September 24, 2003

An Indian hero

Wisden CricInfo staff

All Today's Yesterdays - September 24 down the years

September 23 | September 25

1950
The boyish good looks of Mohinder Amarnath, who was born today, hid a steely resolve. A beautifully orthodox right-hander, Amarnath saved his best performances for the fearsome West Indies pace attacks. He made 85 in Trinidad in 1975-76 as India made the highest ever fourth innings score to win a Test (406 for 4) and was Man of the Match in the 1983 World Cup Final, scoring 26 and taking 3 for 12 with his useful medium-pacers in one of cricket's greatest upsets. The preceding winter Amarnath showed remarkable consistency in making 1182 runs at 69.53 in 11 overseas Tests, five of which were in the Caribbean and none of which India won, although the following winter our man made just one run in six innings as the West Indian quicks wreaked their revenge. The son of the great Indian captain Lala, Amarnath also captained Delhi to the Ranji Trophy in 1981/82 - he scored 185 as they overhauled Karnataka's 705 to win an extraordinary final - and made a century before lunch against Northants in 1986.

1858
The birth of the first man to make a Test hundred at the home of cricket. An outstanding all-rounder, rated by his peers as second only to WG Grace, Allan Steel made 148 to inspire England to victory over Australia in the first Lord's Test in 1884. He played in eight Tests between 1880 and 1888, averaging 35 with the bat and 20 with the ball. Though not a regular captain of county or country, he had an improbable run of success as skipper: Marlborough over Rugby, Cambridge over Oxford, Gentlemen over Players, Lancashire over Yorkshire and England over Australia. A fiendishly accurate right-arm slow bowler with the ability to spin the ball both ways, Steel became MCC President in 1902 but died in London 12 years later.

1924
One of a rare breed was born. Wicketkeeper Simpson Guillen, better known as Sammy, is one of only 14 men to play Test cricket for two countries (the two most recent are Kepler Wessels and John Traicos). Guillen played 5 Tests for the West Indies in 1951-52 before taking up residence of New Zealand and playing for Canterbury. Just under four years later he played three Tests for New Zealand against the West Indies. The last act of his Test career was a historic one: Guillen stumped Alf Valentine to seal New Zealand's first ever Test victory, for which they had waited 26 years and 45 matches.

1946
Birth of the popular, genial Pat 'Percy' Pocock, the Surrey and England offspinner who never quite fulfilled his potential at the top level. His 25 Test appearances were spread over 17 years, the last nine in consecutive matches after he was given a surprise recall in 1984 to end an eight-year hiatus from Test cricket. With 67 wickets at over 40 and a strike rate almost in three figures, the popular Pocock was typical of the increasing toothlessness of English finger-spinners at the very highest level, although he was highly successful with Surrey. He took 1607 first-class wickets and produced an amazing performance against Sussex in 1972, taking four wickets in four balls, five in six, six in nine and seven in eleven. Unsurprisingly, the last two are records.

1983
Unlucky 13 for Pakistani opener Mohsin Khan, who in the second Test against India in Jalandhar became the 13th person to be dismissed by the first ball of a Test match, and the first for almost nine years, when he was trapped lbw by Kapil Dev. Watching on at the non-striker's end was debutant Shoaib Mohammad, son of the great Hanif. A chip off the old block, Shoaib went on to make 2705 Test runs at an average of almost 45.

1975
The Fleming Premier Baking Woman Player of the Year was born. Claire Taylor, not to be confused with Yorkshire and England medium-pacer Clare Taylor, had a slow start to her international career, but made a mockery of a previous highest score of 18 with a defiant 137 in England's second Test defeat to Australia at Headingley last summer. A solid right-hand bat and wicketkeeper, Taylor read Maths at Oxford, where in addition to playing cricket she captained the hockey team. She also represented England's hockey team at U-17 and U-19 levels.

1986
A thunderstorm in Hyderabad meant that the third one-day international between India and Australia was abandoned with no result, but not before that chubby Queenslander Greg Ritchie had flayed a 53-ball 75, including 22 off Madan Lal's last over.

Other birthdays
1953 Pervez Mir (Pakistan)
1966 Atul Bedade (India)