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May 2 down the years

The prince of Trinidad

A legend takes the stage

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Brian Lara has played some of the most famous innings of all time
Brian Lara has played some of the most famous innings of all time © AFP

Brian Lara, who was born today, was one of the game's most exciting batsmen, and the author of some of the most famous innings of all time: 375, 400 and 501, the highest in Test and first-class history, as well as 213 and 153 not out to single-handedly beat Australia in 1998-99. But his career had its fair share of problems and run-ins with authority, and as a captain he often struggled to inspire colleagues, although he was battling to lead a side in decline. Many hoped he would bow out on a high at the World Cup in the Caribbean, but West Indies were poor and Lara quit as captain amid rumours that he was pushed by the board. He deserved better.

Birth of the studious, systematic England batsman and captain Bob Wyatt, who played 40 Tests between 1927-28 and 1936-37. Wyatt, who was comfortable opening or in the middle order, made both his Test centuries against South Africa, at Old Trafford in 1929 and at Trent Bridge six years later. He first led England against Australia at The Oval in 1930, but in all, England won only three matches out of 16 under his stewardship. He was also vice-captain on the Bodyline tour. In fact, Bodyline was first bowled under him in a state game when Douglas Jardine was absent.

Five years after his debut, Carl Hooper finally made his first Test hundred in the Caribbean. And he turned it into a massive unbeaten 178, which included four sixes and came from only 247 balls, as Pakistan suffered in the Antigua sun. He added 106 for the last wicket with Courtney Walsh, manipulating the strike so expertly that Walsh faced only 31 balls in 23 overs. In that time, though, Walsh managed to rub salt into Pakistan's wounds, spanking 30 to equal his Test best.

In three days, Pakistan recorded the fifth-biggest victory in Test cricket, against New Zealand in Lahore, thanks to two outstanding performances: a triple-century from Inzamam-ul-Haq, and a career-best 6 for 11 by Shoaib Akhtar. Inzamam gave only one chance in his innings; his first 100 came in 191 balls, the second in 132, and the third, which contained seven fours and four sixes, at a run a ball, as he became the second Pakistani after Hanif Mohammad to make 300. That set the stage for Shoaib to steam in to take four in 25 balls. He sprained his ankle when he tripped over in his follow-through and had to retire, but he returned on the third day to take two more and New Zealand were bowled out for 73 - the lowest innings total in Lahore - and for 246 in the second dig.

South African Johan Botha, born today, started out as a medium-pacer but took to offspin on the recommendation of the national coach Mickey Arthur. He made his international debut when Nicky Boje pulled out of a tour of India in 2005-06 due to match-fixing concerns, and though Botha didn't grab any headlines, the captain and coach persisted with him. However, in 2006, shortly after his Test debut, he was reported for having a suspect action and banned from bowling in international cricket by the ICC. Though cleared later, Botha continued to be called for an illegal action over the years. Despite these setbacks, he became a useful limited-overs player, even captaining South Africa in ODIs and Twenty20s. In 2013, he asked to be released from his national contract so he could take charge of South Australia.

A tragic end to the second ODI between West Indies and South Africa in Antigua, when Craig Edwards, a local man, was stabbed to death after getting involved in an argument with another spectator as they danced in the Double Decker stand.

Australian allrounder Simon O'Donnell thrashed 50 off only 18 balls against Sri Lanka in Sharjah, a one-day record until Sanath Jayasuriya got to work. In all, O'Donnell crashed 74 not out off 29 balls, an innings that included six fours and four sixes, and it was all very infectious: even David Boon belted 30 off just 18 balls.

One of Sri Lanka's first Test-class seamers is born. Ravi Ratnayeke ploughed a fairly lone furrow in the 1980s, and was only on the winning side once in 22 Tests. He was to the fore there, though, taking 5 for 37 in the second innings in Colombo in 1985-86 as Pakistan went down by eight wickets. Ratnayeke had also taken 8 for 83 against the Pakistanis in Sialkot earlier that winter, still the best Test figures by a Sri Lankan not called Muttiah Muralitharan. Ratnayeke could bat too - he was sometimes used as an opener - and made five Test fifties, all of them in his last eight Tests.

Big cricket's first one-day match. Long before the idea to put cricketers in pyjamas was conceived, MCC thrashed Sussex in a day at Lord's to kick off the domestic season. MCC made 105, then Sussex were blown away for 42 and 59.

Other birthdays
1910 Laurie Nash (Australia)
1914 Dennis Dyer (South Africa)
1925 David Ironside (South Africa)
1929 Graham Gedye (New Zealand)
1940 Bryan Davis (West Indies)
1955 Ian Callen (Australia)
1973 Julie Hayes (Australia)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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