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March 22 down the years

The silly semi-final

The first great rain-rule farce

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The scorecard says it all
The scorecard says it all © Patrick Eagar

The World Cup semi-final that ended in farce. South Africa needed 22 off 13 balls to beat England in Sydney when rain stopped play. Ten minutes later the players were back on... and South Africa needed 21 off one ball. Blame the lowest-scoring-over rain rules, which ruined a cracking contest, and South Africa's dilatoriness - they bowled only 45 overs in the time allotted, and as a result many people felt they got their just desserts. England made 252 for 6, with Graeme Hick thumping 83 and Dermot Reeve bustling 25 off 14 balls. Even though nobody reached 50, South Africa were always in the hunt until the rain came. It meant England had qualified for their third World Cup final in the last four. Three days later they lost their third World Cup final in the last four.

The end of an unforgettable series. India 2, Australia 1 was a result no one would have predicted at the halfway point, when India were in disarray, 0-1 down and following on 274 runs behind. But that's how it ended after their nail-shredding two-wicket win in Chennai. Harbhajan Singh was the star with 15 wickets - in the three-match series he took 32; the next-best was three. Fittingly, after Australia fought back brilliantly, it was Harbhajan who slashed the winning runs off Glenn McGrath.

While their men's side has never won a world title, England's women picked up their third World Cup win on this day when they beat New Zealand by four wickets in Sydney. England entered the final with just one defeat in six matches. Player of the Match Nicky Shaw took a career-best 4 for 34 - including two in two balls - to turn the match into a one-sided affair. Claire Taylor was the Player of the Series for her 324 runs at 64.80. In another two months England captain Charlotte Edwards completed a treble (she had won the Ashes in 2008) by winning the World Twenty20 as well.

All those who criticised the Asia Cup for being a meaningless tournament stared open-mouthed when Bangladesh reached the final, against Pakistan in Dhaka, having beaten India and Sri Lanka along the way. And for the victory-starved Bangladesh fans, title hopes didn't look like wishful thinking when, having restricted Pakistan to 236, the home team launched a spirited chase, led by half-centuries from Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan. Bangladesh needed nine to win from the final over. Aizaz Cheema conceded only two off the first three balls but an overthrow off the fourth reduced the target to four off two. However, Bangladesh lost a wicket on the fifth and could only manage a leg-bye off the final ball.

Mike Atherton's new England regime continued to flounder in the Caribbean. In the second Test in Guyana they were well beaten by an innings and 44 runs, despite a superb first-innings 144 from Atherton. That was small beer, though, compared to Brian Lara's majestic 210-ball 167, his first Test ton in the West Indies. Oh, and Ian Salisbury returned his best Test figures: 37-4-163-4.

A turning point in Sri Lanka's modern history. A drawn second Test against New Zealand in Dunedin gave them their first Test-series victory overseas, at the 16th attempt. Within a year they were world champions.

The last day of Ian Botham's Queensland career, although he didn't know it at the time. Beefy was the big overseas signing designed to bring Queensland their first Sheffield Shield, and while he did well enough - seven fifties and 29 wickets in 11 matches - they fell at the final hurdle again, beaten by five wickets in the final by a Western Australia side that included an 18-year-old Alan Mullally. Botham was on a three-year contract, but a few days before the final he had been involved in a highly publicised fracas during the team's flight from Brisbane to Perth. He pleaded guilty to charges of assault and offensive behaviour, and his contract was terminated. Typically, it was all over the front pages. Even the Australian prime minister, Bob Hawke, chipped in: "He let cricket down. He let Queensland down. He let Australia down... [it was] the right decision".

Birth of a cricket suicide. New Zealander Fen Cresswell, a medium-pacer with an odd, front-on delivery, made his first-class debut at 34 and had a very good tour of England in 1949, on which he took 62 wickets. He played three Tests in all. In 1966 he was found dead, in Marlborough, with a shotgun at his side.

Other birthdays
1914 Ces Burke (New Zealand)
1915 Joyce Brewer (Australia)
1927 George Thoms (Australia)
1933 Chris Duckworth (South Africa)
1940 Elaine Bray (Australia)
1947 Chris Watmough (England)
1965 Stu Roberts (New Zealand)
1968 Suruj Ragoonath (West Indies)
1971 Arshad Khan (Pakistan)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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