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March 31 down the years

Pigeon comes of age

A sizzling start to cricket's premier 1990s match-up

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Glenn McGrath: the first signs of greatness
Glenn McGrath: the first signs of greatness © Getty Images
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1995
The unofficial heavyweight championship of the cricket world began in sensational style when Australia reduced West Indies to 6 for 3 in the first half-hour in Bridgetown. Australia were weakened by the absence of Craig McDermott - they had Paul Reiffel and Brendon Julian taking the new ball - but Glenn McGrath showed the first signs of greatness, and his second-innings five-for, which included the key wicket of Brian Lara, set the Aussies up for a ten-wicket win. In the first innings Lara had gone controversially after flashing 65, caught by Steve Waugh at gully even though replays showed the ball touching the ground.

1997
A better day for West Indies in Barbados, and another of their famous get-out-of-jail bowling performances. India needed only 120 to win the third Test, but they were cut off at 81, with only VVS Laxman and extras reaching double figures. In Brian Lara's first match as captain, he crucially caught his opposite number, Sachin Tendulkar, for 4.

1983
Hashim Amla, born today, is the first cricketer of Indian descent to play for South Africa. Amla was not an instant success after making his Test debut against India in 2004-05, but when he was handed a second chance he made it count, with 149 in a draw against New Zealand in Cape Town. He was at his best on tours to India in 2008 and 2010 - 307 at 61.4 on the first trip and an aggregate of 490 with one dismissal in three innings on the next. He made his first double-century on the 2010 tour - in an innings victory in Nagpur - and in 2012, he became the first South African to score a triple-century, against England, in another innings win, at The Oval. He had become prolific in one-dayers too by then, scoring five hundreds and four fifties in 15 innings in 2010-11, and breaking Viv Richards' record for fastest to 6000 ODI runs.

1978
Six new caps for West Indies in their first Test without the World Series boys, and they were a real motley crew: there was Sylvester Clarke, David Murray, Basil "Shotgun" Williams (who blasted a second-innings century) Alvin Greenidge, Norbert Phillip (who is better remembered for his exploits with Essex than for his 28 Test wickets) and Sew Shivnarine. Australia won the match by reaching 362 for 7.

1955
West Indian Collie Smith scored 104 in his first Test, against Australia in Jamaica, but it wasn't enough to stop his side getting hammered by nine wickets. Smith's innings came after West Indies had followed on, with Neil Harvey and Keith Miller creaming big hundreds for the Aussies.

1877
After a dream debut, a Demon debut. Fred Spofforth was let off the leash for the first time as Australia and England began the second-ever Test, at the MCG. England took revenge for losing the first one by squeezing home by four wickets here, with Yorkshire's George Ulyett making the only two fifties of the match. In all, Yorkshire players scored 329 of the 356 runs England made in this match.

1923
Lawrie Miller, born today, made his debut at nearly 30 and played 13 Tests for New Zealand, never passing 47 in his 25 innings. But his 47 and 25 in the low-scoring match against West Indies in Auckland in 1955-56 were instrumental in securing New Zealand's first Test win. He was prolific in domestic cricket, scoring 397 in a season without being dismissed. Miller also played first-class rugby.

Other birthdays
1861 Fred Smith (South Africa)
1871 Clement Johnson (South Africa)
1932 Goofy Lawrence (South Africa)
1946 Aftab Gul (Pakistan)
1955 Robert Vance (New Zealand)
1965 Marlon Vonhagt (Sri Lanka)
1969 Aruna Gunawardene (Sri Lanka)
1971 Paul Grayson (England)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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