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February 15 down the years

A cracking Melbourne finish

One of the game's classic series goes down to the wire

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Alan Davidson hooks Wes Hall on a nail-biting final day in Melbourne in 1961
Alan Davidson hooks Wes Hall on a nail-biting final day in Melbourne in 1961 © PA Photos

The end of probably the greatest Test series of all. Australia needed 258 to beat West Indies in the fifth Test at the MCG and take the series 2-1. At 154 for 2, it looked a formality, but Frank Worrell and Alf Valentine dragged the Windies back into it, and at 236 for 6 it was anyone's game. But the Aussies had "Slasher" Mackay coming in at No. 8, and with two wickets left, he and Johnny Martin scrambled the winning leg-bye just before the close of the penultimate day. A record crowd of 90,800 watched the second day of the Test. After such a mesmeric series, West Indies were given a fitting farewell: a new trophy, for which the countries still compete, was established, bearing Worrell's name; and the whole team was given a tickertape farewell parade through Melbourne.

Birth of Desmond Haynes, who with Gordon Greenidge formed one of the greatest opening partnerships of all time. They put together 16 century stands in Tests, with Haynes usually playing the sedate straight man to Greenidge's slayer. Haynes was also a superb one-day batsman, a master at pacing an innings (11 of his 17 ODI centuries were unbeaten, and 16 of them came in a winning cause), and no West Indian had scored more than his 8648 ODI runs till Brian Lara overtook the mark. Haynes made three fifties in his first three Test innings, and also three hundreds in a row against England and Pakistan in 1990. He also played for Middlesex, and was a generally happy and popular character; but he could not mix it - in his first Test as captain, covering for the injured Viv Richards in Trinidad in 1990, he had a shouting match with Alec Stewart and denied England victory with blatant time-wasting tactics.

A one-day Test may be a contradiction, but - in real terms at least - that's what happened at the MCG on this day. Australia hammered South Africa by an innings, and the match (which because of bad weather was spread over three days) lasted only five hours, 53 minutes. The South Africans were routed for just 36 and 45, with left-arm spinner Bert Ironmonger taking 5 for 6 and 6 for 18: his 11 for 24 is the cheapest ten-wicket haul in a Test. Clarrie Grimmett couldn't even get a bowl. In all there were 234 runs scored, the lowest aggregate in Test history for a complete match.

One of the most remarkable bowling performances in Tests. Australia's Arthur Mailey took 9 for 121 as England slumped to an eight-wicket defeat in the fourth Test, in Melbourne. Mailey could have had the perfect 10, but a catch off the one batsman to evade him - Patsy Hendren - was dropped.

A Test century from a No. 10. Pat Symcox became only the third man to achieve the feat, and the first for 96 years, when he whacked 108 against Pakistan in Johannesburg on this day. He also added a Test-record 195 for the ninth wicket with Mark Boucher.

After England, it was South Africa's turn to get blown away by the Mitchell Johnson menace. He took 12 for 127 - Australia's second-best match figures in South Africa - in the first Test in Cape Town, to bowl them out for 206 and 200. Shaun Marsh, replacing the injured Shane Watson, made 148 on his comeback, and Steven Smith, also continuing his fine form from the Ashes, made 100. South Africa were inept not only against Johnson's pace but also in the field, giving David Warner four lives in his double-century stand with debutant Alex Doolan (89) in the second innings.

Birth of the niggardly South African seamer Craig Matthews, part of the fearsome foursome (Allan Donald, Fanie de Villiers and Brian McMillan were the others) who demolished England for 99 at Lord's in 1994. Matthews took 3 for 25 in that innings, and earlier in the match flashed an initiative-seizing 41 off 36 balls. His record was a good one - 52 wickets at 28 - but he played his last Test at the age of 30, against England in 1995-96. His final figures - 1 for 29 off 19 overs - summed up his thriftiness.

Another thrashing for England on their horror tour of the subcontinent. They went down to India by an innings and 22 runs in the second Test, in Madras. Their captain, Graham Gooch, pulled out after eating a dodgy prawn curry, and England were never in the game once India piled up 560 for 6 declared. As in the first Test, there were 17 wickets for India's three spinners, Anil Kumble, Venkatapathy Raju and Rajesh Chauhan. There was also a first, and only, Test hundred for Chris Lewis - on his 25th birthday - but that was about all England had to cheer.

And moving further south, Geoff Boycott's second match in charge of England (Mike Brearley was at home nursing a broken arm) ended in their first-ever defeat by New Zealand, bowled out for 64 chasing 137.

Ian Botham's highest one-day score. Thrust up the order for the pre-World Cup one-day series in New Zealand, Botham belted a strapping 79 off 73 balls in the third match in Christchurch as England put the seal on an impressive clean sweep. Botham was one of the first pinch-hitters, and England carried their plan into the World Cup, although he only made one fifty. Typically enough, it was against Australia.

Hamish Marshall, who was born today, made his Test debut in 2000 in a rain-disrupted match in Johannesburg, but his second chance only came four years later. He made his one-day debut in between. His maiden Test hundred came against Australia in Christchurch in March 2005. A month later he scored another hundred against Sri Lanka in Napier. However, he struggled to keep his place in the ODI side, and though he got three games in the World Cup, he refused a national contract in 2007 to play domestic cricket in England as a local player.

Other birthdays
1878 Jack Sharp (England)
1959 Guy de Alwis (Sri Lanka)
1979 James Marshall (New Zealand)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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