September 3, 2003

Chapman in charge

Wisden Cricinfo staff

All Today's Yesterdays - September 3 down the years

September 2 | September 4

1900
One of England's most popular and successful Test captains was born. Instantly successful, too. In his first match in charge, Percy Chapman led England to victory over Australia at The Oval in 1926, a victory by 289 runs that regained the Ashes. Chapman was captain when they were retained 4-1 in 1928-29, a series that saw him at his peak. Before drink got the better of him, he was one of the alltime great close fielders (32 catches in 26 Tests) and hit a sparkling century in defeat against Australia at Lord's in 1930. His score of 121 would have been even higher if he hadn't choked on a flying insect!

1882
Birth of the pugnacious Johnny Douglas, who was England's captain when they lost all five Tests in Australia in 1920-21. But English cricket had been decimated by the First World War - and Douglas had had better days Down Under. Back in 1911-12, he took over when Plum Warner fell ill, and led England to a 4-1 victory that regained the Ashes. This after Douglas had helped to lose the first Test by opening the bowler himself instead of using Sydney Barnes. A few well-chosen words by Warner and Barnes, and it didn't happen again. It took someone as strong-willed as Barnes to stand up to Douglas, who had won the Olympic middleweight boxing title in 1908 (beating an Australian in the final). His batting was so slow at times that his initials JWHT were translated as "Johnny Won't Hit Today" - but probably not to his face. He drowned in 1930 while trying to save his father from a sinking ship.

1933
Birth of that wristy and obdurate batsman Basil Butcher, who was an important member of the side that served West Indies so well in the 1960s. He averaged 43.11 and scored seven centuries in Tests, including a superb 209 not out that won the Trent Bridge Test of 1966 after West Indies had trailed by 90 on first innings. He took 5 for 34 with his legspin at Port-of-Spain in 1967-68, but they were his only Test wickets and England won the match.

1975
The end of the longest first-class match played in England (32 hours 17 minutes). Under an agreement between the English and Australian authorities, the final Test of the 1975 series was to be extended to six days if the Ashes were still at stake. They were, but the extra day looked academic when England followed on 341 runs in arrears early on the fourth morning. But anchored by Bob Woolmer's 149 England not only avoided an innings defeat but also managed a draw.

1985
Unsung Kent swing bowler Richard Ellison completed figures of 5 for 46 at The Oval to help dismiss Australia for 129 and win the match. England's innings victory clinched the series 3-1 and regained the Ashes. Genial Bernard Thomas retired as England physio after 17 years.

1983
In the NatWest final at Lord's, Somerset avenged their 1967 defeat by Kent by beating the same side to win the trophy for the first time in their history. Although they made only 193 batting first, their bowling was too economical for Kent. Ian Botham took 2 for 29 in his ten overs, and giant Joel Garner 2 for only 15 in nine. But Vic Marks was made Man of the Match for his 3 for 30 in ten overs to go with an innings of 29.

1841
Birth of fast bowler and major cricketing personality Tom Emmett, who played for England in the inaugural Test, at Melbourne in 1876-77, when he bowled 12 overs for only 13 runs but didn't take a wicket. That lack of penetration was reflected in his overall Test career (nine wickets in seven matches) - but as captain of Yorkshire, he gave as good as he got in verbal exchanges with WG Grace, which was no mean feat. He described one of his standard deliveries as a "sostenuter" on the basis of "What else would you call it?"

1905
Birth of New Zealand left-hander Jack Mills, whose only Test century was scored on his debut. Against England at Wellington in 1929-30, he scored 117 and put on 276 for the first wicket with the great Stewie Dempster. It's still New Zealand's highest stand for any wicket against England.

Other birthdays
1856 RB (Robert Bernard) Stewart (South Africa)
1974 Rahul Sanghvi (India)