The most famous beard in sport

Wisden CricInfo staff

July 18, 2003

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All Today's Yesterdays - July 18 down the years

July 17| July 19

1848
Birth of the most famous cricketer of them all. WG Grace - better known as "The Doctor", "The Champion" or just "WG" - was a pioneer of the game. He was a magnificent allrounder: a dashing batsman, a cunning, round-arm slow-medium bowler, and owner of the most famous beard in sport. Grace was a walking first: first two triple-centuries in first-class cricket, in 1876, first to make 2000 first-class runs in a season (2739 in 1871), first to 1000 runs in May (1895), first (and probably only) man to replace the bails after being bowled and carry on his innings, first to 50,000 first-class runs, first to 100 hundreds, first Test century in England, and first Englishman to make a century on debut. Those last two were at The Oval in 1880, when he slammed 152 against Australia. His other Test century came against the Aussies at The Oval too, 170 in 1886. Grace captained England in the last 13 of his 22 Tests. He also made 400 for United South against Grimsby on the day his second child was born. He died in 1915, after suffering a heart attack during an air raid in Kent.

1949
Dennis Keith Lillee is born. After recovering from back problems so bad that many expected him not to play again, he became one of the greatest bowlers in history, with a magnificently athletic action and an attitude Dirty Harry would have approved of. Lillee loved to get rough - he had an unedifying stand-off with Javed Miandad at Perth in 1981-82 after aiming a kick. He and Jeff Thomson were the nastiest pair of gangsters ever to take the new ball, and they left horses' heads in many an English bed during a torrid Ashes series in 1974-75. And Lillee was an example to all bowlers of how to cope with advancing years. For him there was no midlife crisis; after Packer, he simply substituted craft for pace, brain for brawn, and offered batsmen a different but every bit as fearsome an examination. Oddly, he took more Test ten-fors (7) than he did wickets outside England and Australasia (6). Lillee could bat too - he rolled up his sleeves and almost saw Australia over the line at Headingley in 1981, when he and Rod Marsh infamously bet on England at 500-1 - although his attempt to use an aluminium bat in a Test wasn't his brightest idea. He was the leading Test wicket-taker when he retired, with 355, and now runs a fast-bowling clinic in Madras.

1981
The traditional Saturday-night mid-Headingley Test barbecue at Ian Botham's house in Yorkshire, but never had the mood of the two teams been so contrasting. Australia were all over England at Headingley and set to go 2-0 up in the series. Botham said England "were about as low as you could get", while Bob Willis described the mood as one of "black comedy". England, having been forced to follow on 227 behind Australia, were 6 for 1 in their second innings, the odds on them winning lengthening all the time ...

1972
Only ten men have ever scored a hundred and taken a hat-trick in a first-class match, and Mike Procter is the only man to have to done it twice. He did it for the first time taking 8 for 73 in the match and cracking 51 and 102 for Gloucestershire against Essex at Westcliff-on-Sea. It was an all-lbw hat-trick, too, and all from around the wicket.

1893
It's a slightly odd stat that only three men have ever made a century at Lord's on their Test debut: Sourav Ganguly, John Hampshire ... and Harry Graham, who did so for Australia on this day. Having come to the crease at 75 for 5, "The Little Dasher" cracked 107 to help Australia to a draw. He was also the only Aussie to make a century on Test debut in England until Dirk Wellham in 1981.

1927
Chris Harris's dad is born. Zin Harris, a right-hander, unlike his son, played nine Tests over a period of nine years, making his only century against South Africa at Cape Town in 1961-62. He died in his native Christchurch in December 1991, a few months before his son starred in the World Cup.

Other birthdays

1925 Hubert Doggart (England)
1954 Imtiaz Ali (West Indies)

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