January 15 down the years

A fairy-tale beginning

Narendra Hirwani and Albert Trott announce themselves

Hirwani: 16 wickets at the age of 19 Simon Bruty / © Getty Images

A dream debut for 19-year-old Indian legspinner Narendra Hirwani. He bowled his side to a series-levelling victory over West Indies in Madras with eight wickets in each innings, and his match figures of 16 for 136 surpassed the previous best on debut - Australian Bob Massie's 16 at Lord's in 1972 - by one run. Hirwani took full advantage of West Indies' horribly one-dimensional attempts to smear him out of the attack: five were out stumped by Kiran More in the second innings, and six in the match, both Test records.

Another fairytale debut. Albert Trott, who played for both Australia and England, took 8 for 43 in Adelaide against England, to give Australia a crushing 382-run victory. It concluded a great debut for Trott, who had already hit 38 and 72 (both not out) batting at No. 10.

The legendary George Headley was out for 21 in his first Test innings, but he made it a fine debut, scoring 176 in the second innings in Bridgetown to ensure West Indies avoided defeat for the first time - it was their fourth Test. Two games later, he hit centuries in both innings in West Indies' first Test win, in Georgetown. Headley averaged nearly 100 per Test in his 22 matches and finished with a batting average of 60.83 - a career mark bettered by only Don Bradman and Graeme Pollock.

In Perth, where four years before, India had halted Australia's victory spree, the home side took less than three days to seal a 3-0 win over the same opposition. The WACA pitch had some of its old bite and bounce, and both teams had dropped their spinners for four quicks, but only India found the going tough, folding for 161 and 171. For Australia, David Warner alone got 180, during which he made the fastest Test century by an opener, off 69 balls. Ben Hilfenhaus, who had come into the series having been out for nearly a year, took eight wickets, including three in one over. It was India's seventh consecutive loss in overseas Tests, and to make matters worse, their captain, MS Dhoni, was banned for the next Test for India's slow over rate.

Pakistan won their first international match against Australia in Australia in 12 years when they strangled them with spin in an ODI in Melbourne. Slow bowlers Imad Wasim, Shoaib Malik and stand-in captain Mohammad Hafeez exploited the variable pace of the surface to restrict Australia to 220. Hafeez then made 72, and was not troubled by Australia's spinners at all, taking ten runs off an over from offspinner Travis Head.

A crawl for Colin Cowdrey in Sydney. His hundred in the third Test against Australia took 362 minutes, and was the slowest in Ashes Tests until Bob Woolmer went 32 minutes better (or worse) in 1975.

More dead-batted Ashes fare, again in Sydney. Batting one-handed because of an injured shoulder, England wicketkeeper John Murray took exactly 100 minutes and 100 balls for his unbeaten 3. It was a brave effort, but ultimately futile - Australia eased home by eight wickets in the afternoon session on this the final day.

He didn't concede a single bye when India racked up over 550 in a Test, but all Yorkshire's Richard Blakey, who was born today, is really remembered for being gratuitously tortured by Anil Kumble in 1992-93. Blakey made 0, 6, 1 and 0, and was totally helpless against the Kumble flipper. Three of the four dismissals were bowled, the other lbw. All this after England picked Blakey ahead of Jack Russell because of his superior batting.

Birth of a man who would have approved of all this grim batsmanship. William Scotton was undeniably skilled, but he was the ultimate exponent of a safety-first attitude. In one Test against Australia, at The Oval in 1886, he contributed just 34 (spread over four hours) to an opening partnership of 170 with WG Grace. But he was a troubled soul, and depression made him take his own life in 1893.

A key moment in the renaissance of Australian cricket. Dead Ashes rubbers may have meant little to them ten years later, but in Sydney today they beat England by 55 runs to end a run of 14 matches without a win. Set up by a mighty 184 from Dean Jones, the 30-year-old Peter Taylor, making his Test debut after only six first-class matches (just one of them that season), bowled them to victory. When he was called up, many pundits thought the selectors had got the wrong Taylor, but the other one - the unrelated Mark, who was even interviewed on TV and congratulated on his selection - would have to wait another two years for his debut.

Records galore for Graeme Fowler and Mike Gatting on a memorable Madras day. They cracked 201 and 207 in the fourth Test against India - the first time in 610 Tests that two Englishmen had made double-hundreds in the same innings. Gatting's was the highest score by an Englishman in India, and it set up an eventual nine-wicket victory despite another charming hundred from Mohammad Azharuddin, his second in his first two Tests (he soon made it three in three). It gave England a 2-1 lead, which they held onto to become the first side to win a series in India from behind.

Another day when two double-centuries were scored against India, this time by the Pakistan duo of Javed Miandad and Mudassar Nazar. The two had added an unbroken 164 on the previous day in Hyderabad, and extended it to 451, equalling the then world record, held by the Don and Bill Ponsford. Both Miandad and Mudassar made personal bests, scoring 280 not out and 231, more than enough for India, who could manage only 189 and 273 in their two innings. Pakistan secured a 3-0 lead in the six-Test series, and the scoreline stayed the same - the final two Tests were drawn.

For much of his career it appeared the curly-haired 6'4" Ryan Sidebottom, born today, would remain a one-cap Test wonder like his father Arnie. He'd been handed his debut in 2001 against Pakistan, but after a wicketless performance was banished back to county cricket and then overlooked as England coach Duncan Fletcher searched for fast bowlers with raw pace. Sidebottom finally got his chance under Peter Moores as an injury replacement and took 16 wickets against the visiting West Indies, including eight wickets at Headingley in 2007. He did even better when England toured New Zealand in 2008, taking ten in Hamilton and 24 overall in the three Tests. But injuries pushed him down the pecking order thereafter.

Muttiah Muralitharan continued his record-breaking ways, this time reaching the 400-wicket landmark by bowling Henry Olonga on the fourth morning of the Galle Test to end Zimbabwe's first innings at 236. The milestone took him 72 Tests, eight fewer than Richard Hadlee, and at 29 years and 273 days he became the youngest bowler to take 400, beating Shane Warne by more than two years. Olonga's wicket gave him his 33rd five-for; he took four more in the second innings and Sri Lanka won by 315 runs.

Glorious stuff from David Gower, whose match-winning 158 in the Benson & Hedges World Series match against New Zealand in Brisbane took just 118 balls. It included 18 fours and four sixes, and was the highest one-day score by an Englishman until Robin Smith's violent 167 against Australia at Edgbaston in 1993.

Birth of the Test bowler who didn't bowl. New Zealand legspinner Greg Loveridge got his one cap against Zimbabwe in Hamilton in 1995-96, but he fractured a knuckle while batting - on his 21st birthday too. He didn't get a chance again, which might seem harsh, but not if you look at his first-class record. He also played for Cambridge University.

Other birthdays
1956 Paul Parker (England)
1960 Tim Curtis (England)