|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
A Tendulkar masterclass in Chennai
Among Sachin Tendulkar's finest hours. He took the first Test against Australia in Chennai by the scruff of the neck today with a majestic unbeaten 155. The Aussies led by 71 on first innings, but Tendulkar's 191-ball masterclass, which included four sixes, 14 fours and a calculated assault on Shane Warne, changed the momentum of the whole series. Australia collapsed on the final day to lose by 179 runs, and India went on to win 2-1.
An English run-machine is born. Only Jack Hobbs, Frank Woolley and Patsy Hendren have made more first-class runs than Phil Mead (55,061), and nobody has made more for one team than the 48,892 he piled up for Hampshire. Solid in defence and a crisp strokeplayer, Mead was extremely prolific for England too. He averaged 49 over 17 Tests, including an unbeaten 182 at The Oval against the rampant 1921 Australians. John Arlott wrote: "First he touched his cap four times to short leg (whether that fieldsman was there or not), then he tapped his bat four times in the crease and, finally, took four small, shuffling strides up to it. Then, and only then, the bowler might bowl: if he tried to do so before the ritual was completed, Philip stepped away from his stumps and, when the bowler stopped, started the whole procedure over again." Mead played his last Test at 41; he went blind later in life and died in Boscombe in 1958.
World Cup quarter-final day, and the systematic obliteration of English hopes. The manner in which Sanath Jayasuriya assaulted the England bowlers in Faisalabad bordered on the indecent. His 82 took only 44 balls, with 22 off one over from Phil DeFreitas, including a six that almost took out half the press box. Earlier he had lost his opening partner, Romesh Kaluwitharana, for 8... off three balls. England were never in the hunt, and only a fierce 67 from DeFreitas - who was promoted to No. 5 - got them to what was still a grossly under-par total of 235. Sri Lanka sped past it with almost ten overs to spare, and their approach took them all the way to a famous victory over Australia in the final eight days later.
On the same day, India knocked out Pakistan, the holders, in a dramatic clash in Bangalore. The match ultimately hinged on Waqar Younis' last two overs, which Ajay Jadeja smashed for 40. After that, despite an opening stand of 84 in ten overs, Pakistan were always behind the eight ball. Effigies of Wasim Akram, the Pakistan captain who pulled out at the last minute with a side strain, were burned in the streets, and his house was pelted with rotten eggs and stones. A number of Pakistan fans committed suicide, including one man who shot his TV and then himself. The match also marked the end of Javed Miandad's international career, in what was a record sixth World Cup appearance.
Another Sri Lanka-England meeting, and more fireworks. But this time they were of a less savoury variety, as anarchy reigned in a fractious second Test in Kandy. Today was the day when it all went off: there was a hoo-hah over Sanath Jayasuriya's bump-ball dismissal, Mike Atherton's finger-wagging spat with Kumar Sangakkara, and a wretched performance from umpire BC Cooray. All's well that ends well, though - for England anyway, who squeezed home by three wickets thanks to a trademark counter attack from Graham Thorpe and a first-innings century from Nasser Hussain.
When he made his debut in 2002, Parthiv Patel, born on this day, was the youngest wicketkeeper to play a Test. He scored an unbeaten 19, which helped stave off a defeat against England. But his glovework varied from the competent to the shoddy - he was splendid in the home series against West Indies in 2002-03, but struggled to inspire confidence thereafter, especially when standing up to the spinners. His ability with the bat ensured that he got an extended run - he scored an aggressive 62 in Sydney in 2003-04 and 69 opening against Pakistan; but those batting performances weren't enough to gloss over increasingly poor work behind the stumps and he was dropped in 2004. He got a call-up in 2008 and played one Test against Sri Lanka. He was recalled to the one-day side in 2010, after six years, as an injury replacement opener, and made four half-centuries in ten innings - against New Zealand, West Indies and England.
A second consecutive series win for Sri Lanka in Pakistan was sealed with a 57-run victory in the second Test in Peshawar. Muttiah Muralitharan was to the fore with ten wickets, and Russel Arnold made a classy 99 in a low-scoring match. It all added up to bad news for Pakistan - it was their fourth home series defeat in five.
Because of the political situation in South Africa, Lee Irvine, who was born today, played only four Tests - but what a quartet it was: South Africa's 4-0 demolition of Australia in 1969-70, their last series for 22 years. Irvine, the son of a Natal baseballer, was a punishing left-hander - he hit 26 sixes in his first season with Essex, in 1968 - who was just coming into his prime when he and South Africa were cut off. He made 102 in his last Test innings, on his 26th birthday.
England snatched a three-wicket win in Port Elizabeth with less than a minute left for close of play - Jack Crapp hitting ten runs off three balls - after Dudley Nourse set them a target of 172 in 95 minutes. Nourse and Billy Wade (125) had taken South Africa to 379 in the first innings and then George Mann scored an unbeaten 136 to give England a marginal lead. Nourse declared at 187 for 3 on the final day (of the four-day match). England looked set for the win at 104 for 1 but they lost six wickets for 49 runs before Crapp made an unbeaten 26 to give them a 2-0 series win.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Martin Crowe: Authorities must not give leeway to those with dodgy actions to maintain a balance between bat and ball
Couch Talk: Jim Maxwell talks about his early days, and why commentators need to stay in touch with cricketers
My XI: Martin Crowe on Tendulkar's finely calibrated footwork
Rob Steen: Careers tend to blossom or fizzle out depending on a sportsman's craving for success
Anantha Narayanan: A look at Test teams across the years, measuring the peaks of each team
A gutting loss to England, after leading the series 1-0, has thrown up some glaring inadequacies in the Indian team but there is little being said or done in terms of improvement
His rapid improvement with the ball has been integral to England coming from behind to lead the series - but that is just one area where Moeen Ali continues to impress
After 8-0, MS Dhoni could look forward to building a team from scratch; now, there is nothing left for him to contribute. Free him from the Test captaincy and he could yet give back in other ways
For all MS Dhoni's many trophies and accomplishments, Test cricket continues to resist his magic and indefinitely postpone his motorbike ride into the sunset
His decisions in the England series have seemed to confirm that he does not care too much for the Test game. Maybe he should be concentrating on the World Cup
With too great an emphasis on limited-overs cricket, MS Dhoni's side have a set of skills and a level of concentration that are not commensurate with the necessities of Tests