When Indian Fans Applauded Pakistan

When Indian Fans Applauded Pakistan

One of the biggest rivalries in sports is when India and Pakistan face each other on 22 yards. Although political tension between these countries in the last 72 years reduced the number of cricket matches, for cricket lovers India- Pakistan matches are still on the top priority. 

From Miandad’s last ball six in Sharjah to Kohli’s T20 masterclass in Kolkata, there are many India-Pakistan battles which have stayed in the mind of cricket fans for the ages.

20 years ago, on 31st January 1999, these two teams were engaged on another epic battle. Although the climax in semi-dark MA Chidambaram Stadium was heartbreaking for one set of fans it is still remembered as one of the memorable test matches.

The background of the series made it even more attractive and followed by the global media. India and Pakistan were going to play a test series after more than nine years and the relationship between these two countries were not great and went downhill since the last few years. From a cricketing standpoint, both teams looked equally balanced with many legends and future legends in the team.

The touring Pakistanis were led by legendary Wasim Akram, who along with Waqar Younis and Saqlain Mushtaq would take care of the bowling. For batting, they had Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, a young Shahid Afridi and Saeed Anwar, the owner of then ODI highest score of 194, scored against these opponents in the same venue couple of years back.

Sachin Tendulkar @Chennai Test against Pakistan, 1999 (Image- AFP)

Mohammad Azharuddin was leading the Indians. Sachin Tendulkar was leading the batting pack along with Ganguly and Dravid and also the exciting home boy Sadgopan Ramesh was making his debut. The bowling saw an all-Karnataka attack involving, Srinath, Prasad, Kumble and Sunil Joshi.

As expected between two strong teams, the match was a see-saw battle and no one could manage to hold the advantage for long enough. Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat first. Indians came with early strikes and Pakistan were 91 for 5 just after lunch. Yousuf and wicketkeeper Moin Khan led the recovery. Two fifties from them and some valuable contribution from skipper Akram took them to 238, much less than they would expect. Debutant Ramesh started briskly and by the close of day one, the Pakistan lead was cut down to 190 without any wicket. But again as the flow of the game, Pakistan made a strong comeback and got hold of both openers before Saqlain got Tendulkar for naught. Dravid and Ganguly formed a 50-run partnership before the former was gone for 53. Ganguly batted with the tail patiently and his 54 and Joshi’s 25 were the key reasons for India taking a slender 16 run lead. Pakistan had a slow start but Afridi lit up the ground on the 4th day with his 141 and with 275 for four, Pakistan looked in pretty good shape. But the lanky Venkatesh Prasad had a different plan and in a wonderful spell of 5 wickets for zero runs resulted in Pakistan losing their last six wickets for only 11 runs.

The target for India was 271 for a famous win. The openers were gone with the score at 6. Tendulkar came out to bat determined and played out the day with Dravid. The fifth day started with India needed 231 runs and Pakistan needed eight wickets to win the match. It was promised to be a memorable day and it was. Dravid was soon gone by a magic delivery from Akram, a ball which pitched on leg stump and swings late to take the off bail. Tendulkar kept playing shots but lost Azhar and Ganguly from the other end. Ganguly was given a wrongful dismissal after the ball clearly touched the ground. With India 82 for 5, the end looked near.

But Tendulkar found his ally in wicketkeeper Nayan Mongia. The duo added 136 runs and slowly brought the advantage back to India. But at 236 for 5, with a personal score of 52, Mongia tried to hit Akram and was caught by Waqar. The subplot forming in the other end was the back pain for Tendulkar who by then passed a century. He looked visibly uncomfortable with every passing over and was mostly playing with his will power and skill. He could not bend properly to play his shots but still held one end up. At 254, with only 17 runs to get, Tendulkar hit a lofted shot of Saqlain and got caught by Akram. It was a masterful inning of 136 but he could not finish the match for India.

Once Tendulkar was gone the Pakistanis attacked the tail. Akram got Kumble, and Saqlain got Srinath and Joshi to finish with 5 for 93 along with the 5 for 94 in the first innings. India were close but not close enough to win the match. Finally, India lost the test match by just 12 runs. These are the times when sports become a part of life. Indian fans on the ground were heartbroken but they showed their sporting face and cheered for the Pakistanis who a small victory lapped to accept the praise.

The Ambrose Magic | 18-9-25-7

Curtly Ambrose

After the heart-stopping one-run victory in Adelaide, the touring West Indians moved to Perth to play the fifth and the final test match of a riveting series. Australia and West Indies have played many memorable series, nothing more than the famed 1960-61 series in Australia which saw test cricket’s first tied match.

Also Read: The Closest Test Match Win | West Indies vs Australia

This 1993 series was almost at par with the intensity and quality of cricket. Allan Border was developing an Australian test unit that would become the best in the generation in a few years to come and West Indies was trying to hold to their past glory without key players like Viv Richards, Malcolm Marshall, and Gordon Greenidge. With the series stood at 1-1, everything was at stake in this fifth test in WACA.

Perth is considered to be one of the fastest pitches in the world and in those days it was considered to be even quicker. Still, on 30th January 1993, Border showed trust on his batsmen and elected to bat after winning the toss to take the early initiatives.

The Australian batting till lunch somewhat justified his choice. For Australia experienced David Boon opened with the young Justin Langer. Ian Bishop provided the early damage and got hold of young Langer and number three Steve Waugh. However Boon was solid in the other end and Australia went to lunch at 85 for 2 with the match evenly balanced.

Curtly Ambrose bowling for West Indies during the 5th Test match between Australia and West Indies at the WACA, Perth, Australia (Photo by Professional Sport/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

The magic started after lunch, the magic of Curtly Ambrose. In a Perth pitch with very good bounce and carry he became lethal in his spell after lunch. One perfect delivery to Mark Waugh just outside his off stump induced the edge for Ambrose’ first wicket. Boon who reached to 44 was next to go. The ball bounced from a good length and took the shoulder of the bat; a very good catch was taken by West Indian captain Richie Richardson. The border was the next man in, who got a nasty delivery first up and had no other option than nicking it to the wicketkeeper Junior Murray for a first-ball duck.

Australians were suddenly 90 for 5 losing 3 wickets for five runs post lunch. The next man was Ian Healy who bagged a pair in the last test in Adelaide. Although he saved the hat trick but was gone in Ambrose’ next over with his third consecutive duck when he pushed at a delivery just outside off to give a simple catch to Brian Lara in the slips. The big Merv Hughes was the next man in and although he was expected to provide support to Damien Martyn in the other end he instead tried to play a big shot and was duly caught by Keith Arthurton of Ambrose. This was Ambrose’ fifth wicket of the innings and Australia were 102 for 7. Even Australia’s final hopes were gone when Martyn pushed to another fastball in the channel just outside off stump to Phil Simmons. For the debutant Jo Angel, this was something out of his league and in the fourth ball he faced, he hung his bat away to give a catch to the keeper. This was Ambrose’ 7th wicket in that spell in 32 balls costing only 1 run. This 7 for 1 is considered to be one of the greatest examples of fast bowling and displayed all the skill, accuracy and venom for Ambrose.

Australia could only reach 119 and the result of the match and series was pretty much sealed. West Indies replied with 322 driven by a couple of the fifties from Simmons and Arthurton. Australia did not perform much better in the second innings either. Only Boon held his fort and scored 52. Border got another duck to register his first pair in his 138th test match. This time, Bishop was the destroyer in chief as he picked up 6 wickets for 60 runs. Ambrose took two more and the match was over five minutes before the lunch on day three to give West Indies a test win by innings and 25 runs and along with that, the series win by the 2-1 scoreline.

WACA in Perth has seen many great fast bowling performances, especially being the home ground for Australian legend Dennis Lillee but that display of pace and accuracy from Ambrose on that day was in a different plane and remained one of the most memorable in the history of the game.

The Jamaica Incident – West Indies vs England | On This Day, Year 1998

The Jamaica Incident - West Indies vs England | On This Day, Year 1998

In the 140 plus years history of Test match cricket, there were quite a few incidents of test or One day match being abandoned. 

Rain and weather issues obviously are the primary reason for most such cases but there are instances of matches being abandoned due to riots, strikes, the death of political personality etc. However, on 29th January 1998, the Test match between West Indies and England in Sabina Park Jamaica was abandoned just after 62 balls because of a dangerous pitch. That was the first time when an international cricket match was abandoned due to an unfit twenty-two yards.

This was the first test of another well-anticipated series between the two countries. Brian Lara was captaining West Indies with his two main weapons Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh whereas a Mike Atherton led England team had Alec Stewart, Nasser Hussain, and Graham Thorpe to counter the threat.

Image Credits: Graham Thorpe. PC: Cricinfo

The concern regarding the pitch in Sabina Park was there from the very beginning. The pitch was relayed just a few months back to change it to a more fast-paced one and that resulted in disaster. Although Charlie Joseph, the groundsman, and George Prescod, the Jamaican board chief executive were confident that everything would be fine on the day of the test match the doubts were already there. Most of the pre-match articles mentioned the poor condition of the pitch which looked like a thin layer of shiny soil and expected to break from the very moment the match would start. It was discussed in the pre-match press conference and Atherton handled the question politely mentioning that, at times pitches do play better than they look. But the concerns were everywhere. Even the designated match officials Steve Bucknor and Srinivas Venkataraghavan had a discussion with Barry Jarman, the match referee, regarding their concern on the pitch.

On the match day, Atherton won the toss and decided to bat first as he expected the conditions to get worse as the match would progress. But they did not have to wait for long. In the very first over, Atherton faced two deliveries which drop nearly in the same area in the pitch, one going above his head and the other going at his shin level.

The cricket which took place for next fifty-five minutes was a farce. England lost three wickets, Atherton, come back man Mark Butcher for a golden duck and Nasser Hussain. But instead of celebrating even the West Indies players were also worried about what they were seeing. Stewart was holding one end and played one of the most heroic nine not out in history as per Wisden. He was bruised and battered as the English physio Wayne Morton came on to the field six times to attend batsmen affected by direct hits from Ambrose and Walsh.

Finally, after 61 legal deliveries and one No-ball, the match reached his tipping point. When Thorpe was once again hit on his elbow Stewart was livid, he expressed his displeasure to the umpires and while discussing they asked for drinks-trolley to come to ground. As Stewart signaled for Atherton, he came back to ground and discussion followed between him, his opposite number Lara, the umpires and match referee. Finally, after ten minutes long discussion the umpires took the players off the field and within an hour after discussing with the ICC officials in London the match was called off.

It was a huge embarrassment for Jamaica as well as West Indies cricket. The criticism came from every quarter. To amend the damage, another test match was hastily organized in Trinidad. However, the damage it caused by the game and Jamaica’s reputation was long-lasting. The ground authority finally dug up the entire centre and tested various kind of soils before choosing the right one for the next test match in that venue.


The Day England Were Bowled Out For 45

The Day England Were Bowled Out For 45

Windies got one of their biggest test victories against England over the weekend. In the first innings, England were blown away by the pace of Kemar Roach and got all out for just 77 runs. Looking back, this is the 35th time England were bowled out in a test match for a sub-hundred team total.

The interesting fact about 28th January is that 132 years back on 28th Jan 1887 England were bowled out for their lowest test total ever.

It was the first test match of England of the 1886-87 tour of Australia played in Sydney Cricket Ground.

George Lohmann (Image- ESPNCricinfo)

Earlier the tours were organized by private groups with some support from MCC. In this tour, the England team was also known as ‘Alfred Shaw’s XI’. The tour party combined of 13 members. In those days of segregation between Armature and professionals, this team was combined with only professional players.

It consisted of A. Shrewsbury, W. Barnes, W. Gunn, W. Scotton, W. Flowers, M. Sherwin and A. Shaw (Notts), R. G. Barlow and J. Briggs ( Lancashire), G. A. Lohmann and M. Read (Surrey), W. Bates (Yorkshire), and James Lillywhite (Sussex).

Like the trend, the tour lasted from late October 1886 to Late March 1887 and team played a host of first class and non-first class matches. Some of those non-first class matches included the team taking on Parramatta, where 18 players batted for Parramatta. The scorecard read 67 and 78 for Alfred Shaw’s XI against 73 and 49 from Parramatta XVIII’s. This gives us some indication about the pitches in some of those matches that were not up to the mark.

Deemed as ‘one of the strongest that ever left England for the Colonies’ by Wisden, the team played ten First-class matches in the tour winning six, losing two and drawing two. Except for the test matches, other first-class matches were against Victoria, New South Wales, and Melbourne Club’s Australian team. Their two losses came against New South Wales.

Coming back to test matches, the combined Australia team for the first test was a strong outfit. Captained by brilliant attacking batsman Percy McDonnell the team had bowlers like Fred Spofforth, J J Ferris, and Charlie Turner. Both Ferris and Turner were making their debuts. They also had Billy Midwinter, who after making his debut for Australia, played four tests for England in between and again went back to play for Australia.

McDonnell won the toss and put England in a difficult pitch. These days there used to be only four deliveries each over. Turner and Ferris opened the bowling. It is to be noted that the 11 run partnership between Captain Arthur Shrewsbury and Billy Bates were the second highest in the innings. Ferris got Bates first and immediately Turner got the new man Barnes. England lost two wickets on the score of 11 and three more with the score on 13. There was a 12 run partnership for the 9th wicket as George Lohmann became the only player in the line up to reach a double-digit score and ended with 17. The duo bowled unchanged and Turner finished with 6 for 15 and Ferris with 4 for 27. England were all out in 35.3 overs in just more than two hours.

Billy Barnes (Image- ESPNCricinfo)

The test match remained a low scoring one and despite scoring their lowest ever total, England came back to win the test match. Australia could only score 119 in their first innings and England responded with a ‘massive’ 184. Defending 111 in the fourth innings, Billy Burns and George Lohmann ran through the innings and got Australia out for 97 to give England a win by 13 runs. The test match lasted for three days and one of the most memorable from that era.

Interestingly, on the 125th anniversary of that day, on 28th January 2012 England were again out for a sub-hundred total. This time the opponent were Pakistan in Abu Dhabi and England were skittled for 72 chasing 145 with Pakistani spin duo Abdur Rehman and Saeed Ajmal being the chief destroyers.


Chaminda Vaas | One Of The Best Pacers of Sri Lanka Was Born On This Day

Chaminda Vaas | One Of The Best Pacers of Sri Lanka Was Born On This Day

Chaminda Vaas, the Sri Lankan left-arm fast medium bowler was born on this day in the year 1974.

During the late ’90s and early 2000s, most of the focus on Sri Lankan cricket used to be grabbed by Murali and Jayasurya. However, before Murali would start his magic with the old ball, Vaas was given the responsibility to take care of the shiny, new ball.

Chaminda Vaas (Image- ICC)

Vaas ended with more than 750 international wickets and generally considered to be more effective in ODIs compared to tests. His ODI bowling average of 27.53 is slightly better than the test bowling average of 29.58. Another interesting stat to support his ODI credentials would be the fact that he is statistically the most successful bowler against the great Sachin Tendulkar as he got the wicket of the little man nine times in 49 ODI. This is the most number of times any bowler has dismissed Tendulkar in ODIs.

Vaas was specifically lethal against Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, and non-test playing countries. His bowling average against Zimbabwe reads 18.33 and against Bangladesh, it is 13.73. He has some of the memorable spells against them also.

In 2001, in the 1st Match of the ‘LG Abans Triangular Series’ at Colombo Vaas ran through the Zimbabwe innings with a great display of swing bowling. He got Dion Ebrahim leg before wicket in the first ball of the match. By 5th over Zimbabwe were three down and they never recovered. Vaas kept getting one wicket after another. Four of his victims were leg before wicket, two were caught behind by the keeper and one was bowled. He got his eighth wicket in the 15th over of the match which was his 8th over. With two more overs to bowl, there was a possibility that Vaas may get all 10. But Sri Lankan captain Jayasurya changed Nuwan Zoysa to bring Muralitharan who duly took two wickets in four bowls to complete the Zimbabwe innings with a sorry total of just 38 runs. That time this held the unwanted record of the lowest team total in ODIs. Vaas finished with 8 for 19, the best ever One-day bowling figures ever.

Since then this record was broken twice, first by Canada scoring 36 during the 2003 World Cup and later by Zimbabwe in 2004 when the scored only 35. Interestingly in both cases, the opponents were Sri Lanka. In both cases, Vaas started the slide for the opponents. In Canada match his analysis was 7-4-15-3 whereas in the Zimbabwe match he finished with 9-4-11-4.

Vaas’ early act in the 2003 World cup match against Bangladesh made Alok Kapali answer to a specific cricket quiz question. He was the only batsman ever in an ODI to bat in number six position and face delivery in the first over of the match. Vaas started with a hat trick on first three balls in the match as he dismissed Hannan Sarkar, Mohammad Ashraful, and Ehsanul Haque. After a boundary in the 4th ball, Vaas got Sanwar Hossain leg before in the 5th ball of the match to bring Kapali in the middle, maybe around 25 overs early than he expected. Kapali, Captain Khaled Mashud, and a young Mashrafe Mortaza showed some fight to take the score to 124. However, Sri Lanka chased down the target in 22 overs without losing a wicket.

The Closest Test Match Win | West Indies vs Australia

The Closest Test Match Win | West Indies vs Australia

West Indies tour of Australia in the 1960-61 season is widely considered to be the best ever test series in Australia. The 1992-93 tour of West Indies may not be as famous but it was equally dramatic. 

The series saw many great individual performances like Lara’s 277 in Sydney and Ambrose’ 7 for 1 in Perth, also West Indies won the series 2-1 after falling behind 1-0 in the series. But the greatest test of all was played in Adelaide which had its dazzling climax on 26th Jan 1991, the day which is considered as the Australia Day in that country.

This was the 4th test of the series which was billed as a battle for the number one test team. West Indies was the rank one test team but on the decline. Although greats like Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge, and Malcolm Marshall were gone, Captain Sir Richie Richardson was leading a team with veterans like Desmond Haynes and Carl Hooper, a young Brian Lara who had started to announce himself in the world stage and four-prong pace attack of Ambrose, Walsh, Bishop, and Kenny Benjamin. Australia did not have a good World Cup at their home early that year but was developing a good team. Players like Mark Taylor, Mark Waugh, and Steve Waugh built the core of the team with spin wizard Warne started to show what he would deliver in coming years. For this test, they also recalled the off-spinner Tim May after a four-year break. They were captained by Alan Border, known as ‘Captain grumpy’.

Celebrating The Narrowest Test Victory (Image- Getty Images)

The test match started like any other test match. Richardson won the toss and decided to bat first. But West Indies could not capitalize as they were bowled out for 252. Four of the batsmen reached 40 but the highest scorer was Lara with 52. The lack of converting starts was the reason for their undoing. For Australia, Merv Hughes took 5 wickets and 2 wickets went to the comeback-man Tim May.

But Australia could not take advantage. Ambrose ran through the middle order with 6 wickets and Australia were bowled out for 213 with Hughes being the highest scorer with 43.

West Indies were looking to build on that 39 runs lead and when Richardson and Hooper added 59 runs in the fifth wicket to take them to 124 for four, it looked like they would run away with the match. But Tim May had a different plan. He took five of the last six Windies wickets and his second innings bowling analysis read 6.3-3-9-5. At the close of day, three West Indies were all out and the target was set at 186 for Australia to chase and get a memorable 2-0 series win on Australia Day.

But West Indians were not ready to give up so easily. Ambrose took the new ball along with Bishop and from the beginning, it looked like they were bowling with a purpose. The usually solid Boon went for a 17-ball duck. The other opener Taylor also nicked a Kenny Benjamin delivery to put Australia on early trouble. The debutant Justin Langer formed a partnership with Mark Waugh who with some classy boundaries took the score past 50. But with the team total at 54, Waugh got a snorter from Walsh and could only fend and caught brilliantly by Hooper. All the West Indian bowlers were in great rhythm, Steve Waugh, Border, Healy, Hughes none of them could stay for long and from 64-3 Australia were suddenly 74 for 7. Shane Warne hung on with Langer for over an hour but was out in the last over before Tea. At 102 for eight, Australia looked completely down and out and West Indies win looked just a formality.

But again the comeback-man Tim May came to the party on his birthday. He batted sensibly, especially against a rampaging Ian Bishop who bowled beautifully and troubled both batsmen. And with the score at 144, Langer tried to play a pull and could only nick to the keeper Junior Murray. It was a good innings of 54 for the debutant but still, the match looked over for them. The last batman Craig McDermott entered the field and batted with lots of grit and some luck. Richardson did all he could do through bowling changes and fielding placement. Slowly the runs were coming. Australia passed 150, then 175 to take the target in single digits. The crowd, after a depressing day finally found their voice and cheered for each run, but they knew with only one wicket in hand, everything was possible, even a tie.

At 183 for 9, Australia needed just three more to win. Walsh ran again for one last effort. May fended a ball towards the leg side and could take only one, two more to go for a win and one required for just the third tie in the history of test cricket. Walsh bowled again. Another short ball but McDermott did not want to play it. He looked to move away but while going to Junior Murray the ball touched something, all the West Indian players went up in unison and McDermott was given out by umpire Darrell Hair. It was a great moment for Walsh who ran around the ground, picked up a stump and celebrated with his buddy Ambrose. The duo led the rest of the team to the dressing room. There was some suggestion that it was not a catch but the Australian captain Border did not complain and accept the brilliant performance from Ambrose gracefully.

This is the closest test match win ever and was very close to becoming another tied test for these two teams who played the first tied test match 32 years back in Brisbane.

Debut Century Of Surinder Amarnath, A Forgotten Hero

When the second member of the second generation in Bharadwaj family, Surinder Amarnath Bharadwaj made his Test debut on this day in 1976, the world witnessed a classy and a flashy show. 

Surinder Amarnath’s start was so charismatic and promising that everyone was ready to be in his aura for the next few years.

Surinder Amarnath, son of Lala Amarnath and brother of Mohinder Amarnath made his presence feel much before his international debut. His Ranji debut came when he was only 15. In 1967 during a schoolboys tour to England 11 runs required for victory with three balls left. An 18-year-old boy smashed a full toss to win a match for the Indian boys. Indian cricket got a glimpse of what coming next in a few years. Surinder went on to play an unofficial test against Sri Lanka in 1975-76. He scored 118 runs and lived up to his potential during his official debut at Auckland a few months later.

Surinder Amarnath (Image: punjabigram)

This was the first time Sunil Gavaskar was leading a test for India as a standby for Bished Bedi. New Zealand were bowled out for 266. While chasing Dilip Vengsarkar fell early and India were 16-1. Surinder Amarnath walked in. He proved his worth and scored a hundred (124) on the second day of the match. Thanks to his partnership of 204 with Sunil Gavaskar (116) that India managed to secure a lead of 148 runs. Then EAS Prasanna picked up eight wickets for 76 runs and New Zealand were all out for 215. Although Surinder just scored nine runs in the second innings, India went on to win a match comfortably by eight wickets.

Lala and Surinder became the first father-and-son pair to score hundreds on Test debut. Unfortunately, he could never score another century although he had some notable innings in his short career. He scored two consecutive centuries in four innings against England at home but due to an injury early on the tour of Australia he had to return home. He scored 63, 14, 40, and 63 in consecutive innings against England at home in 1976-77. His stints with Pakistan during the 1978-79 tour were reasonably well but he was never considered again for the international stage.  In 10 test matches, he played for India Surinder Amarnath scored 550 runs at an average of 30.55.

An aggressive batsman Surinder Amarnath continued to play for domestic tournaments and showed his caliber time to time. His 235 for Delhi against the rest of India in 1980-81 initiated talks of his inclusion in the team for the Australia tour. Unfortunately, it never materialized.  While recalling about the innings Surinder Amarnath revealed in an interview how he kept proving himself to the world.  When he wasn’t picked up for the Australia tour, the selectors were criticized by the media and cricket fraternity. To Surinder, it remained an unsolved mystery forever,

“It will remain a mystery why I was not picked. There was too much politics no doubt because I was not dropped for want of performance. I was in a very good form and deserved to be picked on merit. Sadly I was not.”

Neil Harvey Magic In Durban | On This Day, Year 1950

Neil Harvey Magic In Durban | On This Day, Year 1950

The year was 1950 and the venue was Kingsmead, Durban. It was the third test match during Australia’s tour of South Africa. Neil Harvey produced a batting Master-Class on this day! 

Cricket as a game has a long history of patient batting masterclass, unexpected conditions and coming from behind victories. One such example occurred on this day. The Australian team was a strong side led by the great team man Lindsay Hassett and had players like Arthur Morris, Keith Miller, Ray Lindwall, and Neil Harvey. South Africa captained by Dudley Nourse also had players like opener Eric Rowan and off-spinner Hugh Tayfield.

Neil Harvey (Image- Getty Images)

Coming to the Durban test match, Australia already won the first two test matches to have a 2-0 lead. The Durban pitch looked good and after winning the toss Nourse had no second thought and decided to bat. Day one ended with South Africa on 240/2, Rowan making a hundred and remained unbeaten along with Nourse unbeaten on 64.

However, everything changed once there was a typical Durban thunderstorm after the end of day one. In those days of uncovered pitches, the condition changed drastically and batting became much much difficult on day two in a drying pitch. Both Rowan and Nourse could not carry on for much time and South Africa lost their last eight wickets for just 69 runs as Johnston and Lindwall were the chief destroyers.

Australian openers started well and Morris was the highest scorer for them with 25. But once the other opener Moroney was gone for 10 with the score on 31 there started a procession. Only one of the last nine batsmen reached double figure. Six different players scored two runs while batting, including Harvey and Bill Johnston who was unbeaten on two. Australia were bowled out for 75, conceding a lead of 236 runs to South Africa.

Nourse might have some doubt regarding batting in the fourth innings in this deteriorating pitch and hence did not enforce the follow on.  But when the play resumed on the third day after a rest day they were quickly blown away by off-spinner Johnson (5 for 34) and left-arm pacer Johnston (4 for 39) and could only score 99 in their second essay.

Still, the South Africans were the favorites as the target of 336 runs in that square turner looked very steep if not impossible. But whatever part Australia batted on day four, they lost wickets on regular intervals and were 80/3 with Morris and Harvey in the crease.

To chase 256 runs on day five was not an easy task but that’s when Harvey started displaying his masterful technique. Morris went early on day five and then with Sam Loxton, Harvey added 135 runs. Loxton played a good supporting role and scored 54 but played second fiddle to the Harvey master class. Even with Loxton gone, Harvey’s concentration did not break and he kept playing his shots. The next batsman McCool to his credit held one end up and finished with unbeaten 39. But Harvey on the other end reached 151 after batting close to five and half hours to take Australia over the target. It was a great result for Australia, a result which was completely unexpected at the end of day four. But a Harvey magic produced the result for Australia on 24th January 1950.

Harvey had an outstanding series and ended with four centuries in the five-test series; a record which was later matched by only Jacques Kallis.

Murali – The ‘Throwing’ Controversy Returned | On This Day, Year 1995

Murali - The ‘Throwing’ Controversy Returned | On This Day, Year 1995

Muttiah Muralitharan was a champion bowler from Sri Lanka. With 800 test wickets and many records in his name, Murali is considered to be one of the all-time greats.

Throughout a big part of his career, the enormous shadow of the chucking controversy remained over his head. During the 1995 Boxing Day Test match in Melbourne, Australian umpire Darrell Hair called Murali for throwing. It was the first time that Murali was ‘No-ball’ed for chucking when Hair called seven No balls in three overs from Murali. This raised lots of debate and controversies globally. Where the Sri Lankan board stood by their player, Australian board supported umpire Hair. As a result, Sri Lankan team kept playing Murali in the matches not officiated by Darrell Hair during the tour.

Murali - Darrell Hair
Image Credits: @AFP

Later, ICC intervened and independent tests were performed and the biomechanical analysis at the University of Western Australia and at the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology in 1996 revealed that Muralitharan’s elbow could not straighten due to a congenital deformity. Hence his action looks like throwing but in reality, this was an optical illusion.

Sri Lanka’s next tour Down under was during 1998-99. Sri Lanka were playing the annual triangular tournament involving England. On 23rd January 1999, 20 years from this day, England and Sri Lanka met for the 8th match of the Carlton and United series. The venue was picturesque Adelaide Oval. The match was being officiated by Australian umpire duo Ross Emerson and Tony McQuillan.

Arjuna Ranatunga, the Sri Lankan captain and one of the main protagonists of the day won the toss and asked England to bat. The match went eventless for first one hour. England lost their captain Alec Stewart in the 11th over and a partnership was forming between the other opener Nick Knight and Graeme Hick. Murali completed his first over without much incident. In his second over, the fourth ball was called No ball by the leg-umpire Emerson. It immediately raised protest from an irate Arjuna Ranatunga. After a heated argument, Ranatunga walked off along with his whole team and the future of the match looked uncertain. The Sri Lankan players were hovering around the boundary consoling Murali when the England batsmen stood in the middle taking drinks.

The match referee Peter Van der Merve came on the field, so as the Sri Lankan team manager Ranjit Fernando and there were many discussions among the match referee, umpires and players. Sri Lankan officials apparently called the Sri Lankan board members in Colombo before resuming the game after a 14 minutes delay. The mood was already soured. Murali completed that over bowling leg spin and then Ranatunga made him bowl from the other end and there was no further incident.

This was an extremely unfortunate event, especially after ICC, the game’s governing body, cleared Murali without any doubt. It was later revealed the Emerson was under orders from some unnamed top Australian board officials. But he did not get much support post the incident and that was his last international match as an umpire.

Sri Lanka won that match after a thrilling chase of 302 runs, led by Mahela Jayawardene’s century. The winning runs were scored by Murali to give Sri Lanka the win by one wicket. But the team was visibly distracted and for rest of tour, their best bowler was again under controversy and media trial. They could win only one other match in the tri-series and bowed out from the group stage.

Barry Richards – Debut of A Giant

Debut of A Giant, Barry Richards

Barry Richards, the South African opening batsman, and later commentator is considered to be a giant of the game. With a wonderful batting technique, Richards has scored runs heavily at first-class level for various teams he has represented.

Richards, who debuted on this day against Australia in the famous test series, had a wonderful start to his test career. He was instrumental behind South Africa’s 4-0 triumph as he scored 508 runs in his debut series. His test average stood at 72.57 with 2 centuries and 2 fifties and a highest score of 140. Bill Lawry led Australia was no push-over and had players like Keith Stackpole, Doug Walters, Ian Chappell, Graham McKenzie, and Allan Connolly. Still, the South African team including Richards, Graeme and Peter Pollock, Mike Proctor and Ali Bacher was too strong for them. 

Image Source – PA Photos

However, that was the only series for Richards to show his class in international cricket as South Africa was excluded from International cricket post that series because of their apartheid policy which did not allow any coloured man to play cricket for South Africa and not allow any coloured player to travel South Africa with other visiting teams.
It was a loss for both Richards and world cricket as he could not showcase his prodigious talent in the biggest stage of the game. However, Richards had enough performances in English county cricket, South African domestic cricket and World Series cricket in Australia to be considered one of the greats. He was recognized by legends like Don Bradman and Dickie Bird as both kept him in their Dream teams.
Wisden compared his style with the great Walter Hammond and Sir Leonard Hutton. He impressed one and all when in his first season in English cricket playing for Hampshire he ended with the highest aggregate run with 2,395 runs in his bag. His opening partnership with West Indian great Gordon Greenidge is an everlasting memory for the county fans from that era.

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Interestingly, Richards’ highest first-class innings of 356 was played in Australia. He was representing South Australia as a professional in the 1970-71 season and this innings was played against bowling attack included Dennis Lillee, Graham McKenzie and Tony Lock. Out of 356, 325 runs were scored in one day with many blistering hits to the boundary and beyond.
Richards reached great heights in his native South Africa also, scoring more than 1,000 runs consecutive times in Currie Cup from 1971 to 1973. Richards was the only player to score thousand plus runs in one season of Currie Cup.
He joined Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket during the last phase of his career and scored heavily even there. 5 ‘Supertest’s for the World XI fetched him 554 runs from 5 matches.
Throughout the ages, politics has played a key role in sports and impacted many careers. For Barry Richards, it is as match misfortune for the fans as much for the man himself to not see this man perform in the international stage regularly and entertain.