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May 26 down the years

The mystery spinner who turned pinch-hitter

Sunil Narine starred in several T20 title victories

Sunil Narine scored his maiden T20 hundred, Kolkata Knight Riders vs Rajasthan Royals, IPL 2024, Kolkata, April 16, 2024

Sunil Narine: three-time IPL winner for KKR  •  BCCI

The birth of Sunil Narine, an offspinner who reworked his action to turn into a potent force, especially in ODIs and T20. He tasted tremendous success in the 2011 Champions League, with ten wickets at 10.50. An injury to Kemar Roach meant Narine was included for the third and final Test against England in June 2012. But he struggled to cement his spot in the longer version, managing only 21 wickets in six Tests. He starred in Kolkata Knight Riders' first IPL title win, in 2012, taking 24 wickets, and went on to win the Player-of-the-Tournament award twice more, in 2018 and 2024. Later in 2012, he helped West Indies to their first T20 World Cup trophy, taking 3 for 9 in the final against Sri Lanka. Two years later, while turning out for KKR in the Champions League T20, his action was reported twice, and he was banned from bowling in the final. He withdrew from the 2015 World Cup to work on his action and returned, only to be suspended again in November that year. Narine made a third comeback, in the 2016 IPL. He developed his batting to the extent that he became a T20 pinch-hitter and recorded the IPL's then-fastest fifty - off 15 balls - in May 2017. Five years later, he set the same record in the BPL, this time off 13 balls. Narine announced his international retirement in 2023, having last played international cricket in 2019. A year later, in his 13th season for KKR, he lifted the IPL trophy for the third time, this time scoring 488 runs (including a hundred) and taking 17 wickets at an economy of 6.69.
Before he became the man who led England to their first win in an ICC world event, Paul Collingwood, born today, was a determined batter and excellent limited-overs fielder. He made his one-day debut in 2001 but seemed destined to be a fill-in player till 2006, when he struck 96 and 80 in Lahore, before hitting a brilliant maiden Test century in Nagpur . On the following Ashes tour Collingwood was the rock of England's batting - his double-century in Adelaide came in one of their most crushing defeats. He was made the one-day captain in 2007 and in 2010 led England to the World T20 title. He retired from Test cricket at the end of England's historic victorious Ashes campaign in 2010-11. But when his poor Ashes form transferred to the World Cup, he was dropped from the one-day and T20I squads as well. He worked as England's assistant coach after his playing career ended.
Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid added a monstrous 318 for the second wicket in Taunton as India sounded the death knell for Sri Lanka's defence of the World Cup. Ganguly creamed 183 off 158 balls and Dravid 145 off 129. At the time it was a one-day record for any wicket, but it has since been broken.
Ten years after winning their last IPL, Kolkata Knight Riders put a third title next to their name, beating Sunrisers Hyderabad in Chennai by eight wickets in the most one-sided final in the tournament's history. Mitchell Starc and Vaibhav Arora reduced KKR to 6 for 2 in two overs, and SRH didn't really recover after that against KKR's bowlers, who found movement off the air and the pitch. Sunrisers' 113 was the lowest total in an IPL final, and KKR needed just over ten overs to overhaul it; Venkatesh Iyer led the charge with an unbeaten 52 off 26 balls.
Birth of one of New Zealand's finest batters. Glenn Turner combined a hard-nosed mental toughness with a textbook technique and an increasingly extensive array of strokes to mould himself into a formidable opening batter. He added 387 with Terry Jarvis in Guyana in 1971-72, the fourth-highest opening partnership in Test history. Turner went on to make a massive 259, one of four double-centuries he scored on that tour, two in the Tests and two in tour matches. In all he averaged 65.77 in Tests against West Indies. He also became the first New Zealander to score two hundreds in a Test, in Christchurch in 1973-74, when New Zealand beat Australia for the first time. Turner was an outstanding servant for Worcestershire, but his most famous achievement in England came as a New Zealand tourist: in 1973 he became the first person to score 1000 runs by the end of May for 35 years.
EFS Tylecote became the first man to pass 400 runs in an innings, scoring 404 over three afternoons for Classical Side against Modern Side played on three afternoons at Clifton College. Thirty-one years later the college was the venue when AEJ Collins scored 628.
Everyone thought England had picked the wrong Lancastrian when Peter "Digger" Martin was called up for the one-day series against West Indies. Glenn Chapple had just had a barnstorming A tour of India; Martin had never been on an A tour, but he got the nod and he grasped the nettle by bowling England to victory on this day at The Oval. Martin had a sensational start, taking 3 for 6 off his first four overs, including Brian Lara bowled neck and crop. He ended with 4 for 44, the Man-of-the-Match award, and a Test debut two weeks later.
Birth of opener Geoff Greenidge, who, like his namesake Gordon, was born in Barbados. Greendige was the author of one of the most amazing debuts in cricket history. In his first first-class match, for Barbados against Jamaica in Bridgetown in 1966-67, he cracked 205 and then took 7 for 124 in the first innings with his occasional legspinners. Both remained career bests: Greenidge took only six more wickets in 181 matches over the next ten years. His Test career was modest: he played five times but never topped his debut 50, against New Zealand in Guyana in 1971-72. Greenidge also played for Sussex.
A South African captain is born. Jack Cheetham was in charge when South Africa, famously and totally unexpectedly, pulled off a surprise 2-2 draw in Australia in 1952-53. He was an assertive middle-order batter who made five Test fifties without ever reaching three figures. He was also captain in England in 1955, when South Africa came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2. Cheetham did not play in either victory because of injury, but he remained an inspiration to the side. He died in Johannesburg in 1980.
Birth of the youngest, and arguably most talented, Akmal brother. When he scored a century on Test debut in Dunedin in 2009, it was thought Pakistan had found the heir to Mohammad Yousuf. And Umar Akmal didn't disappoint, also scoring a half-century in the second innings, and three more in his next three Tests. But he was a casualty of the disastrous tour of Australia that followed: he was fined along with his brother Kamran on disciplinary grounds. He kept his place for the tour to England in 2010, and made a fifty in the tainted Lord's Test, but had an ordinary series otherwise. Akmal played the 2011 and 2015 World Cups and was a fixture in Pakistan's limited-overs sides for some time, but his run-ins with the administration became more frequent over time. He was sent back from the 2017 Champions Trophy in England after failing two fitness tests and was banned by the PCB in 2020 for failing to report a corrupt approach.
Birth of the New Zealand wicketkeeper Frank Mooney, who was nicknamed "Starlight" because of his active social life and twinkling toes. That was in complete contrast to his on-field persona; Mooney was a crisp, undemonstrative keeper. He played 14 Tests but never managed more than the 46 he made in his first Test innings, at Headingley in 1949. He died in Wellington in March 2004.
Don Denton played his first match in almost five years for Northamptonshire. Nothing odd there, except he had lost part of one leg in the interim while serving in the Great War. Denton played three times with his disability, scoring 119 runs at 23.80.
Avishka Gunawardene, born today, hit the headlines in 1999 when he put on 145 in 20 overs with Romesh Kaluwitharana as Sri Lanka tried to chase Australia's 310 in Melbourne. He scored a career-best 132 against West Indies in the ICC Knockout in 2000. But a regular berth proved elusive and in 2007, Gunawardene joined the ICL, effectively ending his international career.
Louis Stricker, born today, played as an opening bat for Transvaal and took part in 13 Tests for South Africa against England and Australia between 1909 and 1912, but he failed to reach fifty in any of them. For Transvaal against HDG Leveson-Gower's MCC team in 1910 he (101) and JW Zulch (176) scored 215 together in two hours and 20 minutes, which then constituted a record for the first wicket against a touring side in South Africa.
A 32-ball 60 from Kieron Pollard and an aggressive showing on the field helped Mumbai Indians clinch their first IPL title in six attempts. They overcame five-time finalists Chennai Super Kings in the final in Kolkata, bringing an end to a tournament beset with spot-fixing and betting scandals.
Malinda Warnapura, the nephew of Sri Lanka's first Test captain Bandula, is born in Colombo. A left-hand opener who took about eight years to make a serious mark, Malinda earned a Test debut against Bangladesh in 2007. He was dismissed for a first-ball duck in his first dig but followed up with an 82 in the second innings. He had a steady run in the Test side for about two years before a poor series against Pakistan in 2009 put him out of favour.
Other birthdays
1868 Howard Francis (South Africa)
1938 Liz Amos (Australia)
1966 Grant Bradburn (New Zealand)
1976 Helen Daly (New Zealand)