Bolshy but brilliant

Wisden CricInfo staff

April 19, 2003

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1873
With 189 Test wickets at an average of just 16.43, there's no doubt that Sydney Barnes, who was born today, was one of England's greatest bowlers, and arguably the greatest bowler ever produced anywhere. He was a powerful fast-medium bowler whose command of seam and swing made him close to unplayable. In 1913-14 he demolished South Africa with 17 for 157 - match figures that are second only to Jim Laker in a Test - and in all took 49 wickets in only four Tests, a record for one series. He dabbled with county cricket for Warwickshire and Lancashire, but preferred to operate in league cricket - and remains the only man to be picked regularly for England while playing minor cricket. He was still playing for Staffordshire - for whom he grabbed 1432 wickets at the extraordinary average of 9 - in his sixties. He died in Staffordshire in 1967.

1975
Birth of Jason "Dizzy" Gillespie, the rangy, demonic Australian fast bowler who comes somewhere between the unrelenting accuracy of Glenn McGrath and the frightening rawness of Brett Lee. Gillespie was a fast starter - he had two children, Star and Sapphire, by the time he made his Test debut at 21 - and he has more Test wickets (123) than McGrath (106) had on by the time he was 27.

1966
Another latter-day Australian fast bowler is born. Paul Reiffel was never express, and though he may be a poor man's Glenn McGrath, that was more than enough for most Test batsmen. His impeccable command of line, length and seam movement made him a fearsome opponent in English conditions - on two tours he took 30 wickets in seven Tests, and his belated call-up in 1997 was as influential as anything in Australia's comeback - and he also took seven wickets in the seismic victory in Jamaica in 1994-95. Towards the end of his Test career his common-sense batting made him a formidable tailender, and over an eight-Test period in 1997 Reiffel averaged 66 with the bat.

1987
Greatness was firmly thrust upon Sri Lankan wicketkeeper/opener Brendon Kuruppu, but only for a day or two, as he became only the third person to score a double-century on his Test debut, against New Zealand - Richard Hadlee and all - in Colombo. Kuruppu did it the hard way too: his 777-minute innings is the slowest double-hundred in first-class history, all very out of character for a man who later made his reputation as a one-day slogger. It was his first first-class century, and his last Test century: Kuruppu only played four Tests, two of them in England, in 1988 and 1991.

1933
Cricket's first, and only, superstar umpire is born. When Harold "Dickie" Bird took up umpiring after a modest first-class career with Yorkshire and Leicestershire, the thought that he would eventually write the best-selling sports autobiography in British history would have seemed utterly ludicrous. But he did, after a 66-Test career that ended emotionally and tearfully at Lord's in 1996. Since his retirement he has become something of a media personality, with a series of books and videos stocked with familiar anecdotes that suggest he may have started to believe his own publicity.

1988
An unforgettable finale in Trinidad. Pakistan were set 372 to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the West Indies, and they came mighty close thanks to a marvellous hundred from Javed Miandad. When the last 20 overs started they needed 84 with four wickets left, but once Miandad went, the chase was abandoned. In the end the last man Abdul Qadir had to survive the last five balls of the match, from Viv Richards, after Salim Yousuf fell to the first ball of the final over.

1996
One of the worst debuts in Test history, statistically and actually. When the chunky Barbadian fast bowler Patterson Thompson was called up against New Zealand in 1995-96, it all went wrong from the start. His first over went for 17, his second for eight, and he ended up with figures of 8-0-58-2, including a staggering 19 no-balls. It didn't get much better: his second-innings figures were 14-1-77-2. All this against a distinctly modest New Zealand side. For the next Test, Thompson suffered the ultimate ignominy for a Caribbean fast bowler: he was replaced by a legspinner, Rajindra Dhanraj. He did play one other Test, in Australia the following winter, when his figures were almost thrifty by his standards: 16-0-80-1.

Other birthdays

1865 Dick Pougher (England)
1885 Len Tuckett (South Africa)
1939 Mike Macaulay (South Africa)
1950 Jeff Hammond (Australia)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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