Birth of one of the greatest wicketkeepers in history
Birth of a man who embodies Australian cricket. Uncompromising, rugged, aggressive, brilliant: Rod Marsh is one of the greatest wicketkeepers in the game's history. He was not born great, though, and was known as "Iron Gloves" during a torrid first series against England in 1970-71. But he improved and ultimately formed a fearsome double act with Dennis Lillee - "c Marsh b Lillee" appears in the book 95 times, more than any other combination in Test history. Marsh, the first Australian keeper to make a Test hundred, was also a fearsome hitter at No. 7 and lashed a memorable unbeaten 110 in the Centenary Test in Melbourne in 1976-77. He became the director of Australia's hugely successful cricket academy, and in 2002 he was headhunted to take charge of the new English academy. A year later he was appointed an England selector. He stepped down from both roles in September 2005, after helping England regain the Ashes.
Captaining your country for the first time must be nerve-wracking enough, but New Zealand wicketkeeper Lee Germon, who was born today, had to do it on his Test debut. That was against India in Bangalore in 1995-96, and he was sufficiently inspired to top-score in each innings, making 48 and 41 as New Zealand were spun to an eight-wicket defeat. But Germon's tenure was not the happiest - a modest side won only one of one of his 12 Tests in charge. He was dropped and replaced as captain by Stephen Fleming following the ultimate 1990s cricket ignominy - a home defeat to England - in 1996-97.
Birth of the remarkably consistent New Zealand batsman Giff Vivian, who played only ten Test innings but passed 50 in six of them. He was only 18 when he made his debut, at The Oval in 1931, top-scoring in the second innings and dismissing Herbert Sutcliffe and Les Ames with his left-arm spinners. Vivian made his sole Test hundred, against South Africa in Wellington the following winter, but he only played seven matches in all - a back injury meant he did not play again after the Second World War. His son Graham also played five Tests for New Zealand. Vivian died in his native Auckland in 1983.
David Williams, who was born today, was always on a hiding to nothing, trying to follow Jeff Dujon. Williams, the sort of man born to be described as diminutive, was a perfectly competent keeper, but his weakness with the bat (he made seven ducks in 18 completed Test innings) meant he only played 11 Tests. But he did have his moment in the sun when he hit 65, and added a match-winning 129 with Carl Hooper, against England in Trinidad in 1997-98. This was a rare high point for Williams, though, who was dropped after the fourth Test of that series.
A thrilling one-dayer between South Africa and New Zealand in Cape Town showcased some of the world's leading allrounders - and a former Warwickshire nurdler. Roger Twose hammered his only one-day hundred, while Chris Cairns struck a majestic 84 off 72 balls. It included four sixes, two off successive deliveries from Jacques Kallis (who, with figures of 5-0-52-0 and a first-ball duck, failed to come to the party with a vengeance). That took New Zealand to 256 for 9, and they looked home and dry for a consolation victory when South Africa fell to 189 for 7 in the 42nd over. But Lance Klusener would not be outdone. He lashed an unbeaten 59 off only 42 deliveries and sealed victory (and a 5-0 series win) with fours off the last two deliveries.
An unspectacular career for Asif Mujtaba, who was born today, but when he made his Pakistan debut at 19 he seemed destined for great things. He hit an unbeaten 60 in his fourth one-dayer to pull off an unlikely one-wicket win over Australia in Perth in 1986-87, but despite a first-class average of over 50, Mujtaba never quite cracked it at the top level - he averaged only 24 in 25 Tests and 26 from 66 one-dayers. His zenith came against Australia in Hobart in 1992-93, when he took 16 off Steve Waugh's last over - including a big six over midwicket off the final ball - to grab an unlikely tie.
No man has ever scored more first-class runs than Alan Jones, the left-handed Glamorgan opener who was born today, without playing an official Test. Jones made 36,049 in all, including 1000 in a season 23 times, but the only taste he got of life at the very top was when he played one match against the Rest of the World in 1970. He was c Engineer b Procter in both innings, for 5 and 0, but although he was given an England cap and blazer (and with an attack of Mike Procter, Graham McKenzie, Garry Sobers, Eddie Barlow and Intikhab Alam, a test is exactly what the England batsmen were given) the matches were downgraded to unofficial Tests by Lord's a few years later. Jones later became Glamorgan's director of coaching.
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The Cricket Monthly June issue
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