March 7 down the years

The swaggering king

Birth of the most fearsome hitter ever

Viv Richards: the coolest man ever to put on a pair of pads © Getty Images

The day the Master Blaster swaggered into the world. Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards' first step was probably a strut, accompanied by the laconic chewing of gum, because he is simply the coolest man ever to put on a pair of pads, as well as being arguably the most formidable hitter in the history of the game. Most sloggers leave much to chance; Richards averaged above 50. Take the fear Adam Gilchrist or Sachin Tendulkar engender in bowlers, multiply it by 10, and you're still nowhere near. Richards authored two of the best one-day batting performances - 189 against England in 1984, and 138 in the 1979 World Cup final; he also smashed the fastest Test century, off 56 balls against England in 1986, and 291 at The Oval in 1976, a year in which he whacked a then record 1710 Test runs. Richards was utterly fearless - he didn't do helmets - and his ability to leather straight balls through or over midwicket was legendary. He was knighted in 1999, and a year later was named one of Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Century.

Shortly after tea in Ahmedabad, Sunil Gavaskar moved to 58 and so became the first batsman to make 10,000 Test runs. A fervent crowd went mad and play was stopped for over 20 minutes. This was Sunny's 212th innings, in his 124th Test. As for the match, it was, unsurprisingly, a draw - the 11th in a row between India and Pakistan - a horrible affair in which Pakistan managed only 530 runs in 286.3 painful overs.

Birth of arguably England's greatest dual international. Left-hander Willie Watson is always remembered for his glorious rearguard action against Australia at Lord's in 1953. With England battling to save the Test on the final day, Watson and Trevor Bailey held the Australians up on a tricky wicket from 12.42pm until 5.50pm - 40 minutes before the close. It's a good job they did: at the close England only had three wickets to spare. Bailey later confessed to eating Watson's lunch as well as his own. Watson was also a member of England's 1950 football World Cup squad, and won four soccer caps. He emigrated to South Africa in 1968 and died there in 2004.

An unlucky Indian is born. Nari Contractor was an established opener with 31 Tests to his name when he faced up to Charlie Griffith in a tour match in Bridgetown in 1961-62. What followed wrecked his career: he ducked into a short one, fractured his skull, and for many hours his life was in danger. He recovered, and was playing first-class cricket within two years, but never played for India again. Contractor had started his first-class career with two centuries on debut - he is one of only seven men to achieve the feat.

Twin tons for Wajahatullah Wasti, who joined a pretty exclusive club (Hanif Mohammad, Javed Miandad, Yasir Hameed, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf are the only other Pakistanis to have made centuries in each innings) in the Asian Test Championship match against Sri Lanka in Lahore. Wasti made 133 (run out) and 121 not out - not bad for a chap playing in his second Test. Sadly for him, in five other Tests he failed to exceed 22. This match - in which Wasim Akram became the first bowler from the subcontinent to take a Test hat-trick - was drawn, eliminating India and ensuring that Pakistan and Sri Lanka would meet again in the final.

A lop-sided English scorecard in the second Test in Trinidad. David Gower made 66, Allan Lamb 62... and no one else reached double figures. In fact, only Paul Downton (8) got past 5. It was high-octane stuff: England were all out for 176 in only 44 overs, and Patrick Patterson returned figures of 8.4-0-60-2. England managed 315 in the second innings - their highest score of a humbling series - even though nobody made a half-century, though extras did scrape together 59. It didn't stop England getting hammered by seven wickets, though.

A mighty innings from South African opener Jackie McGlew. His first Test ton was extended to a nine-hour 255 not out against New Zealand in Wellington, and with South Africa winning by an innings, McGlew became only the second person - after Nazar Mohammad of Pakistan - to be on the field throughout a Test match.

The Waugh twins' final first-class match. Queensland racked up 418 and New South Wales declared on 196 for 4 - Steve scoring 65 and Mark 11 - after a large part of the third day was lost to rain. To get a result, Queensland also declared, at 54 for 1, and set NSW a target of 277. This time Mark scored a half-century, and Steve was out for 9. Andy Bichel picked up four wickets and New South Wales were bowled out 38 runs short.

Luke Wright, born today, was one of the contenders for Andrew Flintoff's place in the England side after he retired in 2009. He scored 50 against India at The Oval on ODI debut but the Test call-up wasn't in the horizon. Wright was part of England's victorious World T20 side in 2010 and made it to the squad for the 2011 World Cup.

Jack Ikin, born on this day, played 18 Tests for England between 1946 and 1955, scoring 606 runs with an average of 20.89 and taking three wickets at 118 runs each. A determined player, Ikin was adaptable and equally happy to open or to go in at No. 6 or 7. He was also a superb fielder, whether at short leg or in the slips.

Birth of Lopsy. South African left-arm fast bowler Lonwabo Tsotsobe took 4 for 50 on debut against Australia in Perth in 2009, and with the likes of Wayne Parnell became one of South Africa's second line of quicks, after Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. Tsotsobe had an ordinary start in Tests - two wickets in two Tests in West Indies in 2010, and while he remained in South Africa's plans for all formats, by 2011 he also had to compete for a place with Vernon Philander, who took eight wickets on debut against Australia and went from strength to strength thereafter. Tsotsobe's continued slide down the pecking order was capped in July 2017, when he was handed an eight-year ban for his role in a corruption scandal in South Africa's domestic T20 competition.

A hard-fought India-Australia thriller in Bengaluru that swung one way and then the other before the home side emerged on top on the fourth afternoon. Coming into the match 1-0 down, India sank further when they were all out for 189 in the first innings (Nathan Lyon took 8 for 50, the best innings figures by a visiting bowler in India), and when Australia got to 52 for no loss in reply, the writing seemed to be on the wall. But India came storming back on day three to finish on 274, on the back of a masterful 92 from Cheteshwar Pujara and fifties from Ajinkya Rahane and KL Rahul. Australia's chase of 188 began brightly, but they lost their last six for 11 runs to slump to defeat, in the process giving R Ashwin 6 for 41, his 25th Test five-for.

Other birthdays
1851 Frank Penn (England)
1860 Reginald Wood (England)
1864 George Bean (England)
1921 Joyce Christ (Australia)
1942 Umesh Kulkarni (India)
1963 Mohammad Ishaq (UAE)