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January 27 down the years

Hello, Harry Potter

A bespectacled New Zealand left-arm spinner is born

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Daniel Vettori: handy with the bat and ball
Daniel Vettori: handy with the bat and ball © AFP

The birth of New Zealand's best left-arm spinner. His scruffy, studenty appearance suggests the Italian-origin Daniel Vettori (his middle name is Luca) would be better off studying sociology. But this boy can play: Nasser Hussain was his first first-class and Test victim, and he became NZ's youngest cricketer at 18 years 10 days after only two first-class matches. He was the youngest spinner to 100 Test wickets (21 years 46 days) and reached 300 Test wickets in his 94th match. He can bat too, having scored six Test centuries. In 2007 he replaced Stephen Fleming as New Zealand's limited-overs captain and took on the role in all formats the next year. He led the side to the Champions Trophy final in 2009 and the World Cup semi-final in 2011 before stepping down from the post. He was plagued by injuries thereafter, an Achilles tendon condition keeping him out for long. In 2013, he declined a New Zealand Cricket contract due to uncertainty over his recovery from injury.

The day David Gower played one of the most reviled shots in modern English cricket history. With Australia having set a none-too-subtle trap, Gower gently wafted the last ball before lunch down Merv Hughes' throat at deep square leg at a critical juncture of the fourth Test against Australia in Adelaide. His partner and captain Graham Gooch - already less than enamoured with Gower after the Tiger Moth incident - ignored him as the players left the field. Only Mike Gatting's reverse-sweep and Mark Ramprakash's charge and heave at Shane Warne in 2001 can compare for vilification.

A bad day for Robin Jackman, the England seamer who was born in India but spent many years playing cricket in South Africa, where his wife was born. He was served with a deportation order by the Guyanese government when England arrived for the second Test at Guyana. England backed their man and the Test was cancelled, but Jackman made his debut in the next Test in Barbados.

A forgotten man is born. Chaminda Vaas was overshadowed by Muttiah Muralitharan's success, but he was a crucial part of Sri Lanka's side. A brisk, clever left-armer with the ability to cut and swing the ball both ways, he turned in some outstanding performances: 10 for 90 to give SL their first overseas win in 32 Tests in Napier in 1994-95, 6 for 58 in the victory over Australia in Kandy in 1999-2000, and 14 for 191 against West Indies in Colombo. And he has the greatest one-day figures of all time: 8 for 19 against Zimbabwe in Colombo. After retirement, Vaas was appointed Sri Lanka's bowling coach.

Birth of Dean Headley, the grandson of the great George and son of the West Indian Test player Ron. Playing for England, Headley generally saved his best for the old enemy: his back-to-back performances in Melbourne, where he bowled England to a famous win, and Sydney (his figures were 6-60, 4-62, 4-60) were truly heroic. As well as taking three hat-tricks for Kent in 1996, he ended with 60 Test wickets at 27, and a strike rate of 50.40 balls per wicket - lower than those of Hadlee, Garner, Holding, Akram, Lillee, Imran, Ambrose - but retired at the age of 30 with a persistent back injury.

After an impressive Test debut against India in Auckland in 1990, Shane Thomson, who was born today, was touted as a real prospect. But with his offspinners fairly innocuous at the highest level, he never really delivered in a seven-year, 19-Test career. His finest hour was the thrilling unbeaten 120 in a memorable run-chase against Pakistan in Christchurch in 1993-94, and for the next year or so, as his average flirted just below 40, he looked to have cracked it. But his last six Tests brought nine innings and only 85 runs. Dropped after the 1996 World Cup, he retired from first-class cricket in 1997, aged just 28.

Vintage stuff from Eddie Barlow and Graeme Pollock, whose partnership of 341 today in Adelaide remained South Africa's highest for any wicket in Tests for nearly 40 years, till Herschelle Gibbs and Graeme Smith broke it. Barlow hit 201 and Pollock, at the age of 19, a glorious 175. With Barlow chipping in with 3 for 6 in the second innings, South Africa won this fourth Test by ten wickets to square, and ultimately draw, the series.

An early blast from the master, Viv Richards. His 101 was not enough to stop Australia crushing West Indies in this fifth Test in Adelaide - this was the series where West Indies were routed 5-1 - but it was a marker nonetheless for an amazing year: in 1976 Richards made a staggering 1710 runs, a record for a calendar year till Mohammad Yousuf broke it in 2006. Less fortunate in this game was Keith Boyce, who got from 65 to 95 with last man Lance Gibbs for company before Gibbs was bowled by Gary Gilmour. It was the closest Boyce got to a Test hundred.

After losing five times to South Africa in the league phase of the Carlton & United Series, Australia beat them 2-1 in the finals. In the third final, in Sydney, they defended a total of 247 despite some lower-order biffing by Lance Klusener. There must have been some nerves in the South African side going by the three run-outs and a hit-wicket.

Other birthdays
1911 George Pope (England)
1950 Milton Pydanna (West Indies)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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