July 23, 2003

If at first you don't succeed...

Wisden CricInfo staff

All Today's Yesterdays - July 23 down the years

July 22| July 24

Birth of a batsman who took a while to find his feet in Test cricket but went on to become the best of his generation. Graham Gooch scored 8,900 runs in Tests, a record for England - after being dismissed for a pair on his debut, against Australia at Edgbaston in 1975. Pick of the bunch, 333 and all, was his 154 not out against West Indies at Headingley in 1991. According to the Wisden 100, only Don Bradman and Brian Lara have played greater innings in a Test. He was also the first player with a moustache to play Test cricket for England since Peter Smith in 1946-47.

The day Mike Atherton put some dirt in his pocket - and nearly lost his job. With England taking one hell of a beating against South Africa at Lord's, Atherton used the dirt to dry one side of the ball and so help Darren Gough get some reverse-swing. Having dirt in his pocket was not illegal, but rubbing it on the ball contravened Law 42.5, and the match referee Peter Burge called him to explain his actions. Burge accepted Atherton's explanation, but the following day Atherton admitted lying to Burge. For that, he was fined £2000 by Ray Illingworth - half for lying, half for having dirt in his pocket - and crucified by the press. Illy later told anyone who'd listen that the fines saved Athers' job. Lost in the furore was a real spanking for England: they lost by 356 runs, and were bowled out for only 99 in the second innings. That was a poignant number: Atherton weathered the storm and made a brilliant, bloody-minded 99 in the next Test at Headingley.

Birth of a world-class allrounder who lost a Test career because South Africa were banned. By the time South Africa were re-admitted, Clive Rice was past his best - but his best had been considerable. A hardhitting batsman and aggressive pace bowler, he formed a famous partnership with Richard Hadlee that bowled Notts to the County Championship in 1981 and 1987. He was South Africa's first captain after the ban, in three one-day internationals in India in 1991-92 - but it was hardly a consolation.

On the first day at Trent Bridge, Hansie Cronje scored a century in his 50th Test, and launched a famous pre-planned assault on the recalled Ian Salisbury, but South Africa went on to lose the match.

Birth of pioneering Test batsman Charles Bannerman. Against England at Melbourne in 1876-77, Bannerman faced the first ball in Test cricket, scored the first run, the first fifty and the first hundred. By the time he retired hurt with a damaged finger, he'd made 165 of Australia's total of 245, still the highest percentage of a completed innings in all Tests. His highest score in his two subsequent Tests was an unremarkable 30 - but his place in Test history is secure. His brother Alick, a famous stonewalling batsman, also played for Australia.

Brian Close made his Test debut, against New Zealand at Old Trafford. At 18 years 149 days, he's still the youngest ever to play Test cricket for England. In 1976 he became one of the oldest: 45 years 140 days.

On his favourite English ground, Don Bradman completed his second triple century in a Headingley Test, making 304 and sharing a stand of 388 with Bill Ponsford, who hit 181.

If it's Headingley, it must be a big score by Bradman. The Don made 103 against England. No triple century this time, but the pitch was trickier than those in 1930 and 1934.

On the last day of the first Test ever played at Lord's, George Ulyett completed figures of 7 for 36 to bowl Australia to an innings defeat.

Death of a double international. Andy Ducat died as he would probably have wanted to die: batting in a match at Lord's. He played football and cricket for England, scoring the only goal of the game against Wales in 1910 and making 3 and 2 in his only Test, against the all-conquering Australians at Headingley in 1921.

Other birthdays
1950 Alan Turner (Australia)
1952 Paul Hibbert (Australia)
1972 Floyd Reifer (West Indies)