March 11 down the years

A late starter

Birth of an Indian colossus

Vijay Hazare: an Indian batting legend © PA Photos

One of India's greatest batsmen is born. Because of the Second World War, Vijay Hazare didn't play his first Test until he was 31, at Lord's in 1946. After a difficult start he announced himself with two centuries in the fourth Test in Adelaide in 1947-48, and a year later started a run of three centuries in consecutive innings against England - but because of India's spartan fixture list, the third didn't come until December 1951. India won only three of Hazare's 30 Tests: for him to average 47 under such circumstances shows just how good he was. He could look a little ungainly but had all the shots, and his first-class average was 58. That included an astonishing performance for The Rest against Hindus in 1943-44, where he made 309 not out in a total of only 387. Oh, and he took 60% of the wickets to fall (admittedly there were only five). All this, and his side lost by an innings.

The birth of a man who didn't take up cricket seriously until he was 22 but who made an immediate impression. Within a year Andrew Stoddart scored a world record 485 in 370 minutes for Hampstead against Stoics, all after spending the entire night before the game playing poker. The epitome of the late amateur Victorian sporting hero, he played rugby ten times for England, and 16 cricket Tests, leading England to Australia twice. But as he aged, his health deteriorated, and faced with his declining powers and burdened by financial worries, he shot himself three weeks after his 52nd birthday.

After a fairly slow start to the World Cup, Brian Lara was back to his brilliant best in West Indies' surprise quarter-final victory over South Africa. Lara flashed 111 off just 94 balls, and South Africa - who left out Allan Donald for Paul Adams - surrendered to spin, losing eight wickets to Roger Harper, Jimmy Adams and Keith Arthurton, and went down by 19 runs. It ended their run of ten wins in a row and West Indies, who 12 days earlier had lost to Kenya, were in the semi-finals, where they would meet ...

... Australia, who on the same day finished off New Zealand in a Madras cracker. New Zealand plundered 286 for 9, with Chris Harris belting 130 and Lee Germon 89. In reply Australia were stuttering a bit at 84 for 2 after 20 overs when Shane Warne clubbed a 14-ball 24. That gave them crucial momentum, the Waugh brothers added a quick-fire 86, and after Mark departed for a sublime 110 - his third century of the tournament, a record - Steve and Stuart Law did the rest in sedate style.

A scrapper is born. Jackie McGlew's stickability was such that the second syllable of his surname kept journalists in puns for years. But there was a reason for that: he played some fearsome defensive innings, and if ever a man could make Chris Tavaré look like Shahid Afridi, it was McGlew. He batted almost ten hours for 105 against Australia in Durban in 1957-58; at the time it was the slowest hundred in first-class history. Having said that, you don't get a Test average of 42 with just guts and a forward-defensive, and McGlew also captained his country in 14 Tests between 1955 and 1961-62. As well as that, he was a brilliant fielder, as vibrant and zesty in the covers as he was stoic at the crease. He died of a blood disorder in Pretoria in 1998.

The Master's first Test hundred. In his 12th Test, Jack Hobbs smacked South Africa for 187 in Cape Town, before he was out hit-wicket for the only time in his career. England hammered the South Africans by nine wickets, and there was agony for Aubrey Faulkner, the allrounder, who became the first South African to be dismissed for 99 in a Test.

As the scramble for World Cup semi-final places started to heat up, Australia were pushed to the brink of elimination when they lost by 48 runs to Pakistan in Perth. The Aussies had been cruising - 116 for 2, chasing 221 - but Mushtaq Ahmed sliced through the middle order, and despite a batting line-up that had Steve Waugh at No. 7, blind panic set in. It was the start of a run that would take Pakistan all the way to a glorious victory in the final.

Hasan Raza, born this day, made his Test debut at the tender age of 14 years and 227 days when he played against Zimbabwe in Faisalabad in 1996-97 - though plenty of doubt has since been expressed as to the validity of that age - and he made a sound 27 in a low-scoring game. That was it for two years, though, and his career was stop-start ever since.

Birth of mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis. Mendis and his finger-flicked legbreaks and "carrom ball" became a sensation when he dismantled India's famed middle order and took eight on debut and 26 in the three-Test series in 2008. Many hoped he would be Muttiah Muralitharan's successor but by the time Murali retired in 2011, Mendis wasn't even the first-choice spinner for the team. His variations had been found out, and he struggled to hold his place in the side, though he figured in the limited-overs teams for a while longer.

All 11 Australians got a bowl, including Rod Marsh, who whipped off his pads for the first ten overs of his Test career, as the second Test in Faisalabad drifted to sleep today. A rain-affected game produced 999 runs for the loss of only 12 wickets, including double-centuries for Greg Chappell and Pakistan's Taslim Arif, whose 210 not out was the highest Test score by a wicketkeeper until Andy Flower topped it in India in 2000-01.

The highest-scoring match in first-class history. There were 2376 runs scored for the loss of 38 wickets in the Ranji Trophy semi-final between Bombay and Maharashtra in Poona. In all, there were 19 centuries: nine from the batsmen, ten for the hapless bowlers. In context, Maharashtra's Bhausaheb Babasaheb Nimbalkar - who has a top first-class score of 443 not out - had a nightmare: he made 25 and 21.

Kennedy Otieno, born today, was instrumental in Kenya's run to the 2003 World Cup semi-finals. He featured in every game, scoring 60 in the win against Sri Lanka and blasting 79 against India in a Super Six defeat. In 2006-07 he signed a contract to play club cricket in Australia and missed out on making the squad for the 2007 World Cup. His brothers, David and Collins Obuya, also play for Kenya.

Dirk Viljoen, a left-hand middle-order batsman and slow left-armer, born today, was picked for the Zimbabwe squad shortly after his 20th birthday, and he soon came to be regarded by the selectors as a one-day specialist. But his batting increasingly disappointed and his bowling became expensive and he was dropped at the end of the 2001-02 series against England.

Other birthdays
1870 Arthur Ochse (South Africa)
1876 Walter Brearley (England)
1897 Dick Tyldesley (England)
1903 George Dickinson (New Zealand)
1934 Sydney Burke (South Africa)
1937 John Ward (New Zealand)
1951 Robin Brown (Zimbabwe)
1967 Andrew Zesers (Australia)