July 18 down the years

The most famous beard in sport

The good doctor makes an entrance

WG Grace (left) scored over 54,000 first-class runs © Print Collector/Getty Images

1848
WG Grace - better known as "The Doctor", "The Champion" or just "WG" - was a pioneer of the game. Born this day, he was a magnificent allrounder: a dashing batsman, a cunning, round-arm slow-medium bowler, and owner of the most famous beard in sport. Grace was a walking first: first two triple-centuries in first-class cricket, in 1876; first to make 2000 first-class runs in a season (2739 in 1871); first to 1000 runs in May (1895); first (and probably only) man to replace the bails after being bowled and carry on his innings; first to 50,000 first-class runs; first to 100 hundreds; first Test century in England; and first Englishman to make a century on debut. Those last two were at The Oval in 1880, when he slammed 152 against Australia. His other Test century came against the Aussies at The Oval too, 170 in 1886. Grace captained England in the last 13 of his 22 Tests. He also made 400 for United South against Grimsby on the day his second child was born. He died in 1915, after suffering a heart attack during an air raid in Kent. He died at his home in Mottingham, Kent, and he was buried three days later at Elmers End Cemetery.

1949
Dennis Keith Lillee is born. After recovering from back problems so bad that many expected him not to play again, he became one of the greatest bowlers in history, with a magnificently athletic action and an attitude Dirty Harry would have approved of. Lillee loved to get rough - he had an unedifying standoff with Javed Miandad in Perth in 1981-82 after aiming a kick at Miandad. He and Jeff Thomson were the nastiest pair of gangsters ever to take the new ball, and they left horses' heads in many an English bed during a torrid Ashes series in 1974-75. Lillee was an example to all bowlers of how to cope with advancing years. For him there was no midlife crisis; after Packer, he simply substituted craft for pace, brain for brawn, and offered batsmen a different but every bit as fearsome examination. Oddly he took more Test ten-fors (seven) than he did wickets outside England and Australasia (6). Lillee could bat too - he rolled up his sleeves and almost saw Australia over the line at Headingley in 1981, when he and Rod Marsh infamously bet on England at 500-1 - although his attempt to use an aluminium bat in another Test, also against England, wasn't his brightest idea. He was the leading Test wicket-taker when he retired, with 355.

1896
An unbeaten hundred on debut for Ranjitsinhji. But it came in a losing cause for England, in an Ashes Test at Old Trafford. England followed on to Australia's 412 (Tom Richardson took seven) and Ranji followed up his first-innings 62 with a sparkling unbeaten 154 in 185 minutes. But the rest of the side jointly managed just 151, leaving Australia a target of 125. Richardson took 6 for 76 but Australia won by three wickets. This was also the game in which Australian allrounder George Giffen became the first player to reach the double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets.

1972
Only ten men have ever scored a hundred and taken a hat-trick in a first-class match, and Mike Procter is the only man to have to done it twice. He did it for the first time on this day, taking 8 for 73 in the match and cracking 51 and 102 for Gloucestershire against Essex at Westcliff-on-Sea. It was an all-lbw hat-trick, too, and all from around the wicket.

2003
A northern outpost of Australia gets its first Test. Darwin became Australia's eighth Test venue when it hosted Bangladesh in a match that lasted three days. Bangladesh were bowled out for 97, after which Australia vandalised their bowling attack - Darren Lehmann and Steve Waugh making hundreds - for 407. The visitors eventually lost by an innings and 132 runs.

1893
It's a slightly odd stat that only five men have ever made a century at Lord's on their Test debut: Matt Prior, Andrew Strauss, Sourav Ganguly, John Hampshire... and Harry Graham, who did so for Australia on this day. Having come to the crease at 75 for 5, "The Little Dasher" cracked 107 to help Australia to a draw. He was also the only Australian to make a century on Test debut in England until Dirk Wellham in 1981.

1927
Chris Harris' dad is born. Zin Harris, a right-hander, unlike his son, played nine Tests over a period of nine years, making his only century against South Africa in Cape Town in 1961-62. He died in his native Christchurch in December 1991, a few months before his son starred in the World Cup.

1988
The birth of a man who secured his place in cricket lore with four lusty blows on one of the biggest stages. Carlos Brathwaite was on strike when West Indies needed 19 runs off the last over to win the 2016 World T20 against England. Four monstrous sixes later, he had sealed the deal with two balls to spare. An attacking allrounder from Barbados, Brathwaite made his international debut in 2011, but it was only with his second coming, in 2015, that he was able to nail down a regular place in the West Indies set-up.

1991
Bismah Maroof, born today, broke into the Pakistan women team at the age of 15 and quickly established herself in the side, acquiring a level of seniority that belied her age. She secured a berth in the side for the 2009 World Cup - Pakistan women's first since 1997 - and developed into a key contributor, both with the bat and with her useful legspin. After the 2016 World T20, Maroof took over from Sana Mir as captain of the T20 side.

1996
Born on this day, Smriti Mandhana made her international debut shortly after the 2013 World Cup. She played a key role in India women's Test win in England in 2014, and blossomed into a fine opening batsman in the limited-overs formats. In the 2017 World Cup, Mandhana made an emphatic start to the tournament - scoring 90 against hosts England, followed by 106 not out against West Indies.

Other birthdays
1873 Albert Powell (South Africa)
1913 Hilda Hills (Australia)
1925 Hubert Doggart (England)
1954 Imtiaz Ali (West Indies)