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The Prince of Trinidad reaches his zenith
Surpassing a 501, a 375, a 277 or a 213 takes some doing, but this humble 153 not out against Australia in Barbados was the stuff of genius. At one point West Indies had been 98 for 6 in the first innings, still 392 behind Australia, but Brian Lara's performance - nobody else on either side made 40 in the second innings - led them to 311 for 9 and an unforgettable one-wicket victory.
Sachin Tendulkar had said he hadn't slept for 12 nights leading up to India's game against Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup. He had to endure a shorter build-up in 2011, when the two sides met in the semi-final, the draw of which was decided when India beat Australia in the quarter-final a week before. The hype was gargantuan, and to add to it, Tendulkar was one short of his 100th international hundred going into the game. Pakistan did their best to help him get to the milestone by giving him four lives during his innings, but Tendulkar fell on 85, and India finished with 260. It was not the steepest of targets but Pakistan stuttered from the beginning. India's bowlers, till then marked as their weak links, did a tremendous job to suffocate the chase, but they were helped to some extent by Misbah-ul-Haq, who bizarrely blocked when Pakistan needed ten an over to win, and also left the batting Powerplay to the final five overs of the match. India won by 29 runs, leaving their World Cup record against Pakistan unblemished.
Birth of one of Australia's finest wicketkeepers. Wally Grout was extremely agile behind the stumps, with a particular penchant for spectacular leg-side takes. He was also a true sportsman, and once declined to dislodge the bails after a collision between Fred Titmus and Neil Hawke had left Titmus stranded outside his crease. Grout often opened for Queensland, but his batting returns were modest at Test level. He died of a heart attack in Brisbane in 1968, aged only 41.
A withering assault from Hansie Cronje on Muttiah Muralitharan won the third Test for South Africa in Centurion, and also clinched a 2-0 series victory. Chasing 225, South Africa were at 99 for 3 when Cronje arrived and blasted 82 off 63 balls. His 50 came off 31 balls after he hit 4, 6, 6 and 6 off successive deliveries from Murali.
Birth of a great Australian slow bowler, who had the misfortune to be born in the era of Bill O'Reilly and Clarrie Grimmett. Chuck Fleetwood-Smith played just ten Tests but was widely regarded as being hard to bat against. His failing was his lack of killer instinct and his tendency to be unsettled by batsmen who got after his almost medium-paced spin.
A wretched display from Pakistan, who were thumped by an innings and 185 runs by New Zealand in Hamilton, with both their innings using up less than 80 overs. It was shameless, feckless stuff, but the New Zealanders played some high-octane cricket, not least Craig McMillan, who smashed a then Test-record 26 off one over from Younis Khan.
The Bull is born. New Zealand quickie Jack Cowie was so called because of his sizeable frame and spiky attitude. His career was split by the Second World War, and as a result he played only nine Tests, all in the days when New Zealand were a poor side. Cowie really carried a modest attack, and he was New Zealand's top wicket-taker in each of his first six Tests. He died in Wellington in 1994.
An England captain is born. Norman Gifford was perhaps the most unlikely one of all, having got the job at the age of 44 for the Sharjah tournament in 1984-85. It was also his one-day debut, 21 years after he was Man of the Match in the first Gillette Cup final. Before that he played 15 Tests - although it would have been many more but for the enduring excellence of Derek Underwood - and his flat, accurate left-arm spin yielded 33 wickets. Gifford also took over 2000 first-class wickets, mainly for Worcestershire.
A 17-year-old West Indian spinner called Garry Sobers made his Test debut, against England in Jamaica, and went on to become the greatest allrounder in cricket history. He was a mere No. 9 here, and made 14 and 26 to add to figures of 4 for 75. His first Test wicket was his future biographer, Trevor Bailey.
In the Shell Shield final, Canterbury smashed a mammoth 777 in their first innings. Not content with a blistering 160, Nathan Astle then took 6 for 22 as Otago were skittled for 189. They saved the game despite slipping to 116 for 7 - only 472 behind - in the second innings, but Canterbury took the trophy.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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