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June 8 down the years

Deadly on his day

A spinner in name if not nature

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Derek Underwood was a terror on soggy pitches
Derek Underwood was a terror on soggy pitches © Getty Images
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1945
A deadly left-arm spinner is born. No modern bowler has been quite as lethal on a sticky wicket as Derek Underwood, making his nickname utterly apposite. He was a spinner in name if not in nature - he was close to medium pace, and a few books still classify him as "LM". No England spinner can match his 123 wickets in victories. In those games, he averaged 15, with 10 five-fors in 27 matches. His finest hour was against Australia at a soggy Oval in 1968, when he took 7 for 50 in the second innings and sealed a glorious victory when John Inverarity padded up to an arm ball with only five minutes of the match left. He was also a legend at Kent, where he formed a spinner-keeper partnership with Alan Knott that served England well, and that perhaps only Ian Healy and Shane Warne can match for sustained excellence and devastation. Underwood managed a couple of big milestones for his county, too: in 1963, aged 18, he became the youngest person to take 100 wickets in a season. And in 1984, aged 39, he finally made his only first-class hundred, against Sussex in Hastings.

1932
The birth of the only English captain to regain the Ashes in Australia since Douglas Jardine. Ray Illingworth's Test career was a modest one until he took charge for the first time at the age of 37, against West Indies in 1969. Within 18 months he had led England to a famous 2-0 victory in Australia. He overcame all sorts of obstacles, not least a public who wanted Colin Cowdrey as captain. And, in the Wisden Almanack, EM Wellings wrote that "the attitude of numerous Australians has never in my experience been so hostile to an English captain". A quintessential Yorkshireman, Illingworth didn't exactly endear himself when he led his team off the field in the decider in Sydney after John Snow was attacked on the boundary. As an offspinning allrounder, Illy was cussed and miserly. Throughout his career he went for less than two runs per over, and his batting benefited from his over-my-dead-body mentality more than any technical brilliance. Despite being recognised by many as having a peerless cricket brain, Illingworth went down in many people's estimation after an ill-fated reign as England coach. He took the reins in 1994 but never saw eye to eye with his captain, Mike Atherton, and had an unedifying public falling-out with Devon Malcolm in South Africa in 1995-96.

1950
The Test debut of West Indies' spin twins, Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine. They'd only played two first-class matches each before this tour, but were pitched in for the first Test on an Old Trafford turner. Valentine had a sensational start, with 8 for 104 in the first innings, and 11 wickets in the match. But it was another debutant left-armer, England's Bob Berry, who won the match with 9 for 116. Despite that, Berry only played one more Test - he went wicketless at Lord's, while Ramadhin and Valentine shared 18 wickets to inspire a famous victory.

1857
James Grundy, playing for MCC v Kent at Lord's, became the first man to be given out handled the ball.

1906
Birth of Syed Nazir Ali, who played alongside his brother Wazir in India's inaugural Test, at Lord's in 1932. Nazir was a fine allrounder who also played for Sussex, and made two Test appearances. He died in Lahore in 1975.

Other birthdays
1866 Punch Philipson (England)
1891 Fred Susskind (South Africa)
1901 Archibald Palm (South Africa)
1903 Leslie Townsend (England)
1919 Guy Overton (New Zealand)
1924 Ian Colquhoun (New Zealand)
1929 Venatappa Muddiah (India)
1946 Richie Robinson (Australia)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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