February 20 down the years

High-speed Baz

The fastest Test hundred

Brendon McCullum on his way to a 54-ball century © Getty Images

Brendon McCullum said goodbye to international cricket by breaking the record for the fastest Test hundred by two balls - 54 to the 56 taken by the joint holders at the time, Viv Richards and Misbah-ul-Haq. The feat came in Christchurch against Australia, where, coming in to bat at 32 for 3 on a lively pitch, McCullum hit his second ball for four. Then with 15 minutes left for lunch, he took Mitchell Marsh for 21 runs in an over. He was caught off a no-ball on 39, and responded with a six and two fours from his next five balls. McCullum took New Zealand to 370, but centuries from Joe Burns and Steven Smith gave Australia a series-winning lead.

One of the greatest bowling performances in Test history: Hugh Tayfield's match-winning effort in the fourth Test against England in Johannesburg on this day. England needed 232 to take a 3-0 lead with one to play and were cruising at 147 for 2, but Tayfield chipped away and ended up with 9 for 113. He bowled throughout the last day, sending down 35 eight-ball overs in a row. With England still 17 runs adrift, Tayfield had Peter Loader caught on the boundary by his brother Arthur, who was fielding as substitute. "Toey" was chaired off the field, and for good measure he took a six-for in the next match to give South Africa an unlikely share of the series.

The end of the road for two of Australia's greatest cricketers. Neil Harvey finished off with a brace of twenties, and Alan Davidson with six wickets, in the drawn fifth Test against England in Sydney. The series ended 1-1: the first five-match series in Australia to be drawn. Harvey closed with 6149 runs, and Davidson with 1328 runs and 186 wickets, the last - AC Smith, caught by Bobby Simpson - with his final ball.

Graeme Hick turned his long-overdue maiden Test hundred into an outstanding 178 in Bombay. Assertive, clean and at times brutal, it was a showcase of everything that was good about Hick. But three Tests later he was dropped. His fault or the selectors'? When you look at his post-178, pre-axe scores, you'd have to say the latter: 47, 68, 26, 34, 22, 20 and 64. As for the match, England's ignominious spinwash (46 wickets out of 60 fell to Anil Kumble, Venkatapathy Raju and Rajesh Chauhan) was completed by another innings defeat. Vinod Kambli (remember him?) trumped Hick by turning his maiden Test ton into 224.

A rotund offspinner is born. It's hard to imagine Eddie Hemmings thriving in the modern, three-dimensional era, but in his day he served England well. Six of his 16 Tests came in his Indian summer of 1990, when he took his only five-for to help England to an important win over New Zealand, and was famously belted for four successive sixes by Kapil Dev at Lord's. He could bat too, and made 95 as a nightwatchman in Sydney in 1982-83.

Jharkhand's 324-run win over Madhya Pradesh in a Vijay Hazare Trophy match in Indore on this day was the joint second-highest margin of victory in all List A games. Captain and wicketkeeper Ishan Kishan made 173 off 94 balls, hitting 19 fours and 11 sixes in their total of 422 for 9 - the second-highest List A total made in India. He also took seven catches in Madhya Pradesh's innings of 98. Fast bowler Varun Aaron took a career-best 6 for 37.

seventh-highest first-class innings of all time. Pakistani Aftab Baloch amassed the small matter of 428, batting for Sind against Baluchistan today. Baloch was already familiar with the record books: when he made his Test debut, aged 16 years 221 days, he was the second-youngest player in Test history. He averaged 48.5 but played only two Tests, and ended with a blistering 60 not out against West Indies in Lahore in 1974-75, a match that finished today and is better remembered for...

... a match-saving debut century for left-handed West Indian opener Len Baichan. Baichan batted throughout the last day, ending unbeaten on 105, and seemed to be set for a long career at the top. Not so. Roy Fredericks was already established, and with Gordon Greenidge also just on the scene, Baichan was left looking for scraps. He found some in the last Test in Australia that winter, when he was pitched in against Lillee and Thomson at No. 3, but scores of 3 and 20 were his last entries at the top level. He finished with an average of 46.

Australian fast bowler Clint McKay, born today, picked up three wickets in his first match, in Hyderabad, in 2009, including that of Sachin Tendulkar, who had scored 175 in a losing cause. McKay carried his form into the home series against Pakistan, finishing as the leading wicket-taker with 14 from five matches. In between he also made his Test debut, in Perth against West Indies, but due to stiff competition for fast-bowling slots, he was shunted back into a limited-overs role. In the third CB Series final, against Sri Lanka, in 2012, McKay took a match-winning 5 for 28.

England allrounder Ben Stokes became the IPL's highest-paid overseas signing when he was bought for US$2.16 million by Rising Pune Supergiants in the league's tenth auction. Fellow Englishman, fast bowler Tymal Mills, was bought for $1.8 million by Royal Challengers Bangalore - the most paid for a specialist bowler. It was also a big pay day for 18-year-old Afghanistan lespinner Rashid Khan, who was picked up by Sunrisers Hyderabad for $595,000. The more experienced Indian players got no bids - Ishant Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Pragyan Ojha, Cheteshwar Pujara, Parvez Rasool and RP Singh went unsold, while several uncapped players were picked up at high prices (among them fast bowler Mohammad Siraj for $390,000, left-arm seamer Aniket Choudhary for $300,000, and K Gowtham for $300,000).

Other birthdays
1857 Bunny Lucas (England)
1873 Dante Parkin (South Africa)
1926 Ted Meuli (New Zealand)
1976 Akhtar Sarfraz (Pakistan)
1976 Rohan Gavaskar (India)
1973 Rohan Alexander (USA)