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October 18 down the years

The Chennai marauder

Birth of a bespectacled destroyer

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Billy Murdoch: king of The Oval
Billy Murdoch: king of The Oval © Getty Images
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1968
No bowler has ever had a more successful Test debut than Narendra Hirwani, who was born today. Hirwani, a stocky, bespectacled legspinner, was only 19 when he destroyed West Indies with 16 for 136 in Madras in 1987-88. His second-innings 8 for 75 included a Test-record five batsmen stumped by Kiran More. But successful debuts have often been something of a curse, and so it was for Hirwani. After 36 wickets in his first four Tests his next nine Tests were all overseas, where he struggled to find any purchase and took only 21 wickets at 59.

1854
Test cricket's first double-centurion was born in Sandhurst, Australia. The fleet-footed Billy Murdoch was a master on flat pitches and most of his career highlights came at The Oval. After 19 runs in his first five innings he stroked an unbeaten 153 there in 1880, and his 13 and 29 were crucial in Australia's seven-run victory in 1882 (363 runs were scored for the loss of 40 wickets in the match), in the game that led to the birth of the Ashes. Two years later he smacked 211 on the same ground. Murdoch died in 1911 after suffering a heart attack during the fourth Test between Australia and South Africa in Melbourne.

1981
Birth of Australian offspinner Nathan Hauritz, who wasn't even considered a contender for the slow-bowling slot at the start of the 2008-09 season but surprised his detractors by taking nine wickets in three Tests. He made his international debut in an ODI in 2002 and returned two years later to make his Test debut on a minefield of a Mumbai pitch. But he then slipped into the wilderness, struggled in first-class games, and moved to New South Wales from Queensland. His one-day form improved and that contributed to his international recall. He took 10 wickets in three 2009 Ashes Tests and his surprise exclusion on a turning pitch for the deciding clash at The Oval will continue to haunt Australia for a while. He took six each in three Tests against Pakistan in England that year but flopped against India away.

1969
The Hyderabad crowd reacted badly when India were bowled out for 89 on the third day of the third and final Test against New Zealand. The day had started badly when the groundsman admitted that he had forgotten to mow the wicket, and New Zealand's captain Graham Dowling refused to allow him to remedy the situation. On a greener-than-usual surface India slumped from 21 for 1 to 49 for 9 before Srinivas Venkataraghavan (25 not out) and Bishan Bedi (20) added 40 for the last wicket. When Bedi was dismissed, the crowd stoned the police, bonfires were lit in the stands and an attempt was made to set fire to thatched roofing. Play ended 20 minutes early.

1875
Birth of the rumbustious allrounder Len Braund, who represented Surrey and Somerset and played in 23 Tests for England between 1901 and 1908. He was a powerful leg-side hitter, a devious legspinner (after he converted from fast-medium) and the best slip fielder of his time. At Edgbaston in 1902 he took a famous catch as England skittled Australia for 36, their lowest Test score. Standing in the slips he anticipated a flick off the legs from Clem Hill off the bowling of George Hirst, and darted off down the leg side, James Foster-style, to take a blinder. He also took 8 for 81 in the decider in Melbourne in 1903-04 as England grabbed a 3-2 victory. He was an umpire for 16 years, but lost both legs late in life and died in Fulham in 1955.

1992
Zimbabwe began life as a Test-playing nation with a shocker of a draw against India in Harare. Zimbabwe crawled through 214.2 overs for their first-innings 426. This was perhaps understandable, but when their turn came India were even worse. They ground out 307 in 169.4 excruciating overs, with Sanjay Manjrekar carving a painstaking century in 508 minutes. For Zimbabwe, John Traicos returned to Test cricket a record 22 years and 222 days after the last of his three appearances for South Africa. He was too good for India's young master, though - the 45-year old Traicos had Sachin Tendulkar (19) caught and bowled third ball for 0.

1952
Roy Dias, who was born today, was a beautiful timer of the ball who averaged a very respectable 36.71 from his 20 Tests, only one of which Sri Lanka won. Dias played a crucial part in that victory - his country's first - with 95 and 60 not out against India in Colombo. He followed that with a crucial, unusually reserved 106 in the next match in Kandy that enabled Sri Lanka to grab an improbable draw and with it their first series victory.

1961
Gladstone Small, who was born today, was an instant success in Australia in 1986-87, where he took 12 wickets in two Tests as well as the catch that retained the Ashes. But injuries meant a stop-start career in which Small played only 17 Tests, though he was a key figure on England's tour of West Indies in 1989-90, where he took 17 wickets at 29. As time went on, the virtually neckless Small became increasingly toothless at Test level (his strike-rate was a wicket every 71 balls), and his last Test appearance came on the ill-fated Australian tour of 1990-91.

1968
Had he been born on this day in another country, Stuart Law might easily have played 100 Tests, such was his talent. In his one Test, against Sri Lanka in Perth in 1995-96, he made 54 not out and denied himself an average. He became increasingly typecast as a one-day player despite a first-class average of over 50. Law was also the man to lead Queensland to a long-overdue first Sheffield Shield in 1994-95. In 2008 he was released by Lancashire, who he had captained the same season, his ICL links being one factor in the decision. In 2011, Law was appointed Bangladesh coach, but quit inside a year, citing family problems. He took on the role of high performance manager at Cricket Australia's Centre of Excellence and coached the national Under-19 side to the World Cup final that year.

Other birthdays
1927 Buck Divecha (India)
1928 Deepak Shodhan (India)
1954 Aamer Hameed (Pakistan)
1961 Steve Smith (Australia)
1964 George Ferris (West Indies)
1980 Reetinder Sodhi (India)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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