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November 2 down the years

Never another like Victor

A popular Australian star

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Statistics did no justice to Trumper's genius
Statistics did no justice to Trumper's genius © Getty Images

Birth of the best Australian batsman before Bradman. With his natural hand-eye co-ordination Victor Trumper was elegance personified. He was no fair-weather performer - his best innings came when the chips were down: 104 on an Old Trafford sticky in 1902, 74 (out of 122) against England in Melbourne in 1903-04, and 159 on the same ground to set up a famous victory over South Africa seven years later. It was this as much as mere statistics (he averaged 39 from 48 Tests) that signified Trumper's genius. He was very popular too, and when he died of Bright's Disease at the age of 37, 250,000 attended his funeral.

Fred Bakewell, born today, had an astonishing crouched stance, with his hands at either end of the bat handle, as if he was about to chop a tree down. The Wisden Almanack obituary described it as "one of the most two-eyed ever seen, with the right shoulder so far round that it seemed almost to be facing mid-on". But for all that, Bakewell could play every shot in the book, and in only his third Test he took a fine hundred off West Indies at The Oval. He played only three more Tests, however. Fresh from a chanceless unbeaten 241 that almost led Northants to a shock victory over the eventual champions Derbyshire in 1936, he was involved in a serious car crash and never played first-class cricket again. Bakewell was only 27 at the time. He died in Dorset in 1983.

Birth of Gerry Alexander, an aggressive batsman and very fine keeper who played 25 Tests for West Indies, 18 as captain, between 1957 and 1961. Alexander got off to a slow start at the top level, saving his best for last - the classic 1960-61 series in Australia, when he was free of the constraints of captaincy. In 20 Tests before the series Alexander had only made two half-centuries, but here he made one in each of the five Tests. And in the third Test in Sydney he went all the way, posting his only Test century to set up a crushing victory. He topped West Indies' averages in that series with 484 runs at 60.50. Alexander was a Cambridge Blue in 1952 and '53; he was also a handy footballer who played for the England amateur team and won an Amateur Cup winners' medal.

Left-arm quick bowler Mitchell Johnson, born today, was picked out by Dennis Lilllee for greatness when he was just 17. Johnson was late to focus on cricket and suffered early in his career with four stress fractures of the back. He persevered, driving a plumber's van when he lost his Queensland contract, and became only the fourth Australian left-arm quick bowler to go past 100 Test wickets. When he swings the ball late, it can be very difficult to play him, but Johnson has struggled to get his wrist in the right position and paid for it in the Ashes in 2009. He compensated somewhat with his batting, getting a hundred and then 96 against South Africa. The next year began well for Johnson, with his second ten-for, a performance in Hamilton that ensured Australia ended their summer unbeaten. He moved to Western Australia in 2010-11, and two months later tore through the England line-up in Perth to give Australia their only win of that Ashes series.

An extraordinary match in the Wills Golden Jubilee tournament in Lahore ended with South Africa beating Pakistan by nine runs. Given that South Africa lost their third wicket at 192 and Pakistan theirs at 0, it was a remarkably tight affair. Wasim Akram took three wickets in an over to keep South Africa to 271, but when Shaun Pollock repeated the trick in his first over six wickets had gone down for two runs in 12 balls. Pollock soon reduced Pakistan to 9 for 4 and the game looked over, but Inzamam-ul-Haq cracked 85 in a fifth-wicket partnership of 133 with Moin Khan. Azhar Mahmood then hammered an unbeaten 59 off 43 balls, but it was not quite enough to pull off a glorious victory.

Birth of one of a rare South African species. Left-arm spinner Paul Harris got to make his Test debut only at 28, after the retirement of Nicky Boje, against India in Cape Town in 2007, and promptly took four wickets in the first innings and pushed the Indians on to the back foot. He was named one of South Africa's Players of the Year in 2007 after he took 12 wickets in Pakistan. But his average crept upwards over the next two years as he struggled to keep up with the early performances. With legspinner Imran Tahir turning eligible to play for South Africa in January 2011, Harris' place in the side was no longer assured. He announced his retirement in January 2013.

Pakistan registered a two-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in Sharjah in a match in which one great talent announced himself and another bid farewell to the international scene. The brilliant legspinner Abdul Qadir bowed out with 368 wickets for his country. He didn't take a wicket here, but he did influence proceedings with a big six to help Pakistan to victory. On the other side Sanath Jayasuriya gave the first hint of the fireworks he would produce in one-day cricket. Two days earlier he had made his first one-day fifty (in his 40th match) and here he flashed another off only 27 balls, a Sri Lankan record until he himself shattered it in 1995-96.

He only made 17 with the bat, but Saleem Malik swung the first one-day international against New Zealand in Lahore Pakistan's way with a spell of 5 for 35, ripping out the lower middle order as, time after time, batsmen came down the track and missed - three of the five were stumped by Salim Yousuf, the first time this happened in a one-dayer. But it was a middle order only in name: with Dipak Patel at No. 5, Chris Pringle at 8 and Danny Morrison getting a real nosebleed at 9, New Zealand's was the lengthiest of tails.

Rohit Sharma's violent 209 lead India to a home series-win over Australia in a seven-match ODI series that saw a staggering 3596 runs scored in 11 innings. One stat in the final match in Bangalore told the story of the whole series: both teams combined to smash 38 sixes, a new record.

Other birthdays
1865 Frederick Burton (Australia)
1891 Harry Elliott (England)
1935 Mohammed Munaf (Pakistan)
1950 Robert Callender (Canada)
1964 Robert Haynes (West Indies)
1967 Nikki Squire (Ireland)
1981 Irfan Fazil (Pakistan)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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