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August 15 down the years

Trueman's 300th

Fiery Fred misses a hat-trick but reaches a bigger landmark

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An exhausted  Fred Trueman is congratulated on wicket No. 300
An exhausted Fred Trueman is congratulated on wicket No. 300 © Getty Images

Colin Cowdrey's slip catch to dismiss Australia's Neil Hawke at The Oval made Fred Trueman the first bowler to take 300 wickets in Test cricket. Trueman, who had missed the previous match at Old Trafford, began the day on 297 wickets, and quickly took that tally to 299, with wickets in consecutive deliveries before the lunch break. Hawke averted the hat-trick but did not survive much longer. The match was drawn and the Ashes stayed with Australia, but for once it didn't matter so much. Asked whether he thought anyone would ever break his record, Trueman is reputed to have replied: "Aye, but whoever does will be bloody tired." Fiery Fred's eventual total of 307 remained the world record until 1975-76.

Birth of painter and wicketkeeper Robert Charles Russell. "Jack" Russell's 11 dismissals in Johannesburg in 1995-96 set a world record for all Test cricket. England's insistence on picking wicketkeeper-batsmen limited his international career, but even so he played in 54 Tests, making 165 dismissals. And his own batting wasn't too shabby: he hit two Test hundreds, and his four-hour 29 not out in that Johannesburg Test buttressed Mike Atherton's epic match-saving innings. After retiring from international cricket, Russell was instrumental in the success of his beloved Gloucestershire, who won a hat-trick of one-day trophies in 2000. Eventually he had to give up the game altogether, in 2004, because of persistent injury trouble.

A brilliant 156 from Ricky Ponting, and a stoical 24-ball stand between Australia's last pair of Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath, denied England victory in a match that would have taken them 2-1 up with two to play in the Ashes. The day began amid huge expectations and even bigger crowds: an estimated 10,000 ticketless fans were turned away from Old Trafford before 10am. The lucky few who grabbed their £10 tickets - some had camped overnight for the privilege - watched England chip and chisel away at a dogged Australian resistance. When Ponting fell, with four overs of the match remaining, victory seemed assured, but McGrath - batting a yard outside his crease to negate lbws - stood firm.

The century made by Ian Botham in the fifth Test was even better than his match-turning 149 at Headingley earlier in the series. Scored off only 86 balls, the result of classical clean hitting, the Old Trafford ton made the front page of the Times, which wondered if it was the greatest Test century ever. Certainly it was too good for the Australians, whose defeat cost them any chance of regaining the Ashes.

Some claim that were it not for Bradman, Wally Hammond would have claim to being considered the greatest batsman of all time; but he was also an outstanding allrounder. In Cheltenham, on this day, Hammond scored a hundred for Gloucestershire against Surrey. He went on to make a second hundred in the match - one of seven times he did that - and took ten catches in the close field. He also opened the bowling, though he took only one wicket. But in the next match he made amends, taking 15 for 128 against Worcestershire.

Birth of Australian fast-medium left-armer Bill Whitty, whose 65 Test wickets cost only 21.12 each, largely as a result of the 1910-11 series against South Africa, in which he took 37 wickets. When the visitors needed only 170 to win in Melbourne, Whitty took 6 for 17 to bowl them out for 80.

A typically magisterial 217 by Wally Hammond. The first double-century scored against India, it was the highlight of a day on which England scored 471 for 8. They went on to win the Oval Test by nine wickets.

Despite a defiant 68 by Saeed Ahmed at Trent Bridge, Pakistan were all out for 114 (Derek Underwood 5 for 52) to give England a 1-0 lead in the series.

Birth of Essex slow left-armer John Childs, who didn't play Test cricket until nearly 37 years later. His debut at Old Trafford in 1988 made him the oldest to make his England bow since 38-year-old Dick Howorth in 1947. West Indies won both the Tests Childs played in that summer, and his three wickets cost 61.00 each; but the winter tour to India was cancelled and he wasn't capped again.

Other birthdays
1927 Eddie Leadbeater (England)
1934 Reg Scarlett (West Indies)
1951 Ranjan Gunatilleke (Sri Lanka)
1975 Vijay Bharadwaj (India)
1975 Hemlata Kala (India)
1980 Adeel Raja (Netherlands)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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