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May 20 down the years

The Gnome arrives

The birth of Keith Fletcher

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Keith Fletcher on his way to India for the 1981-82 series
Keith Fletcher on his way to India for the 1981-82 series © PA Photos
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1944
The Gnome is born. The popular Keith Fletcher was a fine batsman and captain of Essex, and though his Test career was a success, he sometimes struggled to impose himself at the top level. He averaged only 19 after 17 Tests, but then came a steady stream of match-saving, and occasionally match-winning, centuries, including 146 in Melbourne in 1974-75. The Centenary Test two years later seemed to be his last, but he returned to captain England in India in 1981-82. England lost the first Test and players and spectators were bored to tears as the remaining five snoozed to draws. Fletcher was also the captain when England took on Sri Lanka in that team's inaugural Test straight after, but was then dumped, this time for good.

1911
One of the most remarkable onslaughts of all time, at Hove, where Ted Alletson and William Riley added 152 for Nottinghamshire's tenth wicket against Sussex. That only tells half the story, though, because when the carnage ended Riley was left on 10 not out. Alleston smeared 189 in 90 minutes of mayhem. In the 50 minutes before lunch he scored a sedate 47; in the seven overs after the interval he smashed 115 out of 120 and his last 89 came in 15 minutes. It was his only first-class hundred.

1943
In Trinidad, one of West Indies' finest wicketkeepers is born. Deryck Murray was a soothing presence behind the stumps in 62 Tests between 1963 - when he made his debut at Old Trafford aged 20, and snared 24 scalps in the series - and 1980. When he was left out of the Trinidad Test the following winter, locals boycotted the match and the pitch was vandalised. As well as being undemonstrative, efficient, and totally reliable with the gloves on, the boyish Murray turned himself into a useful batsman. Though he never managed a Test hundred, he made 11 fifties, four of them in Australia in 1975-76, when more illustrious batsmen were being blown away by Lillee and Thomson. He later became a significant administrative figure.

1965
A shock for the members at Middlesbrough, as Yorkshire were skittled for their lowest-ever total, a pathetic 23, by Hampshire. The side included some big names: Boycott, Hampshire, Close, Sharpe, Illingworth and Trueman, but after a sound start Yorkshire tumbled from 7 for 0 to 13 for 8. Yorkshire had also been 47 for 7 in their first innings, and only a rumbustious 55 from Trueman got them anywhere near eventual first-innings parity. Hampshire needed just 20 to win; they scraped home in eight overs with 10 wickets to spare.

1956
Birth of the Australian opener Andrew Hilditch, a qualified solicitor. But as a batsman, Hilditch never managed to cut out the hook, a stroke that consistently brought about his downfall. Both his Test centuries came in the space of three innings, against West Indies and England in a purple patch in 1984-85, but his penchant for the fatal hook shot soon became a standing joke on that England tour of 1985. He played only one Test after that - and he was out twice hooking Richard Hadlee. Hilditch had no reasonable defence, and was dumped for good as Australia turned to Geoff Marsh and David Boon. Hilditch was also Test cricket's second handled-the-ball victim: in Perth in 1978-79, Hilditch was the non-striker when he returned a loose throw to the bowler, Sarfraz Nawaz. Sarfraz appealed and Hilditch was given out. He served as Australia's chariman of selectors in the mid-2000s.

1977
Birth of Anjum Chopra, a left-handed opener for India who has been compared to David Gower. Chopra was one of India's premier batsmen and played in four World Cups. She was rewarded for her consistent performance over the years when she won the Arjuna award, one of India's highest sporting honours, in 2007.

1982
Birth of Imran Farhat, a free-stroking left-hand Pakistan batsman. Farhat was born into a sporting family; his father and one sister played badminton, another sister played hockey and brother Humayun represented Pakistan in cricket. Farhat made a century in his sixth Test, against South Africa in 2003, and another against India four Tests later. In 2007 upset with the selectors overlooking him, Farhat joined the unofficial ICL. He returned to the official fold in 2009, scoring an unbeaten century in Napier in his comeback series. In 2010, after Pakistan's spot-fixing scandal broke, Farhat sent accused player agent Mazhar Majeed a legal notice demanding he prove his statement that Farhat was among seven players working for him or admit it was incorrect.

Other birthdays
1947 Gopal Bose (India)
1963 Dipak Chudasama (Kenya)
1967 Sandra Kottman (Netherlands)
1974 Sajjad Ahmed (Bangladesh)
1978 Ramesh Powar (India)
1982 Kaushal Lokuarachchi (Sri Lanka)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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