February 25 down the years

Brightly fades The Don

The death of the greatest cricketer of them all

The end of an era Hamish Blair / © Getty Images

Don Bradman was 92 years old when pneumonia claimed him on this day. Everyone knows about his Test average of 99.94, but some of The Don's other feats beggar belief: a Sheffield Shield average of 110, a Test average against South Africa of 201, six first-class triple-centuries (and a 299 not out in a Test), 618 Test fours (but only six sixes), a Test double-century every 6.66 innings. Where were you when he died? It was cricket's JFK moment and sparked an extraordinary amount of media coverage.

Birth of the brilliant Farokh Engineer, a dashing batsman and a stylish, acrobatic wicketkeeper for India despite his bulky frame. "Rooky" was a very popular, debonair chap, who was once recruited to advertise Brylcreem. He averaged 31 from 46 Tests and was a successful overseas player for Lancashire - where he eventually settled as a business executive - between 1968 and 1976. The high point of his career was a fast century off Hall, Griffith and Sobers in Madras in 1966-67.

All out for 43. This wasn't a good day for Pakistan, who cobbled together what was the lowest one-day total at the time. The pitch in Cape Town was a shocker: over-grassed and uneven, and only Zahid Fazal (21) and extras (10) made it to double figures. Courtney Walsh (4 for 16) was the main destroyer. There were a record six ducks, and it took West Indies only 12.3 overs to reach 45 for 3.

All the action in the first Test played at the new 110,000-capacity stadium in Motera, Ahmedabad was crammed into two days. Twenty-seven wickets fell on day two as India beat England by ten wickets in the day-nighter. It was the shortest Test, in terms of balls bowled, since1935. Local left-arm spinner Axar Patel took 11 wickets and offspinner R Ashwin seven, getting to 400 wickets in the process of dismissing England for 112 and 81. They weren't the only ones among the wickets with the pink ball, which offered skiddy pace, on a pitch that had reasonable bounce and uneven turn. England captain and part-time offie Joe Root took 5 for 8 to bowl India out for 145 in the first innings. Rohit Sharma's 66 was the top score of the match.

A horrible incident in Auckland, where New Zealand tailender Ewen Chatfield deflected a short one from England's Peter Lever into his left temple. Chatfield passed out and swallowed his tongue - his heart even stopped beating briefly - and he would not have survived but for the quick work of England physio Bernard Thomas. The last pair of Chatfield and Geoff Howarth had frustrated England in their pursuit of victory; when Chatfield retired hurt, the match was England's. A hairline fracture of the skull meant Chatfield did not play again that season, but there were no lasting ill-effects: after this, his debut, he played another 42 Tests and took 123 wickets with his nagging medium-pacers.

The most expensive over ever, in Canterbury. Trying to encourage Canterbury to go after a stiff target, and so lose wickets, Wellington batsman Robert Vance bowled a 22-ball over, mainly full tosses delivered from several yards down the pitch, which went for 77 runs. Lee Germon finished on 160 not out, the match was drawn with the scores tied, Wellington were docked four points, and Vance's over expunged from the record books.

A bad boy is born. Stuart MacGill has rubbed a few people up the wrong way in his time - he was banned from the Devon League in England after a fight with an opposition player - and that, along with the presence of Shane Warne, limited the number of his Test caps. He was very successful in that time, though, and was the second-highest wicket-taker in 2003, with 57 scalps. MacGill retired in 2008, capping a career in which he made headlines more for being out of the Australian team (including refusing to tour Zimbabwe on principle) rather than for his performances in it. But he made a spirited comeback in the inaugural Big Bash League in 2011-12, at the age of 40, taking seven wickets in Sydney Sixers' victorious campaign.

Ian Botham's first Test hundred, made today in Christchurch, was a relatively sedate affair. It included a six and 12 fours, but took 312 minutes. It was crucial, though: England went on to win by 174 runs, with Botham adding eight wickets for good measure. An allrounder had arrived.

Javed Miandad made the last of his six double-centuries, in Auckland today. New Zealand were on the receiving end in a match of few thrills: Javed's 271 was the basis of Pakistan's 616 for 5 declared, and though they enforced the follow-on, just, they were left with only 50 overs to bowl the Kiwis out a second time, and didn't manage it.

John Arlott, born today, didn't play the game at any high level, but he'll always be remembered as the Voice of Cricket. With his soft Hampshire burr he gave the listener the sense of being in the best seat in the house: Brian Johnston said "you could smell bat oil when he spoke". After working in a planning office, a mental hospital, and as a policeman, Arlott came late to cricket commentary, but he was born for the unique properties of radio, and his last stint in the Test commentary box - during the Centenary Test at Lord's in 1980 - overshadowed the match itself. As Arlott uttered his last words, play stopped as the whole ground stood to applaud him. He died in 1991, and in a Wisden Cricket Monthly obituary David Frith wrote: "A great English oak has come down, and the landscape seems bare."

Pune's inaugural Test certainly turned out to be a memorable one - for Australia, who opened their four-Test series in India with an emphatic 333-run win. On a dry turner, Steven Smith made a masterful hundred, and Steve O'Keefe took 12 for 70 - the best match figures for a visiting spinner in India - as the hosts crumbled swiftly for 105 and 107, lasting a mere 74 overs across their two innings. The result brought an end to India's 20-match undefeated streak in home Tests.

In any other era, opening bat Wally Hardinge, born today, would have made more than the one Test appearance, but he was competing against the likes of Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe. He was also a useful left-arm spinner, an athletic fielder, and played football for England - again just the once. As it was, he had to content himself with being an integral part of Kent's first four Championship-winning sides.

In the era before Murali, a number of Sri Lankan spinners toiled with limited success in Tests. Flighty left-armer Don Anurasiri, who was born today, was one of the better ones. He played 18 Tests, and usually kept it tight at a time when Sri Lanka were perennial whipping boys. His Test average (37.75) is fairly modest, but his first-class average (19.88) is better than Murali's.

Birth of one of Test cricket's meatiest hitters. Compared to 6ft 6in, 16-stone Australian George Bonnor, the likes of Arjuna Ranatunga and Inzamam-ul-Haq had the physique of supermodels. At The Oval in 1880 Bonnor smacked the ball so high that by the time he was caught, he had turned for a third run. At Mitcham the same year he was credited with a hit of 147 yards. Bonnor was inconsistent by virtue of his approach - his last ten Test innings brought just 33 runs - but his three Test fifties were all central to Australian victories, most notably in 1884-85, when he turned the Sydney Test by belting 128 from No. 8. He died in New South Wales in 1912.

Twin hundreds for that obdurate New Zealander Andrew Jones against Sri Lanka in Hamilton. Jones had already made 186 in the first Test, and here he added 122 and 100 not out. But he was matched by Asanka Gurusinha, whose 119 and 102 were flanked by 70 and 50 in the first and third Tests. At the close of another competitive draw, Sri Lanka were 344 for 6 - only 74 runs away from victory. No surprise that this one was a draw: all seven of Jones' Test hundreds, and five of Gurusinha's seven, came in drawn Tests.

Australian wicketkeeper Steve Rixon, who was born today, played 13 Tests between 1977-78 and 1984-85, but he is better remembered as the coach of the rugged New Zealand side who shocked England by humiliating them on their own patch in 1999. Rixon had inherited a dispirited Kiwi side in 1996-97, and left them in good health after that England victory. He returned, successfully, for a second stint, coaching New South Wales before heading to England to take charge at Surrey in 2004. He went on to coach Chennai Super Kings to their IPL title in 2010 and was later employed as Australia's fielding, spin bowling and assistant coach at various times for three years from 2011 - a job he was axed from in January, 2014.

Matthew Bell, born today, made his debut against India in Wellington in 1998 and went on to play another 17 Tests and seven ODIs for New Zealand. He scored his maiden hundred against Pakistan in Hamilton, in a Test New Zealand won by an innings and 85 runs to draw the series 1-1. But a poor run in Australia led to him being dropped. A prolific 2007-08 season in domestic cricket earned him a comeback and he scored a century against Bangladesh in Dunedin. He was retained for the home series against England but failed to impress.

Other birthdays
1960 Glenn Bishop (Australia)