Master blaster Gary Bettison used his sixth sense to devastating effect – sensationally smashing six sixes off consecutive balls in one dream over to batter his way into the Wetherby League record books.
The powerhouse Barwick-in-Elmet batsman – a bustling prop for rugby league side Whinmoor Warriors in the winter – obliterated the bowling of luckless St Chad’s rival Zai Ali in his side’s seven-wicket Division One victory at Chads’ Headingley base.
The 20-year-old’s destructive exploits ensured his place in cricketing folklore and had officials scurrying for the record books. The feat is something only a select handful of first-class cricketers, including Sir Gary Sobers, Yuvraj Singh and former Yorkshire Twenty20 signing Herschelle Gibbs, have managed.
Not bad for a player who wasn’t planning to don his whites at all in 2011.
Bettison, who went out to celebrate with his team-mates in Headingley following his stellar show, said: “I was absolutely ecstatic. All my team-mates were taking the mickey afterwards saying that after getting 56 not out off 21 balls why did it take you so long to reach your half-century after getting 36 off six balls!
“I wasn’t going to play this year because I play rugby league for Whinmoor Warriors and was just going to go to rugby training. But my mate talked me into carrying on and I started really well and just seem to be enjoying it a lot more this year than before.
“I’ve been in good form and hit a good ton against Kirk Deighton recently. The closest I’d got to six sixes before, I once hit five sixes in an over against Caribbean in under-17s cricket.”
The big-hitting 6ft 2in batsman, an apprentice craftsman who works for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, admits he was shaking like a leaf for the final two balls of the over with both team-mates and spectators captivated by his exploits and willing him on.
But he held his nerve in majestic fashion in front of a crowd who included his proud dad Dave, and Barwick plan to mark his feat at their end-of-season presentation evening.
Bettison said: “I felt something special might happen after the third ball.
“After the first two balls, I said to the batsman at the other end (Nicky Swailes) I’m going to calm down and take it steady. But then I hit another one and I spoke to Nicky again, because that particular ball was lost, and I just said I’d go for it –though I’d wait to see what the next ball was like.
“When the fourth one went, I knew I wasn’t going to get another chance like this for a long, long time.
“When I was taking to Nicky at the other end before the fifth ball, I said: ‘My legs are shaking here!’ But I managed it.
“I hit the first one over long on and the next five between mid-wicket and long on.
“I played them all off my legs and I lost a couple of balls into the bushes on the other side and they had to get the spare ball out.
“They all cleared the boundary pretty well and would have been six on any ground really.
“One cleared the trees and nearly went onto the main road where Woodies pub is. The other five all cleared the road into the ground and landed near the village hall where the cars were parked.”