July 8, 2003

A princely entrance

Wisden CricInfo staff

All Today's Yesterdays - July 8 down the years

July 7 | July 9

1972
The Indian captain is born. Sourav Ganguly has had a career of two halves. Before he became captain he was an elegant strokeplayer, who caressed centuries in his first two Test innings, in England in 1996, and averaged 45, with seven centuries from 35 Tests. Then came Ganguly the captain, also known as Lord Snooty: unpopular with opponents - just ask Steve Waugh - and a fidgety underachiever, all over the place against the short ball, and with an average of 35 (and just two hundreds) from 32 Tests. In fairness to Ganguly, he did make an outstanding unbeaten 98 to win a Test against Sri Lanka in 2001, as well as a ninety and a hundred at crucial times during India's tour of England in 2002. He also improved against the short ball, with guts and grit joining grace as among his defining qualities. He also put together a new-age Indian team, leading from the front as an inspirational captain. He led India to the final of World Cup 2003, and the best might just lie ahead of him.

1961
Most of Fred Trueman's main work at Test level was done at high pace, but Fiery had brain to go with the brawn, and cut his pace to devastating effect against Australia at Headingley on this day. Bowling offcutters on a bizarre, multicoloured, chemically-treated pitch, Trueman took 5 for 0 in 24 balls to complete match figures of 11 for 88 and give England an eight-wicket victory.

1911
Birth of the tragic Essex seamer Ken Farnes, who was only 30 when he was killed in the Second World War. Tall and extremely fast, he'd played 15 Tests leading up to the war, in which he took 60 wickets. He had a sensational debut, taking two five-fors against Australia at Trent Bridge in 1934, a match that England lost. Farnes didn't throw the towel in easily, and when Australia rattled up 604 at Melbourne in 1936-37, he stood alone with 6 for 96.

1995
An Edgbaston massacre. Never has the first ball of a Test been quite so foreboding. Curtly Ambrose pitched it on a length, and it flew over the top of a wide-eyed Mike Atherton's head for four byes. England knew that trouble was in the post, and within 172.2 overs, they'd been nailed by an innings, bowled out for 147 and 89. There was huge controversy over the pitch, which could have come straight from Sabina Park in the mid-'80s. Amid the wreckage, Robin Smith played quite magnificently for 46 and 41. His second-innings score, the Wisden Almanack said, was "probably matched by the number of bruises on his arms and body". But Smith never looked like he wasn't enjoying every minute of it. Quite how he was within six months of his last Test appearance is anyone's guess.

1957
Being a West Indian spinner in the 1980s was a bit like being a trained opera singer in a boy band, so spare a thought for Clyde Butts, who was born today in a village called Perseverance. He hardly got a game because of the excellence - mostly in the field - of his fellow offspinner Roger Harper, and when he did his only chance of a bowl was if the Windies quicks didn't blow the opposition away. In the second of his seven Tests, at Lahore in 1986-87, Butts didn't get on at all, and in all he took a wicket every 155 balls - or 26 overs. He married on the rest day of his Test debut, against New Zealand in Guyana in 1984-85. Butts was the last of ten children - his parents stopped just short of a full XI.

1912
A student suffering from measles might ordinarily be a good excuse to extend an essay deadline, but here it spawned one of cricket's more bizarre stories. Gerald Crutchley ran out of partners on 99 not out for Oxford against Cambridge - and at the end of the day was found to have contracted measles. He did not bat again in the match.

Other birthdays
1972 Llorne Howell (New Zealand)