Second only to Kapil Dev on the list of Indian fast bowlers, Zaheer Khan was born this day. Aged 22, he announced his arrival at the international level in the 2000 ICC Champions Trophy with two full, inswinging deliveries that did for Steve Waugh and Daryll Cullinan, and was immediately thrust into Test cricket as partner and understudy to Javagal Srinath. Zaheer struggled during his first 20 Tests, taking 54 wickets at 40 apiece, but came into his own in 2002-03, reversing the old and new ball skilfully. He took consecutive five-wicket hauls in New Zealand and followed that up with a fine 2003 World Cup - bar the final. A hamstring injury saw him relegated to bit-part performer as Indian cricket scripted some of its finest moments away but he forced his way back after a successful season for Worcestershire in 2006, and he helped India win their fifth Test on English soil in 2007. On the 2011 tour of England, Zaheer pulled a hamstring on the first day of the series and India failed to win a single international match on the trip.
English batsmen who average 50 in Tests are few and far between, making Charles "Jack" Russell, who was born today, one of a rare breed. A reliable, largely on-side player, Russell recovered from an inauspicious start (10 runs in four innings) to average 56.87. And he had a remarkable conversion-rate: he made five centuries despite making over 50 on only seven occasions. His finest hour came in his last Test, in Durban in 1922-23, when he became the first Englishman to make two hundreds in a Test. A tree was planted to mark the feat, but strangely Russell never played Test cricket again. He was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1923 but appeared in only ten Tests, the last eight of which yielded 900 runs at an average of 75. He was also a distinguished servant for Essex, where he died in 1961.
Michael Clarke scored a glittering debut hundred on this day against India in the first Test in Bangalore. He even got to wear his baggy green cap at the big moment. Not that he was distracted - he was finally out for 151 and Australia were on their way to a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.
Before he ruined his career through his involvement in spot-fixing in 2010, Salman Butt, born on this day, was a talented batsman who made an impression with a match-winning century against India at Eden Gardens in 2004. When he followed it up with a fifty and a century in the Test series in Australia, it appeared Pakistan had found a long-term opener. He was often compared with Saeed Anwar for his style of play, however, Butt struggled to remain consistent, averaging less than 30 between January 2006 and July 2009. He was made vice-captain after Pakistan's horror tour of Australia in 2009-10, and on the subsequent England tour, he had to take over as captain after Shahid Afridi stepped down. Butt led Pakistan to Test wins over Australia at Headingley, and then against England at The Oval. However, things turned sour towards the end of the tour, when he was banned by the ICC after being found guilty of being involved in spot-fixing in the Lord's Test - for which he was later also jailed in England.
Marlon Samuels inspired West Indies to a World T20 title, their first global title in six years, in a scarcely-believable victory over hosts Sri Lanka in Colombo. Choosing to bat, West Indies managed only 32 from the first ten overs, but Samuels went on to crash six sixes in his 56-ball 78 and helped them post a respectable 137. Sri Lanka were never in the hunt and folded, rather meekly, for 101 in what was their fourth loss in a big final since 2007.
The birth of the man who captained Australia to one of their heaviest Ashes defeats. Graham Yallop was extremely unfortunate to inherit a team gutted by Kerry Packer, and even Roy of the Rovers would have struggled to make a silk purse out of the sow's ear that lost 1-5 to Mike Brearley's England in 1978-79. He may not have been the most intuitive captain, but Yallop certainly led by example. In the last Test in Sydney, he made 121 in an innings where nobody else passed 16. His runs comprised 61.11% of the Australian total of 198, the ninth-highest in a completed Test innings. Yallop was a punchy left-hander who made eight hundreds in 39 Tests, including 167 in Calcutta in 1979-80 in his first innings as an opener, and 268 against Pakistan in Melbourne in 1983-84. He married a Welsh girl and played for Glamorgan's 2nd XI in 1977.
West Indies didn't win the first 23 Tests he played, but the contribution of allrounder Dwayne Bravo, who was born today, has been greater than that stat reveals. Bustling with energy, he has provided that rare bright spark in a largely unsuccessful team. A key contributor with bat, ball and in the field, Bravo finally tasted Test success when West Indies upset South Africa in the Boxing Day Test of 2007. He led the team in the final game of that series, which an injury-depleted West Indies lost. His all-round abilities make him an asset in limited-overs games, and it was Bravo's slower deliveries that brought India's successful ODI streak, under Rahul Dravid and Greg Chappell, to a grinding halt in 2006. In 2010, after having turned down a place in the West Indies A squad to tour England in favour of playing T20 for Somerset, Bravo rejected an US$80,000 West Indies board contract to be able to play as a freelancer - notably for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL.
The best of the only trio of brothers to have played Test cricket for South Africa was born today. Louis Tancred was a scrapper of an opener, very much in the Tavaré mould, happy to grind down attacks so that the middle order could cash in. He made 97 on debut, against Australia in Johannesburg in 1902-03, but that remained his highest score in 14 Tests. He bagged a pair at Headingley in his first Test in England, in 1907, and played his last Test in 1913-14. His brothers Augustus and Vincent played three Tests between them. Louis died in Johannesburg in 1934.
In Kanpur, Geoff Dymock became the third bowler and the first Australian to dismiss all 11 batsmen in a Test when he bowled Dilip Doshi. But his heroic performance - his match figures of 12 for 168 were his best in Tests - could not stop India winning by 153 runs. Australia needed 279 to win but collapsed dismally, with Kapil Dev and Shival Yadav each taking four wickets.
Birth of a man who was captain in his only Test. South African Henry Taberer was a useful allrounder who took charge when he made his debut against Australia in Johannesburg in 1902-03. He was a powerful hitter and quick bowler, who once, for a bet, threw a cricket ball 100 yards while standing in a tub. Despite representing Oxford University against Cambridge in athletics and rugby, he did not gain his cricket Blue. He died in Colesberg in 1932.
An unlikely turnaround gave Australia their third consecutive Test victory in Madras. India had taken a first-innings lead of 65, but after Australia set them 333 to win, the home side fell apart. They were 0 for 2 and then 24 for 4, and despite a defiant 94 from Hanumant Singh, Australia breezed home by 139 runs. Their star was that gentle giant Graham McKenzie, who returned match figures of 10 for 91.
1896 Cyril Allcott (New Zealand)
1913 Victor Trumper Jr (Australia)
1937 Colin Guest (Australia)
1970 Rista Stoop (South Africa)
1973 Anne Linehan (Ireland)
1977 Michelle Goszko (Australia)
1979 Sujeewa de Silva (Sri Lanka)