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November 25 down the years

The tiger king

Imran Khan, the finest cricketer Pakistan has produced, is born

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Imran Khan: Monstrously talented
Imran Khan: Monstrously talented © Getty Images
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1952
Few would dispute that Imran Khan, who was born today, was the finest cricketer Pakistan has produced, or the biggest heartthrob. Thousands, if not millions, who had never dreamt of bowling fast on heartless baked mud suddenly wanted to emulate Imran and his lithe, bounding run, his leap and his reverse-swinging yorker. His averages (37.69 with the bat, 22.81 with the ball) put him at the top of the quartet of allrounders (Ian Botham, Richard Hadlee and Kapil Dev being the others) who dominated Test cricket in the 1980s: in his last 10 years of international cricket he played 51 Tests, averaging a sensational 50 with the bat and 19 with the ball. His one-day exploits also drew envy, over 3700 runs at 33.41 and 182 wickets at 22.61. He captained Pakistan as well as anyone, rounding off his career with the 1992 World Cup. He played hardly any domestic cricket in Pakistan: instead he just flew in for home series from Worcestershire or Sussex, or rather from the more fashionable London salons. After retirement, he embarked on a career in politics.

1990
Australia reopened old English wounds with a crushing 10-wicket, three-day victory over England in the first Test, in Brisbane. England were well in the game for two days, having grabbed a first-innings lead of 42 thanks to a blistering fielding display, but they fell apart on the third. Allan Lamb, captain in place of the injured Graham Gooch, set the tone when he was out in Terry Alderman's first over of the day, and it later emerged that he and David Gower had spent the previous night with Kerry Packer at a casino. Lamb was heavily criticised, particularly when Geoff Marsh and Mark Taylor defied all that had gone before (30 wickets for 460) to knock off 157 for 0 to win in 46 overs.

1990
On the same day, West Indies squared the series with a seven-wicket win over Pakistan in a frisky second Test in Faisalabad that lasted precisely 180 overs. At 127 for 3 in the second innings (a lead of 102) Pakistan were going well, but then Malcom Marshall (4.2-0-24-4) cleaned up the tail and Richie Richardson decided that attacking a potentially tricky target of 130 was the best approach. He flashed an unbeaten 86-ball 70 after West Indies had slipped to 34 for 3. It was a match to forget for the debutant Saeed Anwar, who bagged a pair and didn't get another chance for three years.

1909
Birth of Manny Martindale, the impish West Indian hitman who was only 5ft 8in tall but was able to generate genuine pace, and took 37 wickets at an average of 21 in his 10 Tests. He and Learie Constantine were the first top-quality West Indian quicks, and in 1933 they caused a minor outrage when they treated England to a taste of their own Bodyline medicine, peppering them with short stuff in the second Test at Old Trafford. Martindale even split Wally Hammond's chin, and though he only bowled in three innings in that series, he took 14 wickets. He also played for Burnley for many years in the Lancashire League. He died in Barbados in 1972.

2000
Humiliating stuff for West Indies, who were routinely hammered by Australia in the first Test in Brisbane. They mustered just 82 and 124 - only Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who made 62 not out in the second innings, managed a score of more than 20 - and were well beaten by an innings and 126 runs. Glenn McGrath returned the astonishing match figures of 33-21-27-10 (including his bunny, Brian Lara, twice). After the game he said he hadn't bowled that well. He hadn't needed to.

1949
The birth of Australian Kerry O'Keeffe, the man who would be burdened by expectations that he would be the next big legspin thing in the early 1970s. His 24 Tests were spread over seven years, with a best innings haul of 5 for 101 against New Zealand in Christchurch. Having also featured in two ODIs, he finished his career as one of the more disillusioned members of the World Series Cricket troupe. He enjoyed as much success, in the end, with his sound, orthodox batting, which was good enough for him to open at a pinch. He also tried his hand at a number of occupations, before becoming a journalist and media pundit.

1976
Possessed of a priceless ability to occupy the crease, Javed Omar, who was born today, made a historic Test debut against Zimbabwe in April 2001, when he carried his bat for 85 not out - only the third player in history to achieve this in his first match. His maiden international hundred, against Pakistan in Peshawar in 2003, gave Bangladesh a first-innings lead for the first time. He played 59 ODIs and had a highest score of 85 not out, against Sri Lanka in 2000. Omar had a good tour of England in 2005, but big Test scores were elusive. He got a ticket to the 2007 World Cup, but the tour of Sri Lanka that followed was to be his last.

1983
Birth of one of the finest women cricketers. Jhulan Goswami was at one point the fastest bowler in the women's game, generating as much as 120kph, and helped India to their first series victory over England in 2006. Her career-defining performance came in the second Test in Taunton when she bagged 10 for 78. She was named the ICC Women's Player of Year in 2007 - a year no Indian male player bagged any individual award.

1986
A cracking Pakistan-West Indies series came to a tense conclusion in the third Test in Karachi, where Pakistan's eighth-wicket pair of Imran Khan and Tauseef Ahmed resisted grimly for 90 minutes before the umpires called off play with nine overs left. Pakistan needed 213 to win another tense scrap, but when bad light intervened they were struggling at 125 for 7. Earlier Desmond Haynes, who batted almost seven hours for his 88, became the third West Indian to carry his bat through a completed Test innings, after Frank Worrell and Conrad Hunte. Unusually, no centuries were scored in the series, only the second such instance in a three-match rubber since 1888.

1984
Born today, Peter Siddle, a right-armer with genuine pace and the ability to swing the ball, is a threatening fast bowler - when he is fit, that is. Siddle hit Gautam Gambhir on the head with his first ball in Test cricket, but a shoulder problem, then a foot injury and finally a stress fracture meant his career has been a start-stop affair. He picked up four wickets on debut in Mohali in 2008 but wasn't picked again till South Africa toured Australia later in the year. He took 25 wickets in the six Tests against South Africa that season, with eight just in Sydney. On the opening day of the 2010-11 Ashes, also his birthday, he took 6 for 54 at the Gabba, including a hat-trick. He was a one of the leading lights in Australia's 2013 Ashes campaign - which they lost 3-0 - and finished with 17 wickets at 31.58.

1980
The birth of Alviro Petersen, an assured South African opening batsman. He made his ODI debut in 2006, in the home one-dayers against Zimbabwe, but had to wait nearly four more years to break into the Test side. Petersen opened at the intimidating Eden Gardens and celebrated the occasion with a century - only the third South African to make a hundred on Test debut. He was dropped after nine Tests but returned exactly a year later and scored a century against Sri Lanka. His pivotal 182 against England at Headingley turned around a tour that began with 42 runs in four innings.

Other birthdays
1886 Percy Holmes (England)
1915 Ron Hamence (Australia)
1942 Barb Bevege (New Zealand)
1969 Richard Staple (United States of America)
1972 Deepa Marathe (India)
1980 Erin McDonald (New Zealand)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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