July 22 down the years

Murali signs off with 800

A Sri Lankan legend bids farewell to Tests

Muttiah Muralitharan reached the magical figure in the last minute © AFP

Shane Warne was once asked who wrote his scripts. That would be a good question to put to his long-time rival as well. When Muthiah Muralidaran announced his intention to retire from Tests before the first match against India, in Galle, he had 792 wickets. By the end of day three - day two was a complete washout - he had inched to 793, with Sachin Tendulkar's wicket. But the fourth day brought 12 Indian wickets, five of them going to Murali. On the final day, with India following on, VVS Laxman shepherded the tail, seeking a draw while Sri Lanka pushed for a win and those two wickets for Murali. When Laxman was run out with one wicket remaining, many feared it wasn't to be. But Murali got Pragyan Ojha to nick one to slip - a record 77th time c Jayawardene b Murali appeared on a Test scorecard - and, like Richard Hadlee, finished with a wicket off his final ball in Test cricket.

A New Zealand left-arm quick is born. With the ability to bowl at a brisk pace and move the ball both ways, Trent Boult has cemented his place in the New Zealand side. He took four wickets on debut - in New Zealand's historic seven-run win against Australia in Hobart in 2011 - and went on to take 20 wickets in five Tests against Sri Lanka and England. Two years later, his 10 for 100 blew away West Indies in Wellington in 2013. He was the joint highest wicket-taker in the 2015 World Cup with 22, and he became the first New Zealand bowler to take a hat-trick in an ODI World Cup in 2019. In 2020, Boult was instrumental in the Mumbai Indians winning their fifth IPL title, picking up 25 wickets in the season.

Death of Harold Larwood - in Australia, the country whose batters he had once traumatised. One of the fastest bowlers of all time, Larwood took 33 wickets in the controversial 1932-33 Bodyline series, including Don Bradman's four times, as England regained the Ashes but nearly lost an empire. In his last innings of this, his last series, he hit 98, the highest Test score by a nightwatchman for England until surpassed by Alex Tudor at Edgbaston 66 years later. A century seemed Larwood's for the taking until he was caught in the deep by that dreadful fielder Bert Ironmonger, who was nicknamed "Dainty" because he wasn't.

A towering innings comes to an end. Frank Worrell's 261, his highest score, and at the time the highest score in a Test at Trent Bridge, set West Indies on their way to a first-innings lead of 335 and a victory by ten wickets that put them 2-1 up in the series. It wasn't all plain sailing, though. Cyril Washbrook and Reg Simpson opened England's second innings with 212 for the first wicket, and at 326 for 2 the match was back in the balance. But then, not for the first time in the series, the spin twins took over. Sonny Ramadhin (5 for 135) and Alf Valentine (3 for 140) decimated the lower and middle orders, with the last five wickets falling for 28 runs. Only Godfrey Evans, with an assured 63, provided any resistance.

On his Test debut, Jack Barrett became the first opener to carry his bat through a completed Test innings in an Ashes Test. At Lord's his unbeaten 67 out of 176 gave Australia hope of an unlikely victory after they had collapsed to 132 all out in the first innings, but WG Grace was in no mood to capitulate. His 75 not out carried England to a seven-wicket victory - "an innings," wrote the Almanack, "entirely worthy of his reputation".

After a thrilling start at Trent Bridge, a match that brought Edgbaston 2005 to mind, England went up 2-0 in the Ashes with an emphatic, if anti-climatic, 347-run win at Lord's - Australia's third largest defeat by runs. Joe Root became the youngest Englishman to score a Test hundred at the venue, and he hurt Australia with his bowling as well, taking the wickets of Usman Khawaja and Michael Clarke - the only two batters in the side to cross 50 - in the second innings.

John Price, born today, was a solidly built right-arm fast bowler with a distinctive angled approach to the wicket and an exceptionally long run-up. On his day he was dangerous, with pace generated by his powerful upper body, and the ability to swing the ball away from the right-hander, but he was too prone to injury to become an England regular. His fielding in the deep was superb, his batting at No. 11 less so. He played 242 matches for Middlesex, taking 734 wickets

Birth of Runako Morton, the West Indies batter who died at 33 in a road accident, when his car crashed into a utility pole. Morton was mostly remembered for lying about the death of a grandmother so he could skip the Champions Trophy, but he got past the controversy, as he did previous incidents at the West Indian Academy, and went on to settle into the West Indies one-day side by 2005. But it was a brief stay (during which he recorded the then-slowest duck, off 31 balls) for though he scored 90 against Australia in the 2006 Champions Trophy, his form fell away subsequently.

Nuwan Kulasekara, born today, made an instant impression when he was plucked out of relative obscurity. From a bustling run-up and whippy open-chested action, he generates lively pace, moves the ball off the seam, and reverse-swings it. Between April 2008 and May 2009, he took 47 ODI wickets and became Sri Lanka's leading one-day strike bowler. In 2013, he took a career-best 5 for 22, against Australia in Brisbane. Injuries to his hamstring and groin ruled him out of action in early 2014 but he returned for the England tour and played a part in the ODI series win. In 2016, Kulasekara retired from cricket to focus on his limited-overs career.

The birth of left-arm spinner George Dockrell who made his international debut for Ireland at 17. He was named the ICC Associate Player of the Year in 2012, two years after his debut. He played for Ireland at the World T20 in Sri Lanka and a year later helped Ireland win the World T20 qualifier for the 2014 tournament in Bangladesh.

Birth of a towering West Indies left-arm spinner. At 6'7", Sulieman Benn is one of the tallest spinners to play for West Indies. Since his debut in 2008, he has been one of their most reliable slow bowlers, with his added ability to generate bounce. He picked up eight wickets in the first Test against England at Sabina Park in February 2009 to help set up what was ultimately a Test series win. He registered remarkable figures of 4 for 6 in a T20I against Zimbabwe in early 2010. His first five-wicket haul came in the drawn Test against Australia in Adelaide in December 2009. He spent nearly four years out of the side, but on his return in 2014, he was named West Indies' Player of the Year for taking 28 wickets in five Tests at 25.03. However, he was cut from West Indies' list of contracted players in 2016.

On his Test debut, against Australia at Old Trafford in 1964, medium-pacer Tom Cartwright, born today, bowled 77 overs in taking 2 for 118. In the following Test, at The Oval, he bowled 62 overs for figures of 3 for 110. Cartwright should have played many more than his five Tests, but he was mistrusted by the selectors, who preferred their change bowlers to have an extra yard of pace. He is, however, assured of a place in the pantheon, as the man who taught Ian Botham how to bowl.

1859 (and 1865)
VE Walker had a thing about July 22. On this day in 1859 he took 10 for 74 for England v Surrey. Six years later to the day, he took 10 for 104 for Middlesex v Lancashire.

Other birthdays
1863 Alec Hearne (England)
1892 Jack MacBryan (England)
1936 Dusty Rhodes (England)
1937 Vasant Ranjane (India)