All Today's Yesterday's - May 17 down the years

1945
One of India's greatest matchwinners is born. When their mischievous legspinner Bhagwat Chandrasekhar performed, India usually had reason to celebrate: he averaged 19 with the ball when they won (with a sensational strike rate of a wicket every 45 balls), 37 when they didn't. And this at a time when legspin was a virtually dead art. An attack of polio as a child left his right arm weak, but there was nothing wrong with his wrists, and he fizzed the ball both ways at something close to medium-pace. Chandrasekhar delivered overseas too, bowling India to victory most famously at The Oval in 1971 and Melbourne in 1977-78. No Indian bowler has taken more wickets than Chandra's 42 in Test victories overseas. By way of comparison, Kapil Dev managed only 16; Anil Kumble just 15; Fergie Gupte not even one. Chandra was also a gloriously inept batsman, who failed to score in 38 of his 80 Test innings. He ended up with 242 Test wickets - and only 167 runs.

1888
Birth of the only man ever to take 300 wickets in a first-class season. Kent legspinner Alfred "Tich" Freeman's annus mirabilis was in 1928, when to he took a staggering 304 wickets. In all Freeman took more than 250 wickets in a season six times; it's only ever been achieved 12 times. Twelve is an apposite number for Freeman - that's also how many Tests he played. He'd taken three ten-fors in his last four Tests when he lined up for what turned out to be his final Test, against South Africa at The Oval in 1929. Freeman took 0 for 169 and was not picked again. His first-class record suggests he should have played more Tests, but there was always a suspicion that the best batsman could negate his slow floaters with dancing feet, and against Australia he averaged 57. He retired to a house called Dunbolin, and died in Kent in 1965.

1947
Nobody has had longer between Test appearances than offspinner John Traicos, who was born in Egypt today. He played three Tests for South Africa in 1969-70 - their last before isolation - then popped up 22 years 222 days later in Zimbabwe's inaugural Test, against India at Harare in 1992-93. Traicos was 45 by then, but he still had plenty in his locker: off his gentle four-pace run-up, he returned figures of 50-16-86-5, including 19-year-old Sachin Tendulkar, caught-and-bowled third ball for 0. Traicos was also a brilliant fielder in his prime, particularly in the gully.

1895
Batting for Gloucestershire against Somerset at Bristol, the great WG Grace became the first man to score 100 first-class hundreds. He went on to reach three figures on 126 occasions. It took Grace 1113 innings to reach 100 hundreds, making him the slowest of the 24 men to achieve the feat.

1997
A quite brutal display from Sanath Jayasuriya in the Pepsi Cup match at Mumbai. Sri Lanka needed only 226 to beat India, but Jayasuriya still found time to smear 151 not out off 120 balls, an innings that included 17 fours and four sixes. The rest of the Sri Lankan team managed 65 off 127 balls between them. At the time it was the highest ODI score by a Sri Lankan; Jayasuriya has since bettered that, though, with 189, also against India, at Sharjah in 2000-01.

2001
The beginning of the earliest Lord's Test. The Premiership football season was not even finished when England and Pakistan began the first Test, also England's 100th at Lord's. And England had rarely been so comprehensively victorious here before: they pummelled a good Pakistan side by an innings, effectively within three days, with Darren Gough taking his 200th wicket in Tests. A fifth series win in a row looked likely, not to mention - at last - a keenly fought Ashes campaign. It didn't quite work out like that.

1955
A reputation as one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time often obscures Ray Lindwall's abundant batting talent. And on this day he whacked his second Test century, 118 against West Indies in Barbados in Australia's mammoth first-innings total of 668.

Other birthdays
1969 Ujesh Ranchod (Zimbabwe)