A South African hero who became a villain
When the intense figure of Hansie Cronje, born today, led South Africa during the late nineties, it seemed there were few more virtuous men in cricket, making it all the more shocking when he was exposed as a charlatan, central to the plague of match-fixing. Accusations had been rife for many years but it was on April 7, 2000 - when a Delhi detective stumbled across a conversation between Cronje and businessman Sanjay Chawla - that Pandora's box was well and truly opened. Cronje's misdemeanours, some proven, some not, are too depressing to list here, but we do know that his instigation of a controversial double forfeiture with Nasser Hussain at Centurion Park in 1999-2000, the first in Test history, was motivated by avarice, and that his actions left an indelible stain on the game that made him. Cronje died in a plane crash in June 2002.
In gloom so Stygian that Dickie Bird would have been reaching for a handy flashlight, Courtney Browne and Ian Bradshaw guided West Indies from the depths of 147 for 8, to 218 and victory over England in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy. They refused to take the offer for light, and saw off Steve Harmison in the darkness to pull off an incredible win. England had posted a competitive total on the back of a Marcus Trescothick hundred, and were in the box seat after Andrew Strauss snaffled the catch of the tournament at second slip to dismiss Ramnaresh Sarwan. And when Brian Lara and Shivnarine Chanderpaul were out, the writing was on the wall - or so it seemed, but West Indies summoned reserves of determination that had been clearly lacking in the 0-3 and 0-4 Test series defeats to England and turned the game around. Lara dedicated the victory to the people back home, where hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne had wreaked devastation earlier in the month.
With his thick beard and variety of colourful patkas, Bishan Bedi, who was born today, was one of the most distinctive figures ever to grace Test cricket. He was also a master of the art of slow left-arm bowling. At his peak, Bedi's control and variation of curve, flight, spin and pace were exemplary. Captain of India in 22 Tests, he was one of cricket's most popular figures, but he was not afraid of confrontation and declared both Indian innings closed prematurely as a protest against intimidatory bowling on a Sabina Park death trap in 1975-76. In all, Bedi took 266 Test wickets, including 14 five-wicket hauls, before bowing out at The Oval in 1979.
An unremarkable career record but a permanent place in the history books for New Zealand offspinner Peter Petherick, who was born today. He is one of only three men - Maurice Allom and Damien Fleming are the others - to take a hat-trick on Test debut. Petherick did so against Pakistan in Lahore in 1976-77 at the age of 34, having only made his first-class debut for Otago a year earlier, and what an illustrious triumvirate it was: Javed Miandad, Wasim Raja and Intikhab Alam. But there was only one way for him to go from there, and he duly obliged. He played just six Tests, five of which New Zealand lost, taking 16 wickets at an average of 42.56.
A dead rubber match in the Asia Cup in Dubai turned into a thriller and finished in a tie, the 36th in ODIs. India were coasting along at 142 for 2 in pursuit of 253, but their middle order came unstuck against Afghanistan's spinners and it came down to seven to win off the final over, bowled by Rashid Khan, with one wicket in hand. Ravindra Jadeja refused a single off the first ball, slog-swept the second for what seemed a six but turned out to be a four, and took a single off the third. Then the No. 11, Khaleel Ahmed, inside-edged the fifth ball and sprinted a single, only to watch as Jadeja slapped the last delivery, a poor ball, into the hands of deep midwicket.
One of the last West Indian spinners before they switched to a four-pronged pace attack in the late seventies, the chinaman bowler Inshan Ali was born today. Ali's unorthodox nature made him very successful at first-class level, but despite abundant talent he struggled to bowl teams out in the Test arena, in part precipitating the shift to pace. Even when he did, taking 5 for 59 against New Zealand in Trinidad in 1971-72, he was unable to finish the job. Ali played 12 Tests in all, his 34 wickets each costing over 47, before dying of throat cancer in Trinidad in 1995.
The birth of an unusual allrounder. Such was the excellence of Ian Healy that legspinner-wicketkeeper Tim Zoehrer played only ten Tests, and all during Australia's barren mid-eighties run, but he remained a worthy understudy, and as his career developed so did his predilection for bowling leggies and googlies. He even came second in the bowling averages on the 1993 Australian tour of England. A gregarious character, whose popularity in Western Australia was such that his displacement by Adam Gilchrist at first caused real ructions, Zoehrer spent much of his career in the shadows.
Claire Taylor (not to be confused with Yorkshire and England medium-pacer Clare Taylor), born on this day, had a slow start to her international career, but made a mockery of a previous highest score of 18 with a defiant 137 in England's second Test defeat to Australia at Headingley in 2001. She also holds the distinction of being the highest ODI scorer at Lord's among both men and women - her 156 not out off 151 balls against India in 2006 set a new record on the ground, going past Viv Richards' unbeaten 138 against England in the 1979 World Cup final. Taylor subsequently became the first female cricketer to feature on a hall-of-fame board at Lord's. A solid right-hand bat and wicketkeeper, Taylor read Maths at Oxford, where in addition to playing cricket she captained the hockey team. She also represented England's hockey team at U-17 and U-19 levels.
Andy Waller, born today, was an entertaining batsman, an outstanding fielder, and a more-than-useful - if occasional - medium-pace bowler. A regular in the Zimbabwe one-day side from the mid 1980s - he appeared in the 1987, 1992 and 1996 World Cups - his Test debut didn't come until he was 37. This was largely because of his reputation as something of a slogger, a tag he disproved with a patient 50 in his first Test against England, in 1996-97. He retained his place for the second Test, which turned out to be his last first-class appearance. He played another seven ODIs before retiring at the end of the season. He took up the job of national coach in 2013.
The Hambledon Club, who at the time were cricket's lawmakers, responded to the challenge of Thomas White by limiting the width of a bat to four and a quarter inches. White had appeared on the field with a bat as wide as the stumps.
1929 John Rutherford (Australia)
1944 Grayson Shillingford (West Indies)
1962 Raju Kulkarni (India)
1965 Minhajul Abedin (Bangladesh)
1965 Dave Rundle (South Africa)
1977 Farhan Adil (Pakistan)
1987 Adam Lyth (England)