Viv Richards bats

The seventies of '79: Richards produced a fine pair in Adelaide

© PA Photos

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No. 31
Viv Richards: 76 and 74
Australia v West Indies, Adelaide, 1980
"We're starting to realise how teams who played against Bradman and Sobers felt," wrote Rod Marsh in his Sydney Morning Herald column a day after Viv Richards walloped a 72-ball 76 and laid the base for West Indies' first series win in Australia. Greg Chappell chose to bowl on a green-tinged pitch - and Dennis Lillee steamed in to produce what the legendary Australian legspinner Bill O'Reilly termed "one of the greatest fast bowling performances" - but Richards was undaunted, cutting, pulling and driving in a virtuoso counterattack. Len Pascoe tried to rile Richards up with bouncers and verbals; at one stage he was blasted for six fours in nine balls. If Richards was belligerent on day one, he was commanding on day three. One shot encapsulated his mastery: a caressed straight drive off Ashley Mallett bulleted off the bat with such speed that it was near the longest boundary by the time Greg Chappell at mid-on and Kim Hughes at mid-off even moved. Richards' 74 set up a big West Indian lead and rounded off a summer where he plundered 386 runs in three Tests (at 96.50) and 485 runs in seven ODIs (at 97.00) - despite carrying groin and back injuries through the tour. - Siddhartha Vaidyanathan

Chandra and Ajit Wadekar on the balcony at The Oval after the win

Chandra and Ajit Wadekar on the balcony at The Oval after the win © Getty Images

No. 32
Bhagwath Chandrasekhar: 2 for 76 and 6 for 38
England v India, The Oval, 1971
India's maverick leggie spent three and a half years in the cold, missing 19 Tests, but when he returned for a three-Test series in England, Chandra found his place in Indian cricket folklore. With a whippy arm action, revolutions of his wrist, zip off the wicket and dead-eye accuracy, he was to turn the Oval Test around in two and a half hours. His 6 for 38 should in all fairness be counted as a 7; in his first over of the England second innings, Chandra deflected a straight drive from Brian Luckhurst and had non-striker John Jameson run out. England were 71 ahead on first innings, but were jolted within two deliveries just before lunch. First came the quicker one, the ball cannoning onto John Edrich's middle stump before his bat could get down. The next jumped, bit the edge of Keith Fletcher's bat and went to Eknath Solkar at short leg. After lunch Luckhurst fell to Chandra, who then wiped out the tail. England were dismissed for their lowest total against India. And the batsmen chased 173 for a historic Test and series win. Wisden reported that there was "dancing in the streets" of Bombay as "revellers stopped and boarded buses to convey the news to commuters". - Sharda Ugra

Curtain call: Warne was at his vintage best in his 100th Test

Curtain call: Warne was at his vintage best in his 100th Test © Associated Press

No. 33
Shane Warne: 2 for 70 and 6 for 161; 63 and 15 not out
South Africa v Australia, Cape Town, 2002
He didn't just talk the talk. When there was a challenge he invariably rose to it. And there was no bigger challenge than in Cape Town in 2002. It was his 100th Test. The heat was sizzling. The South African batting line-up was pretty hot too. And Shane Warne had smashed 63 to give Australia a first-innings lead of 143. By then the pitch was flat: Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie took two wickets in 76 overs. Warne bowled 70 overs (after 28 first time round), the most by an Australian in a Test innings for 24 years. Most of the South African batsmen got starts but Warne ensured none of them scored big. He bowled 342 dot balls. And he kept Australia's target to 331. "When I hit the 60-over mark it was like a big night out - you get your third and fourth wind," Warne said. Then, when any normal human would have reckoned he had done enough, Warne went out and knocked off 15 runs to wrap up Australia's chase. It was the ultimate story of how an individual can bend a team game to his will. - Scyld Berry

Just like 1877: Australia won by 45 runs when Lillee took the wicket of Alan Knott

Just like 1877: Australia won by 45 runs when Lillee took the wicket of Alan Knott Patrick Eagar / © Getty Images

No. 34
Dennis Lillee: 6 for 26 and 5 for 139
Australia v England, Centenary Test, Melbourne, 1977
The Centenary Test had it all: Rick McCosker's broken jaw, David Hookes taking five fours off a Tony Greig over, Derek Randall's 174, and an identical 45-run victory margin to the inaugural Test 100 years earlier. Much of the talent base was also secretly in the process of signing with Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket (WSC). One man who went to WSC was Dennis Lillee, and it was Lillee who lit up the second day of the Centenary Test. Often bowling with seven catchers in a line from wicketkeeper to gully, Lillee found enough pace and movement to have the England batsmen obligingly sending edges there time after time. He ran through England to collect 6 for 26, and Australia improbably had a first-innings lead, having themselves been dismissed for 138. Randall fought brilliantly against Lillee's pace and bounce in the second innings, even doffing his cap to the bowler after one fierce bouncer, but it was Lillee who ended up on top: his five wickets brought Australia victory. Randall was named Player of the Match, but Lillee was chaired off by his team-mates to the adoration of the Australian fans. - Brydon Coverdale

A broken thumb did not prevent Marshall from breaking the back of England's batting

A broken thumb did not prevent Marshall from breaking the back of England's batting © Patrick Eagar

No. 35
Malcolm Marshall: 4; 7 for 53
England v West Indies, Leeds, 1984
Six overs into his opening spell of the match, Malcolm Marshall suffered a double fracture of his left thumb as he fielded at gully; he was advised not to play for ten days. On the third day of the Test, with Larry Gomes running out of partners when batting in the 90s, Marshall declared that he would bat if necessary. As team-mates rushed to strap on Marshall's pads, Joel Garner was ninth out, with Gomes on 96. Marshall hurried out with his thumb heavily plastered, passing shocked England's fielders, who had assumed the innings was over, and stayed long enough for Gomes to reach his hundred. Ten minutes after he was dismissed Marshall was back to further ambush England with 7 for 53, his best Test figures at the time. The only effect of the batsmen's insistence for him to replace the white plaster on his left hand with pink was to rouse him even more. The eight-wicket win, en route to a 5-0 victory, sealed the series for West Indies. - Tony Cozier

Gower: insouciance, charm, ephemerality

Gower: insouciance, charm, ephemerality © Getty Images

No. 36
David Gower: 72 and 28
Australia v England, Perth, 1982
The first Test of an Ashes series at the WACA: a moonscape of a venue that felt, in the days of crackling commentary and grainy bleached camerawork, more distant and forbidding than it appeared on the map. It is no venue to be a Pom - a solitary victory there since its inauguration in 1970, against a Packer-neutered team. But for 143 sparkling minutes on the opening day of England's Ashes defence, David Gower tamed the trampoline bounce in his own insouciant fashion. Even the greatest of Gower's innings never seemed built to last, and this one sadly wasn't - John Dyson's tumbling grab at square leg saw to that as Gower middled another of his flicks off the pads. But until that moment, his serenity ruled the roost. Nine fours in all, the majority worked square as the ball climbed to meet his cuts and clips, but the best of them was reserved for the snorting Dennis Lillee, a brace of disdainful drives down the ground - the bull bested by the grace of the toreador. The match finished a draw and the series in defeat. But the charm exuded on that first morning begged that eternally Gower-esque question: what, really, might have been? - Andrew Miller

The sorcerer: Sarfraz took 7 for 1 in 33 balls in the course of his spell

The sorcerer: Sarfraz took 7 for 1 in 33 balls in the course of his spell © Patrick Eagar

No. 37
Sarfraz Nawaz: 2 for 39 and 9 for 86
Australia v Pakistan, Melbourne, 1979
Contrarian to the last, Sarfraz Nawaz says it wasn't reverse swing. His captain on the day, Mushtaq Mohammad, insists it was. His opening bowling partner, Imran Khan, says Sarfraz was just very good at identifying a ball at the start of the innings that would swing the most. Indisputably, it was a mind-bending feat of medium-fast bowling, in a rivalry that was among the feistiest of the era. It was also among the most abundant: this was the third of seven series the two sides played in just over a decade. A Packer-hit Australia were cruising to what would then have been the third-highest run chase in history; half an hour after tea on the final day, they were 305 for 3, 77 runs away. Allan Border and Kim Hughes had put on 177 when Sarfraz, ambling in off a shortened run-up of no more than 12 paces, bowled Border with a delivery that cut back as sharply as a legbreak. His dismissal of last man Alan Hurst bookended an hour of magic: 7 for 1 from 33 deliveries. As much as swing, it was late, sharp dip - sound familiar? Simple "line and length" he told the post-match interviewer, with a straight face too. - Osman Samiuddin

They couldn't out Gavaskar at all: or not until he had batted eight hours at least

They couldn't out Gavaskar at all: or not until he had batted eight hours at least © Getty Images

No. 38
Sunil Gavaskar: 221
England v India, The Oval, 1979
In a miserable English summer, India had lost all three of their World Cup matches, including to Sri Lanka, lost the first Test against England, and had drawn the next two thanks to the weather. At The Oval, they were asked to chase 438 in 500 minutes. Mike Brearley was criticised for a late declaration in a Test that England seemed certain to win. Three years earlier India had set the record for the highest chase in Tests against a pre-pace-heavy West Indies in Port-of-Spain, but for them to turn this summer around it was going to take something else entirely. Then Gavaskar batted: flawless, clipping past midwicket, driving through cover, suggesting on the fourth evening that the conditions gave him hope of victory. He added 213 for the first wicket, of which Chetan Chauhan scored 80; Dilip Vengsarkar managed 52 in the 153-run stand for the second wicket. So enamoured were the English fans, they jeered when their team slowed down the game. But the batsmen panicked once Vengsarkar got out, and were forced to play out a draw as wickets fell in a heap. - Sidharth Monga

The man of the 1966 season and David Holford leave the field on day four

The man of the 1966 season and David Holford leave the field on day four © PA Photos

No. 39
Garry Sobers: 46 and 163 not out; 47-16-97-1
England v West Indies, Lord's, 1966
Even by the standards of the Summer of Sobers this was an extraordinary performance. When Sobers came to bat in the second innings, West Indies were four down with a lead of 5. At effectively 9 for 5, he was joined by his first cousin, David Holford. Sobers worked out straightaway that "I had to force Colin Cowdrey into defensive tactics... And the only way to do that was to belt the hell out of his bowlers!" Some five hours and 20 minutes later, the pair was still unbeaten after a stand of 274. Sobers the captain declared with Sobers the batsman on 163, an innings he would rate as his best, to set England a target of 284 in 60-odd overs. Sobers the captain then brought on Sobers the bowler to open the attack, and to go with 39 overs in the first innings, he sent down eight more; it ended in a draw. On the first day of the Test, West Indies had a dressing-room visitor, who had heard all about this Sobers fellow being the "greatest". Garry Sobers and Muhammad Ali made a pretty picture together. - Rahul Bhattacharya

Gavaskar's masterly Bangalore 96 was a tutorial on how to bat on a spiteful turner

Gavaskar's masterly Bangalore 96 was a tutorial on how to bat on a spiteful turner © Getty Images

No. 40
Sunil Gavaskar: 96
India v Pakistan, Bangalore, 1987
Sunil Gavaskar's swansong in Test cricket was an elegiac masterpiece, and fittingly, he had to summon every ounce of his skill and mental fortitude to script it. The reason why it has made it to this list can be found in the scorecard: ten of the 12 wickets to fall on the first day were claimed by spinners and they went on to claim 35 out of 40; the second-highest score in the match was 50; and with India chasing a target of 221, Imran Khan didn't even bother to bowl in the final innings. It wasn't merely a turner but a beast of a surface that produced upon contact deadly apparitions, the ball spitting, fizzing, curling, shooting low and presenting varying degrees of unplayability. Gavaskar brought out decisive footwork, immaculate judgement of length, the softest of hands, the sharpest of eyes, precise shot selection, and most of all, the rare ability to withdraw the bat just when the bowler was tantalised by the prospect of an edge. And all this while never losing an opportunity to score. After battling for 320 minutes, he fell to an error of judgement from the umpire, and as he walked off briskly, without a trace of disapproval, it was evident that this was one of those rare occasions when a performance had transcended the outcome. - Sambit Bal

Read Nos. 41-50 here

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