December 1 down the years

A World Cup-winning heavyweight

Arjuna Ranatunga is born

Arjuna Ranatunga: the man who made Sri Lanka believe © AFP

Birth of the man who lifted the World Cup for Sri Lanka. Arjuna Ranatunga was a wristy left-hander with his fair share of attitude, but he knitted a flashy side into a fighting unit, which took the world by storm in 1996. Fittingly, Ranatunga was there to hit the winning runs against Australia in the final in Lahore. He made his debut as a chubby teenager, in Sri Lanka's first ever Test, and bowed out as a tubby thirtysomething after playing in their 100th match.

No one has captained England against Australia more often than Archie MacLaren, who was born today. He did it 22 times (Mike Brearley is next with 18). It wasn't because of his great success rate - he lost 11 of those matches and won only four - but rather more because he was perceived as a dashing amateur. MacLaren did, however, hit 109 in his first Test as captain (Sydney, 1897-98), and a match-winning 140 at Trent Bridge in 1905. At county level his 424 for Lancashire v Somerset at Taunton in 1895 was a record until Brian Lara's 501 not out in 1994.

Australia bowled India out for 58 in the first Test in Brisbane - the first Test ever between the sides. Ernie Toshack, the left-arm medium-pacer whose dark good looks earned him the nickname the Black Prince, took 5 for 2 as India lost their last five wickets for five runs. Australia, for whom Don Bradman slammed 185 on the first day, wrapped it up by an innings and 226 runs despite the loss of the fifth day (of six) to rain.

A sensational start to an Ashes series. Australia slumped to 26 for 6 on the first morning of the first Test in Brisbane. It started with a run-out in the first over, thanks to opener Graeme Wood (who was involved in a run-out in all six Tests), and continued with three wickets for Bob Willis. Australia, who were fielding an under-strength side, thanks to Kerry Packer's rival World Series Cricket, recovered slightly to reach 116, but eventually went down by seven wickets, and lost the series 5-1.

Mike Denness was born today in Ayr, and represented Scotland before moving south to play for Kent. He captained England in 19 of his 28 Tests. He was an attractive strokemaker, who made four Test centuries, but he struggled against high pace. During the 1974-75 tour of Australia, when England ran into Lillee and Thomson, Denness left himself out of one Test after a run of low scores. Brian Close once unkindly remarked: "You don't have to bowl fast to get this lad Denness out, you just have to run up fast." After Denness retired he went into the public-relations business, but his PR skills couldn't avoid controversy in South Africa in November 2001, when as the ICC referee he disciplined six Indian players, which led to a protest by the Indian board, and eventually the downgrading of the last Test in the series to an unofficial match. He died in April 2013 after a battle with cancer during his final days as president of Kent.

Herman Griffith, who was born this day, was 34 before he played his first Test match. West Indies disappointed on the 1928 tour of England, but Griffith was an outstanding success, taking 76 wickets - including his innings best of 6 for 103 at The Oval. On the 1930-31 tour of Australia he handed Don Bradman his first Test duck, in Sydney in 1931.

George Lohmann died of tuberculosis in South Africa, aged only 36. A fast-medium bowler for Surrey and England, he left behind an astonishing Test record: 112 wickets at 10.75, including returns of 8 for 7 and 9 for 28 against South Africa in 1895-96, and two eight-wicket hauls against Australia too. He was no mean batter either but he didn't apply himself to it, maintaining that it spoilt his bowling.

Birth of Australian middle-order batter Ross Edwards. Pressed into service as a makeshift opener in his second Test, against England in 1972, he hammered an unbeaten 170. After flitting in and out of the team for several years, he joined World Series Cricket in 1977.

Australia's World Series Cricket men returned to the fold after peace broke out, for the first Test against West Indies in Brisbane. Greg Chappell and Kim Hughes scored centuries for Australia, while Bruce Laird ground out 92 and 75 on his debut. Viv Richards made an imperious 140 for West Indies in this drawn match.

Birth of the man who taught Imran Khan how to reverse swing. Sarfraz Nawaz was a tall, canny fast-medium bowler who took 177 wickets in 55 Tests, including a spell of 7 for 1 on his way to 9 for 86 in Melbourne in 1978-79. He formed a potent opening attack with Imran, later became an MP, and is invariably newsworthy, and frequently sensationalist, when he speaks out about cricket - he was one of the first people to make accusations of match-fixing.

A likeable workhorse is born. Even as India's senior team was being annihilated in Australia, Mohammad Kaif led the Under-19 side to victory in the Youth World Cup in 2000. Kaif's assured strokeplay and top-drawer fitness levels marked him out as a potential future mainstay in the Indian side. Success in Tests eluded him, but he was crucial at No. 7 in India's ODI line-up; he sealed India's famous win in the Natwest series final in 2002, before scoring his maiden hundred to rescue the side against Zimbabwe in the Champions Trophy. He was one of the casualties when Greg Chappell's youth-first approach was hastily ditched before the 2007 World Cup.

Pakistan's Iftikhar Anjum, who was born on this day, was not a tearaway fast bowler by any stretch - his skill lies in his ability to swing the ball both ways and his consistent accuracy. A useful bowler in the death overs, with an ability to bowl yorkers, he established himself as a reliable option in the limited-overs format and earned his maiden five-for, against Sri Lanka in Colombo, in 2009, before fading away the following year.

Ray Lindwall took his 100th Test wicket for Australia when he bowled Sonny Ramadhin of West Indies in the second Test, in Sydney. Australia went on to win by seven wickets.

The man who sent Headingley to sleep in 1958 was born. New Zealand's Bill Playle batted for 194 minutes to score 18 in the third Test. It couldn't avert another hammering for possibly the weakest touring side ever to play Tests in England. Playle started with Auckland but later moved to Western Australia. His highest score, 122, came for WA in 1965-66.

Birth of Jack Crawford, one of the best allrounders of his era, who was invited to play for Surrey at age 17 and went on to play 12 Tests for England between 1906 and 1908. On the 1907-08 tour of Australia, he topped the Test bowling averages with 30 wickets for 24.79 runs each. After a mid-season dispute with Surrey in 1909, he settled in Australia, playing with distinction for South Australia. In 1914, playing for an Australian XI in a match in New Zealand, he scored 354 and added 298 in 69 minutes with Victor Trumper and 50 in nine minutes with Monty Noble. He returned to England after the First World War, sorted his differences with Surrey and played for them from 1919 to 1921.

Birth of Bangladesh opening batter Hannan Sarkar, who defied a strong Australian attack for 197 minutes for a well-deserved 76 in Cairns in 2003. He also scored a fifty in the second innings, and the other three half-centuries of his 17-Test career came against tough opposition too. Sarkar also shares the ignominious record (with Sunil Gavaskar) of being dismissed three times off the first ball of a Test, and his three were at the hands of the same bowler - Pedro Collins of West Indies.

Other birthdays
1964 Soren Henriksen (Denmark)
1969 George Salmond (Scotland)
1971 Mujahid Jamshed (Pakistan)
1972 Zakir Hasan (Bangladesh)
1976 Brian Murphy (Zimbabwe)
1979 Ehsanul Haque (Bangladesh)
1980 Alexander French (Hong Kong)
1982 Tim Ambrose (England)
1983 Mahbubul Alam (Bangladesh)
1987 Ramveer Rai (United Arab Emirates)