A born leader

1964 Birth of the catalyst for Test cricket's current golden age

Wisden Cricinfo staff
All Today's Yesterdays - October 27 down the years
Birth of the catalyst for Test cricket's current golden age. Within a year of Mark "Tubby" Taylor succeeding Allan Border as captain Australia had regained the Frank Worrell Trophy and inflicted on West Indies their first series defeat for 15 years. Taylor's nose for a hunch (how many times did he bring on bowlers like Blewett, Ponting and co. and see them take a wicket almost immediately?) and aversion to stalemate - Australia drew only 11 of his 50 Tests in charge - made Test cricket more watchable than it had been for many a year. As an opening batsman he struggled at times, most famously when he went 21 innings without a half-century between 1995 and 1997, but a final average of 43.49 shows what a quality performer he was.
Muttiah Muralitharan took India apart with 7 for 30 - the best bowling in ODIs at the time - as Sri Lanka eased home in a dress rehearsal for the Champions Trophy final in Sharjah. Marvan Atapattu and Mahela Jayawardene both made centuries in a total of 294 for 5 and then, with India 99 for 2, Murali got to work - his seven wickets came for 23 runs in 50 balls. India played him better in the final two days later, when he only managed 3 for 6, but it didn't stop them being hammered by 245 runs.
Birth of the ultimate stonewaller. Chris Tavaré shaped up as a poor man's Geoff Boycott - capable of all the shots, but offering only a few in match situations. But whereas Boycott was an average massager, Tavaré did it for the team at a time when England were crying out for someone to complement Gower, Lamb, Botham and co. His calm, scholarly demeanour - he was the antithesis of his lookalike Basil Fawlty - made him unpopular in Australia especially. Much maligned for making a painful 89 at Perth in the first Test of the 1982-83 tour, Tavaré made the same score in the fourth match at Melbourne (which England won by three runs) but in completely different style. The Wisden Almanack said he batted with "unaccustomed vigour" as he got firmly stuck into Bruce Yardley. He never shook off the "boring" tag, though, and made his last Test appearance as a replacement against Australia in 1989.
South Africa pulled off a sensational victory in the third Test against Pakistan at Faisalabad to take the series 1-0. It was a remarkable match. On the first day South Africa were 98 for 7 before a century from Gary Kirsten and a thumping 81 from Pat Symcox (who saw one Mushtaq Ahmed googly pass between off and middle without dislodging the bail) got them to 239, but Pakistan still took a first-innings lead of 68, and despite another 50 from Symcox they needed only 147 to win the match and the series. They fell apart. Shaun Pollock took four top-order wickets in seven delirious deliveries and Symcox cleaned up the tail to claim the first Man of the Match award of his Test career. Pakistan were blown away for a measly 92 to lose by 53 runs.
At the 'Gabba in Brisbane, Bob Simpson smacked a mighty 359 for New South Wales against Queensland. It was the highest postwar score in Australia until Matthew Hayden's 380 in Oct 2003. It was not enough for victory though, in a remarkable match that saw 1301 runs scored for the loss of only 21 wickets. For good measure Simpson made 247 not out in the return match against Western Australia at Sydney, and by the end of a summer in which he scored a century, two doubles and a triple, he was Australian captain. But he started with a duck, courtesy of Peter Pollock, in the second Test against South Africa at Melbourne.
Sri Lankan keeper-batsman Kumar Sangakkara was born on this day, and it's a fair bet he came out kicking and screaming. He is a feisty character who was famously involved in a finger-wagging spat with Mike Atherton in the second Test at Kandy in March, but such contretemps should not obscure a genuine talent. Sangakkara is wristy, elegant and cool-headed (except when he's in the nineties), and after a couple of near-misses he made his first Test century against India at Galle in 2001.
The Northampton Nugget was born. George Thompson earned that nickname for playing a crucial role in establishing Northamptonshire's first-class status in 1905. He was an outstanding performer, strong in defence with the bat and a brisk fast-medium with the ball, who played for the 1st XI at Wellingborough School when he was only 13. But such was the depth of talent in English cricket that he played only six Tests, one against Australia in 1909 and five in South Africa the following winter. He died in Bristol in 1943.
Other birthdays
1917 Jack Plimsoll (South Africa)
1926 Nana Joshi (India)
1928 Datta Gaekwad (India)