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May 4 down the years

Rudolph's long wait

A bunch of birthdays, and a hat-trick

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Jacques Rudolph: suffered because South Africa's system but made a double on Test debut
Jacques Rudolph: suffered because South Africa's system but made a double on Test debut © AFP
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1981
Jacques Rudolph, who was born today, appeared to suffer as a result of South Africa's quota system but in April 2003, when he got his chance, he made it count with a superb unbeaten 222 on debut against Bangladesh in Chittagong. Four more centuries followed in the next three years but 125 runs from six innings against Australia in a 3-0 whitewash dented his prospects. In January 2007, he decided to move to Yorkshire, suspending his international career with South Africa, but he returned in 2010 and was the leading run-getter in the SuperSport series, scoring 954 runs in 17 innings for the Titans. His form continued into the 2011-12 season and he was rewarded with a recall to the South Africa Test squad for their home series against Australia.

1875
A dual international, and one with divided loyalties, is born. As well as playing rugby for England, Reggie Schwarz played 20 Tests for South Africa in their formative years. He was an offspinner with a difference - a wrist spinner who only bowled the googly, often to a 6-4 leg-side field. He took 55 wickets at an average of 25, with a strike rate of a wicket every 48 balls, sensational for a spinner. He died in Etaples, France, in 1918.

1985
The birth of Ravi Bopara, a wristy batsman and a regular member of the England set-up for five years. He made his first international half-century in his fourth innings - at the 2007 World Cup - but his Test debut, against Sri Lanka in Kandy later that year, wasn't as successful. Three consecutive hundreds against West Indies in early 2009 saw him grow in stature but a difficult Ashes series was to cost him his place. He went on to score consistently at the county level but untimely injuries prevented his return to Tests in early 2012. His form in limited-overs cricket, where his medium-pace bowling is also a useful option, has been more consistent, with a series of increasingly mature displays under the ODI captaincy of his Essex team-mate Alastair Cook.

1960
Birth of England's Martyn "Frog" Moxon, the unluckiest of the eight men to make 99 in a Test but never a century. Against New Zealand in Auckland in 1987-88 Moxon swept three runs flush off the middle early in his innings, only for the umpire to give them as leg-byes. It was an error that proved costly when he fell to Ewen Chatfield on 99. In the next Test, in Wellington, he was set to right the wrong, but rain washed out the last two days with Moxon stuck on 81 not out. That was as close as he got in 10 appearances.

1990
A second one-day hat-trick in six months for Wasim Akram, as Pakistan beat Australia by 36 runs in the Sharjah final. Wasim finished things off by bowling Merv Hughes, Carl Rackemann and Terry Alderman with consecutive deliveries. Wasim is the only man to have taken two hat-tricks in Tests and one-day internationals.

1957
An Australian legspinner is born. Peter Sleep, one of the many relatively anodyne slow bowlers given a chance before Shane Warne arrived, was rather innocuous at Test level, as a strike rate of a wicket every 96 balls suggests. He did win an Ashes Test, though, in Sydney in 1986-87, taking his only five-for in the second innings of a match better remembered for Peter Taylor's debut exploits. Sleep, who was wittily nicknamed "Sounda", also made three Test fifties, and was a Lancashire League regular for many years, before becoming captain and then coach of Lancashire's 2nd XI.

1970
Paul Wiseman, the New Zealand offspinner who was born today, struggled for opportunities because of the excellence of Daniel Vettori. He played a couple of match-winning hands, though. On his debut in Colombo in 1997-98, he bowled Sri Lanka to defeat with seven wickets, including five in the second innings. And he took eight more when Zimbabwe were beaten at Bulawayo three years later.

1983
The birth of allrounder Daniel Christian, a flag-bearer for the Aboriginal community. He won selection to Australia's Twenty20 squad in 2009-10, and played a big role in South Australia lifting the domestic T20 trophy in 2011. He received a call-up for Australia's Test series against New Zealand in December 2011, but did not debut. His biggest pay-day came a month later, when he was picked up by Deccan Chargers for a whopping $900,000.

Other birthday
1867 Nicolaas Theunissen (South Africa)
1959 Lynette Cook (Australia)
1962 Rose Signal (New Zealand)
1962 Liz Signal (New Zealand)
1980 Cheraldine Oudolf (Netherlands)
1984 Manzarul Islam (Bangladesh)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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