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October 14 down the years

The man of 2009

A late-blooming Sri Lankan is born

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Tillakaratne Dilshan: flowered in the late 2000s
Tillakaratne Dilshan: flowered in the late 2000s © AFP
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1976
Tillakaratne Dilshan, who was born today, burst onto the international scene with an unbeaten 163 against Zimbabwe in his first series in 1999. Technically sound, comfortable against fast bowling, possessed of quick feet, strong wrists and natural timing, he had talent in abundance, but was on the fringes for a while, before his one-day and Test return in 2003. Six years later he was promoted to the top of the order - with great success: he scored 11 international hundreds in the year, and was the 2009 World T20 Player of the Series. The year before that, he had unveiled a shot - a flick over the wicketkeeper's head, nicknamed the "Dilscoop" - that made the world sit up. Dilshan was appointed the Sri Lanka captain when Kumar Sangakkara stepped down after the 2011 World Cup, but he gave it up a year later after a string of defeats, and the following year announced his retirement from Tests.

1977
Birth of Pakistan offspinner Saeed Ajmal. Though reported for a suspect action early in his career, after troubling Australia with his doosras in a one-day series in UAE in 2009, Ajmal returned after being cleared to take 13 wickets in Pakistan's successful World T20 campaign. A month later he made his Test debut in Sri Lanka, taking 14 wickets in three matches there. In 2011-12, he took another 18 wickets in three Tests against Sri Lanka in the Middle East, and 15 when Pakistan visited Sri Lanka in 2012. Ajmal quickly became Pakistan's lead bowler, having a spectacular series against England in UAE - apart from taking 24 wickets at 14.7 in the three Tests, including a ten-wicket haul, he made England's batsmen sweat when he claimed to have invented a new delivery, nicknamed the teesra. In 2014 his doosra was deemed illegal and he was banned from bowling by the ICC, and though he returned for three limited-overs matches in 2015, he dropped off Pakistan's radar after that.

1953
The birth of the first black man to play for England. Roland Butcher was born in Barbados but came to England at 14, and after success with Middlesex he was called up for the Prudential Trophy match against Australia at Edgbaston in 1980. He seized the moment with a charming, Hollioake-esque 38-ball 52 that won him a place on the tour of the West Indies the following winter. And he even made his Test debut in his native Barbados, but that's where the Boy's Own story ended: Butcher laboured against the short ball, made only 71 runs in three Tests, and was not picked again.

1882
The third most prolific wicket-taker of all time was born, in Gloucester. Remarkably, Charlie Parker only played one Test, but he snared 3278 wickets for Gloucestershire - only Wilfred Rhodes and Tich Freeman have taken more in first-class cricket. Parker was especially irresistible on sticky wickets, and his career was studded with some remarkable performances: 17 for 56 against Essex in 1925 and nine wickets in an innings on eight occasions. But his only Test appearance came in 1921, against Australia at Old Trafford. It seems his figures - 2 for 32 off 28 overs - were not good enough, though probably Parker's notorious outspokenness and his falling-out with Plum Warner had more to do with it.

1981
Gautam Gambhir, who was born today, delivered stellar performances for India in the inaugural World T20 - three half-centuries, including a composed 75 in a high-pressure final against Pakistan - and in the CB Series in Australia that followed, and followed it up with Test runs in difficult circumstances against tough opponents both home and away in 2008. Between July 2008 and January 2010, he made seven half-centuries and eight centuries (including a double) in 25 innings, and he was the leading run scorer in the world for 2009. In 2011 he delivered a match-winning 97 in the World Cup final. But his Test form had trailed off by then. After making 116 against Bangladesh in January 2010, Gambhir went century-less for 46 innings and was dropped from the side in 2012. He was recalled for the 2014 England tour but failed to make an impact in the two Tests he played.

1968
Birth of one of match-fixing's chief whistle-blowers. Rashid Latif retired from international cricket in 1994-95 as a protest against some dubious goings-on, and though he later returned as captain, his honesty made him unpopular with many of his team-mates. But for that, and an ongoing rivalry with Moin Khan, he would have played many more Tests, for he was a classy wicketkeeper-batsman. Latif stroked a stylish 50 on debut at The Oval in 1992, which gained him £5 from Geoff Boycott, who had bet he would not pass 35.

1989
The fourth one-day hat-trick. West Indies looked to be cruising to victory over Pakistan in Sharjah when Wasim Akram clean-bowled Jeff Dujon, Malcolm Marshall and Curtly Ambrose with consecutive deliveries. Pakistan eventually squeezed home by 11 runs.

1988
A maverick Australian batsman is born. Glenn Maxwell is the prototype of the modern limited-overs cricketer - audacious with the bat, electric in the field, and capable of chipping in as a part-time bowler. Maxwell is known for outrageous reverse sweeps and switch hits that clear the ropes at the world's biggest grounds. He made his international debut in 2012 but it was in the IPL the following year that his batting, for Kings XI Punjab, became a revelation. At the 2015 World Cup he blasted a 51-ball century against Sri Lanka at the SCG, the fastest for Australia in ODIs and the second quickest in World Cup history. It looked like Test cricket might not be his game, but he knuckled down for a four-hour 104 against India in his fourth match in the format, in 2017.

1912
Jack Crapp, who was born today, played seven Tests with reasonable success but is best known for the amusing, and possibly apocryphal, story of a misunderstanding with a hotel receptionist. When Crapp reported to the front desk, he was asked "Bed sir?" Presuming he had been mistaken for Alec Bedser, he replied, "No, Crapp." The receptionist duly directed him to the first door on the right.

1999
New Zealand held on for a draw in the first Test, in Chandigarh, surviving 135 overs to compile 251 for 7 with men all around the bat and the ball turning prodigiously. It was a finish that had looked unlikely when New Zealand bowled India out for 83 (Dion Nash 6 for 27) on the first morning. But India didn't make the same mistake second time round. Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar both made hundreds in a score of 505 for 3 declared, which left New Zealand needing 374 for a win that looked a formality at lunch on day one. By the end, they were more than happy with a draw.

2005
The ICC's Super Test in Sydney between the leading team, Australia, and a star-studded World XI wasn't a spectacular success, to say the least. Australia took four days (out of a scheduled six) to wrap up a 210-run win over a side that included, among others, Rahul Dravid, Brian Lara, Muttiah Muralitharan, Virender Sehwag, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Jacques Kallis. Australia's two legspinners, Stuart MacGill and Shane Warne, accounted for 15 of the 20 World XI wickets between them; MacGill trumped his more feted partner with nine. The World XI was bowled out for 190 and 144.

1993
Nineteen-year-old left-arm spinner Ashton Agar, born today, had a dream Test debut, though not one he would have ever imagined. Coming it to bat at No. 11, with Australia at 117 for 9 in the first Ashes Test of 2013, at Trent Bridge, Agar struck an astonishing 98 - the highest Test score ever by a No. 11. To make up for missing the milestone, he dismissed Alastair Cook to become the first teenaged Australian spinner to take a Test wicket. Agar was dropped after one more Test in the series, with the selectors going back to the more experienced Nathan Lyon, but came back in 2017 against Bangladesh.

1918
Birth of the useful Australian allrounder Doug Ring. He was a hard-hitting batsman and a fearless legspinner, who played 13 Tests. His record was modest but the highlight of his career was the fourth Test in Melbourne in 1951-52. With West Indies poised to square the series, Ring added 38 for the last wicket with Bill Johnston to pull off an unlikely victory.

1989
Birth of Pakistan opener Shan Masood, who played school and university cricket in England, before making his Test debut against South Africa on his 24th birthday - he made 75 in the victory in Abu Dhabi. Masood scored his maiden Test hundred during Pakistan's highest successful chase - of 377 - in Pallekele in 2015.

Other birthdays
1900 Eddie McLeod (New Zealand)
1902 Shunter Coen (South Africa)
1913 Ginty Lush (Australia)
1912 Jack Young (England)
1914 Tom Dollery (England)
1980 Amjad Khan (England)
1979 Hasantha Fernando (Sri Lanka)
1989 Shan Masood (Sri Lanka)

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