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February 27 down the years

The old destroyer

A 33-year-old makes his debut

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Clarrie Grimmett began Test cricket with a ten-for
Clarrie Grimmett began Test cricket with a ten-for © PA Photos
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1925
The debut of that great Dunedin-born Australian legspinner Clarrie Grimmett, who was 33 when he took to the field against England in Sydney on this day. There are many worse places for a spinner to make a debut than the dustbowl that the SCG usually is, and Grimmett was quickly into a healthy groove with 11 wickets at a cost of just 82. He went on to become the first bowler to take 200 Test wickets.

1944
In the pantheon of cricketing greats, there are few players with less than 25 Test caps, but Graeme Pollock, who was born today, is certainly one. He would have played many more Tests but for the political situation in South Africa, and had to settle for an average in excess of 60 from his 23 matches. Pollock was a left-handed dasher of the highest quality, a glorious driver and a beautiful timer of the ball, with a railway-sleeper bat that sent the ball scudding away to the boundary. He made two hundreds in his first series, against Australia in 1963-64, but his enduring masterclass was at Trent Bridge in 1965 - 125 out of 160 scored while he was at the crease, in horrible batting conditions. He was still playing first-class cricket at 43 - in 1986-87 - and a year earlier he mangled a good Australian rebel-tour attack that included Rodney Hogg, Terry Alderman and Carl Rackemann. Pollock also once belted 222 not out off only 165 balls in a limited-overs game in Port Elizabeth. There was clearly something in those Pollock genes: his brother Peter and nephew Shaun weren't bad either.

2011
In Bangalore, India and England tied a World Cup classic fit to rank with the likes of Edgbaston 1999. It was a game of mirror images. Andrew Strauss' extraordinary 158 came after a brilliant Sachin Tendulkar hundred earlier in the day; a decisive burst of reverse swing by Zaheer Khan was matched and exceeded by a five-for by Tim Bresnan. A flurry of lower-order sixes at the death brought England back from the brink, and with two needed off the last ball, Graeme Swann hit Munaf Patel to cover to draw the teams level.

1986
Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by an innings and 20 runs in the first Test in Kandy, but the result was overshadowed by a heated exchange that caused play to be suspended for half an hour. The flare-up occurred when Arjuna Ranatunga was given not-out following a vociferous appeal for a bat-pad catch from Ramiz Raja at short leg. Ranatunga was subjected to a barrage of abuse from the close fielders, and after complaining to the umpires he walked off. Imran Khan, Pakistan's captain, explained that his players felt Ranatunga should have walked.

1937
Another of Don Bradman's 19 Ashes hundreds, but this one was more crucial than most. Australia had come from 0-2 down to 2-2, and Bradman's blistering 169 gave them control of the fifth Test, in Melbourne. Australia eventually won by an innings and 200 runs, thus becoming the only side to win a Test series from 0-2 down.

1947
The death of FA MacKinnon, at the age of 98 years 324 days - at that point, the longest-lived Test cricketer of them all. He played just once for England, against Australia in Melbourne in 1878-79, where he was one of Fred Spofforth's hat-trick victims. He went on to grander things, becoming the MacKinnon of MacKinnon, the 35th Chief of the MacKinnon Clan, in 1903.

1996
A classic World Cup duel between Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne in Bombay. Tendulkar made 90 and Warne's 10 overs cost only 28 - after a couple of moral victories in his first over, off which Tendulkar took a chancy 10 - but it was Mark Waugh who played the decisive hand in Australia's 16-run win. Fresh from becoming the first person to make back-to-back World Cup hundreds, he had a rampant Tendulkar stumped off a wide. Damien Fleming returned to clean up the lower order and ended with 5 for 36.

1920
Birth of Reg Simpson, the England batsman who made his first-class debut in India when he was serving with the RAF in 1944-45. He went on to play for Nottinghamshire 18 months later, and made his England debut in South Africa in 1948-49. Simpson was a classy, upright opener - although because of Len Hutton and Cyril Washbrook he played many Test innings in the middle order - particularly good off the back foot, and a superb cover fielder. In Melbourne in 1950-51, batting at No. 3, he made an outstanding, unbeaten 156, the key factor in England's first win over Australia for 13 years. He later became a director of the bat-makers Gunn & Moore.

1992
The day Chris Lewis was too good for Brian Lara. England maintained their impressive start to the World Cup with a comprehensive victory over West Indies at the MCG. Lewis pinned Lara in the box with his first ball, and nailed him, caught behind by Alec Stewart, with his second. From there on, England were always on top: their thrifty threesome of Dermot Reeve, Ian Botham and Derek Pringle wobbled 27 overs between them for just 69 runs, and Lewis and Phil DeFreitas did the wicket-taking. England cantered home by six wickets with more than 10 overs to spare.

2003
Glenn McGrath took 7 for 15, the best bowling figures in a World Cup match, as Namibia were steamrolled for 45 in Potchefstroom. They were well short of their target of 302, and Australia's 256-run win was a record at the time. A good match behind the stumps for Adam Gilchrist as well; he pouched six catches, the first time six dismissals were effected by a wicketkeeper in a World Cup game. It was also his second haul of six victims in the space of five weeks.

1966
If a left-arm spinner is born, it must be in Bangladesh. Enamul Haque played ten Tests in the early stages of Bangladesh's entry into the format but he was largely ineffective, taking 18 wickets at over 57. Among his 29 ODIs were four World Cup matches in 1999, though not the historic win over Pakistan. Four years after his days as an international player ended in 2002, Haque began a fresh career as an umpire. In 2012 he stood in his first Test, between New Zealand and Zimbabwe in Napier.

Other birthdays
1906 Mal Matheson (New Zealand)
1924 Norman Marshall (West Indies)
1925 Joyce Bath (Australia)
1939 Lester King (West Indies)
1947 Ashley Woodcock (Australia)
1978 Annemarie Tanke (Netherlands)
1974 Jimmy Maher (Australia)
1982 James Tredwell (England)
1984 Leah Poulton (Australia)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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