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Following On: From Tino Best To Tino Best

How could we ignore that record-breaking 95 at Edgbaston? Its maker starts and ends a journey which revisits an unlucky leg spinner, an unfortunate opener and two great old stagers of yesteryear.

Words: Richard H Thomas

Tino Best

Evidently Tino’s been in the nets since he was famously urged to “mind the windows” back in 2004. Derek Pringle of The Telegraph suggested Best had batted “as superbly as any top order batsmen in the series until he got close to the big one” in the third Test at Edgbaston – quite some accolade given it pitched him alongside the likes of Pietersen, Samuels and Bell. It was a display as savage and exhilarating as it was unexpected, and Mike Selvey noted he “carved the world’s leading spinner through the offside with disdain” in an innings which blended “undiluted enthusiasm, flair and Caribbean panache with the village green”. Alas, he fell five runs short of an unlikely milestone. On Test debut in Barbados in 2003 he was dismissed in the second innings by…

Stuart MacGill

He took 208 Test wickets in 44 Tests and was the sixth quickest ever to reach 200, but MacGill will forever be remembered as an unlucky cricketer. His misfortune, of course, was to be a contemporary of Shane Warne’s. Scyld Berry says MacGill was continually compared to “a champion who was either the best leg spinner of all time or equalled only by his fellow Australian Bill O’Reilly” but there were also marked differences. Warne had the “mind of a master, always pursuing perfection” whereas MacGill “always bowls the same way… whether it has been a 5-60 or 0-100 day.” As a rueful coda, the 41 Tests it took MacGill to notch 200 scalps is one less than it took Murali, Allan Donald, Malcolm Marshall… and Shane Warne. The Western Australian shares a birthday with…

Farokh Engineer

A “feisty little wicketkeeper-batsman” according to English journalist and author Brian Viner, but that rather belies his endlessly smiling demeanour. In an age too when sideburns were seriously sideburns he had the finest pair around. Born in Bombay and a veteran of 46 Tests for India, yielding 82 victims and 2,611 runs, Engineer must also be one of few cricketers to have participated in a snowball fight in an English summer, going head-to-head with Clive Lloyd in Buxton in 1975. He was the Rest of The World’s keeper against England in two ‘Tests’ in 1970, but the true measure of his glovework was that he was equally adept keeping to the pace of Lever and Shuttleworth at murky Manchester as he was decoding the mystery of Bedi and Chandrasekhar in Chennai. Times journalist Richard Hobson called him one of life’s natural raconteurs”, and in case you thought there was an end to his talents, he was also once MCC Bridge champion. His last ODI appearance was on the 46th birthday of…

Alan Davidson

“When a cricketer can make 50 runs in a Test match he immediately becomes a valuable commodity to his side”. So asserted Wisden in nominating Davidson as a Cricketer of the Year in 1961, adding that “when he has the ability to add to that five wickets and a brace of catches he is beyond price to his associates and skipper”. For a decade he was the Australian ‘go to’ man, possessing what TMS stalwart Henry Blofeld described as the ultimate weapon for a southpaw paceman – “the ball which swings back into the right-hander”. His place as an all-time great Aussie is assured and lifelong friend and teammate Richie Benaud thus described the famous side-on photograph of Davidson mid-delivery stride: “Every pace bowler should carry it to show them where they should be in delivery – do it this way, and you’ll do it well.” He had possibly the best sign off of any cricketer – with the last ball of his first-class career he cleaned up Garry Sobers. Davidson shares a birthday with…

Andy Lloyd

It should have been unforgettable, but Andy Lloyd’s solitary Test is remembered for all the wrong reasons. After stellar work at Warwickshire, Lloyd’s chance came on his home ground at Edgbaston against the West Indies in 1984. He toughed it out for 30 minutes, displaying what Wisden called “a sounder technique and greater resolution than some of his new teammates”. But then, as Times journalist Simon Barnes neatly summarised, disaster struck: “He stopped a bouncer with his head, spent five days in hospital, eight months recovering and came back to cricket to the sound of slips and wicketkeeper imploring their fast bowler to ‘let him have it’”. Despite his Test career lasting only seven overs, Lloyd later described bouncers as “legitimate” without which the game would be “less exciting”. He remains the only England Test opener never to have been dismissed. That catastrophic delivery was delivered by Malcolm Marshall, a right-arm quick from Barbados, just like… Tino Best!

Click here to read Following On: From Billy Doctrove To Billy Doctrove

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