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February 12 down the years

Valiant Vishy

Lightning wrists, dazzling strokeplay, impeccable sportsmanship

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Gundappa Viswanath: a cricketing gentleman
Gundappa Viswanath: a cricketing gentleman © Getty Images
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1949
A cricketing gentleman is born. India's Gundappa Viswanath was as renowned for his sportsmanship - he cost India the Golden Jubilee Test when he recalled Bob Taylor - as he was for his lightning wrists and pure, impish strokeplay. From 91 Tests he made over 6000 runs at an average of 41. And his runs were usually influential: he averaged 53 against West Indies, and 51 in Tests India didn't lose, as against 26 in those they did.

1961
A day for young centurions. Today Mushtaq Mohammad, aged 17 years 82 days, made his first Test hundred, against India in Delhi. It was a Test record until Bangladesh's Mohammad Ashraful took a century - on debut - off Sri Lanka at the age of 17 years and 63 days. Before that, the nearest anyone got to breaking Mushtaq's record was...

1990
... 16-year-old Sachin Tendulkar, who came within 12 runs of becoming the youngest person to make a Test hundred when he was out to New Zealand's Danny Morrison in the second Test in Napier. This Test match was heavily rain-affected, although there was also time for John Wright to bite the hand that would later feed him - he made his second hundred of the series.

2003
A bad day for South Africa, the World Cup hosts, in Paarl, where Percy Sonn - at the time the UCBSA president - got so drunk while watching India thrash Netherlands that he infamously "fell out of his pants". One reporter noted that Sonn, who went on to become president of the ICC, told onlookers: "Brother I am so ****ing drunk I don't know where the **** I am."

1857
Among Englishmen with 100 Test wickets, only the deadly duo of George Lohmann and Sydney Barnes have a lower average than Bobby Peel, who was born today. Peel was a devilishly accurate left-arm spinner, whose 101 wickets came at a cost of just 16.97 each. And he conceded only 1.97 runs per over. At Old Trafford in 1888 he took advantage of a vicious sticky dog to take 11 for 68 and bowl England to an Ashes-clinching innings victory. He died in his native Leeds in 1941.

1932
A day to forget for South Africa, who were bowled out for 36 in 23.2 overs by Australia in Melbourne. Bert Ironmonger led the way with 5 for 6, and although Australia were themselves bowled out for 153, Ironmonger took 6 for 18 as South Africa were skittled for 45 second time round, losing the series 0-5.

1871
The birth of all-round sportsman Charlie McGahey. He played football for Sheffield United, Tottenham and Arsenal, was a hard-hitting batsman for Essex - on one occasion he drove the ball back so hard that he broke his partner's arm - and played twice for England in Australia in 1901-02.

1964
The end of Richie Benaud's radiant 63-Test career, in Sydney. He bowed out with 14 runs and four wickets as Australia drew with South Africa, ensuring that the series would finish 1-1. Benaud finished with 2201 runs, 248 wickets, and the proud record of having never captained Australia in a series defeat.

1964
Birth of the least celebrated member of the West Indian hit squad of 1984. The gangling, awkward Milton Small was a rarity among 1980s West Indies quicks, in that he had the description "fast-medium" rather than "fast" against his name. His last Test was at Lord's on that tour, when he was somehow given the new ball ahead of Malcolm Marshall.

1994
Breezy fare in Auckland, where a first Test that lasted only 199.2 overs came to an end. Pakistan won it by five wickets, thanks chiefly to nine wickets from Wasim Akram and a blistering 78 from Aamer Sohail, one of only two fifties in the match. There was a carefree air about proceedings from start to finish: the top partnership of the match was 75, from only 48 balls, by Andrew Jones and Mark Greatbatch on the first day.

1880
William Shalders, born today, played 12 Tests for South Africa and toured England in 1904 and 1907. He wasn't one of the stars of the famous South African side in 1907 but performed consistently on the tour. He scored 108 against Hampshire, and came out sixth on the list for the whole tour, getting 747 runs in 22 matches.

1941
New Zealand's Ross Morgan, born today, was a dependable batsman who favoured clipping the ball through midwicket. He was also an offspinner with a memorable skipping and hopping approach. He made 66 on debut against Pakistan in Auckland in 1964-65, and followed with a career-best 97 in Christchurch. A good tour of India later that season followed but thereafter he struggled - his next 22 Test innings produced only 287 runs. His final series was in West Indies in 1971-72, where in three Tests he scored eight runs and took one wicket.

Other birthdays
1891 Cec Dixon (South Africa)
1966 Shakeel Ahmed snr (Pakistan)
1972 Dulip Samaraweera (Sri Lanka)
1984 Vinay Kumar (India)

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