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November 22 down the years

The early developer

A Test debut at 15 years and 124 days

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Mushtaq Mohammad: wristy batsman and mischievous legspinner
Mushtaq Mohammad: wristy batsman and mischievous legspinner © Getty Images

Birth of an early developer. Mushtaq Mohammad of Pakistan was officially the youngest Test player (15 years and 124 days, against West Indies in Lahore in 1958-59) and the youngest Test centurion (17 years and 82 days, against India in Delhi in 1960-61) at the time. With a batting average just shy of 40 and a bowling average under 30, Mushtaq was in the top bracket as an allrounder: a wristy batsman and a mischievous legspinner. His finest hour came in the victory over West Indies in Trinidad in 1976-77, when he produced the ultimate captain's display, adding 121 and 56 to figures of 5 for 28 and 3 for 69. Three of his brothers and his nephew also played Test cricket for Pakistan. Mushtaq represented Northants with distinction between 1966 and 1977.

The flashing blades of Adam Gilchrist and Justin Langer gave Australia a famous and improbable victory over Pakistan in the second Test, in Hobart. Australia were on the brink at 126 for 5 chasing 369 when Gilchrist - playing only his second Test - joined Langer, but they turned things around in improbable style. Langer dropped anchor while Gilchrist, whose audacious 149 not out took only 163 balls, smacked the Pakistani bowlers to all parts in a fashion that would soon become familiar to cricket fans the world over. Australia got home with four wickets to spare, and their 369 for 6 was, at the time, the third highest total to win a Test batting fourth. It was Australia's third consecutive Test win - the manner of it gave them the self-belief to add another 13.

One of the first real signs that the West Indian empire was crumbling came when they were well beaten by India in the first Test, in Bombay. Chasing 363, it looked all over for West Indies at 82 for 5, and though Jimmy Adams (at the start of a miraculous tour on which he scored 520 Test runs at 173.33) and Junior Murray took them within range, the Indian spinners returned to clean up the tail and clinch a 96-run win. It was India's tenth consecutive home Test victory. West Indies levelled the series in Mohali but were to experience a major setback six months later when they were beaten 1-2 by Australia and lost the Frank Worrell Trophy for the first time since 1975.

Birth of a statistical oddity. At the crease Sri Lanka's Marvan Atapattu was calm, technically sound, and at times a little dull, making his eccentric record all the more surprising. Nerves took hold as Atapattu started his Test career with one run in six innings, and even that single should apparently have been called a leg-bye. But one-day cricket offered him a way back in (he was a non-playing member of the 1996 World Cup-winning squad) and in Dunedin in 1996-97, almost seven years after his debut, Atapattu finally reached double figures in a Test. Since those early days, though, Atapattu developed to become Sri Lanka's most consistent batsman. He took over the captaincy for a few months in 2005 but then spent nearly two years out of Test cricket before his surprise call-up for the two-match series in Australia. While he performed admirably on the field, his off-field efforts created more news - he called the Sri Lanka selectors "muppets headed by a joker" and promptly retired after the series.

Two all-time greats made their Test debuts in the first Test between West Indies and India in Bangalore. Viv Richards gave little hint of the savagery he would inflict on bowlers for the next 20 years - he was snapped up for 4 and 3 by Bhagwath Chandrasekhar - but Gordon Greenidge laid down a marker, spanking 93 and 107 to become the first West Indian to make a hundred on Test debut overseas. West Indies captain Clive Lloyd then slammed an 85-ball century, and they sealed a thumping 267-win when India were cleaned up for 118 on the final day.

JT "Johnny" Tyldesley, who was born today, was an enterprising, fleet-footed right-handed stroke-maker who made almost 40,000 first-class runs in a long career with Lancashire and England. He played 31 Tests, making 112 in his second Test to set up a 210-run victory over South Africa in Cape Town in 1898-99. His other three Test tons all came against Australia - not a great surprise, given that 26 of his 31 Tests were against them - but none brought an English victory. He died in Salford in 1930.

Wayne "Ned" Larkins, who was born today, was a thunderous opening batsman and one of the more enigmatic characters in English cricket's recent history. He frequently murdered modest bowling at county level but six Tests between 1979 and 1981 brought no fifties, and it was a major surprise when Larkins was handpicked by Graham Gooch as his opening partner for the daunting 1989-90 tour of West Indies. For a while, though, Larkins delivered. He made 75 for once out in the unforgettable victory in Jamaica, and added a cool 54 in the next match in Trinidad. But he bagged a pair in Barbados, didn't feature in the English summer of 1990, and played his last Test in Sydney the following winter.

Birth of Zimbabwe-born England batsman Gary Ballance, who found a way into the Test side after Jonathan Trott left the 2014-15 Ashes tour due to a stress-related illness. In his first year in Test cricket, Ballance averaged 60.75 and made three hundreds and three half-centuries. He continued the good form on the tour of West Indies in early 2015, becoming the third fastest England batsman to 1000 Test runs. But he was picked for only two Ashes Tests that year, and overlooked for the tour to UAE in the winter.

Birth of the tragic Trevor Madondo, who died of malaria at the age of 24 in 2001. Madondo was one of Zimbabwe's most promising cricketers, an attacking right-hand batsman and occasional wicketkeeper. He played in three Tests and made an unbeaten 74 in his last Test innings, against New Zealand in Wellington in 2000-01.

Scotland's middle-order batsman Neil McCallum, born today, started his one-day career with a half-century against Pakistan. Eight matches later he made his maiden century, against Kenya, in Nairobi in a match Scotland won off the last ball. Even following a string of low scores, he remained one of Scotland's batting mainstays.

Other birthdays
1870 Harry Graham (Australia)
1926 Zulfiqar Ahmed (Pakistan)
1964 Akram Raza (Pakistan)
1968 Nilantha Ratnayake (Sri Lanka)
1971 Madelein Lotter (South Africa)
1975 Indika Gallage (Sri Lanka)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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