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May 29 down the years

Drip by drip

A thrilling finish to a series decider in Antigua

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Courtney Walsh: a day when he was called up to do his thing with the bat
Courtney Walsh: a day when he was called up to do his thing with the bat © AFP

West Indies needed 216 to beat Pakistan in Antigua, but looked dead in the water at 197 for 9 as Courtney Walsh strode out swinging his arms. But his captain, Jimmy Adams, was still there, and drip by drip (Adams' 48 not out came in almost six hours, with not a single boundary) they saw West Indies to the ninth one-wicket win in Test history. It shouldn't have been so: replays showed Walsh was caught via bat and pad off Saqlain Mushtaq, who then missed two clear run-out chances, one of them a sitter when Adams and Walsh ended up at the same end. Wasim Akram, who had put the burgeoning match-fixing scandal aside to bowl heroically for figures of 11 for 110, was the unluckiest of losers.

The beginning of the inaugural Test at Edgbaston, and England picked an XI who all had first-class centuries to their name. It was also, according to some very good judges, including Frank Keating, the greatest team they have ever picked: Archie MacLaren, CB Fry, Ranji, FS Jackson, Johnny Tyldesley, Dick Lilley, George Hirst, Gilbert Jessop, Len Braund, Bill Lockwood and Wilfred Rhodes. Rhodes - a man who scored almost 40,000 first-class runs - was some No. 11. He made 38 not out, and with Tyldesley cracking 138, England made 376 for 9 declared. That was worth plenty more on a pitch so poor that Australia were then skittled for 36, their lowest Test score. Rhodes took 7 for 17, but as England moved in for a quick second-innings kill, rain ruined the last day and the match was drawn.

Having already qualified for the Super Six stage by demolishing all comers, South Africa were probably not overly concerned when they lost their final group game against Zimbabwe in Chelmsford. But the repercussions were considerable: as well as knocking England out, it meant that South Africa carried two fewer points to the Super Six stage. With those two points, they would have finished above Australia in the Super Sixes and things might have turned out quite different.

But for his namesake Deryck, David Murray, the West Indian keeper, who was born today, would surely have played many more than 19 Tests. He was talented behind the wicket and a capable batsman who made three Test fifties and a first-class double hundred, in Jamshedpur on the 1978-79 tour of India. He took over from Deryck Murray - they were not related - in 1980-81, and was briefly No. 1, but he was banned from playing cricket in the West Indies after he went on a rebel tour to South Africa, and his last Test appearance came at Sydney in 1981-82.

Talat Ali, who was born today, played ten Tests for Pakistan in the 1970s, but he is better known as a match referee. Talat was a dogged opener who got his Test career off to a traumatic start when he fractured his thumb on debut, facing Dennis Lillee in Adelaide in 1972-73. Pakistan won only one of his ten matches, when he made 40 and a Test-best 61 in Christchurch in 1978-79.

Birth of the first man to be dismissed in a Test. Australian allrounder Nat Thomson was bowled by Yorkshire's Allen Hill for 1 at the MCG in the inaugural Test in 1876-77, but within three weeks his Test career was over. Thomson was dropped after the second Test, despite having made 41 in the second innings of a match where no Australian reached 50. He died in his native Sydney in 1896.

On the same day that Thomson was born, so was Edward James "Ned" Gregory. He also played in that first Test, and became the first batsman to fall for a duck in a Test. It was his only appearance. His son Syd, who was born on the site of the SCG, later captained Australia. Ned was curator at the SCG for 30 years, where he died in 1899.

Other birthdays
1953 Rangy Nanan (West Indies)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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