November 21 down the years

Move over Darling

An inspiring Australian leader is born

Justin Langer finished with 7696 Test runs © Getty Images

Birth of one of Australia's finest captains. Joe Darling led them to victory in England in 1899 and 1902, and also at home in 1901-02. He was an inspiring leader - Australia lost only four of his 21 Tests as captain - and an outstanding left-hand bat. He was also the first left-hander to score a hundred in a Test (against England in Sydney in 1897-98) and two matches later, in Adelaide, was the first person to hit a six in a Test. At the time, a six had to be hit out of the ground - hits over the boundary counted as five.

On the same day in another hemisphere the Honourable Stanley Jackson was born... and he was to oppose Darling in the 1905 Ashes. "Jacker" gave the ultimate display of leadership when England regained the Ashes in that series. Not only did he win those five tosses, he topped both the batting and bowling averages for either side with 492 runs at 70.28 and 13 wickets at 15.46. But Jackson was a true amateur - he never toured Australia because of business commitments - and he did not play Test cricket again. He was later Governor of Bengal. He was run over by a taxi in 1946 and died in London a year later.

Justin Langer, one of Australia's most successful Test openers, was born in Perth. Together with fellow left-hander Matthew Hayden, the diminutive, intensely competitive Langer formed one of the most successful opening pairs of all time. He will be remembered for his feats against Pakistan at Hobart in 1999, where he shared a match-winning 238-run partnership with Adam Gilchrist to rescue Australia from 126 for 5 chasing 369. Langer batted at No. 3 until 2001, when he replaced Michael Slater, and never looked back. His purplest patch was in 2004, when he ransacked a gargantuan 1481 Test runs. He retired after the emphatic regaining of the Ashes in 2006-07, but his one regret would be that he was unable to secure a one-day spot, as only eight ODIs attest. In 2010, Langer was appointed Australia's batting coach and after the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town in 2018, he replaced Darren Lehmann as the head coach. Under Langer's watch, Australia won their first T20 World Cup title, in 2021.

Birth of one of the greatest women cricketers. Betty Wilson, also known as the female Bradman, made 90 and took ten wickets on debut, against New Zealand, and went on to play ten more Tests in which she took 58 more wickets, ending with a bowling average of 11.8 and batting average of 57.4. Her final series was in 1957-58 when against England she wacs again outstanding. At St Kilda she took 7 for 7 on a drying pitch, including the first hat-trick by a woman in a Test, and 4 for 19 in the second innings. In 1985 she became the first woman cricketer to be inducted into the Australian Sporting Hall of Fame and that year the Under-21 National Women's Cricket Championship was renamed the Betty Wilson Shield. In 2005 she was awarded an honorary baggy green with the number 25.

Birth of another top-quality Australia allrounder - Karen Rolton, who took over the Australian captaincy after Belinda Clark's retirement and became the first recipient of the ICC Female Player of the Year award in 2006. She was part of a World Cup-winning side twice, striking 107 not out in the final in 2005 to help Australia storm to victory. When she retired in 2010, Rolton held the record for most number of ODIs - 141 - and was Australia's leading run scorer in Tests.

When he was hot, he sizzled. Andy Caddick, who was born in Christchurch of English parents on this day, had everything a fast bowler could want in his locker: height, bounce, plentiful seam movement, late swing, and the devil needed to induce spectacular collapses. But the feeling persisted that Caddick was a bully who gave but couldn't take, and his batting suffered from the same malaise. Though he was half of England's best new-ball partnership for 20 years, few people with over 200 Test wickets invited quite so much scepticism. He last played a Test in 2003 but continued to be a major player in county cricket till his retirement in 2009.

After the drama in the first Test in Cape Town, fans had more reason to crib that the series between Australia and South Africa only had two Tests, when the sides produced a thriller for the ages in Johannesburg. Eighteen-year-old fast bowler Pat Cummins took a six-for and was at the crease when Australia drew the series 1-1, getting to 310, a total that had never successfully been chased at the Wanderers before. Usman Khawaja, Ricky Ponting and Brad Haddin - slammed for his poor batting at Newlands - scored half-centuries, but Vernon Philander chipped away, taking his second five-for in two matches. Mitchell Johnson was unbeaten on 40 when Cummins hit the boundary that sealed the two-wicket win.

Australia retained the women's multi-format Ashes with two wins in ODIs and one in T20Is, while the day-night Test at the North Sydney Oval, where Ellyse Perry turned her maiden hundred into a double, was drawn. Opener Beth Mooney was the T20 star with 220 runs from three matches. However, her stellar 117 not out off 70 balls in the final game of the series was overshadowed by Danni Wyatt's match-winning 57-ball 100, the first women's T20I hundred by an England batter. The match aggregate in this game, played in Canberra, was also a record for women's T20Is.

The Test career of Tim Robinson, who was born today, was a strangely up-and-down affair. At his best Robinson looked the part: stately, serene, and with a penchant for big hundreds (he made four in Tests, including a match-winning nine-hour 160 in only his second match, in Delhi in 1984-85). Robinson went to the West Indies in 1985-86 with a big reputation and an even bigger average (62.26 from 11 Tests) but his technique couldn't stand up to the fiercest scrutiny from Marshall, Garner, Patterson and friends. He made only 72 runs in nine innings and the England selectors showed their usual patience and loyalty, dropping him after the first Test of the following summer. At the top level Robinson never really recovered, though he played on for Nottinghamshire until he was in his forties. He joined the first-class umpires' list in 2001.

Saleem Elahi, who was born today, started his international career in the best possible fashion, scoring a century on his ODI debut, against Sri Lanka in Gujranwala in 1995. This without having played a single first-class game. While his fortunes in Tests were quite the opposite, consistency in ODIs - his highlight came on the tour of Zimbabwe and South Africa in 2002, where he scored three centuries in four games - kept him in the national reckoning. Pakistan's early exit in the 2003 World Cup combined with the decline in his form cost Elahi his place, though he did make a brief return towards the end of that year.

Birth of Bruce "Stumpy" Laird, the doughty opener who made 21 appearances for Australia between 1979 and 1982. He was a brave and correct opener, who, because of two years with World Series Cricket, did not make his Test debut until he was nearly 30. With West Indies in the prime of their ascendancy, and protective equipment still rudimentary, it was not a great time to be facing the new ball, but Laird distinguished himself with 92 in his first innings - as near as he would get to a century - and was Australia's most successful batter in that 1979-80 series. It is testament to his consistency that he averaged 35 despite no hundreds.

Birth of Basil "Shotgun" Williams, the Jamaican opener who was brought in to replace West Indies' World Series Cricket defectors and promptly blasted a century on debut, against Australia in Guyana in 1977-78. He followed it up with 87 in the next match, in Trindad, and he also creamed 111 against India in Calcutta the following winter. Williams averaged a perfectly respectable 39 from seven Tests, but when the World Series gang returned, the presence of Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes meant that Williams did not get a sniff of another chance.

In the first eight months of his international career, Australian batter Callum Ferguson, born today, scored five one-day half-centuries. But a serious knee injury during the 2009 Champions Trophy final sidelined him for the home season that followed. He returned to the side late next year but didn't get many chances despite being part of the one-day squad. Ferguson finally made his Test debut in 2016, but unfortunately for him it was at a time of upheaval and series defeats. He was run-out for 3 in his first innings, in Hobart, where Australia lost their fifth Test in a row, and dropped thereafter.

Other birthdays
1865 Albert Ward (England)
1883 Sivert Samuelson (South Africa)
1916 Esmond Kentish (West Indies)
1934 Peter Philpott (Australia)
1940 Javed Akhtar (Pakistan)
1977 Cindy Eksteen (South Africa)
1988 Suhrawadi Shuvo (Bangladesh)