Poacher-turned-gamekeeper

Rob Smyth

May 24, 2003

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All Today's Yesterdays - May 24 down the years

1942
Birth of the Godfather of South African cricket. Ali Bacher was a chunky No. 3 batsman who captained one of the finest Test teams in history - the 1969-70 side, including such luminaries as Graeme Pollock, Barry Richards and Mike Procter, who beat Australia 4-0 in South Africa's final series before isolation. Bacher played 12 Tests in all, with a highest score of 73 at Port Elizabeth in the final match of that series, but he is best known for his work as an administrator - both before and after South Africa's return to the fold in 1991. Bacher organised numerous rebel tours - his chief motivation was to provide spectators with high-quality cricket - introduced coaching courses to black townships, and was managing director of the UCB from 1991 to 2000. His nephew Adam played 19 Tests for South Africa between 1996 and 1999.

1969
Birth of the rat who joined a sinking ship. That's what the Australian newspapers called Martin McCague - who was born in Ulster and raised in Australia - when he made his debut for England against Australia at Trent Bridge in 1993. McCague became a bit of a watchword for incompetence, especially after his nervy horror-show at Brisbane in 1994-95, but it's easy to forget just how well he bowled on his debut. He roughed up the Australian batsman - dismissing Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh and David Boon, as well as taking a blinding catch to derail a rampant Mark Waugh - and changed the mood of the match, setting the tone for Graham Thorpe's debut century in the second innings. In Wisden Cricket Monthly, David Frith wrote that, "So fired was up was he that his first overs must have ranked with the briskest of Tibby Cotter and Keith Miller at this historic venue." In the same magazine, Bob Willis mused that "We will hear more of Mr McCague before this series is out." Sadly, we didn't: suffering from injury, he was spanked all round Headingley, and his next, and last, Test was that Brisbane shocker 18 months later, although he continued to terrorise county batsmen with Kent. And according to Steve Marsh's autobiography, McCague consumed 72 pints of Guinness during his stag weekend in Dublin. David Boon, eat your heart out.

1988
England 3 West Indies 0. It doesn't happen too often, but on this day England completed their very own Caribbean one-day whitewash. It wasn't exactly payback time for the Test Blackwashes of 1984 and 1986 - or consolation for the 4-0 thumping England would get in the Test series which followed - but it was still pretty impressive nonetheless. In this Lord's match the Windies stuttered lamely to 178 for 7 - Des Haynes made 10 off 50 balls, Richie Richardson 13 off 46; even Neal Radford had figures of 11-2-29-0 - and England breezed home with five overs and seven wickets to spare.

1991
Three years to the day that they completed one West Indian one-day whitewash, England gained the first victory of another. This match at Edgbaston, which went to a second day, was a thriller: England were 152 for 9 chasing 174 when the debutant Richard Illingworth joined Mike Atherton. Viv Richards gambled and bowled his four quicks through, and Atherton and Illingworth eked England home against the gentle offspin and medium pace of Richards and Phil Simmons. Atherton's masterly 69 not out - nobody else exceeded 30 - showed again what an underrated one-day player he was.

1877
The lowest total in first-class history. Oxford University were sent tumbling for just 12 by MCC at Oxford, a nadir that was replicated by Northants 30 years later. There is one crucial difference, though: Northants had a full complement of batsmen; Oxford had one batsman missing.

1927
The end of an era. Yorkshire lost by eight wickets to Warwickshire at Hull, their first defeat in the County Championship for a record 71 matches and almost three years.

Other birthdays
1895 Hunter Hendry (Australia)
1926 Len Maddocks (Australia)
1938 Glen Hall (South Africa)
1956 Ijaz Faqih (Pakistan)

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