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February 23 down the years

Gilly on a rampage

A whirlwind double-century, and a sobering battering

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Adam Gilchrist rejoices after beating South Africa senseless
Adam Gilchrist rejoices after beating South Africa senseless © Getty Images

Adam Gilchrist pulverised the South African attack with the fastest Test double-century at the time in Johannesburg. He got to the landmark off his 212th delivery, hitting the 19th four of his innings. At one point, when he was on 169, Gilchrist aimed for an advertising hoarding that promised a bar of gold to anyone who hit it, by scooping a length delivery to it. He missed by a few feet but it showed how he was just playing with the South African bowling that was sans Shaun Pollock, and for parts of the match an injured Allan Donald (who retired from Tests after the game). South Africa went down by an innings and 360 runs - the second-heaviest defeat in Tests, but Gilchrist's record was overtaken three weeks later by Nathan Astle against England.

David Gower's England embarked on their tour of the Caribbean still high on the previous year's series wins over India and Australia - Gower had even, albeit flippantly, said that West Indies would be quaking in their boots - but England were sobered up with a vengeance when the first Test in Jamaica ended in a remorseless three-day battering. The Man of the Match was debutant Patrick Patterson, who took 7 for 74 and put the fear of god into England. Low sightscreens added to Patterson's 6ft 2ins to compound England's misery. Wisden Cricket Monthly described it as "cricket's equivalent to the Somme".

The day Canada's John Davison flame-grilled West Indies - and the record books - with a 67-ball century, the fastest in World Cup history at the time. Davison's first-class batting average of 10.85 (for South Australia) gave no indication of the carnage to come, nor did Canada's form - they had been bowled out for 36 by Sri Lanka in their previous match. But as they frolicked to 155 for 1 inside 21 overs, another upset was being engraved on the Cup. But it couldn't last - Davison was spectacularly caught while going for his seventh six, Canada collapsed to 202, and Brian Lara and Wavell Hinds sealed a seven-wicket victory. Davison wasn't down for long, though. Ten days later he biffed 75 in 62 balls against New Zealand.

Birth of the man who dropped the World Cup, mate. Herschelle Gibbs will always be remembered for that faux pas at Headingley in 1999, and for his involvement in the match-fixing scandal, but since returning from a ban for that offence, he was for a while one of the best openers in one-day cricket. He starred in the record run-chase in Johannesburg in 2006, scoring 175 off 111 as South Africa beat Australia by a wicket. In the 2007 World Cup he smashed six sixes in an over against Netherlands, becoming the first batsman to do so in ODIs. But problems of indiscipline and alcohol dogged his career and the last straw came when in 2010 he published a tell-all book which described tales of sexual debauchery on tour and allegations that the team was run by a clique of senior players. The board terminated his central contract a month later, after which he made his living as a gun for hire T20 franchise player.

What was on paper the most unappetising match of the World Cup produced a classic in New Plymouth, as the minnows Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka shared 625 runs in 99 overs. Andy Flower, on his ODI debut, hit an unbeaten 115 to take Zimbabwe to 312 for 4, and with Sri Lanka 213 for 5 in the 39th, it looked all over. Then Arjuna Ranatunga tucked in with an unbeaten 61-ball 88, and Sri Lanka even had the luxury of four spare deliveries when they sealed victory by three wickets.

On the same day West Indies cruised purposefully past Pakistan in their opening match of the tournament, at the MCG. Pakistan made 220 for 2 from their 50 overs, a nothing score that needed either more runs or wickets lopped on, and West Indies didn't lose a wicket in getting past them. They did lose Brian Lara, though, who was yorked flush on the toe by Wasim Akram and had to retire hurt.

England's first captain is born. James Lillywhite played in two Tests, against Australia in 1876-77, leading England in both. His left-arm slow-medium was very effective, and he took six wickets to help England to victory in the second match. He later became an umpire, and was the longest surviving member of England's first Test side when he died in Chichester in 1929.

A late bloomer is born. South African seamer Steve Elworthy was largely unknown when he was recruited as Lancashire's overseas player in 1996, and he was notoriously left out of their side for both domestic finals that year. But after making his debut at 33, he became a very handy performer for South Africa, especially in one-day cricket. After retirement he was the tournament director for the World Twenty20s in 2007 and 2009.

The career of Yorkshire offspinner Geoff Cope, who was born today, is best remembered for the continuing doubts over the legitimacy of his action. Twice he had to remodel his action - on the first occasion so successfully that he played three Tests for England in Pakistan in 1977-78. He nearly took a hat-trick on debut too: having dismissed Abdul Qadir and Sarfraz Nawaz, he had Iqbal Qasim caught at slip by Mike Brearley. But as Qasim was leaving the crease, Brearley, unsure as to the legitimacy of the catch, called him back.

A spell-binding burst of reverse swing from Dale Steyn - a five-over spell that brought 3 for 11 - inspired South Africa to a 231-run victory in the dying moments of the fourth day of the second Test in Port Elizabeth to level the three-match series at 1-1. Australia lost 10 for 90 in total after an opening stand of 126 between Chris Rogers and David Warner.

The birth of Henry Jenner, who was for many years the longest-lived first-class cricketer, dying at 98 years, seven months and five days. He played in the first Eton-Harrow match in 1822 and captained Cambridge in the first Varsity match five years later.

Other birthdays
1867 Jack Board (England)
1904 Henry Promnitz (South Africa)
1906 Frank Ward (Australia)
1925 Ian Smith (South Africa)
1941 Robin Bynoe (West Indies)
1968 Warren Hegg (England)
1973 Brad Young (Australia)
1978 Kiran Baluch (Pakistan)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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