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November 17 down the years

A 20-over titan

An Australian limited-overs captain is born

Aaron Finch waits to go out and bat, Pakistan v Australia, 1st Test, Dubai, 3rd day, October 9, 2018

Aaron Finch: Australia's first T20 World Cup-winning captain  •  Getty Images

Birth of Australian big hitter Aaron Finch, who holds two of the top three T20I scores - 172, against Zimbabwe in 2018 and 156, against England in 2013 in an innings that included 14 sixes. Later that week in 2013, he made a 114-ball 148 (with 14 fours this time) against Scotland. Finch set the tone for Australia's 2015 World Cup-winning campaign with a big hundred in the opening game against England. His appointment as the T20 captain in 2014 was a testament to his limited-overs prowess, although the position was given to Steven Smith two years later when Australia decided to consolidate the role across formats. Between June 2017 and June 2018, Finch struck a rich vein of one-day form, making 781 runs with four hundreds and three fifties in 14 matches. In October that year, having played 93 ODIs, Finch finally made his Test debut, against Pakistan in Dubai. One of the fallouts of the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town was that Finch became the limited-overs captain once again. He led Australia to the semi-final of the 2019 World Cup, scoring two hundreds and three fifties in the campaign, and two years later to their first T20 World Cup title. When Finch retired from professional cricket early in 2024, he was one of only ten players to aggregate 10,000-plus runs in T20s.
Bert Sutcliffe, who was born today, would be a banker for any all-time New Zealand XI. Along with Neil Harvey, Sutcliffe was the finest left-hander of his generation, and played 42 Tests between 1946 and 1965 without ever being on the winning side. He had an outstanding tour of England in 1949, hitting four fifties and a maiden Test ton in seven innings, and was named one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Year in 1950. With his textbook style and cheery demeanour, Sutcliffe was a hugely popular figure. He also excelled in India, where he made three of his five Test hundreds (all three were unbeaten) and averaged 68. He died of cancer in 2001.
A maiden Pakistan Super League title for the Karachi Kings, when they beat the Lahore Qalandars by five wickets in Karachi. After a disciplined effort from their bowlers restricted the Qalandars to 134 on a pitch with uneven bounce, Babar Azam hit his sixth consecutive 50-plus score to complete the chase with more than an over to spare. While the bulk of the tournament was played in February and March, the playoffs had to be postponed to November because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Birth of a typical hard-as-nails Aussie. When Colin McDonald was plying his trade in the 1950s there was little protection for an opening batter, but he gave no quarter to the likes of Fred Trueman and Wes Hall. He was adept against spin too, top-scoring in both innings of the famous match when Jim Laker took 19 wickets at Old Trafford in 1956 - McDonald made nearly half Australia's runs in that game. But generally he was more comfortable on home soil, where he averaged 47, as against 33 overseas. McDonald cracked consecutive centuries against England in 1958-59, and two years later hit a crucial 91 in his last Test on home soil as Australia squeezed past West Indies in a thrilling fifth Test in Melbourne.
A WACA Test that was the antithesis of what the venue is known for. The high-scoring draw featured two double-hundreds and four other centuries. Ross Taylor's 290 broke the 111-year record for the highest score by an overseas batter in Australia (287 by Tip Foster in 1903) and the highest away score by a New Zealand batter (274 not out by Stephen Fleming in 2003). The match was also Mitchell Johnson's final one, but he went out with a whimper, not a bang, taking 3 for 177.
A match to forget for New Zealand, who were hammered by 172 runs in the first Test against India in Bangalore. With almost half their team struck down by a virus - at one point they had to field a record five substitutes, including a TV commentator (former captain Jeremy Coney) and a journalist - New Zealand were struggling from the moment Navjot Sidhu lashed 116 in his first Test innings for five years. On a wearing pitch the Indian spinners Arshad Ayub (who took the new ball) and Narendra Hirwani (who took his wicket-tally to 24 in his first two Tests) shared 16 wickets. There was some consolation for Richard Hadlee, though, who had Arun Lal caught in the slips with the first ball of his third over - it was his 374th wicket, moving him above Ian Botham, whose record he had equalled 318 days before, as the greatest wicket-taker in Test history at the time.
Birth of the first man to make 99 on his Test debut. On the second day of the first Test against England at Trent Bridge in 1934, Australian Arthur Chipperfield lunched on 99 not out, and whatever he ate obviously went down the wrong way, because he was out to the third ball after the interval, caught behind off Ken Farnes. Only two other batters have made 99 on Test debut since, Robert Christiani of West Indies (1947-48), and Pakistan's Asim Kamal in 2003-04. Chipperfield did manage a Test century later on - against South Africa in Durban in 1935-36. He died in Sydney in 1987.
A frustrating day for Craig White, who was out just seven runs short of a maiden century in the first Test between England and Pakistan in Lahore. White, showing an un-English willingness to hit the spinners over the top, had added a crucial 166 in a real chalk-and-cheese partnership with Graham Thorpe. Thorpe took self-denial to new extremes as he reached a century that included only one boundary - a Test record. England drew a game that Steve Waugh has since described as "the most boring Test I've ever seen", but after being tipped by most observers to be spin-washed 3-0, England weren't too bothered what he thought.
Birth of a biffer. Yusuf Pathan was picked by Rajasthan Royals in the inaugural IPL in 2008, where he dominated the run scorers' chart, making 435 runs, including that season's fastest fifty. It earned him a one-day call-up, but a string of low scores forced him back out. On his return Yusuf made an unbeaten 123 off 96 balls in India's 316-run chase against New Zealand in Bangalore. The performance got him picked for the series in South Africa, where, in Centurion, he scored his second hundred (off 68 balls) but this time in a losing cause. Pathan also has the distinction of scoring a 190-ball double-century to help West Zone seal the highest first-class chase ever, in the 2010 Duleep Trophy final. In 2011, he was picked up for US$2.1 million by Kolkata Knight Riders and the next year he helped them to the IPL title, but struggled to hold down a spot in the national team.
Javed Miandad celebrated his 100th one-day international by making his 3000th run, but Pakistan were thumped by West Indies in the fourth one-dayer, in Multan. In a match reduced to 44 overs a side, West Indies made 202 for 5, and then their quick men blew Pakistan away for 113. The underrated Tony Gray (who in Tests and one-dayers took 66 international wickets at an average of 18.36) took 4 for 36, and Courtney Walsh accounted for Ramiz Raja and Ijaz Ahmed in a spell of 5-4-7-2. Pakistan were able to give West Indies a run for their money like no other side in the late 1980s (they drew three consecutive series 1-1), but in one-day cricket there was only one winner: this defeat came in the middle of a Pakistan run of only four wins in 20 attempts against West Indies.
It was not a surprise that Adam Gilchrist was the first to the mark, though it took more than 130 years of Test cricket for a batter to reach 100 career sixes. During his unbeaten 67 against Sri Lanka in the second Test in Hobart, Gilchrist hit Nos. 99 and 100 over midwicket off consecutive deliveries from Muttiah Muralitharan. That was Gilchrist's 92nd Test; he didn't clear the boundary in his next four, and finished his career with an even 100.
Other birthdays
1883 Harold Baumgartner (South Africa)
1956 Stanley de Silva (Sri Lanka)
1960 Mandy Yachad (South Africa)
1978 Martika Flieringa (Netherlands)