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January 8 down the years

Mr Versatility

The birth of Johnny Wardle

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Johnny Wardle: his outspokeness cost him his career
Johnny Wardle: his outspokeness cost him his career © The Cricketer International
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1923
A talented but ultimately controversial slow bowler was born. As well as orthodox left-arm spin, Johnny Wardle could bowl them out of the back of the hand: his chinamen and wrong 'uns brought him 26 wickets at 13.80 in the 1956-57 series in South Africa. He took 102 Test wickets at only 20.39 each, and would have played in more Tests if Tony Lock hadn't been Jim Laker's spin twin at Surrey. Wardle's sacking by Yorkshire after he wrote a series of articles criticising the captain also ended his Test career: his invitation to tour Australia in 1958-59 was withdrawn. He died in Doncaster in 1985.

1909
Before South Africa were allowed back into international cricket, Bruce Mitchell, who was born today, had scored the most Test runs for them: 3471, at the impressive average of 48.88. A complete batsman whose Test career lasted nearly 20 years, he made eight Test centuries, including one in each innings at The Oval in 1947.

1949
There was so much unfulfilled potential in Lawrence Rowe, who was born today: his career was dogged by persistent eye trouble and (a tough one, this, for a professional cricketer) an allergy to grass. He showed what might have been by becoming the only batsman to hit a century and a double-century on his debut, against New Zealand in Kingston in 1971-72, followed by a triple-century against England in Bridgetown in 1973-74, which was described, among other things, as a "master performance" by the Wisden Almanack. It was also his maiden first-class century outside his native Jamaica.

1901
Talking of big scores made quickly, New South Wales completed their innings of 918 against South Australia in Sydney on this day. Made in only 560 minutes, with centuries from five different batsmen, it beat Yorkshire's 887 against Warwickshire at Edgbaston in 1896 and remained a world record until Victoria made 1059 against Tasmania in Melbourne in 1922-23.

1973 and 1981
Greg Chappell took his career-best Test and one-day figures on the same day - eight years apart. In the 1972-73 series against Pakistan, Chappell took 5 for 61 in the first innings of the Sydney Test that Australia won by 52 runs to sweep the series. At the same ground, in the 1981 Benson & Hedges World Series Cup, his figures read 9.5-5-15-5 as India were bowled out for 63 - their lowest total at the time. Australia won by nine wickets. His victims, across both games, included Asif Iqbal, Mushtaq Mohammad and Sunil Gavaskar.

1991
Carl Rackemann won the Ashes. Well, not quite, but his 107-minute 9 had a big say in Australia grabbing the draw in the third Test in Sydney, which gave them a decisive 2-0 lead with two to play. England had declared in arrears and Phil Tufnell and Eddie Hemmings seemed to be bowling them to victory on a slow turner. But they couldn't shift Rackemann, and Graham Gooch took an age to bring Devon Malcolm on. When he did, Malcolm cleaned up Rackemann straight away. England needed 255 off 28 overs, and Gooch and the promoted David Gower went for it - 81 runs came off 11 overs before a flurry of wickets. When Mike Atherton strode in at No. 6, everyone knew the game was up.

1961
Into a famous cricketing family, a son and nephew was born. Shoaib Mohammad's seven Test centuries for Pakistan added to the 23 made by his famous father Hanif and uncles Wazir and Mushtaq. He twice made 203 not out in Tests, against India in Lahore in 1989-90, and New Zealand in Karachi in 1990-91.

1913
Birth of Dennis Smith, who holds a unique little world record as the bowler who took his only Test wicket with his very first ball. It was a pretty good single scalp too, England's Eddie Paynter (Test batting average 59.23), bowled by Smith in Christchurch in 1932-33. He finished with 1 for 113 from 20 overs in his only Test, but New Zealand were saved by a dust storm and bad light after following on.

Other birthdays
1902 Jack Iddon (England)
1965 Champaka Ramanayake (Sri Lanka)
1968 Desmond Chumney (Canada)
1981 Clare Shillington (Ireland)
1986
Tino Mawoyo (Zimbabwe)
1991 Josh Hazelwood (Australia)>br>

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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