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Where Laxman was the star, again
Mohali 2010 was no Kolkata 2001 - the most memorable Test India and Australia played - but it came close. India had one day and 17 overs in which to chase 216. It looked easy at the start of those 17 overs on day four, but by stumps India were 55 for 4. By lunch the following day they were another four wickets down and a hundred-odd runs closer with VVS Laxman and Ishant Sharma at the wicket. Laxman, struggling with a back spasm, had batted at No. 10 in the first innings, and had come in at No. 7 with a runner in the second. But he batted with no obvious discomfort, and India inched towards the target. With only 11 needed, Ishant fell. Australia sensed an improbable win and Laxman screamed and shouted instructions as the last man, Pragyan Ojha, and his runner, Suresh Raina, scrambled singles. India won by a wicket and went on to successfully chase 207 in the second Test, in Bangalore, to take the series 2-0.
Birth of the first man to make a triple-century in a Test in Australia. Bob Cowper took 307 off England in Melbourne in 1965-66. He had made his name the previous winter with some sterling work in the Caribbean, where he made two of his five Test hundreds and stood up to all Charlie Griffith and Wes Hall could throw at him. Chuck in his skiddy offspinners, flexibility (he batted everywhere from No. 2 to 6 in Tests) and brilliant fielding, and Cowper was a very fine allrounder. But he retired at 30 and moved to Monte Carlo, where he became a wealthy banker; later he became one of the first ICC match referees. He officiated in the first two Tests between England and Pakistan in 1992 but got out at the right time, just as things began to get feisty.
Birth of a Bangladesh fast bowler. The injury-prone Mashrafe Mortaza spearheaded the nation's bowling attack for much of its first decade in Tests. It was in one-dayers, though, that he shone brightest: his 6 for 26 against Kenya broke the national record, and he engineered one of Bangladesh's most famous wins with his four wickets against India in the 2007 World Cup. He took 4 for 44 to set up Bangladesh's maiden ODI win against New Zealand in 2008. That form prompted the IPL's Kolkata Knight Riders to to sign him on for $600,000. After Bangladesh's disappointing campaign in the 2009 World Twenty20, he was named captain for the tours of West Indies and Zimbabwe - though he didn't fill the post for long, thanks to injury.
That nerveless debutant Tony Dodemaide was born in Victoria on this day. His was a fairly unspectacular career, but Dodemaide certainly had his moments. He became the first person to take a five-for on ODI debut, against Sri Lanka in Perth in 1987-88. And he made 50 (batting at No. 9) and took 6 for 58 on his Test debut, against New Zealand in Melbourne the same winter. But those were the only instances of Dodemaide taking five wickets or reaching 50 in his 10 Tests and 24 ODIs. Uniquely, he played his first four Tests against four different countries: New Zealand, England, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. He also had three seasons at Sussex, was the MCC's head of cricket at Lord's, served as Western Australia's CEO, and then took the chief executive role at Victoria.
After losing the Ashes, Australia bounced back in the one-day format by first beating England 6-1 in the bilateral series and then taking their second Champions Trophy in a row. In an underwhelming final in Centurion, the only time Australia's opponents, New Zealand, seemed to be in the game - defending 200 - was when their opening bowlers, Kyle Mills and Shane Bond, picked up a wicket each in the first three overs. But Shane Watson scored a calm unbeaten century and added 128 with Cameron White. The chase was completed with six wickets and more than four overs to spare.
Birth of the underrated wicketkeeper Jimmy Binks, who set a new record when he played 412 consecutive County Championship matches for Yorkshire between 1955 and 1969. But even in those days batting was a fundamental consideration for a keeper (Binks averaged only 14.73 and never made a hundred), and he played only two Tests, both in India in 1963-64. Ironically, he opened in three of his four Test innings there, and made 55 on debut in Bombay. Binks also made 107 dismissals in 1960. He was one of three men to achieve the feat that season, along with Roy Booth and John Murray, and it has not been done since. His 96 catches in that season remain a record too.
Few English batsmen of recent times are as unlucky as Hugh Morris, who was born today. The stocky Morris played his three Tests in 1991, and certainly didn't disgrace himself, making a brave 44 in that famous victory over West Indies at The Oval. He continued to be prolific at county level - in 1990, the summer when England surely picked the wrong Morris, he made 2276 runs, a Glamorgan record - but his unfussy batting was never quite eye-catching enough for the style-over-substance selectorial policy of the time. After England's 5-0 Ashes defeat in 2006-07, Morris was appointed as the first managing director of the national team.
Australia were Qadir-ed in Faisalabad. Needing to bat out the final day with only six wickets intact, Australia were dismissed for 330 to give Pakistan an innings victory and an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series. The inimitable Abdul Qadir took 7 for 142, giving him 11 wickets in the match and rendering fruitless the brave resistance of Greg Ritchie, who made 104 not out, his first Test century.
If you average just shy of 50 in your first seven Tests you might expect a decent run in the side. But not if you're Indian opener Madhav Apte, who was born today. Apte came in against Pakistan and then West Indies in 1952-53, and made an unbeaten 163 in Port-of-Spain. He averaged 49.27 in all, but to widespread astonishment was dropped. Despite consistent heavy scoring for Bombay, he was not selected again.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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