February 6 down the years

Fast and fiery Frederick

The best fast bowler England have produced

Fred Trueman: not only deadly but had more curses than Captain Haddock © Getty Images

Fiery Fred is born. In Frederick Sewards Trueman's day, he was the best fast bowler in the world, and he remains probably the best England have ever produced. A rhythmic, extremely quick bowler, and a coarse, confrontational character with more curses than Captain Haddock, he demolished India in his first series, and his debut, at Headingley, really was the Trueman Show: Fred took 3 for 0 in eight balls to reduce India to a staggering 0 for 4. Later in that series he took 8 for 31 in Manchester, and he eventually finished with 307 wickets, at the time a Test record. When he retired, Trueman joined the BBC's Test Match Special commentary team, where his grumpy musings on modern life and cricket - he once said Ian Botham "ouldn't bowl a hoop downhill" - were legendary.

The birth of one of England's best - and longest-lived - wicketkeepers. Tiger Smith was a Brummie through and through, and an outstanding keeper towards the end of cricket's Golden Age. He could bat too - he scored 20 first-class hundreds, including one before lunch at the age of 41. He went on to become an umpire, coached Warwickshire to the Championship in 1951, and in his twilight years was sought out by players for his blunt but penetrative advice.

The end of the line for two old English soldiers. Graham Gooch and Mike Gatting played their last Test innings on this day, in Perth. By the end Gooch cut a dishevelled figure at the crease - remember that caught-and-bowled off the first ball of the day in Melbourne? - and he was caught and bowled again here when he carted one back to Craig McDermott via the bowler's shoulder. And fittingly for a man who was bowled in exactly a quarter of his Test innings, Gatting lost his stumps to McDermott. Between them Gooch and Gatting played 197 Tests, in which they scored over 13,000 runs.

Birth of the only man to clear the pavilion at Lord's. Albert Trott whacked Monty Noble out of the ground when he was playing for MCC against Australia. He played three Tests for Australia and then two for England after joining the Lord's ground staff and qualifying for Middlesex. On his Test debut, against England in Adelaide in 1894-95, he took 8 for 43 in the second innings. But Trott, one of the most successful imports of all time, succumbed to drink and gradually his ability waned. Broke and in ill health, he committed suicide at the age of 41.

The Don's last Test innings in Australia. Don Bradman had to retire hurt on 57 against India in Melbourne when he tore a muscle under his left ribs. Shame, really, as he was moving smoothly towards a fifth century in six innings in the series.

The biggest chase in first-class cricket. Yusuf Pathan scored an unbeaten 210 (helped by South Zone, who dropped him five times) to go with his first-innings 108 as West Zone chased 536 to win the Duleep Trophy in Hyderabad. It surpassed the previous highest first-class chase, of 513 for 9 by Central Province against Southern Province in the 2003-04 Sri Lankan domestic season.

A nearly man is born. David Capel had the definitive impossible job when he came into an England side that was looking for the new Ian Botham in the mid-1980s, and after swimming confidently for a time, he soon sank. Quite simply, Capel was not good enough to justify his place with bat or ball, and averages of 15 and 50 from 15 Tests tell the story. He made 98 in Karachi in 1987-88, but he also had 13 scores of 6 or less in 25 innings. His energetic medium pace was pretty innocuous, but he did have a distinguished rabbit: Viv Richards, whom he dismissed three times. And he did play his part in one of England's most unlikely successes, as the most sedate of Graham Gooch's four-man seam attack in Jamaica in 1989-90.

Temperamental Indian fast bowler Sreesanth, who was born today, made news as much for his occasional brilliance with the ball as for his propensity for controversy. He figured prominently in two of India's finest wins of the late 2000s - in Jamaica in 2006 and Johannesburg later that year. But it was mostly downhill since there, what with him being slapped by Harbhajan Singh after an IPL game, a series of injuries, and declining form. Sreesanth's fall was complete when he was among three Rajasthan Royals players arrested in May 2013 for the alleged fulfilling of promises made to bookmakers in the IPL, following which the BCCI's disciplinary committee found him guilty of spot-fixing and banned him for life.

Seemingly plucked straight from the students' union bar, Daniel Vettori became New Zealand's youngest Test cricketer at 18 years 10 days against England in Wellington. He had played only two first-class games. Vettori bowled very respectably, taking 2 for 98 with his left-arm spin, and his first wicket was Nasser Hussain, who had been his first first-class wicket a couple of weeks earlier.

Australia's youngest male cricketer made his debut. At 17 years, 239 days, Ian Craig was hardly out of school when he was picked for the fifth Test against South Africa, in Melbourne. A crisp, classy middle-order batter, Craig started well with 53 and 47 (although Australia lost, despite amassing 520 in the first innings), but his career turned out to be more Jason Donovan than Kylie Minogue: he reached 50 only once more in a further 10 Tests, although he did captain Australia in South Africa in 1957-58.

It isn't often that two players both score two hundreds in a Test, and the first time was in Adelaide on this day, when Arthur Morris followed in Denis Compton's footsteps in the fourth Test between Australia and England. A less palatable record in this match went to Godfrey Evans: he took 97 minutes to score his first run. Not even Messrs Tavaré, Bailey and Mackay could top that, but New Zealand's Geoff Allott did when he went four minutes better (or worse) in Auckland in 1998-99.

A Graeme Pollock masterclass. Pollock rammed 274 in the second Test against Australia, in Durban, including the small matter of 43 fours. It was the highest score in Tests by a South African until Daryll Cullinan went past. It took South Africa to 622 for 9, and Australia were trounced out of sight.

Fidel Edwards, born today, was spotted in the nets by Brian Lara and called up for his Test debut after just one match for Barbados. He promptly took five wickets against Sri Lanka in Jamaica in June 2003, added five in his first overseas Test, and six in his first one-day international. Edwards was fast and could swing (and reverse-swing) it, but when going for out-and-out pace he often proved costly. In 2008 he took 7 for 87 in the first innings of the drawn Test in Napier. But injuries troubled him thereafter, and while he played the IPL, Edwards missed Test cricket between 2009 and 2011. In his first series on return, against India at home, he took 19 wickets in three Tests but lack of consistency cost him his spot at the end of 2012.

The birth of Brendan Taylor, who was fast-tracked into the Zimbabwe national team against Sri Lanka in 2003-04 at the age of 18 after the withdrawal of the rebel players. He scored an unbeaten 60 in Zimbabwe's unexpected win over Australia in the T20 World Cup in 2007, and took over wicketkeeping duties when Tatenda Taibu dropped out. His first ODI hundred came against Bangladesh in 2009, and he followed up with centuries against Sri Lanka and South Africa and finished as Zimbabwe's stand-out batter at the 2011 World Cup. In June that year he was named Zimbabwe's captain and celebrated with four centuries in his first seven Tests in charge. He also piled up hundreds in each innings against Bangladesh in Harare in 2013, the first Zimbabwean to achieve the feat. Taylor retired from international cricket after the 2015 World Cup, choosing to sign a Kolpak deal with Nottinghamshire, but returned to play for Zimbabwe two years later. When Taylor retired from the international game once again in 2021, he finished as the second-highest run-getter for Zimbabwe in ODIs. But four months later, the ICC banned him from all cricket for failing to report an approach from alleged corruptors without delay and for cocaine use. Shortly before the ban, Taylor had confessed on Twitter that he had been blackmailed after being filmed using cocaine during a meeting in India.

James Vince's 60-ball 95 powered the Sydney Sixers to their second successive Big Bash title when they beat the Perth Scorchers by 27 runs. Having already made an unbeaten 98 against the Scorchers in the Qualifier a week before, Vince did more of the same in the final, hitting ten fours and three sixes and surviving two dropped catches. The Scorchers looked set in their chase while opener Liam Livingstone was at the crease, but his dismissal in the 11th over, followed shortly by Mitchell Marsh - caught superbly by Vince, flying to his right at cover - slowed them down too much.

Birthday boy Colin Miller's decision to switch from pace to offspin in a club game because of an ankle injury turned his career around. He went on to take 12 for 119 against South Australia and broke Chuck Fleetwood-Smith's 63-year-old record for most wickets in a Sheffield Shield season. It earned him a call-up to the international side at 34 and he remained a reliable performer till his retirement in 2002. His only match ten-for in Tests came against West Indies in Adelaide in 2000. Apart from his skills, he was well-known for changing the colour of his hair, which earned him the nickname "Funky".

Birth of a man who was always on the fringes. Brad Hogg, the slow left-arm chinaman bowler, made his debut in the one-off Test against India in the 1996-97 season. On a sharp Delhi turner he got belted for 69 runs in 17 overs, and that was the last Test he played for a long time. However, he made a satisfying comeback into the national side for the 2003 World Cup. The 2007 World Cup was even more special - 21 wickets at 15.80 as Australia cruised through. He quit international cricket in 2007-08 but at the age of 40, Hogg starred with 13 wickets for his T20 franchise, Perth Scorchers, in the 2011-12 Big Bash League. Hogg was picked in Australia's 2014 World T20 squad but went wicketless in the one match he played in the tournament. He continued playing in the BBL, even after turning 45, and took bags of wickets in the tournament.

An astonishing Shell Trophy match in Hamilton came to an end. Northern Districts' Alex Tait took 16 for 130, the best match figures in New Zealand first-class history... and ended up losing by 212 runs when Auckland bowled his side out for a paltry 32 in their second innings.

A talented left-hand batter with a style reminiscent of Brian Lara, Darren Bravo, who was born today, is one of the few young stars in world cricket who seems more at home as the length of the format increases. His first century (a big one) arrived in Bangladesh, in his tenth Test. He scored two more in the series in India immediately after. After 12 Tests his run aggregate and average were identical to those of Lara after 12. Bravo scored his first ODI century against Zimbabwe in 2013, but his most memorable innings so far has been his 218 against New Zealand in Dunedin, the highest by a West Indian in a follow-on, which helped his side earn a remarkable draw. Three weeks later, he withdrew from the tour for "personal reasons"; in 2014 he similarly opted out of the tour of South Africa. But on a tough tour of Australia in 2015, with Shivnarine Chanderpaul out of the picture, Bravo showed that he could take over as batting leader, with a century in Hobart and 81 at the MCG. His 87 and 116 nearly pulled off a heist against Pakistan in Dubai the following year.

Other birthdays
1903 Jack Dunning (New Zealand)
1911 Dooley Briscoe (South Africa)
1919 Lindsay Tuckett (South Africa)
1955 Saadat Ali (Pakistan)
1968 Imtiaz Abbasi (UAE)
1969 Rajindra Dhanraj (West Indies)
1973 Lulama Masikazana (South Africa)
1980 Kerry Jeremy (West Indies)