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April 8 down the years

Enter the Gaffer

England's most capped player makes his entrance

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Alec Stewart: made his Test debut at 26, but still went on to be England's most-capped player
Alec Stewart: made his Test debut at 26, but still went on to be England's most-capped player © Getty Images
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1963
The Gaffer is born. Nobody has played more Tests for England than Alec Stewart, who had 133, which is good going for a man who didn't make his debut until he was almost 27. Stewart's record would have been even better if England had had a decent allrounder: when he was forced to keep wicket he averaged 35, when picked purely as a batsman he averaged a hugely impressive 46. Stewart also captained England to their first win in a five-Test series for more than 11 years, against South Africa in 1998, but his sergeant-major style of captaincy was seen as antiquated after England's dense 1999 World Cup campaign. However, he mostly continued to hold down a regular place in the side, despite calls for his resignation, until he retired at the end of the South Africa series in 2003.

1990
Viv Richards' war dance. England were scrapping to save the fourth Test in Barbados when Rob Bailey was controversially given out caught down the leg side off Curtly Ambrose. The umpire, Lloyd Barker, only gave the decision after Richards had set off on his celebration, and the incident caused much ill-feeling. David Frith wrote in Wisden Cricket Monthly of "the antics of the West Indies captain, all dignity cast to the wind as he displayed his 'ceremonial dance', orgasmic gesticulations every one of which was a denial of the belief that this is a game for mature, controlled men".

1967
Birth of Kenny Benjamin, the Antiguan quickie who was caught in the crossfire as West Indies slid down the ladder in the mid-1990s. Though he never quite lived up to his middle names (Charlie and Griffith, after the fearsome 1960s speedster), he was a dangerous, skiddy fast bowler, who swung the ball appreciably and had a distinctly presentable strike rate of a wicket every 55 balls.

1995
In the second Test between West Indies and Australia in Antigua, Richie Richardson wore a helmet for the first time in his Test career. It was his 78th match, and it was all very symbolic: the fearless swagger of West Indian cricket was a thing of the past, and three weeks later Australia became the first side to beat them in a Test series for 15 years.

1972
A debut century for Alvin Kallicharran, against New Zealand in Guyana. He enjoyed himself so much that he went on to make a century in his next innings, too, in the next Test, in Trinidad. After that, Kallicharran did not play a Test against the Kiwis for eight years - and when he did, he made three ducks in four innings.

1902
A six-hitter is born. Arthur Wellard had a first-class average of only 19, but he cleared the boundary over 500 times during his career. That haul included 72 in 1935, a record until another Somerset man, Ian Botham, belted 80 in 1985. Wellard also hit five sixes in a row on two occasions. His day job was as a brisk fast-medium bowler, though, who took over 1600 wickets and made two Test appearances for England. He died in Sussex in 1980.

Other birthdays
1865 Ted Wainwright (England)
1910 Wendell Bill (Australia)
1914 John Cameron (West Indies)
1938 Mohammad Farooq (Pakistan)
1955 Annette Fellows (Australia)
1959 Franklyn Stephenson (West Indies)
1968 James Boiling (England)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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