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April 14 down the years

Pommie bashers

Welcome, Craig, Bob, Syd

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Craig McDermott: saved his best for England
Craig McDermott: saved his best for England © Getty Images
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1965
The birth of Billy. After bursting onto the scene as a 19-year-old in England in 1985, when he took 30 wickets in six Tests, Craig McDermott had a stop-start, injury-ravaged career until he established himself as Australia's premier strike bowler in the early 1990s. Like all self-respecting Aussies, he saved his best for England, with 84 wickets in 17 Tests, including two eight-fors and eight of his 14 five-fors. His best performance was probably in Perth in 1990-91, when he took 8 for 97 as England collapsed from 191 for 2 to 244 all out. And he was the top wicket-taker in the 1987 World Cup. Injuries hit McDermott again towards the end of his career: he missed the best part of the 1993 Ashes tour, as well as the famous victory in the Caribbean in 1994-95 and the World Cup a year later. He ran a development company after retirement, but returned to cricket when he was appointed Australia's bowling coach in 2011.

1947
Birth of Bob Massie, the Australian swing bowler immortalised for one of the most startling debuts in Test history. At Lord's in 1972, the mutton-chopped Massie swung the ball devilishly and demolished England with eight wickets in each innings, and his figures of 16 for 137 were the best by a Test debutant until Narendra Hirwani spun West Indies to defeat 15 years later. But Massie's star fell as quickly as it had risen: he played only five more Tests, and within 18 months of his Lord's debut he was dropped by his state side, Western Australia. Two years before that debut, Massie had been rejected after a trial with Northants.

1870
An Australian captain is born, in the Sydney Cricket Ground. Syd Gregory came to England on eight different tours, and in all played 58 Tests between 1890 and 1912 - 52 of them in the Ashes (still the record for a player from either country). He was a wristy right-hander and a New South Wales boy, who marked Sydney's inaugural Test - when England were the visitors in 1894-95 - with a memorable 201, although the match is best remembered for England winning despite being forced to follow on. Gregory eventually led a depleted Australia in the Triangular Tournament in England in 1912, his last bow as a Test player. He died in Sydney in 1929.

1984
Umar Gul, born today, is crucial to Pakistan's bowling attack because he has been successful in all three formats. He was the leading wicket-taker in the first two World Twenty20s and led Pakistan to success in Tests and ODIs in 2009. Gul isn't express but bowls sharp, has exceptional control and ability to extract seam movement, and manages to get plenty of bounce using his considerable height. He took a five-for in his first Test, against India - in Lahore in 2004 - and went on to take wickets in England, New Zealand and even on the dead pitches of Sri Lanka. He took 5 for 6 in a Twenty20 against New Zealand at The Oval - the best figures in the format at the time - and has another performance in the top ten. Remarkably, he claimed another 5 for 6 against South Africa in Centurion in 2013.

1984
International cricket's first Jean-Paul is born. JP Duminy made his one-day debut for South Africa in 2004, but it was when his Test chance came three years later that he launched his career like few others have. On debut he helped guide South Africa to a successful chase of 414 in Perth with an unbeaten 50. Then he followed that with a serene 166 in Melbourne to rescue his team from the prospect of a huge deficit. Those two innings confirmed him as an integral part of South Africa's future, and he built on that with impressive performances in the subsequent limited-overs games. He was bought by the Mumbai Indians in the IPL for nearly a million dollars in 2009.

1960
Birth of Pat Symcox, South Africa's tall, in-your-face offspinner, whose 20-Test career was most notable for his lower-order biffing: Symcox became only the third No. 10 to make a Test hundred, against Pakistan in Johannesburg in 1997-98... after which he was promptly dropped. His signature performance came earlier that winter, though. In a series decider in Faisalabad, he whacked 81 and 55 before cleaning up Pakistan with 3 for 8 in the second innings to seal a famous South African victory.

1995
Mohammad Azharuddin's run-a-ball 90 gave India their fourth successive Asia Cup title. Venkatesh Prasad took 2 for 32 to keep Sri Lanka to 230, after which Sachin Tendulkar laid the platform with a run-a-ball 41 in Sharjah. Then Azhar and Navjot Sidhu, who made his third half-century in four innings, shared an unbroken stand of 175. Apart from the trophy and the winners' cheque, Azhar was given a steel sword in a gold-plated scabbard by his admirers.

1965
Despite being their chairman of selectors, Gerry Gomez umpired in West Indies' third Test against Australia, in Guyana, after Cecil Kippins pulled out on the eve of the match in a row over the appointment of Cortez Jordan of Barbados as the other umpire. Though Gomez held an umpiring certificate, he had never before officiated in a first-class match.

1931
A debut centurion is born, in British Guiana. The bespectacled Bruce Pairaudeau started off in style with 115 for West Indies against India in Trinidad in 1952-53, but his Test career nosedived with a vengeance after that. In 20 further innings he only got into double figures six times, and he was bowled in over a third of his innings. His last appearance came against England at Headingley in 1957. He later went to live in New Zealand.

1990
A prodigy who caught the eye of Brian Lara in the nets at the age of 11 was born today. Adrian Barath lived up to the promise with a century on Test debut in Australia in 2009, followed a few months later with a half-century on one-day debut, but injuries and inconsistent form bothered him thereafter. He made Test fifties in Sri Lanka and India but was lucky West Indies didn't have some of their first-choice batsmen available due to the contracts crisis.

Other birthdays
1867 Prince Christian Victor (England
1876 Murray Bisset (South Africa)
1905 Lionel Birkett (West Indies)
1905 Jack Nitschke (Australia)
1915 Audrey Collins (England)
1916 Commandur Rangachari (India)
1925 Gogumal Kishenchand (India)
1943 Harilal Shah (East Africa)
1969 Saiful Islam (Bangladesh)
1977 Loots Bosman (South Africa)

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