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October 17 down the years

A legspinning giant

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Anil Kumble: possibly India's greatest match-winner
Anil Kumble: possibly India's greatest match-winner © AFP
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1970
It seems improbable that a legspinner could take 619 Test wickets without turning the ball prodigiously, but Anil Kumble, who was born today, did precisely that. The highlights of his career included 21 wickets in three matches against England in 1992-93, 32 in four Tests at home against Australia between 1996 and 1998, and most famously of all, 10 for 74 against Pakistan in Delhi in 1998-99, when he became only the second person after Jim Laker to take all 10 in a Test innings. He also played a significant role in at least a couple of overseas wins, taking seven wickets in Headingley in 2002, and then six in a famous triumph in Adelaide in 2003-04. He got to the 400-wicket milestone in his hometown, Bangalore, in the first Test of the 2004-05 series against Australia. In August 2007 he scored his first Test hundred, at The Oval, in his 117th Test - a record. That November he took charge as India's Test captain, leading them on a stormy tour of Australia, including a famous win in Perth, during which he became the third spinner, and bowler, to 600 Test wickets. He decided to call it quits at the end of the Delhi Test against Australia in November 2008, where he was, ironically, struck for a boundary off his last ball in international cricket. In 2012, Kumble replaced Clive Lloyd as the chairman of the ICC's cricket committee.

1965
A magician was born in Colombo. The hugely popular Aravinda de Silva had virtually every shot in the book and was one of the most charming batsmen of his time in world cricket. He peaked during three glorious years in the mid-1990s. In 1995 he had a remarkable season with Kent, the highlight of which was 112 off 95 balls in a losing cause in the Benson & Hedges Cup final against Lancashire - the Wisden Almanack said the ball was "feathered, not bludgeoned, persuaded, not carved". It was one of the finest one-day innings ever played at Lord's. In 1996 he was Man of the Match in the World Cup final, with 3 for 43, two catches and a wonderfully restrained 107 not out, and in 1997 he hit six centuries in consecutive innings in Tests in Colombo. His love affair with Colombo continued till the end, with 206 in his last Test innings against Bangladesh in 2002. Aravinda retired after the 2003 World Cup and was appointed a member of Sri Lanka's selection committee.

1917
Birth of the brilliant New Zealander Martin Donnelly, who immediately after the Second World War had few peers among batsmen. He was a brilliant strokemaker who lit up Lord's with a scintillating 206 in the second Test against England in 1949. That completed an unlikely treble for Donnelly (one that only he and Percy Chapman, another left-hander, have achieved), who also made Lord's hundreds for Gentlemen against Players and Oxford against Cambridge. In addition to that he made a famous ton at Lord's for the Dominions against England - after which, a probably apocryphal story runs, a spectator went into a nearby pub, said "I have just seen the most marvellous day's play," drank a double whiskey and dropped dead. But the tour of England in 1949 (when he scored 2287 runs) was Donnelly's last as a Test player. He went into business in Sydney, where he died in 1999. He also played rugby for England, against Ireland in 1946-47.

1980
An opening batsman and a handy offspin bowler, Mohammad Hafeez, who was born on this day, was picked for Pakistan after their dismal showing in the 2003 World Cup. His all-round role appeared suited for the ODI format, and he tasted success early at the Test level but it was seven more years before he played a pivotal role - in 2010, he racked up three ODI centuries and won an incredible ten Man-of-the-Match awards in international cricket. His form prompted the selectors to appoint him Pakistan's Twenty20 captain in 2012 but by the next year, his batting form had declined and he was dropped from the home Test series against South Africa.

1999
Australia's record-breaking run of 16 consecutive Tests victories started with a 10-wicket win over Zimbabwe in a one-off Test in Harare. Steve Waugh was once again their main man. At the first time of asking he completed a full set of hundreds against every Test nation, and his unbeaten 151 was his 20th Test hundred. The match was also the last of Ian Healy's luminous career. With his batting form in decline he was usurped by Adam Gilchrist. He ended with a then record number of Test dismissals (395) and catches (366).

1991
A real captain's innings from Richie Richardson led West Indies to a one-wicket victory over Pakistan in Sharjah. In his first match as captain Richardson overcame cramps to make 106 not out (nobody else managed 50 in the match) and lead West Indies from almost-certain defeat at 158 for 8 to 217 for 9, sealing an unlikely victory with 15 balls to spare.

1955
Pakistan and New Zealand met for the first time in Karachi, and offspinner Zulfiqar Ahmed took advantage of a matting pitch to lead Pakistan to victory by an innings and one run. He returned match figures of 83.5-40-79-11, grabbing the only two five-fors of his nine-Test career. In the end the performance of Pakistan's lower order - they turned 144 for 6 (a deficit of 20) into 289 (a lead of 125) - was decisive.

1979
Injuries forced New Zealand medium-pacer Mark Gillespie, born today, to have a staccato career, but it was also an injury, to Shane Bond, that gave Gillespie his break in Tests. He took five in his first outing in Centurion in November 2007 and six more four months later against England in Wellington. By then he had played over 20 ODIs (starting December 2006) and ten Twenty20s, including the World Cup and World Twenty20 in 2007. Injuries kept him out for another three years and he made his Test comeback in 2012 against South Africa, taking 11 wickets in two Tests.

Other birthdays
1878 Barlow Carkeek (Australia)
1890 Roy Kilner (England)
1935 Alan Brown (England)
1963 Vijay Mehra (UAE)
1968 Kerri Laing (South Africa)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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