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June 4 down the years

The ball of the century?

Gatting b Warne

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<I>That</I> ball...
That ball... © Getty Images
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1993
Shane Warne's Ball of the Century. Mike Gatting usually tucked into bad spin bowlers with the zeal he reserved for lunchtime buffets, and he can't have been too alarmed when a chubby, blond Australian leggie sidled up to bowl his first ball in an Ashes Test. It drifted lazily onto leg stump, then spat back a yard or two and clipped the top of off. The famous picture, of Ian Healy aahing and Gatting oohing, tells the story perfectly. Wisden noted that "never, perhaps, has one delivery cast so long a shadow over a game, or a series". Australia won the Test by 179 runs, after England's hopes of a draw were dealt a fatal blow when Graham Gooch was out handled the ball on the final afternoon, and they went on to win the series 4-1. It did more than that, though - it was the ball that made wrist-spin sexy again, and England never really got over it.

2013
Less than a month after three Indian cricketers were arrested for their involvement in spot-fixing, Bangladesh's Mohammad Ashraful confessed to participating in spot-fixing and match-fixing in the Bangladesh Premier League earlier in the year. The Bangladesh board decided not to involve him in any form of cricket till the ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit submitted its report on investigations into the goings-on in the BPL.

1957
A famous duel at Edgbaston, as Peter May and Colin Cowdrey (and their pads) came up against Sonny Ramadhin. Ramadhin had demolished England with 7 for 49 in the first innings, and with West Indies taking a lead of 288, there was much work to do if England were to save the game. May and Cowdrey did that and more with a monumental partnership of 411, then a Test record for the fourth wicket. They denied West Indies for nearly two whole days, their pads thrust forward time and again as a first line of defence. May was still there, unbeaten on 285 at the end, the highest score by an England captain until Graham Gooch's 333 in 1990, and Ramadhin bowled the most balls (588) in any first-class innings. His figures were an eye-watering 98-35-179-2.

1915
A New Zealand captain is born. Walter Hadlee is best known as the father of Sir Richard and Dayle, but he played 11 Tests either side of the Second World War, the last eight as captain. The highlight was his sole century, 116 against England in Christchurch in 1946-47. He later became chairman of the New Zealand Board of Control. Hadlee died in Christchurch in 2006, at the age of 91.

1964
The Test debut of one Geoff Boycott, and he top-scored with 48 as England struggled to 216 for 8 against Australia in the first Test at Trent Bridge. The first of his 16 opening partners was... Fred Titmus, who was shoved up the order when John Edrich pulled out just before the start. On a tricky pitch in this rain-affected draw, Boycott didn't bat in the second innings because of a fractured finger. As time wore on, he would occasionally come up with less convincing reasons to avoid batting on a sticky wicket. He didn't do too badly, though, as a final haul of 8114 Test runs would suggest.

1971
In only his second Test, Zaheer Abbas laced a glorious 274 against England at Edgbaston, a 544-minute affair that included 38 fours. In 14 Tests against England, Zaheer made two centuries - and both were doubles. Pakistan made 608 for 7, and England were soon 148 for 6. They followed on despite a trademark century from Alan Knott, and were still in big trouble going into the last day. Rain came to the rescue, though - fewer than 15 overs were bowled all day.

1950
Birth of Brian Rose, the England left-hander who is best remembered for leading Somerset to their first silverware, the Gillette Cup and the John Player League in 1979, the beginning of a golden age for them. In the same year he courted controversy by declaring Somerset's innings in a Benson & Hedges Cup match after one over, so as to take advantage of a technicality. It didn't do him much good: he was vilified and Somerset were thrown out of the competition. Rose played nine Tests, and stood up well to the West Indies in 1980, when he made 243 runs at 48.60.

1998
The Gaffer's first day as England captain. Alec Stewart had been in charge before, but only as a stop gap; when he led England out against South Africa at Edgbaston, it was the real thing. The match ended in a draw after rain washed out the final day, but only after Stewart had inspired some of the most carefree declaration batting seen by an England side in the last 20 years: they slogged their way to 170 for 8 off 45.1 overs, a tentative lead of 289 with a day to play.

1958
Birth of the man who postponed his wedding to play for England. Sussex seamer Tony Pigott needn't have bothered - his wedding was scheduled for the fourth day of the Test against New Zealand in Christchurch, and England were stuffed by an innings inside three, bowled out for 82 and 93 in one of their most humiliating defeats. It was Pigott's only Test. He later played for Surrey, and kickstarted the Sussex revolution as chief executive.

1975
Dinanath Ramnarine, born today, took 45 wickets with his legbreaks in 12 Tests for West Indies. Some average international performances and brushes with those in a position to influence selection led to him retiring at 28 to pursue his West Indies Players' Association role full-time. He soon found himself in direct conflict with the West Indies board as player disputes became more regular, with both parties tussling for power. In 2007, under the new regime headed by Julian Hunte, he was invited onto the main WICB board. It lasted just two years, however, and Ramnarine tendered his resignation citing yet more issues with retainer contracts and payments for players. But he continued to serve as the players' association chief, angering the board to a point where it refused to deal with him over the issue of Chris Gayle playing for West Indies. After ten years of fighting for players' interests, in 2012 Ramnarine resigned from the post.

Other birthdays
1876 Robert Dower (South Africa)
1887 Nelson Betancourt (West Indies)
1910 George Carew (West Indies)
1973 Kalpana Liyanarachchi (Sri Lanka)
1975 Alex Wharf (England)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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