October 14 down the years

The man of 2009

A late-blooming Sri Lankan is born

Tillakaratne Dilshan, who was born today, burst onto the international scene with an unbeaten 163 against Zimbabwe in his first series during November 1999. Technically sound, comfortable against fast bowling, possessed of quick feet, strong wrists and natural timing, there was no doubt that he had talent in abundance. But he was on the fringes for long, before his one-day and Test return in 2003. In 2009, he was promoted to the top of the order - a move that was immensely successful. He scored 11 international hundreds in the year, and won the World Twenty20 Player of the Series prize. The year before that he had unveiled a shot - a flick over the wicketkeeper's head, nicknamed the "Dilscoop" - that made the world sit up. Dilshan's aggressive batting was complemented by his electric fielding, especially at backward point, and underrated offspin. He was appointed the Sri Lanka captain when Kumar Sangakkara stepped down after the 2011 World Cup, but gave it up a year later after a string of defeats. In 2013, Dilshan announced his decision to retire from Tests.

Birth of Pakistan offspinner Saeed Ajmal. Though reported for a suspect action early in his career, after troubling Australia with his doosras in a one-day series in UAE in 2009, Ajmal returned after being cleared to take 13 wickets in Pakistan's successful campaign of the World Twenty20. A month later he made his Test debut in Sri Lanka, taking 14 wickets in three matches there. He obviously enjoyed bowling to them because in 2011-12, he took another 18 wickets in three Tests against Sri Lanka in the Middle East and 15 when Pakistan visited Sri Lanka in 2012. He quickly became Pakistan's lead bowler, having a spectacular series against England in UAE - apart from taking 24 wickets at 14.7 in the three Tests, including a ten-wicket haul, Ajmal made England's batsmen sweat when he claimed to have invented a new delivery, nicknamed the teesra. Outside Asia, Ajmal also picked up ten-wicket hauls in West Indies, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

When Gautam Gambhir, who was born today, made the cut in the limited-overs game, many believed he lacked the technique to succeed in Test cricket. Gambhir had delivered stellar performances for India in the inaugural World Twenty20 - three half-centuries, including a composed 75 in a high-pressure final against Pakistan - and the triangular CB Series in Australia that followed. But there was more in store in 2008 as Test runs flowed in difficult circumstances against tough opponents both home and away. Between July 2008 and January 2010, he made seven half-centuries and eight centuries (including a double) in 25 innings and was the leading run-scorer for the 2009 calendar year. In 2011 he delivered when the pressure was at its the highest - with a match-winning 97 in the World Cup final in Mumbai. But his Test form had trailed off by then. After making 116 against Bangladesh in January 2010, Gambhir went century-less for 46 innings and was dropped from the side in 2012.

The birth of the first black man to play for England. Roland Butcher was born in Barbados but came to England at 14, and after success with Middlesex he was called up for the Prudential Trophy match against Australia at Edgbaston in 1980. He seized the moment with a charming, Hollioake-esque 38-ball 52 that won him a place on the tour of West Indies the following winter. And he even made his Test debut in his native Barbados, but that's where the Boys Own story ended: Butcher laboured against the short ball, made only 71 runs in three Tests and was not picked again.

The third greatest wicket-taker of all time was born in Gloucester. Remarkably, Charlie Parker only played one Test, but he snared 3278 wickets for Gloucestershire - only Wilfred Rhodes and Tich Freeman have taken more in first-class cricket. Parker was especially irresistible on sticky wickets, and his career was studded with some remarkable performances: 17 for 56 against Essex in 1925 and nine wickets in an innings on eight occasions. But his only Test appearance came in 1921, against Australia at Old Trafford. It seems his figures - 2 for 32 off 28 overs - were not good enough, though probably Parker's notorious outspokenness and his falling-out with Plum Warner had more to do with it.

Birth of one of match-fixing's chief whistle-blowers. Rashid Latif retired from international cricket in 1994-95 as a protest against some dubious goings-on, and though he later returned as captain, his honesty made him unpopular with many of his team-mates. But for that, and an ongoing rivalry with Moin Khan, he would have played many more Tests, for he was a classy wicketkeeper-batsman. Latif stroked a stylish 50 on debut at The Oval in 1992, which gained him £5 from Geoff Boycott, who had bet he would not pass 35.

The fourth one-day hat-trick. West Indies looked to be cruising to victory over Pakistan in Sharjah when Wasim Akram clean-bowled Jeff Dujon, Malcolm Marshall and Curtly Ambrose with consecutive deliveries. Pakistan eventually squeezed home by 11 runs.

Jack Crapp, who was born today, played seven Tests with reasonable success but is best known for the amusing, and possibly apocryphal, story of a misunderstanding with a hotel receptionist. When Crapp reported to the front desk, he was asked "Bed sir?" Presuming he had been mistaken for Alec Bedser, he replied, "No, Crapp." The receptionist duly directed him to the first door on the right.

New Zealand held on for a draw in the first Test in Chandigarh, surviving 135 overs to compile 251 for 7 with men all around the bat and the ball turning prodigiously. It was a finish that had looked unlikely when New Zealand bowled India out for 83 (Dion Nash 6 for 27) on the first morning. But India didn't make the same mistake second time round. Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar both made hundreds in a score of 505 for 3 declared, which left New Zealand needing 374 for a win that looked a formality at lunch on day one. By the end, they were more than happy with a draw.

The ICC's Super Test in Sydney between the leading team, Australia, and a star-studded World XI wasn't a spectacular success, to say the least. Australia took four days (out of a scheduled six) to wrap up a 210-run win over a side that included, among others, Rahul Dravid, Brian Lara, Muttiah Muralitharan, Virender Sehwag, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Jacques Kallis. Australia's two legspinners, Stuart MacGill and Shane Warne, accounted for 15 of the 20 World XI wickets between them; MacGill trumped his more feted partner with nine. The World XI was bowled out for 190 and 144.

Nineteen-year-old left-arm spinner Ashton Agar, born today, had a dream Test debut, though not one he would have ever imagined. Coming it to bat at No. 11, with Australia at 117 for 9 in the first Ashes Test of 2013, at Trent Bridge, Agar struck an astonishing 98 - the highest Test score ever by a No. 11. To make up for missing the milestone, Agar picked up Alastair Cook's wicket to become the first teenaged Australian spinner to take a Test wicket. Agar played one more Test in the series before the selectors went back to the more experienced Nathan Lyon as their spin option.

Birth of the useful Australian allrounder Doug Ring. He was a hard-hitting batsman and a fearless legspinner, who played 13 Tests. His record was modest but the highlight of his career was the fourth Test in Melbourne in 1951-52. With West Indies poised to square the series, Ring added 38 for the last wicket with Bill Johnston to pull off an unlikely victory.

Other birthdays
1900 Eddie McLeod (New Zealand)
1902 Shunter Coen (South Africa)
1913 Ginty Lush (Australia)
1912 Jack Young (England)
1914 Tom Dollery (England)
1980 Amjad Khan (England)
1988 Glenn Maxwell (Australia)