March 20 down the years

Bangladesh get a hard-hitting opener

The birth of Tamim Iqbal

Tamim played a key hand in Bangladesh's win in Colombo in their 100th Test © AFP

Tamim Iqbal, born today, is arguably the hardest hitter of the cricket ball in Bangladesh. He scored 84 in his debut Test, against New Zealand in Dunedin, and established his spot at the top of the order. His maiden century came in 2009 against West Indies in St Vincent, a match-winning effort. He then set a national record against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo when he hit an unbeaten 154 in a steep chase. Though he didn't carry that form into the 2011 World Cup, Tamim had an exceptional time with the bat in 2010, especially in Tests, where he averaged nearly 60, with three hundreds - one each at Lord's and Old Trafford - six half-centuries from 14 innings. His four consecutive half-centuries in the 2012 Asia Cup took Bangladesh to the final. A mature 95 helped Bangladesh overcome a stiff chase against Scotland in the 2015 World Cup. In Bangladesh's 100th Test, against Sri Lanka in Colombo, Tamim scored 82 in the second innings to help his side chase 191 for a famous win. In their next Test, his two half-centuries played a big role in Bangladesh getting their first win against Australia in the format.

An astonishing turnaround in Trinidad. Zimbabwe needed only 99 to win the first Test, Jimmy Adams' first as captain, and West Indies were looking down the barrel of their greatest humiliation. But their quick bowlers had one last get-out-of-jail card to play. Zimbabwe collapsed from 47 for 3 to 63 all out, with only Grant Flower reaching double figures, and for the first time in 118 years a team had failed to reach a two-figure target to win a Test. A frenzied Port-of-Spain crowd had seen it all before: six years earlier England were blown away by Curtly Ambrose for 46 to spark similarly orgasmic celebrations. Here Ambrose took 3 for 8 (off 11 overs), but it was Franklyn Rose who stole the show with 4 for 19, including the big two, Andy Flower and Murray Goodwin. All very harsh on Flower, who made a superb 113 not out in the first innings - nobody else reached 50 in the whole match.

Nicky Boje, born today, bowled South Africa to victory over India but his record there doesn't really stand up to closer examination. He bowled only five overs in the tone-setting first Test of that 1999-2000 series and though he took seven wickets in the second Test, in Bangalore, India were already dead in the water. As a pinch-hitting No. 3, he made two one-day hundreds against New Zealand in 2000-01. And though he was a decent bowling allrounder at Test level, he was dropped for Paul Adams after South Africa's record defeat to Australia in Johannesburg in February, and played just two more Tests before being recalled for the tour of New Zealand in 2003-04 and holding his place in the team for several more years. However, after being overlooked during the 2006-07 season he retired from the international game and signed up with the Indian Cricket League.

Kapil Dev's right-hand man is born. With his military-medium pace, Madan Lal was Kapil's new-ball partner in his 39 Tests between 1974 and 1986. The real highlight of his career, though, came at Lord's in 1983: Madan took 3 for 31 in the World-Cup-final slaying of the West Indian Goliaths, including the key wicket of Viv Richards. (Typically, the dismissal is better remembered for Kapil's brilliant running catch.) Madan seemed to have played his last Test in 1984-85, but was in England playing league cricket in 1986 when he was called up for the Test at Headingley, where he took 3 for 18 in the first innings as India thrashed England.

Birth of Australian left-hander Vernon Ransford, who despite being a specialist batter often came in as low as No. 7 or 8. But it was at No. 5 that he played the innings of his life - 143 not out at Lord's in 1909, an outstanding performance in a match where only one other man passed 50. It was Ransford's only Test hundred in 20 appearances, and led Australia to their first victory at Lord's in the 20th century, a period in which they lost only one Test in 25 at Lord's. Ransford's health deteriorated after the First World War and he did not play Test cricket again, though he carried on for Victoria until 1927-28. He died in Melbourne in 1958.

An England World Cup-winning captain is born. There aren't too many of them, in any sport, but Karen Smithies lifted the trophy after England beat New Zealand in the final at Lord's in 1993, and at the tender age of 24 too. She received the OBE as a result, but she resigned as captain halfway through a calamitous tour of New Zealand and Australia in 1999-00. Smithies was a dogged left-hand bat and a nagging medium-pacer, who made two fifties in what turned out to be her last Test, against India at Shenley in 1999.

No disgrace, but no contest either. Kenya's astonishing World Cup run finally came to an end at the semi-final stage, as India triumphed by 91 runs in a soggy affair in Kingsmead. Sourav Ganguly's unbeaten 111 was the highlight, and India's total of 270 for 4 was never realistically challenged.

An uncomfortable trial by spin for New Zealand as Srinivas Venkataraghavan took 8 for 72 in the fourth Test, in Delhi. This was only the fourth Test of Venkat's career, but the four wickets he nabbed in the second innings gave him the only ten-for of a Test career that spanned another 54 matches and 18 years.

Richie Richardson's first-class debut. Playing for Leeward Islands against Barbados, he was nailed twice by Joel Garner, but after a humbling first-innings duck he managed 76 before being Big Bird-ed in the second innings. That was his side's highest score in the match, but was topped by a couple of match-winning Barbadian biffs: 165 from Franklyn Stephenson and 88 from Collis King.

The birth of Chanaka Welegedara, a Sri Lankan left-arm seamer whose career has been plagued by injuries. His Test debut arrived against England, in Galle, during the 2007-08 series but his best performance came at the end of 2011 - his 5 for 52 in the first innings in Durban helped set up Sri Lanka's maiden Test win in South Africa.

Other birthdays
1866 Robert Poore (South Africa)
1870 Charles Fichardt (South Africa)
1979 Morne van Wyk (South Africa)
1982 Terry Duffin (Zimbabwe)
1986 Mark Jonkman (Netherlands)
1986 Maurits Jonkman (Netherlands)