Percy George Herbert Fender, popularly known as PGH Fender was a celebrated English cricketer who had played county cricket regularly before the Great War. Born on August 22, 1892, he went on to become one of the greatest captains for Surrey. In a career spanning more than 25 years, the all-rounder played First-Class and scored 19,034 runs with an average of 26.65 and picked 1,894 wickets at 25.05. He notched 21 hundreds, which include six double tons as well.
His Test record was moderate; however, Fender played a key role in mentoring the then English captain Douglas Jardine and helped him design the bodyline way of bowling attack during the 1932-33 Ashes series.
Not only was Fender a fierce hitter of the ball, but more reputed for his mix of medium-pacers and more importantly, for his astute and innovative leadership skills. However, on this day in 1920, 101 years ago, Fender etched his name on the record books by scoring the fastest ever ton in First-Class cricket. Playing against Northampton, the legendary cricketer reached his century in just 35 minutes which is still the least amount of time taken to reach a century.
Fender’s blitzkrieg of 113 runs included 16 fours and five maximum’s and remained not out. He also stitched an unbroken stand with teammate Alan Peach that lasted for 42 minutes and added 171 runs to the team’s total. While the exact number of balls was not known, experts suggest Fender’s innings may have taken around 40 to 46 balls.
In reply, Northampton lost their openers and finished the day on 59/2. The following day saw the hosts putting up some resistance, however, none of them made it big, and they ended up scoring 430-runs, setting the visitors a 118-run total for a victory. Surrey coasted to an eight-wicket victory and finished at third position that season, while Northamptonshire, third from bottom.
After a gap of 63 years, Lancashire’s Steve O’Shaughnessy famously equalled Fender’s feat in 1983 when he reached his hundred in 35 minutes against Leicestershire at Old Trafford.