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The Stuff Of Our Century (51-60)

To celebrate the recent publication of our 100th issueAOC staffers and contributors put their heads together and came up with list of the hundred things that made our century what it was (starting May 2004). In no particular order, here is the sixth 10 of our ton.

The Bearded Wonder

Hashim Amla’s first forays into Test cricket suggested many things. That he was not very good at Test cricket was one of them. That he would become one of the world’s best and most lethal batsmen in both five-day and 50-over cricket was not. Amla was largely inept for over three years, before a breakthrough hundred in India in 2008. Since the turn of the decade, he has become a run-churning machine of silken timing, gossamer touch, multiple gears, and an ethereal aura of unflusterability. Andy Zaltzman

Why we love it: One of world cricket’s treasures.

The Humanisation Of Australia

We’d seen Australia lose at home to South Africa in late 2008, but they exacted swift revenge. What really clinched it was the look on Mitchell Johnson’s face as Strauss and Cook battered the new ball to all parts of Lord’s in the second Test of the 2009 Ashes. His was the face of a child separated from its parents, a look of bewilderment and fear so extreme that he was almost smiling. That was when we knew that the ‘aura’ had dissolved. We almost felt sorry for them. Almost. John Stern

Why we love it: “Bad luck you Aussies.”

Mysterious Whirl

These days no two words strike fear into the heart of batsmen quite like ‘mystery spinner’. They’re just so… well, mysterious. The sight of bamboozled batsmen groping at the ball in hope rather than expectation before it spits, fizzes and turns in the opposite direction is becoming ever more frequent with Pakistan’s chirpy twirler Ajmal joined by an ever-increasing support cast of international men of mystery featuring Narine, Mendis and new kid on the block, Akila Dananjaya. Jo Harman

Why we love it: Captivating to watch. A nightmare to play.

Napier’s Twin 16s

To hit 16 sixes in an innings, as Graham Napier did at Chelmsford in a Twenty20 match in 2008, is a little excessive. But to do it a second time – as he did in 2011, against Surrey in a four-dayer at Whitgift School – well, that’s just ridiculous. What a splendid legacy: to be the only man in history to hit 16 sixes twice in professional cricket. He tells us that this year he wants to go one better and hit 17, becoming the first man to hit a century in sixes. Phil Walker

Why we love it: It’s cricket’s coolest record.

Olympic Cricket

The summer of 2012 wasn’t a vintage year for cricket. Rain, Hashim Amla and rogue texts all made for a downer. At least, though, cricket did get a look in during the event that kept it off the back pages for much of the summer: the Olympics. Danny Boyle’s visionary opening ceremony began with a one-hour village cricket match, 18th century-style. An idyllic ground came complete with thatched pavilion, neighbouring maypole and synthetic cloud. Tom Holland

Why we love it: Because it showed how, on the biggest international stage of all, nothing quite screams Britain like cricket.

2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

Coming Back To Me By Marcus Trescothick

The first decade of this millennium will be remembered for so much within our game, with Twenty20, technology and Tres chief among them. The first two explain themselves; the third is no less pertinent and vastly more important within cricket, sport and society in general. Without his stark autobiography we might still be in the dark ages when dealing with mental health. Will Smith

Why we love it: Courageous, honest and perception-shifting.

The Unicorns XI

Surreally named halfway house between county cricket and the scrapheap that allows those lads who have the talent but not the contract to showcase their class in the CB40 comp. Notable for relaunching Wes Durston’s career after he tore it up in the Unicorns’ first season of 2010. Derbyshire duly came calling, and two years on he’s the resurgent club’s linchpin. Phil Walker

Why we love it: It keeps the dream alive.

The Fall And Rise Of Tino Best

Until the summer just gone, Tino was best remembered as the butt of an Andrew Flintoff joke. Goaded by a chuckling Freddie into running past an Ashley Giles delivery in 2004 (“Mind the windows, Tino!”), the Bajan had a monkey or two to brush off his back when he made an unexpected return to the Windies’ side at Edgbaston in June. The most entertaining of Birmingham’s aquatic internationals in 2012 saw an inspired Best crash 95 from No.11, before departing, head in hands, to the warmest applause of a chilly summer. From comedy to catharsis in two innings. Sam Stow

Why we love it: Memories of gold from the man with the world’s best Twitter account.

The Dilscoop

Few batsmen have the audacity to invent a new shot, fewer still to invent one that balances uneasily between run-scoring improvisation and impromptu dentistry. Sri Lanka’s Tillakaratne Dilshan has no fear of 51/2 ounces of white leather pounding into his chops, however, and duly added his trademark over- the-shoulder paddle-dink to his formidable limited-over arsenal. You know a stroke is noteworthy when it has part of your name inserted into its name, and the Dilscoop threatens to become as iconic a part of the lexicon of batsmanship as the Tavarblock and the Mullallmiss. Andy Zaltzman

Why we love it: Courageous, audacious, contagious.

ProBatter Simulator

Cutting edge technology originally used by baseball pros but now incorporated into the ever-expanding range of cricket gizmos. Operated by a touch screen controller and containing a video front of an actual bowler, the simulator allows a batsman to experience facing Saeed Ajmal’s doosra from the safety of the nets before taking him on for real in the middle. Jo Harman

Why we love it: Making net gains.

Stay tuned for the rest of the gear, gizmos, gaffes and spine-tingling moments that made our century what it was. 

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