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January 2 down the years

Something special

The Don sets out on his famous 270

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The greatest batsman of them all
The greatest batsman of them all © Getty Images

The start of Don Bradman's 270 against England in the third Test in Melbourne. Trailing 2-0 after defeats in Brisbane and Sydney, Australia were facing defeat when Bradman, struggling with flu, his reputation as a batsman and captain on the line, came in for the second innings. He faced Bill Voce and Gubby Allen, frighteningly fast on a rain-affected pitch that also helped the master spinner Hedley Verity. Careful at first, increasing the tempo as he went on, Bradman hit his highest score against England at home, sharing a record stand of 346 with Jack Fingleton, and turning the match and the series. Australia remain the only side to come back to win from two-down in a five-match series.

It was only fitting that Fred Spofforth should take the first hat-trick in Test cricket, against England in Melbourne: he was the greatest bowler of his age, a demon in the eyes of Englishmen everywhere. The second victim in his hat-trick was Francis Alexander MacKinnon, the 35th MacKinnon of MacKinnon, who was facing his first ball in international cricket. A lot of scorers were grateful that this was his only Test.

An equally great Australian bowler made an inauspicious Test debut. Only one of Shane Warne's 700-plus Test wickets was taken in this game, against India in Sydney, and it cost him 150 runs - Ravi Shastri was his victim, but not before he hit 206. Warne didn't get any at all in the next Test, in Adelaide, but it was understandable: before this series he'd played in only seven first-class matches. Still, he turned out to be quite useful.

By scoring 182 in the second innings of the third Test against West Indies in Calcutta, Sunil Gavaskar added to his list of records: he became the first batsman to hit a century in each innings of a Test match three times. He made a mere 107 in the first innings.

New Zealand were bowled out for 45, their third-lowest total, in Cape Town. Their innings lasted less than 20 overs. They had just memorably beaten Sri Lanka away, but hardly had the euphoria evaporated, and the drama over Ross Taylor's sacking as captain receded from the headlines, when they were rolled over for an innings and 27 runs. Doug Bracewell became Dale Steyn's 300th Test victim. New Zealand lost by an innings in the next Test in Port Elizabeth as well.

When you make your maiden first-class hundred at the age of 16, as Daryll Cullinan did today, for Border against Natal B in East London, you're expected to go on and become a star. Although he made an unbeaten 275 in Auckland in 1998-99, then a record for South Africa in Tests, his frailty against Shane Warne and his chatty chums held Cullinan's reputation in check. He averaged only 12.75 against Australia, compared to 48 against everybody else.

Bob Holland took his best Test figures and Kepler Wessels scored his fourth hundred for Australia in a dead rubber in the final Test at the SCG as they beat West Indies by an innings and 55 runs. However West Indies won the series 3-1. Wessels' 173 took Australia to 471 and then legspinner Holland took 6 for 54 to enforce the follow-on. He took four more in the second to finish with 10 for 144. This was West Indies' first defeat since they lost in Melbourne 27 Tests earlier, in the 1981-82 series, and their first by an innings since 1968-69.

Dying for the cause is the sort of execrable cliché that pops up time and time again, but Raman Lamba, who was born today, joined a sad, select club that includes England men Andy Ducat and Wilf Slack when he died at the crease in Dhaka in 1998 after taking a fatal blow to the head while fielding at short leg. A good enough opening batsman to play four Tests for India, Lamba was also the man chased all the way to third man by a maniacal, stump-wielding Rashid Patel in an infamous incident in 1990. Lamba was by no means blameless - he had been taunting Patel, and the ensuing fencing match got Lamba a 10-month ban and Patel 14 months. Lamba had an Irish wife, and played for Ireland against Sussex in the NatWest Trophy in 1990.

Herschelle Gibbs (228) and Graeme Smith (151) destroyed Pakistan's demoralised bowling with an opening stand of 368, at the time South Africa's best for any wicket, on the first day of the Newlands Test. Gibbs' double-hundred is the fastest by a South African and he also became the sixth from his country to reach 3000 Test runs during his innings. South Africa went on to win by an innings and 142 runs. It was the start of a productive year for Smith who was made captain in March and went on to score consecutive double-centuries in England in July.

Few people take a hat-trick in their last international appearance. But the New South Wales seamer Anthony Stuart, who was born today, did. He took 5 for 26 in his third one-day appearance against Pakistan in Melbourne in 1996-97, including Ijaz Ahmed, Mohammad Wasim and Moin Khan with successive deliveries. He had already dismissed Aamer Sohail and Zahoor Elahi, but he suffered an ankle injury and Australia never picked him again.

One of the early pillars of Sri Lanka's bowling was born. Rumesh Ratnayake's brisk pace brought him 73 Test wickets from 1982-83 (when he was only 19) to 1991-92, including 5 for 69 at Lord's in 1991 and 20 wickets at 22.95 against India in 1985-86, the first series Sri Lanka ever won. Mind you, he needed to brush up on his image as a demon fast bowler: after breaking John Wright's nose with a bouncer in a Test in Wellington in 1982-83, he fainted at the sight of blood.

A tall and forceful batsman, John Benaud couldn't hope to match his brother Richie's profile, but he averaged 44.60 in his three Tests for Australia, largely thanks to the 142 he made today (93 before lunch) against Pakistan in Melbourne - after being told that he wouldn't be playing in the next Test.

Dependable South African opening batsman Jack "Billy" Zulch was born. Both of his Test hundreds were made in Australia in 1910-11 (his only series abroad), but he was probably better known for the way he was dismissed in Johannesburg in 1921-22. The ball, sent down by Australia's pantherine opening bowler Ted McDonald, was so fast it broke his bat, a sliver of the blade hitting the stumps.

Other birthdays
1875 Bill Bradley (England)
1893 Johnny Moyes (Australia)
1907 Laurie Fishlock (England)
1931 Robin Marlar (England)
1953 David Graveney (England)
1959 Kirti Azad (India)
1987 Abdul Rehman (United Arab Emirates)
1971 Aamer Nazir (Pakistan)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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