July 8 down the years

A princely entrance

One of India's finest captains is born

1972
Sourav Ganguly, who was born today, was first an elegant strokeplayer who struggled on the periphery. In 1996 he caressed centuries in his first two Test innings, in England and soon established himself in both Tests and one-dayers (in the latter form of the game he will go down as an all-time great). Less than four years on, days after the match-fixing crisis rocking the cricket world, Ganguly was captaining India and went on to become the country's most successful leader. He masterminded India's miraculous come-from-behind triumph against the all-conquering Australians in 2001 and set the tone for the following series down under with an outstanding 144 in Brisbane. He put together a new-age Indian team, leading India to the finals of the World Cup in 2003, a drawn series in Australia, and a famous Test and ODI series win against Pakistan in 2004. In 2005, though, things went downhill and he was axed from the captaincy following an acrimonious row with the coach, Greg Chappell. Ganguly was written off by most pundits but made an astonishing comeback against South Africa in 2006 and got to the 100-Test landmark at the MCG in December 2007. He called it a day after the 2-0 win against Australia at home the following year.

1961
Most of Fred Trueman's main work at Test level was done at high pace, but Fiery Fred had brain to go with the brawn, and cut his pace to devastating effect against Australia at Headingley on this day. Bowling offcutters on a bizarre, multicoloured, chemically treated pitch, Trueman took 5 for 0 in 24 balls to complete match figures of 11 for 88 and give England an eight-wicket victory.

1911
Birth of the tragic Essex seamer Ken Farnes, who was only 30 when he was killed in the Second World War. Tall and extremely fast, he'd played 15 Tests leading up to the war, in which he took 60 wickets. He had a sensational debut, taking two five-fors against Australia at Trent Bridge in 1934, a match that England lost. Farnes didn't throw the towel in easily, and when Australia rattled up 604 in Melbourne in 1936-37, he stood alone with 6 for 96.

1995
An Edgbaston massacre. Never has the first ball of a Test been quite so full of foreboding. Curtly Ambrose pitched it on a length, and it flew over the top of a wide-eyed Mike Atherton's head for four byes. England knew that trouble was in the post, and within 172.2 overs, they'd been nailed by an innings, bowled out for 147 and 89. There was huge controversy over the pitch, which could have come straight from Sabina Park in the mid '80s. Amid the wreckage, Robin Smith played quite magnificently for 46 and 41. His second-innings score, the Wisden Almanack said, was "probably matched by the number of bruises on his arms and body". But Smith never looked like he wasn't enjoying every minute of it. Quite how he was within six months of his last Test appearance is anyone's guess.

1932
The hundredth first-class hundred for Herbert Sutcliffe. And it came in a big Yorkshire win against Gloucestershire in Bradford. He scored 83 in the first innings and 132 in the second.

1957
Being a West Indian spinner in the 1980s was a bit like being a trained opera singer in a boy band, so spare a thought for Clyde Butts, who was born today in a village called Perseverance. Butts was the last of ten children - his parents stopped just short of a full XI. He hardly got a game because of the excellence - mostly in the field - of his fellow offspinner Roger Harper, and his only chance of a bowl was if the Windies quicks didn't blow the opposition away. In the second of his seven Tests, in Lahore in 1986-87, Butts didn't get on at all, and in all he took a wicket every 155 balls - or 26 overs. He married on the rest day of his Test debut, against New Zealand in Guyana in 1984-85. He later became a national selector, and in 2008 was appointed head of the selection panel.

1912
A student suffering from measles might ordinarily be a good excuse to extend an essay deadline, but here it spawned one of cricket's more bizarre stories. Gerald Crutchley ran out of partners on 99 not out for Oxford against Cambridge - and at the end of the day was found to have contracted measles. He did not bat again in the match.

Other birthdays
1890 Jack Massie (Australia)
1916 John Gorton (South Africa)
1960 Wendy Watson (England)
1971 Shyama Shaw (India)
1972 Llorne Howell (New Zealand)
1973 Kelly Brown (New Zealand)