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April 28 down the years

The triple-decker

World Cup time. So it must be Australia winning

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The light in the otherwise dark and dreary World Cup was Australia's utter domination of all opposition
The light in the otherwise dark and dreary World Cup was Australia's utter domination of all opposition © AFP

Australia made it a hat-trick of World Cup wins with a 53-run victory over Sri Lanka in Barbados. Adam Gilchrist - with a squash ball in one of his gloves, he later revealed - led the way with a stunning 149 off 104 balls as Australia posted 281 for 4 in a rain-restricted 38 overs, and although Sri Lanka made a flying start, they were always behind the clock. The game ended in farce, however, after a mix-up over the rules, and the final overs were played out in almost total darkness. It was, perhaps, a fitting end to a tournament that had set new lows for maladministration.

Birth of a man with a degree in people. That's how Australian fast bowler Rodney Hogg described Mike Brearley, probably the finest captain England have ever had. His most famous triumph was in 1981, when he was brought back with England 0-1 down and in disarray, and inspired Ian Botham to a series of superhuman performances. In all, England won 18 and lost only four of Brearley's 31 matches as captain, although he never captained against West Indies - and was at the helm when England were trounced 0-3 by a full-strength Australian side in 1979-80, after Brearley's England pulverised the 2nd XI 5-1 a year earlier. His batting ability was modest: he averaged 22 and never made a century, but the fact that this was tolerated showed how invaluable his captaincy was. Brearley is now a psychologist and occasional journalist, and still inspires as much awe and reverence as any English cricketer of his generation.

Birth of the courageous Australian opener Jack Fingleton. "Fingo" made two centuries against England in 1936-37, the first of which was his fourth consecutive Test hundred (he had accumulated three in a row against South Africa in 1935-36). But despite that, Fingleton never fully established himself, and the last of his 18 Tests came at The Oval in 1938. His later career, as a cricket journalist of the highest quality, made him probably more famous than he was in his playing days. He died in his native Sydney in 1981.

If great batsmen average over 50, then Andy Flower, who was born today, is right up there with the best, having done so over a 63-Test career in a side that hardly ever won. A tough, uncompromising character, and master of the reverse-sweep, his record is even more extraordinary given his regular role as wicketkeeper and past dalliances as captain. In 11 Tests between November 2000 and November 2001, Flower made 1466 runs at the unbelievable average of 133.27. That included one of the most heroic displays in Test history: 142 and 199 not out against South Africa in Harare, a match in which only three other Zimbabweans reached even 20. His immensely brave act of defiance in the 2003 World Cup - when he donned a black armband to protest against the "death of democracy" - was inevitably followed by his retirement. Like many former cricketers, Flower took up coaching and in 2009 he was given charge of a struggling England. In his first three years, England won the Ashes at home and away, took their first ICC title (World Twenty20 in 2010), and became the No. 1 Test side.

Birth of Alf Valentine, the West Indian left-arm spinner who came to England in 1950 with only two first-class matches under his belt and left a folk hero after he and his pal Sonny Ramadhin had bowled West Indies to a coming-of-age series victory. The bespectacled Valentine gave the ball a real rip, and in that 1950 series he took 33 wickets in only four Tests. But as his career progressed, Valentine increasingly managed thrift - his economy rate was 1.95 runs per over - but not penetration: he took seven five-fors in his first 16 Tests, and only one in his last 20. After his playing days, he lived in America, where he died at 74.

Once upon a time Jimmy Adams was Test cricket's most immovable object. On this day Adams scored an unbeaten 208 against New Zealand in Antigua, and took his average - in his 24th Test - up to a monstrous 68.33. But that was Adams' zenith: in 30 Tests that followed, he averaged a mere 25.

Clive Lloyd became the first West Indian to play 100 Tests, in the fifth Test against Australia that got underway in Jamaica. Coincidentally, it was also the 100th Test to be played in the Caribbean. Lloyd was caught behind off Geoff Lawson for 20, but West Indies did breeze to a 10-wicket win that gave them a 3-0 series victory.

Siva's debut. The mysterious Indian legspinner Laxman Sivaramakrishnan was the fifth-youngest player in Test history at the time - and the youngest non-Pakistani - at 17 years 118 days when he made his debut against West Indies in Antigua. He went wicketless, but when he reappeared against England two years later, he bamboozled his way to three consecutive six-fors. A star was born, or so it seemed, but Siva faded again and took only seven wickets in his last six Tests.

In his last Test on his home ground, Viv Richards recorded his first duck in Antigua when he was pinned lbw by Craig McDermott in the fifth Test against Australia. Viv ended up averaging 61 in Tests on his own patch, but it was a pretty mixed bag: three centuries, a 26, and four scores between 0 and 2.

Other birthdays
1945 Ajit Pai (India)
1947 Hylton Ackerman (South Africa)
1947 Trevor Quirk (South Africa)
1988 Shannon Gabriel (West Indies)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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