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April 3 down the years

Lashing Langer

Justin Langer wallops a run-a-ball 122 not out

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Justin Langer: the best one day, dropped the next
Justin Langer: the best one day, dropped the next © AFP
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2000
Forget Tendulkar, Lara, even the Waughs: this was the day Steve Waugh announced that Justin Langer was the best batsman in the world. Langer walloped a run-a-ball 122 not out as Australia made light of a tricky target of 210 to beat New Zealand in a low-scoring third Test in Hamilton, their 10th win in a row. It was Langer's fourth century in the space of eight Tests, but maybe it went to his head, because he got only two fifties in his next eight, and at the start of the 2001 Ashes tour, 15 months after his captain labelled him peerless, Langer was dropped. However, he got another chance in the final Test of the series, at The Oval, and he grabbed it with both hands, making a gutsy 102 before retiring hurt. That began a great patch as he forged a formidable opening combination with Matthew Hayden, giving Australia some rousing starts. As for this match, Daryl Tuffey made his debut, and his figures were an x-rated 9-0-75-0 and 11-1-52-0.

1971
An unprecedented protest against racism took place in South Africa when all the players left the field after one ball of the match between Transvaal and The Rest, a game organised by the government to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the formation of the Republic of South Africa. The walk-off came about because the government had blocked the selection of two coloured players for the 1971-72 tour of Australia. "We cricketers feel the time has come for an expression of our views," a statement said. Frank Waring, the minister of sport, dismissed it as "merely a gesture."

1973
Nobody in the history of the game has had quite as bittersweet a debut as Indian left-arm spinner Nilesh Kulkarni, who was born on this day. Against Sri Lanka in Colombo in 1997-98, he became the first Indian and the 12th person to take a wicket with his first ball when he dismissed Marvan Atapattu... but he ended with figures of 70-12-195-1. He actually got off quite lightly: this was the match in which Sri Lanka made a Test-record 952 for 6, and Anil Kumble and Rajesh Chauhan went for 223 and 276 respectively. Kulkarni only played two Tests after that one, but he'll never forget one of them - he was waiting, padded up, when India sealed a famous two-wicket win over Australia in Chennai in 2000-01.

1930
The start of the second-longest Test of all - and it still didn't produce a result. Nine days' play - the last two admittedly washed out - ended in stalemate in the fourth Test between West Indies and England in Kingston, but not before records (all subsequently broken) for the longest match, highest total, highest individual score, and match aggregate had been set. Andrew Sandham set the third of those marks, completing the first Test triple-century shortly before the close of the second day. He ended the day on 309, and was dismissed early the next morning for 325. In all, he batted 10 hours, and his score remained the highest by a No. 2 in Tests for 73 years, until Australia's Matthew Hayden scored 380 in 2003.

1899
A fine day for South African allrounder Jimmy Sinclair, who became the first man to score a century and take six wickets in an innings, in the second Test against England in Cape Town. It was also South Africa's first Test century, but it made no difference to the result - England won by 210 runs when South Africa were routed for just 35 in their second innings.

1989
Hard-hitting Sri Lanka batsman Thisara Perera, born today, first came to notice during an under-pressure cameo against India in Mirpur in 2010. From there he made it to the World Twenty20 squad and then the 2011 World Cup side, but mostly went under the radar in the global tournaments. He made his maiden one-day half-century in South Africa, a few months after playing his first Test in England in 2011.

1964
Delhi middle-order batsman Ajay Sharma, born today, is best known for being banned for life in December 2000, along with Mohammad Azharuddin. He played only one Test - against West Indies in Chennai in 1987-88, the match in which Narendra Hirwani took 16 wickets - but he did finish with a monstrous first-class average of 67.

1916
Birth of Cliff Gladwin, the lanky Derbyshire seamer who played eight Tests for England in the 1940s. Gladwin is remembered for his feats with the bat, though: he and Alec Bedser scampered the winning leg-bye off the last ball in Durban in 1948-49. In all, Gladwin took over 1600 first-class wickets at an average of just 18. He died in Derbyshire in 1988.

1964
Birth of the man who instigated one of the greatest shocks in cricket history. In the 1996 World Cup, hapless Kenyan wicketkeeper Tariq Iqbal looked like he would struggle to catch a cold. But he somehow held on to a chance offered by Brian Lara, taking it between his ample thighs, and set in motion an extraordinary West Indies collapse: they were dismissed for a pathetic 93 and famously beaten.

Other birthdays
1884 Jimmy Matthews (Australia)
1936 Shakoor Rana (Pakistan)
1963 Zakir Khan (Pakistan)
1981 Sewnarine Chattergoon (West Indies)

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