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January 26 down the years

The closest Test of all

An Australia-West Indies classic in Adelaide

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A jubilant Courtney Walsh celebrates the narrowest of victories
A jubilant Courtney Walsh celebrates the narrowest of victories © Getty Images

The tightest Test victory of all. A sensational finish in Adelaide, in which West Indies kept alive their 13-year unbeaten run in Test series with a one-run victory over Australia. It was one of the greatest Tests of all time. With the Aussies chasing 186, it looked all over at 74 for 7, and then - after a steadfast 54 from the debutant Justin Langer - at 144 for 9, but Tim May (42 not out) almost became a national hero in his first Test for four years. As record numbers watched on TV and the strains of "Waltzing Matilda" enveloped the ground, Craig McDermott was given out caught behind off Courtney Walsh by Darrell Hair, although to this day doubt remains as to whether McDermott actually gloved it. All this on Australia Day too.

Birth of Kim Hughes, the Australian captain who resigned the job in tears. That and captaining the 1981 side that was vanquished by Ian Botham, is what Hughes will be remembered for, which is harsh, as he was an outstanding batsman with a full complement of strokes. He lit up the Centenary Test at Lord's in 1980 with two blistering innings, not just batting on all five days but hitting a six on all five as well. He made a thrilling century in a low-scoring win over West Indies at the MCG in 1981-82, but a traumatic run against the same opponents in 1984-85 - nine Tests, no fifties, six runs in his last five innings - finished him off as a Test batsman, aged just 30.

There have been some unlikely occurrences in Test history, but few to match the day Allan Border destroyed West Indies in Sydney - with the ball. He went into the match with 16 wickets in 100 Tests, and came out of it with 27 from 101 after returning the remarkable match figures of 11 for 96, including 7 for 46 on the first day. He dismissed everybody apart from Gordon Greenidge at least once, and then scored 75 off 330 balls, grinding out a big first-innings lead with David Boon (149). Australia won by seven wickets; it was a turning point for Border's boys: coming into the match on a run of six wins in 44 Tests, this kickstarted a 12-game streak in which they won seven and lost none.

Shane Warne's partner in crime was born. Tim May formed a fearsome double act with the great man between 1993 and 1995, when May had a second coming - starting with the Adelaide classic above - after seven largely unsuccessful Tests in the late 1980s. May's flighty, cunning offspin complemented Warne's roguish, ripping leggies perfectly. They played in 17 Tests together, and shared ten or more wickets in eight of those, although Warne wreaked most of the havoc. May was dropped for the final time after taking only one wicket in the first three Ashes Tests of 1994-95, although fittingly his last act was a match-saving vigil in Sydney... with Warne. Ever the senior junior partner, May made 10 off 64 balls, Warne 36 off 59. After retiring, May became the first CEO of the Australian Cricketers' Association, 1997, and the chief executive of the international players' body in 2005, working tirelessly for players' issues. He quit the FICA post eight years later, frustrated at the direction cricket administration was taking, particularly upset when the playing captains voted to oust him from the ICC cricket committee in favour of the TV commentator and former Indian legspinner Laxman Sivaramakrishnan.

Birth of Simon O'Donnell, the Australian allrounder who overcame cancer in the middle of his career to have a very good run with Victoria and Australia. He was particularly effective in one-dayers - he played 87 of those, and was a regular in the 1987 World Cup-winning side - but played only six Tests. A devastating hitter, O'Donnell smeared the second-fastest fifty in one-day history, off 18 balls against Sri Lanka in Sharjah in 1989-90. In all, his 74 took 29 balls and included six sixes. His offcutters were also very handy, and he took 5 for 13 when New Zealand were bowled out for 94 in Christchurch in 1989-90.

Birth of the Indian offspinner who didn't really spin it. Shivlal Yadav had a memorable five days in Sydney in 1985-86, returning match figures of 95.3-43-118-8, as Australia held on grimly (and it was grim - Greg Ritchie's 17 took 157 balls) for a draw.

Chris Pringle, who was born today, had one of the most remarkable introductions into international cricket. After one season of first-class cricket in the Shell Trophy - totalling six matches - Pringle was playing club cricket in England when he ambled over to the New Zealand side during a practice session at Headingley and asked if anyone had a spare ticket for the forthcoming ODI. New Zealand were suffering an injury crisis at the time and Pringle, who was drafted in, went on to play two of the matches. His other claim to fame was when he took 7 for 52 to bowl Pakistan out in Faisalabad in 1990-91. In all, he took 11 for 152 in the match, in sharp contrast to 19 wickets at 65 in the other 13 Tests he played. Pringle later admitted to tampering with the ball because he was sure Pakistan were doing it.

Left-arm spinner Diana Edulji, born today, played 20 Tests and 34 ODIs for India between 1976 and 1993. In her second Test, against West Indies in Chennai, she scored an unbeaten 57 batting at No. 9. Her best Test performance was against Australia: 6 for 64 in a drawn Test in Delhi. She played three World Cups, with her best ODI figures, of 4 for 12, coming against England in a three-run loss in the 1993 edition. She became a selector for the Indian women's team after retirement.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Ashish Bagai made his debut for Canada in 1999-2000 at 17 and in 2001 was a key member of the side that finished third in the ICC Trophy, thus gaining a place at the 2003 World Cup. In the World Cricket League in Nairobi in early 2007 he scored 137 not out - his first hundred in senior cricket - against Scotland, and he added a second ton against Ireland four days later. He was appointed Canada's captain but for a while his availability for the side seemed doubtful because of his banking career in London. In 2009 he accepted a full-time contract with Cricket Canada and was named captain again. He stepped down from the post after the 2011 World Cup. He retired from the game in 2013 after Canada failed to qualify for the 2014 World Twenty20.

Other birthdays
1862 Philip Hutchinson (South Africa)
1903 Geoffrey Legge (England)
1919 Khanmohammad Ibrahim (India)
1957 Ashok Malhotra (India)
1962 Roshan Guneratne (Sri Lanka)
1969 Ishwar Maraj (Canada)
1974 Saman Jayantha (Sri Lanka)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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