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Opinion

The combined Test team of match winners: Part II

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Roar Guru
17th May, 2021
10

I started the first part of this article recalling the heroics of Charles Bannerman that led to the famous Australian victory at the MCG.

The tourists were obviously upset; it didn’t take them long to take their revenge at the same venue. And a Yorkshire all-rounder played a big part in this success.

George Ulyett (England): MCG, April 1877
As the home side batted first, the Englishmen got an early confidence boost as Allen Hill bowled Bannerman for only 10. The Englishmen seemed to be in control after taking a first innings lead of 139.

But when they were set a fourth innings target of 121 against Tom Kendall and Frederick Spofforth, there were a few concerns in the England dressing room.

Indeed, they slumped to 3-9. But then Ulyett settled the issue scoring 63* in 90 minutes.

There was little support at the other end, but still England won by four wickets.

Ulyett had also top-scored in the first innings with a knock of 52. In fact, apart from him, no one in either side managed to score a 50 in this match.

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He also took three wickets in the match with his fast bowling. He remained a prominent figure in the early years of the Ashes rivalry.

Dave Nourse (South Africa): Johannesberg, January 1906
South Africa made a poor start to their Test history, losing ten of their first 11 Tests. It took them 17 years, a matting wicket and a quartet of googley bowlers to record their first-ever success.

The bowlers made a good start, restricting Pelham Warner’s England to 184 all out. But then the home team’s batting collapsed badly and they were bowled out for only 91.

England batted cautiously the second time, and when they set the home side a fourth innings target of 284, only one result looked possible.

In the end, the home side won by one wicket, thanks mainly to the brilliance of left-handed Nourse.

Generic cricket ball

(Steven Paston – EMPICS/Getty Images)

He came to the wicket with the score at 6-105 with Aubrey Faulkner, the great all-rounder, the last man dismissed.

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He brought South Africa back into the match, sharing a 121-run stand with Gordon White (81). But then the quick fall of three wickets left the home side looking at a close loss.

But the Natal-born wicketkeeper Percy Sherwell, who was captaining his side in his own Test debut, helped Nourse with a courageous knock. At the end, Nourse (93*) and Sherwell (22*) defined the England bowling to ensure a one-wicket win.

Nourse was also a capable left-arm medium-fast bowler. Here, at Jo’Bo, he had little opportunity with the leather, but still took 2-7 from six overs in the England second innings.

Dave’s son Dudley also represented South Africa with some distinction.

Rumesh Ratnayake (Sri Lanka): Colombo, September 1985
On a slow wicket, the home side’s batsmen took almost two days to score 385. Wicketkeeper cum opener Amal Silve batted for almost 500 minutes for his 111, while Roy Dias contributed a stylish 95.

Then a late evening drama on day 2 saw India slump to 3-6. And they never really recovered; in the end, Sri Lanka won by 149 runs.

Medium-pacer Ratnayake was the bowling hero, taking 4-76 and 5-49. Despite his short build (for a pace bowler), he had the ability to surprise the opposition batter with unexpected bounce. Injuries hampered his career and his bowling action was often questioned.

At Hobart, in 1989, he surprised the Australian batsmen, taking 6-66 on the opening day. His 73 wickets from 23 Tests was for a while a Sri Lankan record.

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Generic cricket ball image.

Harry Cave (NZ): Auckland, March 1956
New Zealand cricket in the 1950s was mostly dominated by one man: John Richard Reid. In this match, the Kiwi skipper top scored with 84 in the New Zealand first innings. But at the end, it was the medium-fast bowling of Harry Cave which made the big difference between the teams.

The Windies’ batters virtually found it impossible to score against him, and his figures of 4-22, followed by 4-21 played a big part in the historic success for the Kiwis.

Interestingly, overall, Cave’s Test record isn’t great: a batting average of 8.80, and a bowling average of 43; but at Auckland he became a part of Kiwi cricketing folklore.

Enamul Haque Jr (Bangladesh): Chittagong, January 2005
After a miserable start in the Test arena, the Tigers finally recorded their first-ever Test victory against a much-depleted Zimbabwe side here.

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It was an excellent team effort.

Batting first, Bangladesh scored 488 in their first innings without anyone scoring a hundred. Instead, almost everyone contributed, with skipper Habibul Bashar top scoring with 94.

A young Mashrafe Mortaza smashed a quick-fire 48 from 44 balls.

After that, it was up to our spinners. In pre-Shakib Al Hasan days, it was all-rounder Mohammad Rafique and specialist left-arm orthodox spinner Enamul for us.

Rafique took 5-65 to go with his 50 with the bat. But it was Enamul who was adjudged the MOM for his match-wining spell of 6-45 in the second innings.

Needing 381 for victory, the tourists suffered a double-blow early on, as medium-pacer Tapash Baishya took two wickets with the new ball. For us, those were bonus wickets.

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After that, Enamul took over, running through the middle order.

He followed this with a 12-wicket haul at Dhaka in a drawn match. He was not even 20 at the time; and we had high expectations on him.

But he found the going lot tougher against strong batting line-ups and eventually failed to fulfil his early promise.

The 12th Man
Ireland is yet to register their first Test victory but two individual performances have caught my attention.

Kevin O’Brien’s debut hundred helped set up a challenging fourth innings target of 160 for Pakistan. There was further excitement when Pakistan slumped to 3-14 but they eventually recovered to win by five wickets.

And then Tim Murtagh’s 5-13 at Lord’s in July, 2019 gave the Irish hope of a massive upset, but in the end the England team was just too strong for the new boys.

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