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Immovable object, irresistible force

1998 Mike Atherton v Allan Donald

Wisden CricInfo staff
All Today's Yesterdays - July 26 down the years
Mike Atherton v Allan Donald. At Trent Bridge, a heavyweight contest to match any seen in the Test arena for the past 25 years, and one that Atherton won ... just. Donald bowled a brutal, unrelenting spell from around the wicket, and should have had Atherton given caught behind off the glove when he had made 27. Soon after, Mark Boucher dropped Nasser Hussain, and Donald was apoplectic. He took all of his rage out on Atherton in a colossal struggle. But he couldn't break Atherton's will, and a day later England had squared the series, with Athers still there on 98 not out. In Wisden Cricket Monthly, Scyld Berry wrote that, "Iron Mike had turned into Steel."
Another series-levelling win for England - and another umpiring controversy. At Headingley, Pakistan were furious when Graham Gooch was given not out, despite being a long way short of his crease on a run-out appeal. Gooch went on to make 37, and the eventual scoreline - 99 for 4 - suggests a comfortable win, but this was anything but. It was a blistering, snarling match, notable for Neil Mallender's eight wickets on debut, Salim Malik's majestic, not-out innings of 82 and 84, and an astonishing England collapse. In the first innings they were 292 for 2 ... and all out for 320 as Waqar Younis reverse-swung it all over the place. The last six batsmen managed only two runs between them.
A year later, and English cricket had hit rock bottom. Australia regained the Ashes with an innings victory at Headingley - and for the second time in the series, they had won a match in which they lost only four wickets. Allan Border's unbeaten 200 took the Aussies to 653 for 4, and then England were washed away, with Paul Reiffel taking eight wickets. Graham Gooch resigned after the match, with Mike Atherton, just 25 years old, his replacement.
That great fielder Jonty Rhodes was born. Rhodes was 22 years old when he made his debut for South Africa in the 1992 World Cup, and immediately made his mark with his electric work in the covers. His full-length dive to run out Inzamam-ul-Haq in the group match at Brisbane was reproduced on billboards throughout South Africa, though his trademark is the gravity-defying catch - none better than his fingertipped salmon leap to dismiss Robert Croft in the Emirates Trophy at Edgbaston in 1998. Rhodes also scored three Test centuries for South Africa, the last against West Indies in 1998-99. A committed Christian and a family man, Rhodes was an early casualty of the international fixture pile-up: he retired from Test matches in 2000 to concentrate solely on one-day cricket, and retired from that after pulling out injured during the 2003 World Cup.
A curtain call for Brian Statham. After a two-year absence from Test cricket, and at the age of 35, Statham returned to the England side for the third Test against South Africa at The Oval. It was as if he had never been away. Bowling with all the parsimony of old, he took 5 for 40 in the first innings to restrict South Africa to 208 all out. It was not enough to force a victory, however. Needing 399 in the final innings for a share of the series, England closed on 308 for 4, Colin Cowdrey not out on 78.
When England's last man Fred Tate was clean bowled for 4, Australia retained the Ashes with a famous heart-stopping win at Old Trafford. Unfortunately for Fred, it was his last moment in Test cricket.
Birth of Tom Garrett. He played in 19 Tests for Australia, including the very first, against England in 1876-77, when he chipped in with bat and ball. The youngest player in that match at only 18, he was also its last survivor, dying in 1943, shortly after his 85th birthday.
The last day as an international umpire for Frank Chester. He first officiated as a 29-year-old at Lord's in 1924, and continued into his 61st year. The Test between England and South Africa at Headingley was his 48th, a world record before the arrival of Dickie Bird.
Allrounder GS 'Ram' Ramchand was born. In 33 Tests for India, he took 41 wickets and hit two centuries, including 109 against Australia in 1956-57.
Other birthdays
1971 Khaled Mahmud (Bangladesh)