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January 29 down the years

A Sabina Park farce

Sixty-two ball match in Jamaica, and a record no other match can break

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The pitch from hell
The pitch from hell © Getty Images

One of the shortest Tests in history. The Jamaica match between England and West Indies lasted just 62 bone-crushing deliveries. England were 17 for 3 at the time - Alec Stewart was still there having made an imperious, unbeaten 9 - and their physio Wayne Morton had run out six times in 66 minutes. When Nasser Hussain came to the crease, Stewart apparently greeted him with the words: "It's Saturday, it's eight o'clock, it's the lottery." Thankfully England's number came up when the umpires, Steve Bucknor and Srinivas Venkataraghavan, courageously called off play because of the unsafe pitch.

An extraordinary first day in the decisive third Test between Pakistan and India in Karachi. When Irfan Pathan grabbed a hat-trick in the very first over of the match, a stunned Pakistan slipped to 39 for 6 and there seemed no way back. But from the wreckage rose the wicketkeeper, Kamran Akmal. His brilliant counterattacking 113 was aided by cameos from Abdul Razzaq and Shoaib Akhtar, and four days later Pakistan had won a bizarre contest by a misleadingly vast 341-run margin.

The poker-faced, almost docile demeanour of Andy Roberts, who was born today, hid the merciless soul of a great fast bowler. His stock bouncer, quick and nasty, was simply a softener, a prelude to the real thing, which was close to unplayable. Lithe and effortlessly economical in his run-up, Roberts did not benefit from coming into a great West Indies side (only one of his first seven five-fors came in victory). He famously blew India away in Jamaica in 1982-83 with three wickets in an over to allow Viv Richards to hammer West Indies to a victory target of 173 inside 26 overs.

Violence flared during the Duleep Trophy final between North Zone and West Zone when the bowler, Rashid Patel, attacked the batsmen Raman Lamba and Ajay Jadeja with a stump. Jadeja was struck as he attempted to defend Lamba, and Lamba then had to use his bat as a shield when Patel chased him. The crowd then joined in, pelting stones onto the playing area. The match - a tedious high-scoring affair - was abandoned and Patel escaped with a lenient 13-month ban. Lamba was banned for ten months.

Birth of Raman Subba Row, who played 13 Tests for England between 1958 and 1961 and ended with the extremely healthy average of 46.85. He made three hundreds - including in his first and last Tests against Australia - and was out twice in the 90s as well. He also made a triple-century for Northants against Surrey, his old county. But at the end of 1961 he retired suddenly, for business reasons. Subba Row was later chairman of the TCCB and also went on to become an ICC match referee.

One-down with two to play, Australia let Dennis Keith Lillee off the leash for his Test debut against England in Adelaide. He struck gold immediately, with a first-innings five-for, but England made 470 and bossed the game from there. Ray Illingworth chose not to enforce the follow-on, but Australia lost only three wickets in 115 (eight-ball) overs to secure a comfortable draw.

Another Adelaide Test, and another great makes his Test debut. Australia released Bill "Tiger" O'Reilly, and though his four wickets played second fiddle to Clarrie Grimmett's 14 in this one, he went on to take 144 wickets in a brilliant 27-Test career. As for the match, Australia were comfortable ten-wicket winners, with Don Bradman left stranded on 299. The great man had nobody to blame though: he ran out last man Pud Thurlow while looking for run No. 300.

Greg Blewett kicked off his Test career with a glorious century against England in Adelaide. But it so nearly turned into a farce: with Craig McDermott on his way back to the ground from hospital, Blewett had only fellow debutant and arch-rabbit Peter McIntyre for company as he homed in on three figures. McIntyre played a blinder, though: his six-ball duck gave Blewett the chance to cut Angus Fraser for two to become the 16th Australian to make a hundred on debut. For good measure Blewett added another in the next Test, and a third in his third Ashes Test, at Edgbaston in 1997.

More tasty Adelaide fare. This time Australia pipped India by 38 runs in a terrific fourth Test. India needed an unlikely 372 to win, but with Mohammad Azharuddin's revolving door working overtime, they almost got there. At 283 for 6, with Azharuddin and Manoj Prabhakar well set, a shock was on. But Craig McDermott returned to break the partnership and whipped away the tail to take his second five-for of the match. That wasn't the full story though: 21 wickets fell on the first two days and then only one on the third, as a lively pitch flattened out into the definitive Adelaide shirtfront.

Another Adelaide classic. Australia's last-wicket pair of Paul Sheahan and Alan Connolly survived the last 26 balls to grab a draw against West Indies, a prospect that had looked unlikely when the Aussies were 304 for 3 chasing 360 to win. But then the middle order was gutted by a series of run-outs (including Ian Redpath, backing up, by Charlie Griffith) and they had to hang on grimly. This in a run-fest that produced 1864 runs - a record for Tests in Australia - though strangely nobody scored more than Basil Butcher's 118. There were 17 scores of 50 or more.

Yet more Adelaide derring-do. Bob Simpson and Bill Lawry cracked an opening partnership of 244 against England to put Australia in charge of the fourth Test. They went on to win the match by an innings, despite scores of 60 and 102 from Ken Barrington, who made his ninth and tenth consecutive first-class fifties on the ground.

A comfortable win and a 3-0 sweep for Australia in Adelaide, but the silver lining for Sri Lanka here was an empowering first Test hundred for Sanath Jayasuriya, and in the (then) unfamiliar role of opener too. (The two knocks in this match were the third and fourth times he had opened in a Test.) This Test was also the last of David Boon's career: he finished with 43 and 35. Oh, and Steve Waugh made 170 and 61 not out. Boon's average for the series? Just 362. For good measure, Waugh cleaned Sri Lanka up with 4 for 34 on the final day. No wonder Stuart Law, who replaced the injured Waugh in the first Test, couldn't get another sniff.

The start of England's disastrous tour of India. Presented with a dustbowl in Calcutta, and with India making no secret of their plan to play three spinners, England coach Keith Fletcher settled on one spinner and four seamers. And what a quartet it was: the two Pauls, Jarvis and Taylor, Devon Malcolm and Chris Lewis. But there was nothing in it for them, and with Ian Salisbury labouring, England's best bowler was Graeme Hick (match figures: 5 for 28). They were never in the game once Mohammad Azharuddin laced 182, and India wrapped up an eight-wicket win on the last day.

Set up by a rumbustious 242 not out from their captain, Clive Lloyd, West Indies beat India by 201 runs in the final Test in Bombay to take a thrilling series 3-2. Lance Gibbs took 7 for 98 in the first innings and Vanburn Holder 6 for 39 in the second. West Indies clinched the win in the afternoon session on the final day.

Other birthdays
1854 Vernon Royle (England)
1896 Teddy Hoad (West Indies)
1926 Bob Berry (England)
1958 Ole Mortensen (Denmark)
1970 Eric Gouka (Netherlands)
1972 Simon Cook (Australia)
1979 Mfuneko Ngam (South Africa)
1981 Kaushalya Weeraratne (Sri Lanka)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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