September 13, 2003

The blond bombshell

Wisden Cricinfo staff

All Today's Yesterdays - September 13 down the years

September 12 | September 14

Birth of the man who made legspin a force in Test cricket again. More than that, he made it sexy for the first time ever. Shane Warne feats are too numerous to list here. We'll settle for his 491 Test wickets, his part in the World Cup triumph of 1999 - and above all, the ball from the other side of the world. His first delivery in Ashes cricket, a perfect legbreak at Old Trafford in 1993, completely deceived as good a player of spin as Mike Gatting. Mind you, Gatt was unlucky. He only went out to bat because the next man in, Robin Smith, was in the toilet. Not to worry, Warne soon got him too. (For Smith's better moments, see below.) Unfortunately, Warne's off-field exploits have taken some of the gloss off his extraordinary achievements on it. He was suspended for a year after testing positive to banned diuretics just before the 2003 World Cup, and was then involved in sexual allegations. When he does come back after serving his sentence, 500 Test scalps and 300 ODI wickets beckon - he is only nine short of both.

Has anyone ever hit the ball harder through the covers than Robin Smith, who was born today? If so, tell us about it, because the image of Smith going down on one knee to smash fast bowlers to the off-side boundary is one of the great memories. And it's been a memory for a surprisingly long time: he hasn't played Test cricket since 1995-96. Reasons? Not so good against spin, they've said - yet this is the man who scored 128 against Muralitharan & Co in Colombo in 1992-93. But it's that flashing blade against pace that we'll remember. He scored two Test centuries against the all-conquering Aussies in 1989, two more against West Indies in 1991 - and his last Test hundred was his biggest: 175 at St John's in 1993-94. Smith retired from first-class cricket at the end of the 2003 season.

A fast but fake century. Batting for Lancashire v Leicestershire at Old Trafford, Steve O'Shaughnessy reached three figures in 35 minutes, which equalled the fastest first-class ton, scored by Percy Fender for Surrey v Northants at Northampton in 1920. However the Wisden Almanack relegates O'Shaughnessy's knock to its "scored in contrived circumstances" list. He was fed more than his fair share of long hops and full-tosses in an attempt to force a result. It didn't work: Lancashire refused to declare (boo hiss) and the match was drawn.

Birth of New Zealand's Craig McMillan, who chips in with the ball but does rather more than that with the bat. He scored 54 on his Test debut, at Brisbane in 1997-98, before quickly moving on to higher things. His Test centuries include 142 at Colombo's Premadasa Stadium later that same season, and another 142 against Zimbabwe at Wellington in 2000-01. He hit an unbeaten 107 at Old Trafford when New Zealand surprised a few people by winning the 1999 series.

One of the great county characters was born. Arthur Mitchell was known as Ticker for his habit of "ticking on" (offering verbal advice throughout a day's play). Called in as a late replacement for his fourth Test, he made 58 and 72 against South Africa at Headingley in 1935 - which was entirely appropriate: Ticker was Yorkshire through and through. In his time at the club (1922-47), they won the Championship 12 times.

Birth of a double international who did better at rugby than cricket. Percy Twentyman-Jones (aka PST Jones) won three caps at rugby, all in 1896. One of 38 home players who appeared in the series against the British Isles, he scored a try to give South Africa the lead at half-time on the way to their first ever win. Against Australia at Cape Town in 1902-03, he was bowled for 0 in each innings to join the rarified list of batsmen who made a pair in their only Test. He later became a judge.

Other birthdays
1864 Robert Cuttell (England)
1939 Cecil Marshall (Canada)
1968 Chandika Hathurusinghe (Sri Lanka)