Abhishek Mukherjee Profile picture
Cricket writer/historian looking for work. DM open. WisdenIndiaAlmanac CricketNext Y!Cricket Latestly Sportstar cricket-com Firstpost. Ex Editor CricketCountry
25 Nov
Jhulan Goswami turns 38.

Everyone is aware of the records and her many struggles against all odds, so I shall stick to the first time the unstoppable force of Indian cricket met the immovable object.
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Rae Bareilly, 2000.

East Zone had folded for 102 in the Chandra Tripathi Under-19 Tournament.

Opening batting for South Zone were Karu Jain and the wonderkid of Indian cricket, Mithali Raj, also captain of the side.
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Rumeli Dhar bowled the first over.

Then Bobby Dutta summoned Goswami.

"I was thinking, wow, she is an India player. That gave me a boost when I was bowling."

(source: The Fire Burns Blue)

Goswami got the yorker right.

All three stumps were knocked out by the impact.
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Read 6 tweets
25 Nov
Raja Sir Maharaj Singh (centre) was the first Indian Governor of Bombay.

He also had a short stint as Prime Minister of Jammu & Kashmir.

So why am I talking about him?

Because on this day, 1950, he became the oldest to play a First-Class match.

He was 72 (no typo).
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More specifically, he was 72 years 194 days old on the last day of his only match.

At 68 years 4 days, CK Nayudu remains the second-oldest.

At 60 years 269 days, Cornelis Vels is the second-oldest *debutant*.

So Raja Maharaj Singh holds both records by considerable distance.
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A Commonwealth XI was touring India and Ceylon.

This was a very strong side, featuring the likes of Worrell, Ames, Laker, Paynter, Dooland, Tribe, Ramadhin, Gimblett, Shackleton, etc.

Their 13th match was at Brabourne Stadium, against Bombay Governor's XI.
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Read 8 tweets
24 Nov
MV Sridhar was a genius strategist, perhaps at par with Percy Fender. I wish he got more coverage.

Let me explain what I am talking about.

This took place on this day, 1997.

Before getting into what he did, let me explain what the Ranji Trophy rules used to be at that point.
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There were five zones. Three teams qualified for the Super League.

Of the six South Zone teams, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Hyderabad were the likeliest to qualify.

However, an odd win from Andhra, Kerala, or Goa changed that from time to time.
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Now for the points system.
8: outright win
5: first-innings lead in draw
3: conceding first-innings lead in draw;
2: abandoned (or no result on first innings)
0: outright defeat.

Three matches started on November 22 that year.
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Read 11 tweets
24 Nov
Everyone knows everything about Ian Botham, who turns 65 today.

I cannot think of anything to add, so let me try to cite a few incidents from his childhood.

These are sourced mostly from his autobiographies, and are not necessarily in chronological order.
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Ian never cared for rules. He was also rather good at it.

Marie, his mother (she excelled at cricket, badminton, and hockey), once left Ian with some toys in a playpen and went to the kitchen.

Sure enough, she found Ian at her ankles.

This happened for a second time.
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When she put him back again she monitored him through a crack on the kitchen wall.

Ian lifted one side of the playpen, balanced it on the toy box, and crawled out.

Then he put everything back in position, leaving no trace of the crime.

Oh, he also learned to escape the pram.
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Read 7 tweets
23 Nov
Òn this day, 1996, Javagal Srinath bowled one of the most devastating spells by an Indian fast bowlers.

He blew South Africa away with 6/21 at Ahmedabad to help India pull off their first Test match win against South Africa.
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However, some of that can be attributed to SK Bansal's atrocious umpiring.

Five years after returning to international cricket with an ODI series in India, South Africa were playing their first Test match in the country.
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After being bowled out for 223, India reduced South Africa to 119/7 – before Symcox and de Villiers took them to 244.

And then India were reduced to 124/7.

With only Prasad and Hirwani to bat, Kumble joined the only debutant of the Test match.
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Read 9 tweets
23 Nov
Walter 'WW' Read was born on this day, 1855.

An all-rounder in every possible way. He was
- an excellent batsman
- bowled underarm lobs
- bowled roundarm fast
- kept wickets
- led England to two wins in two Tests

He also taught Ranji the leg-glance.
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The last bit was Ranji's own confession, as mentioned by CB Fry in a 1939 piece titled The Founder of Modern Batsmanship.

Read was in England's squad for the 1882-83 series, and finds a mention on the Ashes urn (check second line, third word).
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Read's most famous innings came in The Oval Test of 1884.

He came to bat at 181/8 after Australia piled on 551.

Having opened batting, Scotton had characteristically crawled to 53 at the other end.

They added 151, of which Scotton got only 37.
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Read 6 tweets
23 Nov
On this day, 1930, Jack Hobbs refused to play a match in Calcutta.

What happened was like this.

Vizzy had recruited both Hobbs and Sutcliffe for his personal team for the 1930-31 season.

Both had adjusted to India and had got runs by the time the teams moved to Calcutta.
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After two days of cricket, the score at Eden Gardens read
Bengal Governor's XI 173 and 46, Vizzy's XI 78 and 25/0.

Vizzy had held back Hobbs and Sutcliffe during the chase.

The next day was a Sunday, the rest day of the match.
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But the hectic scheduling meant that Vizzy's men had to play a one-day one-innings match, against Calcutta Sporting Union – at the Sporting Union Ground.

Sporting Union were not an ordinary side.
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Read 7 tweets
16 Nov
Waqar Younis turns 49 today.

He made his Test debut a day before his 18th birthday, and finished as one of the greatest fast bowlers in both formats.

Not as well-known is the term 'Waqared'.
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Simon Hughes described it as "term coined from Waqar Younis's prowess at producing terminal and frequently painful inswinging yorkers. Chris Cowdrey was the first Englishman to suffer this fate (broken toe 1988) and it cost him the England captaincy."
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And then there were the LBWs, often too plumb for the umpire to ponder about.

The bowleds were probably worse, for at least the toes survived.

Of Waqar's 373 Test wickets, 212 were either bowled or LBW. In ODIs the count read 224 out of 416.
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Read 7 tweets
16 Nov
Don Bradman got his 100th First-Class hundred on November 15, 1947.

He was playing against the touring Indians.

Lala Amarnath, the Indian captain, did his best to make things difficult for Bradman.
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Amarnath was always one to try out new things. In this aspect, he was among the boldest of all Indian captains.

The fact that this was one of the greatest teams in history at their den did not deter him.

Here is an example.


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Let us return to the match at the SCG.

India had batted all of Day 1 to score 292/9 (from 229/9) in front of about 10,000 people.

Bradman was expected to bat early on Day 2.

At his normal rate, a hundred in under two hours was probable (he got 172 in under three hours here).
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Read 8 tweets
15 Nov
Ilikena Lasarusa Talebulamaineiilikenamainavaleniveivakabulaimainakulalakebalau, born on this day, 1921, is a favourite in quizzes, for his is the longest surname in the history of First-Class cricket.

However, there is more to him than that.
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The gargantuan surname obviously demands some explanation.

Thankfully, @tintin1107 has done that, so I can move on.

The thread also mentions why his name was abbreviated to IL Bula.


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Bula was almost certainly the greatest cricketer in the history of Fiji.

Only 9 of his matches were given First-Class status. He scored 702 runs at 41.29 with two hundreds.

Bula was part of the Fiji team that toured New Zealand in 1947-48.
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Read 13 tweets
15 Nov
Several cricketing incidents took place in Karachi on this day, 1989.

Two of them changed the course of Indian cricket for the years to come.

One was, of course, Tendulkar's debut.

The other took place earlier that morning.
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Some back story is required to explain the enormity of the incident.

Another genius had broken through to the Test side five seasons before the incident.

Three Tests and three centuries later they hailed Mohammad Azharuddin as the next big thing in Indian cricket.
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But that aura had worn off.

At this point he had not scored a Test hundred in almost three years.

Worse, his vulnerability against fast bowling had been exposed.

He had got only two fifties in six Tests against the West Indies.

And Pakistan was the land of fast bowlers.
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Read 13 tweets
14 Nov
Harold Larwood was born on this day, 1904.

Eye-witnesses have often called him the fastest they have seen.

But very few have seen *both* Larwood and Shoaib bowl, so that is hardly conclusive.

There was no sophisticated way to measure Larwood's pace, so we can only speculate.
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But I can share some anecdotes on the same topic.

They do not tell a lot, but nice stories are always worth sharing.

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A Larwood yorker once hit Wilfred Rhodes on the boot.

Off came the pad, the boot, and the sock, as the great man limped around in agony.
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The umpire asked Rhodes politely whether he could walk.

Rhodes said yes, he could.

"Walk right back to the pavilion, you re out LBW."

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The touring Indians of 1932 were playing Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.

Among the tourists was Joginder Singh, who batted in a turban.
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Read 10 tweets
14 Nov
Chances are that you have not heard of Manish Majithia, a left-arm spinner who played for Railways, then Madhya Pradesh, in the Ranji Trophy, mostly in the 1990s.

On this day, 1999, however, Majithia set two First-Class records that still stand.
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Interestingly, he was playing for Madhya Pradesh (his new side) against Railways (his previous side) at Indore.

He had figures of 12.3-9-3-1 in the first innings of 216.

Railways followed on but saved the match, crawling to 86/5 in 109 overs.
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Of these, 83 (in 104 overs) came on the last day.

This was, at that point, the fewest runs in a complete day's cricket.

Majithia returned 20-20-0-1.

In the history of First-Class cricket, this is the most balls bowled by anyone in an innings without conceding a run.
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Read 4 tweets
13 Nov
John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, was born on this day, 1718.

Yes, the sandwich is supposedly named after him, though historians do not agree on the reason.

He was appointed 1st Lord of the Admiralty, Secretary of State for Northern Department, and Postmaster General.
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Unfortunately, he was both corrupt and incompetent.

And despite that, he left behind two legacies.

We have already discussed the bread-based food product.

Montagu/Sandwich was also a patron of Captain Cook. He helped fund Cook's second and third expeditions.
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Cook thanked him back by going on a naming spree.

The Sandwich Islands in Hawaii, South Sandwich Islands in the South Atlantic Ocean, and the two Montague Islands, off Australian coast and off Gulf of Alaska, are all named after Sandwich.

There is a cricket connection too.
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Read 6 tweets
13 Nov
T20 cricket came too late for Brian Lara.

In fact, he made his T20 debut two decades after his international debut, and over three decades after his retirement.

And that debut happened on this day, 2010.
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Before that, Lara had played for Mumbai Champs in the 2007-08 ICL, but these matches do not have T20 status.

It had been a forgettable tournament for him.

In all, Lara played only three T20 matches, all for Southern Rocks, at Harare, in the 2010-11 Stanbic Bank Twenty20.
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He scored 65(47), 23(28), and 11(11) – a career aggregate of 99 runs at a strike rate of 115.

Nothing outstanding, but not bad for a a man of forty-one either.

Shortly after this, Lara had a bidding price of USD 400,000 for IPL 2011 but went unsold.
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Read 5 tweets
12 Nov
This day, 2001 witnessed one of the greatest days of Test cricket to end one of the great Test matches.

It was also one of the greatest 0-0 drawn Test series.

And that happened because of two captains who wanted to play positive cricket.

Here is what the captains had to say.
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Waugh: "We're here to play cricket, to entertain and enjoy ourselves. You want to try and win a Test if you can. I don't see any point in playing out for a dull draw."
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Fleming: "It was fantastic, great to play and I'm sure pretty good to watch. I'm convinced it's the way Test cricket has got to go, entertainment-wise."

When the fifth day's play began, the score read Australia 486/9 declared, New Zealand 186/5.
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Read 16 tweets
8 Nov
There are so many things about the phenomenon that was Martin Crowe.

Consider, for example, what he did on and around this day, 1992, at Harare.

The schedule was crazy.

New Zealand and Zimbabwe were supposed to play two Tests and two ODIs between October 31 and November 12.
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Basically 12 days of cricket out of 13. The only off-day would involve a Bulawayo-Harare travel.

How many cricketers from ICC full member sides would have agreed to this in 2020?

Things were normal in Bulawayo:
The ODI on October 31, the Test between November 1 and 5.
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Harare was different:
The Test on November 7, then 9-12. The ODI on November 8. Like the Sunday League in England.

Crowe won the toss in the Test match, batted first, and scored 140 in three hours. Of these, 96 came between lunch and tea.
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Read 5 tweets
8 Nov
November 7 (1917) will forever be associated with the Bolshevik Revolution.

Whether it was good or bad is something for domain experts to decide.

But there is little doubt that it marked the beginning of decline of cricket in Russia.

Here is something (not much) on that.
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St Petersburg used to have a cricket club in at least 1865. By 1895 there were four.

Nicholas I (monarch from 1796 to 1855) definitely saw a cricket match at Chatham.

The British Royal Yacht Osborne haled at the St Petersburg dockyard in 1875.
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The crew played a match against the British expatriates (after explaining this unusual activity to the police, who thought they were a "force of warriors").

In the 1880s, St Petersburg used to host an annual match (British diplomats vs textile mills managers and foremen).
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Read 8 tweets
6 Nov
Born on this day, 1956, Graeme Wood was one of the bravest batsmen against genuine pace.

Christian Ryan wrote, "He was the man the selectors rang whenever the Windies were in town."

Wood scored 3,374 runs at 32.

But in 6 Tests on West Indian soil, that average soared to 47.
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Tales of heroics are aplenty, but then – so are anecdotes of his terrible running between the wickets that earned him the nickname Kamikaze Kid.

An example of his running: Wood opened in all six Tests of the 1978-79 Ashes.
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In every Test there was an innings where either Wood (in two Tests) or his opening partner (in the other four) was run out.

"It began to look as if the wicket could do with traffic lights," Ray Robinson later wrote.

The most famous of his run outs involved Kim Hughes.
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Read 11 tweets
6 Nov
Kyle Christie made his international debut on this day, 2016, in an ODI for Hong Kong against Papua New Guinea.

His was the most 2010s debut possible.

But before narrating this, I must acknowledge @pramz for the interview and photograph (and for how good a colleague he was).
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Had he been born twenty, or even ten, years earlier, Christie would probably have not played international cricket.

On July 25, 2016, Hong Kong Cricket put up an advertisement on their Facebook page, inviting all interested Hong Kong-borns living outside the country.
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Christie was only three when he had left Hong Kong with his parents.

He had been doing a decent job as a seam bowler in club cricket in Perth. Now he responded.

They liked what they saw: "They got back in touch with me and invited me out for a trial."
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Read 4 tweets
5 Nov
Eddie Paynter was born on this day, 1901.

Everyone knows his remarkable story during the Bodyline series.

It has few parallels in the history of international cricket.

But first, two numbers.
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His Test batting average of 59.23 is the sixth-best with a 1,500-run cut-off.

His Ashes batting average of 84.42 is the second-best with a 500-run cut-off.

Remember, this was the 1930s, when the Ashes was the contest to watch out for.

Yes, he could bat.
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Paynter replaced "conscientious objector" Pataudi for the controversial Adelaide Test, where Woodfull and Oldfield were both hit.

He scored 77 and 1* and fielded brilliantly.

However, he injured his ankle when he crashed into the picket fence while trying to save a ball.
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Read 18 tweets