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July 31 down the years

Laker's match

Australia v the unstoppable force

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No other man has come close to Laker's record of 19 in a match
No other man has come close to Laker's record of 19 in a match © The Cricketer International

History was made at Old Trafford when Jim Laker took his 19th wicket in the fourth Test against Australia, including all ten wickets in the second innings. Laker had warmed up for his day of reckoning by taking 9 for 37 in Australia's first outing, the best-ever return by an England bowler in Ashes cricket. In the second innings he was unstoppable, and when the last man, Len Maddocks, was trapped lbw, Laker had taken all ten wickets for 53 runs. No less astonishing was Tony Lock's match return of 1 for 106 in 71.4 overs. The Australians were said to be fuming about an Old Trafford pitch that had been deliberately underprepared to suit the spinners, but as their captain, Ian Johnson, said afterwards: "When the controversy and side issues of the match are forgotten, Laker's wonderful bowling will remain."

Lieutenant-Colonel Hemu Adhikari was born. The Second World War delayed his Test debut until he was nearly 29 and his official army duties restricted his appearances to 21 of 47 Tests played in his time. A fine player of spin, he made up for a weakness against genuine pace with a large heart. He was in Indian teams that played inaugural Tests against Australia, West Indies and Pakistan, and his best performances came against these three teams. His only Test century came against West Indies in Delhi in 1948-49, while his 109-run stand with Ghulam Ahmed for the last wicket against Pakistan four years later was an Indian record that was only broken in 2004. After retirement he became a respected manager of Indian touring teams and was influential in shaping the careers of Sunil Gavaskar, Mohinder Amarnath, Kapil Dev and Syed Kirmani, among others.

Birth of the South African opener Jimmy Cook, who scored a whole shedload of runs for Somerset. Forced to wait till he was 39 for his first taste of Test cricket, he was out to his very first ball - from Kapil Dev - the opening delivery of a match against India in Durban in 1992-93. He played another two Tests before retiring, after which he captained Transvaal and turned his hand to coaching.

Yorkshire's great slow left-armer Hedley Verity died in a Prisoner of War camp in Italy. He set a world record by taking 10 for 10 against Notts, and in 1934 dismissed 14 batsmen in a day to give England their only win against Australia at Lord's in the 20th century.

Fair-haired and full of flair, Frank Hayes scored a hundred on his Test debut on this day, against West Indies at The Oval. But nerves got in the way of his Test career, in which he never again scored more than 29, and he eventually averaged only 15.25. Hayes scored 34 runs off an over in 1977 and later taught maths and physics at Oakham School.

England's first blackwash was in the post after West Indies went 4-0 up after four with an innings victory at Old Trafford. Gordon Greenidge smashed his second double-century of the series - he averaged over 100 in Old Trafford Tests - but it was Winston Davis who really put the boot in. Not content with creaming a career-best 77, he fractured Paul Terry's left arm with a short ball that didn't get up as Terry expected. Terry bravely returned to see Allan Lamb to a first-innings century - it was Lamb's third in as many Tests; not bad given the havoc being wreaked all around him.

Birth of a cricketer who survived being shot at point-blank range. Andrew Hall took a bullet to his left hand as a mugger let fly six shots at him at an ATM late one night in 1998. The bullet lodged in his hand without causing serious damage but Hall recovered sufficiently to win a place in South Africa's one-day side against West Indies in 1999. During the 2003 England tour he cemented himself as a valuable member of the side, and in November 2004, opening for the first time, against India in Kanpur, plodded to 163 off 454 balls. Hall retired in 2007 after being excluded from South Africa's World Twenty20 squad; he then joined Northamptonshire and signed up for the Indian Cricket League.

Eton beat Winchester by an innings and 128 runs at Lord's. Thomas Lloyd top-scored with 81, but caught a chill from his exertions during the game and died shortly afterwards.

Birth of "Gubby" Allen. Later Sir George Oswald Browning Allen, he took 21 wickets in 1932-33 without bowling Bodyline, captained England in the feverish 1936-37 series, and for many years was influential behind the scenes at Lord's.

Australian opening batsman Bill Brown was born. Top of his Test achievements was an innings of 206, carrying his bat, at Lord's in 1938. He was controversially run out while backing up (in the original instance of "Mankading") against India in 1947-48.

The end of a year-long wait. England sealed a 266-run victory over India in the third Test in Southampton to level the series 1-1 with two to play. They ended their ten-match winless run after they took the six remaining Indian wickets on the final day - with offspinner Moeen Ali bagging 6 for 67, his maiden Test five-for. The victory was doubly sweet for Alastair Cook, who was under pressure to step down after the defeat in the second Test at Lord's. He rediscovered his batting form with two half-centuries and was backed up by his senior players - Bell, Broad, and Anderson - who played a big part in the victory.

Fast bowler Blessing Mahwire, born today, was the first player from Zimbabwe's Masvingo province to play Test cricket. In ten Tests between 2002 and 2006; halfway through that period, he managed a best of 4 for 92, after remodelling his action when the ICC reported it as suspect. He also worked as the chief of the Zimbabwe Professional Cricketers Association.

Other birthdays
1916 Verdun "Scotty" Scott (New Zealand)
1939 Roger Prideaux (England)
1963 Davis Joseph (Canada)
1968 Saeed Al-Saffar (United Arab Emirates)
1975 Ashish Patel (Canada)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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