform the feat was Alfred Shaw – famous as the man who delivered the first delivery in Test cricket. Playing for Nottinghamshire against Gloucestershire at Trent Bridge in 1884, he was 41 years old at the time. On the first day he took 8-29 including a hat-trick to rout the visitors for just 49 in their first innings. After Notts had replied with 105, he was up to his old tricks second time around, taking 6-36 including another hat-trick as Gloucestershire folded for just 63 and succumbed to a ten-wicket defeat.
Albert Trott was a fascinating player. More than a hundred years after his death he remains the only player to hit a ball over the current pavilion at Lord’s. He also played Test cricket for both England and Australia, and his figures of 8-43 on Test debut are still the best by anyone on their first appearance.
May 1907 saw him given a benefit match by Middlesex at Lord’s against Somerset. Somerset needed the small matter of 263 runs to win and had progressed to 56-0 thanks to their opening pair of Lionel Palairet and Len Braund. However, the entrance of Trott into the attack changed things. He started by dismissing Lewis, Poyntz, Woods and Robson from successive deliveries to reduce Somerset from 77-2 to 77-6 and subsequently wrapped up the innings with another hat-trick, this time dismissing Mordaunt, Wickham and Bailey. A possible defeat had been single-handedly turned into a stunning 166-run win.
Just five years passed before another bowler achieved the feat. Jimmy Matthews remains the only player to take two hat-tricks in the same Test. Playing for Australia against South Africa at Manchester in the Triangular Test Championship of 1912 he dismissed Rolland Beaumont, Sid Pegler and Tommy Ward to round off South Africa’s first innings. In the second innings, it was the turn of Herbie Taylor, Reggie Schwarz and Ward to become the hat-trick victims – the unfortunate Ward completing a ‘king pair’.
Charlie Parker was another man to perform great feats in his own benefit match. For Gloucestershire against Yorkshire in 1922 he hit the stumps with five successive balls, but the second delivery was a no-ball. Two years later, playing against Middlesex at the old Greenbank Ground in Bristol, his side was dismissed for just 31 batting first. Parker struck back, taking 7-30 in Middlesex’s first innings of 74, dismissing Test players Patsy Hendren, Gubby Allen and Frank Mann with successive deliveries. After Gloucestershire had fared much better with 294 in their second innings, which featured an unbeaten 174 from Wally Hammond, Parker took a further seven wickets in the second, including those of Mann, John Guise and Nigel Haig in a row to bowl his side to victory.
Surrey were without doubt the team of the 1950s in England, winning seven successive county titles, but Worcestershire had a successful season of their own in 1949, finishing third behind only Middlesex and Yorkshire – who shared the title. Towards the end of the season, at New Road, Worcestershire faced Surrey.
The home team struggled, having won the toss and chosen to bat, mustering only 142 as Alec Bedser and Stuart Surridge shared the wickets. However, they hit back, dismissing the visitors for 180, with the star of the show leg-spinner Roly Jenkins, who took 6-112, including a hat-trick of John Parker, Bedser and Surridge. After the home side had posted 254 second time around, Surrey were handily positioned at 107-4 chasing 217 to win. However, Jenkins weaved his magic again, dismissing captain Mike Barton, Anthur McIntyre and Bedser again to complete his second hat-trick, to precipitate a stunning collapse in which the last six wickets fell without addition to the score.
Despite playing just five first-class matches for Services in the 1963-64 season, Joginder Rao carved a permanent place for himself in the game's history. His debut came against Jammu & Kashmir at the Army Headquarters in Delhi in November 1963 and he marked it by taking a hat-trick. But even better was to follow. His next match came against Northern Punjab at Amritsar the following week. His Services side took a first-innings lead of 200 runs and he immediately caused trouble in Northern Punjab’s second innings when he dismissed Suresh Sharma, Brij Khanna and Bhupinder Singh with successive deliveries. He wasn’t finished though, as he then removed Rajinder Kale, Ramnath Paul and Bishan Bedi in a row to complete a second hat-trick in the innings and end with figures of 7-30.
The most recent to achieve the feat before Starc was Amin Lakhani, a twenty-year-old left-arm spinner who was attending Karachi University at the time. On India’s 1978-79 tour of Pakistan they played against “Universities and Young Pakistan” at Multan. Little did Indian captain Bishan Bedi realise that fifteen years on he would play for another team suffering two hat-tricks in the same match.
The University side batted first and made just 156, but India fared even worse, making just 149 in their first innings Lakhani was the hero, taking 6-58 including the wickets of Karsan Ghavri, Srinivas Venkataraghavan and Bharath Reddy with successive deliveries. The home team made 185 in their second innings, leaving the Indians 193 to win. It looked a certainty as they reached 167-3 with only 26 separating them from victory. Enter Lakhani again as he dismissed Jimmy Amarnath, Syed Kirmani and Kapil Dev in consecutive deliveries – a hat-trick featuring a total of 288 Test caps. However, Bedi had the last laugh this time, as the tourists sneaked home by two wickets.
So Mitchell Starc joins this select band of bowlers – and becomes the first to achieve the feat in first-class cricket in Australia. Australian fans everywhere will be hoping it is just the warm-up act for the Ashes.