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September 21 down the years

A Caribbean threesome

Ambrose, Constantine and Gayle arrive on the scene

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Ambrose: devastating
Ambrose: devastating © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

In Swetes Village, Antigua, one of the great fast bowlers was born. Curtly Ambrose came into one of the finest teams in cricket history and left one of the most desperate, but throughout his 12 years at the top level he set the highest standards. With unrelenting accuracy allied to considerable seam movement and at times chilling hostility, Ambrose was the ultimate quick bowler. He was the author of some of Test cricket's most devastating spells: 8 for 45 to break England's will in Bridgetown in 1990; 7 for 1 in 32 balls in the series decider in Perth in 1992-93; and most memorably of all, when the Wisden Almanack said he came "rampaging in as if on springs," 6 for 24 as England were routed for 46 in Trinidad in 1994, stumps flying everywhere as a frenzied, cacophonous crowd bayed for English blood. In the summer of 2000 he became the fourth man to take 400 Test wickets before leaving Test cricket to a guard of honour and a standing ovation at The Oval.

The birth of cricket's first real box-office allrounder, Learie "Connie" Constantine of Trinidad and West Indies. A virile, muscular hitter, a bowler who in his prime was capable of fearsome pace, and a wonderfully elastic fielder - perhaps the greatest cover-point in the history of the game - Constantine, the only man to clear the lime tree at Canterbury until Carl Hooper, was the prototype for the likes of Sobers and Botham. His Test record was modest - he averaged 19.24 with the bat and 30.10 with the ball - but, as is often the case with true entertainers, statistics do not tell half the story. He was idolised in Nelson, who he guided to an unprecedented eight Lancashire League titles in 10 years. But Constantine was more than just a mesmerising cricketer: he wrote books; he was called to the Bar by the Middle Temple; he became an MP; he returned to England as High Commissioner for Trinidad, and was awarded the MBE, knighted in 1962 and created a Life Peer before dying in Hampstead in 1971. He was posthumously awarded the Trinity Cross, his country's highest honour.

The birth of flamboyant Jamaican opener Chris Gayle, who has emerged as one of the best openers - and certainly the most entertaining - in world cricket. Tall and imposing at the crease, Gayle loves to carve through the covers off either foot, and has the ability to decimate the figures of even the thriftiest opening bowlers. He also bowls brisk non-turning offspin, with which he has turned himself into a genuine one-day allrounder. Among Gayle's numerous batting exploits is a triple-century against South Africa in the Antigua Test of 2005, a century - the first in the format - in the opening game of the inaugural World Twenty20 in Johannesburg, and a 66-ball 175 in the IPL, the fastest T20 hundred. He was named the West Indian captain in 2007, when Ramnaresh Sarwan was injured, and because of his success was retained at the helm when Sarwan returned. In 2008 he led a team of Stanford Superstars to a thumping win against England to win a US$20 million bounty. He became one of the most sought-after T20 freelancers in various leagues, including the IPL, but that affected his participation in Tests for West Indies.

He only played 11 Tests but Richard Ellison, who was born today, was the key man when England regained the Ashes in 1985. Ellison took 10 for 104 at Edgbaston - memorably castling Allan Border in a spell of 4 for 1 late on the fourth evening - and 7 for 81 at The Oval as England clinched a 3-1 win with consecutive innings victories. With his military-medium pace and gentle late swing Ellison seemed to be the ultimate horse for an English course, but he would only play one more Test on home soil. His Test career was over at 26, just two months after he had become one of Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Year and just nine after he had been England's Ashes darling.

When John Crawley, who was born today, charmed the cricketing cognoscenti with a magnificent 109 to inflict on the touring 1993 Australians their only first-class defeat, he was just 21 and looked set for great things, but his Test career fell by the wayside. There were times when Crawley seemed to have cracked it - a thumping unbeaten 156 in Murali's match at The Oval in 1998 - but a penchant for playing almost exclusively to leg left him exposed in the corridor, a weakness ruthlessly and predictably exploited by the likes of Ambrose and McGrath. He did not play for England after the 2002-03 Ashes and built a career at Hampshire - after moving there following a bitter legal battle with Lancashire - until his retirement in 2009 after amassing more than 24,000 first-class runs.

One of the key components of Australia's 1920-21 Ashes whitewash - the first in history - was born today. An aggressive right-hander, Clarence "Nip" Pellew made successive hundreds in that series: 116 in Melbourne and 104 in Adelaide, both times batting at No. 7. He made 319 runs in the five Tests at 53.16 but a poor tour of England the following summer - he made only one fifty in seven innings despite Australia's enduring omnipotence - meant he had played his last Test in Australia. Another failure in South Africa in 1921-22 was the last act of his 10-Test career.

Pakistan hit their way to a consolation five-wicket victory over India in the fifth one-day international in the Sahara Cup in Toronto, but the Indians still claimed the series 4-1. It was a good day for Ijaz Ahmed, who smashed a brutal 42-ball 60; less so for Indian seamer Abey Kuruvilla, who bore the brunt of Ijaz and Shahid Afridi's new-ball assault - they put on 109 for the first wicket in 11 overs - and conceded 80 from 9.5 wicketless overs.

Other birthdays
1971 Adam Huckle (Zimbabwe)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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