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February 9 down the years

Ooh, aah, Glenn McGrath

One of the greatest seamers is born

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Glenn McGrath: three World Cup triumphs and one runner-up medal
Glenn McGrath: three World Cup triumphs and one runner-up medal © AFP

A metronome/nemesis is born. Describing Glenn McGrath in such terms has become a bit of a cliché, but there's a reason for that: no bowler has probed the corridor of uncertainty so inexorably, and no bowler has had such a remorseless capacity to nail the opponent he desires. He had a slowish start to his Test career (he was dropped with an average of 43 after eight Tests), but came of age on the seismic Caribbean tour of 1994-95. In all, McGrath dismissed Mike Atherton 19 times - a Test record - and Brian Lara 13 (almost twice as often as anyone else). A famously incompetent batsman, he received a massive ovation when he scored fifty against New Zealand in 2004-05. He retired on a high in 2007, having helped Australia to a 5-0 whitewash of England in the home Ashes and a World Cup win where he was Man of the Tournament.

Birth of one of England's greatest spinners. Jim Laker's signature moment was those 19 wickets against Australia at Old Trafford in 1956 - the greatest innings and match figures in Test history (the latter is a first-class record too). Australia can't say they weren't warned: Laker had taken all 10 against them for Surrey in a tour match earlier that summer. A modest and revered character, he took 46 wickets at 9.60 each in the five Ashes Tests of 1956. In a Test trial at Bradford in 1950, he returned the staggering figures of 14-12-2-8 - and one of those runs was a gentle one off the mark for his Surrey team-mate Eric Bedser. The Rest of England were bowled out for 27. Laker later became a BBC commentator. He died in Putney in 1986.

New Zealand prevailed over India by 40 runs in a nervy finish in Auckland. Brendon McCullum's double-hundred gave New Zealand a hefty advantage, but they collapsed to 105 all out in the second innings, setting India a target of 407 to get in a little over two days. By the time Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan had added 126 at more than four an over on day four, it began to increasingly look like India would chase it down. But New Zealand's seamers struck back - Neil Wagner picking up career-best match figures of 8 for 126 - and took their side to a memorable victory, even though MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja in a brief blaze of hitting briefly threatened to swing the game back in India's favour.

It was cold ones all round for Australia, who made it 15 out of 15 with victory over West Indies in the second one-day final in Melbourne. With a 5-0 whitewash of the same opponent in the Tests and ten wins out of ten in the one-day series, this was a perfect summer for Steve Waugh's boys. Though West Indies for once put up a decent fight, the result was never in serious doubt after Mark Waugh caned a majestic 173, the highest one-day score by an Australian.

The eighth World Cup kicked off in Cape Town... with a kick in the teeth for the hosts, South Africa. In a wildly fluctuating match, Brian Lara lined up the boot with a thumping century on his return from serious illness, and South Africa fell three runs short when Lance Klusener failed for the second World Cup match in succession.

Kenya may be struggling to achieve Test status, but an irrefutably Test-class player was born in Kenya on this day. Qasim Umar played 26 Tests for Pakistan in the 1980s, mostly as opener or at No. 3. He managed two double-hundreds too: 210 against India in Faisalabad in 1984-85, and 206 against Sri Lanka on the same ground a year later. Umar was put out to pasture quite early, though, and played his last Test at 29, after accusing his team-mates of discrimination and drug-trafficking.

Hanumant Singh went on to become a slightly taciturn match referee, but as a Test batsman he was more inclined to stamp his authority on proceedings. On this day he punished England with a century on his debut, 105 in the fourth Test in Delhi. Colin Cowdrey trumped that with 151, and the match petered out into a draw when the Nawab of Pataudi Jr made India's first double-hundred against England. Hanumant served Indian cricket as a national selector and a manager of the national side. He died in November 2006.

Birth of Maurice Read, who was more from the Stewart school than the Athertonian. He was a naturally attacking batsman, and the high point of his 17-Test career was a crucial 35 in a Test against Australia at The Oval in 1890, where no one made a fifty. It enabled England to scramble to their target of 95 with two wickets to spare. Read died in Hampshire in 1929.

When Plum Warner's MCC conceded a first-innings deficit of 51 to Victoria in a tour match at the MCG, it was important for them to get early second-innings wickets. They did: all ten of them. Victoria were all out for 15, the lowest score in Australian first-class cricket history. Without Harry Trott's 9, it really would have been messy. The Aussies were keen to point out that only ten men batted. With a first-class average of 4, the injured Jack Saunders could really have made a difference.

Other birthdays
1855 John Shuter (England)
1860 Frank Walters (Australia)
1878 Leonard Moon (England)
1882 Tom Campbell (South Africa)
1929 Lennox "Bunny" Butler (West Indies)
1963 Mike Rindel (South Africa)
1983 Ryan McLaren (South Africa)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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