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April 29 down the years

Cat of many tales

The most talented English slow bowler of his generation is born

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Phil Tufnell: a rare England spinner with guile and cunning
Phil Tufnell: a rare England spinner with guile and cunning © Getty Images
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1966
The Cat is born. Throughout his career Phil Tufnell was as likely to pop up on the front page of newspapers as the back, but his old-fashioned flight and cunning made him the most talented English spinner of his generation. He won three Tests in a row after being recalled in 1991, but after that his career was distinctly stop-start, with only one other five-for, when he returned from the wilderness to vanquish Australia at The Oval in 1997. Like all fingerspinners in the 1990s, he struggled to do much more than contain good batsmen. The announcement of his retirement was typical - he quit on the eve of the new season so that he could take part in a TV reality show, I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.

1990
A month before his 25th birthday, left-arm fast bowler James Faulkner, born today, added to an intriguing bit of cricketing trivia: Launceston in Tasmania was the only town that had produced two World-Cup-final Man-of-the-Match winners; when Faulkner took the award in 2015, he became the third, after David Boon had done it in 1987, and Ricky Ponting in 2003. Faulkner, with deft changes of speed and length, derailed New Zealand with two wickets in an over just as they were seemingly getting back on track after a disastrous start. Faulkner made his ODI debut two years previously, and had already displayed his batting skills and temperament with rapid fifties down the order to snatch improbable victories for Australia against India in Mohali and against England in Brisbane. A consistent performer for Tasmania in the Sheffield Shield, he also showed promise on Test debut with a match haul of six, though in a losing cause in an away Ashes series that had already been lost.

1997
Aravinda de Silva became the first man to score two unbeaten hundreds in a Test, against Pakistan at the SSC in Colombo. His 138 and 103 were the second and third of six consecutive hundreds in Test innings in his own country - all of them on various grounds in Colombo. This match was drawn, along with the series, as Pakistan comfortably batted out the final day against a toothless, Murali-less Sri Lankan attack.

1974
Birth of Ireland's best exponent of the chicken dance, Trent Johnston. When he wasn't celebrating memorably, Johnston was a fast bowler, who made his way to Ireland from New South Wales. He was Ireland's captain during their great run in the 2007 World Cup where they beat Pakistan, hitting the winning runs in the match and standing at the other end when Ireland sealed an even bigger victory, over England in the 2011 World Cup. Among the most memorable of Johnston's bowling exploits was the one in an innings win against UAE - he took 3 for 8 (in an innings haul of 5 for 33) - that helped Ireland qualify for Intercontinental Cup final in 2005.

2007
Surrey smashed the existing limited-overs record score as they made 496 for 4 in 50 overs against Gloucestershire at The Oval. Ali Brown led the way with 176 off 97 balls.

1979
Birth of Ashish Nehra, the Indian left-arm seamer who blew England into disarray with an explosive burst of 6 for 23 in the 2003 World Cup. But Nehra, whose late inswing is his main threat, faltered after a promising start in Test cricket. Surgery on a troublesome ankle, and an indifferent 2003-04 tour of Australia, followed, and though he performed creditably in Pakistan in 2004, he ceased to be an automatic pick. He hit the headlines with decent showings in the IPL, particularly in the second season, and was recalled to the one-day squad. Nehra then chose to concentrate on the shorter format and made it to the 2011 World Cup where he took three wickets in three games, though he missed the final due to injury.

1988
A seam-bowling allrounder from Jamaica, Andre Russell, born today, made his first-class debut at 19 and Test debut at 22, before going on to specialise in the limited-overs formats. In just his second ODI, he claimed four wickets to help keep England to 243 and then hit a counterattacking 49 from No. 8 in a tight World Cup 2011 game in Chennai. West Indies lost that match, but Russell made sure he finished the job four years later in a bilateral series against South Africa, hitting 64 not out off 40 balls to help his side home by one wicket in Port Elizabeth. Also athletic in the field, Russell is one of those exciting West Indies cricketers who is much sought after by T20 franchises, with deals in the IPL and Big Bash League.

1940
New South Wales' finest wicketkeeper is born. Brian Taber eased into their official team of the millennium, and he also played 16 Tests for Australia in the late 1960s. Taber, who hails from Wagga Wagga, was a natural, unfussy keeper but limited as a batsman: his first-class average was only 18. His last Tests were in the 0-4 thrashing by South Africa in 1969-70, after which he was replaced by Rodney Marsh.

1991
A sensational innings from Mark Taylor, which helped Australia become the first touring team to win a Test in Antigua. His 144 against West Indies may have come in a dead rubber, but it was still a sensational effort: in Australia's second-innings 265, only three other players reached double figures, and nobody got more than David Boon's 35. Taylor's was a rapid, 227-ball affair, and enabled the Aussies to take a consolation victory in a series they lost 1-2.

Other birthdays
1892 Sydney Rippon (England)
1892 Dudley Rippon (England)
1918 Mervyn Harvey (Australia)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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