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September 17 down the years

Soduku spinner

Birth of R Ashwin

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Franklyn Stephenson: one of the two players to do the double since 1969
Franklyn Stephenson: one of the two players to do the double since 1969 © Getty Images

Birth of Indian offspinner R Ashwin, who first came to notice with his use of the soduku ball, a finger-flicked tennis-ball legbreak, from the streets of Chennai. He made his name in the IPL, and replaced Harbhajan Singh in the one-day side in 2011. Ashwin didn't have to wait long for a Test call-up, and impressed when he took nine wickets, the second-best figures by an Indian debutant after Narendra Hirwani. By the time he finished the three-Test series, he had 22 wickets, a Test century, and the tag of India's lead spinner. He struggled in Australia but did well at home against New Zealand in 2012, taking 18 wickets in two Tests. He recorded his career-best figures of 7 for 103 in Chennai, his home town, against Australia in 2013. Two years later he bowled India to a historic series win in Sri Lanka with 21 wickets, taking his tally of five-wicket hauls to 12 in only 27 Tests.

Needing 210 runs in his last match to achieve the double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets in the same English season, Nottinghamshire's West Indian allrounder Franklyn Stephenson scored 111 and 117 against Yorkshire at Trent Bridge. He finished with a flourish by also taking 11 wickets in the match, though his side lost, and completed a rare quadruple-century by conceding a hundred in each innings as a bowler. Stephenson and Richard Hadlee (1984) are the only players to do the double since the number of County Championship matches was reduced in 1969.

Some Test firsts in Madras. On the opening day of the inaugural Test between India and Sri Lanka, Sunil Gavaskar lost the toss for the ninth consecutive time. Duleep Mendis scored 105 in the day. He also scored 105 in the second innings to become the only batsman to hit identical hundreds in the same Test. The match was drawn.

One of England's most hardworking pace bowlers was born. Although Peter Lever took 6 for 38 to win the sixth Test in Melbourne in 1974-75, the series had been decided by then. Ironically, after the mayhem caused that winter by Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson, it was Lever who came closest to inflicting a real tragedy. His bouncer in Auckland was deflected into the temple of New Zealand debutant Ewen Chatfield, who suffered a fractured skull and needed heart massage and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. A distraught Lever had had brighter moments in Australia four years earlier. While John Snow's hostility and 31 Test wickets were hogging the headlines, he owed a big debt to the Plank, who seemed to be forever bowling uphill or into the wind. Lever finished with 13 wickets at 33.76 and played a major part in regaining the Ashes. At The Oval in 1970, he took 7 for 83 against a scary Rest of the World batting line-up, in what he was originally led to believe was his Test debut.

In a Sahara Cup match in Toronto, Mohammad Azharuddin scored his 6000th run in ODIs. His partnership of 161 with Rahul Dravid seemed to have won India the match - but Saeed Anwar top-scored with 80 off 78 balls, Saleem Malik made an unbeaten 70, and Pakistan won by two wickets to level the series.

A man of positively spooky patience was born. Leslie Watt was happy to take six hours to score his highest first-class score of 96, for Otago v Auckland in Auckland in 1950-51. At the other end, Bert Sutcliffe was scoring the bulk of a first-wicket stand of 373. Watt didn't get the chance to demonstrate his staying power at Test level. In his only appearance for New Zealand, against England in Dunedin in 1954-55, he made 0 and 2.

The list of players given out handled the ball in first-class cricket is still a relatively short one. One of the names on it is that of Zimbabwean Andy Waller, who, on this day, was given out while batting for Mashonaland County Districts v Mashonaland Under-24 in Harare in 1994-95.

Somebody should have done their homework on Ken Burn, who was born today. He was chosen as reserve wicketkeeper for the trip to England in 1890 - and it wasn't until the Australians were on board their ship that anyone discovered he'd never kept wicket in his life. Despite averaging only 10.14 in England, he made it into the Test team as a batsman. He scored 0 and 19 at Lord's, and 7 and 15 at The Oval, so at least his average didn't suffer.

The final of the Singer World Series was ruined by rain. In every sense. Originally scheduled for the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, it was moved to the Sinhalese Sports Club - and then reduced to only 25 overs because the ground was wet there too. Put in to bat, Sri Lanka made 98 for 9 in their 25 overs. Thanks to a top score of 45 in 58 balls by their captain Mohammad Azharuddin, India reached 99 for 4, and won by six wickets.

Jaya Sharma, an attacking India women's opening batsman, was born. Short and stocky in build, Sharma had a tendency to hit over the inner circle but was also staunch in defence. She made her ODI debut against England in 2002 but made only 2 and was in and out of the side since then. She went on to play 77 ODIs - scoring two centuries and 14 fifties - the last of which was against Australia in 2008. Sharma played one Test, against South Africa in 2002, in which she made 24 in her only innings.

Other birthdays
1908 Ernest Bock (South Africa)
1909 Frank "Nipper" Nicholson (South Africa)
1984 VRV Singh (India)
1987 Sudeep Tyagi (India)
1990 James Neesham (New Zealand)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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