A Happy Birthday to Alex Hales – 31 today. Should we say “former England cricketer”. He was certainly a former English opener, who, lest we forget was opening on this day back in 2015 in Cape Town.
Birthday luminaries from the 3rd January are Arthur Mailey (1886), Aamer Malik (1963) and Chetan Sharma (1966). Arthur Mailey was an Australian who played in 21 tests after the 1st World War, and was a leg spin bowler in Warwick Armstrong’s early-day invincibles. In February 1921, Arthur Mailey took 9 second innings England wickets to bowl his team to victory at the MCG, 9 for 121 (the best for an Australian against England that still stands – the best since his death in 1967 was Glenn McGrath’s 8 for 38 at Lord’s in 1997) . He had match figures of 13 for 236. In the preceding test, his 3rd, he’d taken 5 wickets in each innings at Adelaide. He took 36 wickets in the series. In his 21 tests he took 99 wickets.
Aamer Malik was a talented Pakistani batsman who made his debut in the late 1980s. He made his debut in the infamous Gatting/Rana test in Faisalabad in 1987, catching Graham Gooch early on the first day. He made 5 in his debut innings, and I think was at the crease at the time of the famous bust-up but in the next test, the final of the series his 98 not out was instrumental in defending Pakistan’s series lead and making the test a draw. He would go on to make two centuries in successive matches against India in Faisalabad and Lahore, and then hit a rut of bad form. After four years in the wilderness, he returned for a one-off appearance against Australia, and while Inzy was making 237 to save the game, Aamer’s final test innings was 65, which went a long way to saving the test. 14 tests, 565 runs at 35. His one test bowling victim was an Australian opener called Taylor. Peter Taylor!
Chetan Sharma was a redoubtable seam bowler for India in the 80s. He always seemed a little out of control, but he probably had his most prominent moment in ODI cricket with a World Cup Hat-trick against New Zealand in 1987 – his victims were Ken Rutherford, Ian Smith and Ewen Chatfield. He also had a great tour of England in 1986, taking 16 wickets in two tests, including a 10-wicket match haul at Edgbaston. He is on the Honours Board at Lord’s with 5 for 64 in the first test of that series. Sharma also took a wicket in his first over of test match bowling – the victim a very worthy one, Mohsin Khan, the fine Pakistani opening bat. Sharma played 23 tests, taking 61 wickets at 35, made a test 50 at Adelaide Oval, and took 67 wickets in 65 ODIs. In 1989, in the Nehru Cup, he even had the dashed temerity to score a hundred, batting at number 4, chasing down a decent, for the time, total set by England. He finished 101 not out. I’ll bet that’s not on Youtube. His hat-trick is….
On This Day… 100 years ago that South Australia v Victoria game was going on. On Day 2, Victorian batsman Roy Park finished 171 not out, en route to a double hundred (his career best). Park was also a talented Aussie Rules player, and according to his bio, once retired from that sport because he had been, in his view, wrongly suspended for striking a player. He had an inauspicious test career, playing one test against England in 1921, getting a first ball duck, and bowling one over for 9 runs. Park was a school colleague of future leader Robert Menzies, and the father-in-law of future Australian captain Ian Johnson.
On this Day…. 110 years ago, England were in South Africa, playing at the Old Wanderers and found themselves at the start of play in a wonderful position. Having bowled the hosts out for 208 on Day 1, Jack Hobbs and Wilfred Rhodes had taken the tourists to 147 for no loss at the end of play. A fantastic position, But, as would so often feel like the case, the foundations were laid, but the edifice crumble. England lost Rhodes early, Hobbs followed, Bits and bobs took England to 310, but the story ended in failure. South Africa made 345 in the second innings with all-rounder Aubrey Faulkner, who had taken 5 wickets in England’s innings making a hundred. England ended up losing by 19 runs. Bert Vogler taking 7 second innings wickets.
On this day….25 years ago. We pick up the Sydney test with England 300 runs on the board, and Australia about to embark on their first innings proper (starting the day 4 for no loss). In very bowler friendly conditions Darren Gough announced himself on the Aussie public. England reduced Australia to 65 for 8, and if not for a partnership between Mark Taylor and Craig McDermott, England may have got to enforce the follow-on. As it was, the Aussies went for 116, and Gough took 6 for 49. They included Mark Taylor, David Boon, Steve Waugh and Ian Healy. England finished the day on 90 for 1, with Hick on 22 not out. You don’t need to be on Question of Sport to know what happened next!