Bill Voce - The Bodyline speedster was born on 8/8/1909 and passed away on 6/6/1984.
Bill Voce – The Bodyline speedster was born on 8/8/1909 and passed away on 6/6/1984. Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia

As we pass 11th November, Arunabha Sengupta looks at dates of the format 1/1 to 12/12 to perform exercises in cricketing curiosities.

November 11, 2011. The Cape Town Test match between South Africa and Australia in progress.

At eleven minutes past eleven in the morning the Proteans required 111 runs to win. The crowd, and umpire Ian Gould, saluted the occasion by performing famous hop and leap routine of late umpire David Shepherd. All the while the scoreboard read 11:11 11/11/11.

However, not all days with such dates have seen such striking moments in international cricket.

No Test match was played on November 11, 1911. The day just saw Frank Foster complete a serene 158 for the touring MCC against the South Australians. He then proceeded to take the new ball with Sidney Barnes and immediately had the home batsmen hopping, aided by some spectacular fielding by Jack Hobbs. The Foster-Barnes show was a sign of things to come during the Ashes series.

However, if we look at other days of this format, not many significant international events can be witnessed.

On January 1, 1901 (01/01/01) was a big partnership between Harry Graham and Warwick Armstrong for Victoria against South Australia, but nothing on the international stage.

A year, a month and a day later, on 02/02/02, it was the day of rest during the match between Archie MacLaren’s Englishmen and New South Wales.

There was nothing of international cricketing importance on 03/03/03 either.

However, if we relax the conditions and take every date of the format 1/1, 2/2, 3/3 etc. into account, we do come across several interesting events.

Here is a small selection of notable events that have occurred on such dates

  • January 1, 1908, saw the first day of the celebrated Test career of Jack Hobbs. Two years later, on January 1, 1910, George Simpson-Hayward bowled his underarm lobs and captured 6 for 43 against South Africa at Johannesburg.
  • On February 2, 1973, Richard Hadlee took his first step in the Test arena. 22 years later, in 1995, Henry Olonga was no-balled for throwing.
  • On March 3, 2009, the Sri Lankan team bus was attacked by terrorist shelling in Lahore.
  • On April 4, 1930, Andrew Sandham scored what was later registered as the first ever triple century in Test cricket.  The day also saw the first century by a wicketkeeper as Les Ames hammered 149.
  • April 4 also witnessed two tragic deaths — former England captain Andrew Stoddart committed suicide in 1915 and West Indian wicketkeeper Cyril Christiani succumbed to malaria in 1938, at the age of just 24.
  • On May 5, 2003, Jermaine Lawson dismissed Justin Langer off the first ball of the second innings at Bridgetown. Combined  with the wickets of Brett Lee and Stuart MacGill in the first innings, this gave him a curious hat-trick spread across two innings.
  • On June 6, 1994 Brian Lara flogged the Durham attack to become the first man in First-Class cricket to score half a thousand runs in an innings.
  • On July 7, 2005, at Leeds, Vikram Solanki replaced Simon Jones as the first super sub in One Day Internationals.
  • On August 8, 1987, Pakistan amassed 708 against England at The Oval, while Ian Botham’s figures read 3 for 217.
  • September 9, 1959, witnessed the sad demise of the phenomenally talented West Indian all-rounder Collie Smith
  • However October 10, 1892, marked perhaps the most tragic day in the history of cricket. All but two members of theHongkong national team perished in a shipwreck off the coast of Taiwan while returning from their tour of Shanghai.
  • November 11, 2000, saw Aminul Islam post a hundred in Bangladesh’s first ever Test match.
  • December 12, 1884, witnessed the start of the first ever Test match at Adelaide.

Births, deaths and oddities

As we go over such dates, we do come across some peculiarities. Some cricketers seem to have had distinct preference for dates of this format.

Clarrie Grimmett captured 14 wickets against South Africa at Adelaide on February 2, 1932 while he ended his career with 13 more against the same opponents at Durban on March 3, 1936. David Boon scored 109 unbeaten runs at Kingston on March 3, 1991 and 107 against India at Perth on February 2, 1992.

Moving on to the famous births, dates of this type have had a fair number of stalwart cricketers seeing the light of the day.

Fred Spofforth (9/9/1853) is perhaps the greatest cricketer to be born on such a day, while others include men like Inzamam-ul-Haq (2/2/1970), Frank Tyson (6/6/1930), Mike Gatting (6/6/1057), Herbie Taylor (5/5/1889), Sadiq Mohammad (5/5/1945), Roy Fredericks(11/11/1942), Yuvraj Singh (12/12/1981) and MS Dhoni (7/7/1981)

The cricketers who passed away on such days also make a redoubtable list. They include, among others, Charlie Turner (1/1/1944), Norman O’Neil (3/3/2008), Alec Bedser (4/4/2010), Maurice Leyland (1/1/1967) and Charlie Macartney (9/9/1958). One other curious First-Class cricketer who died on 7/7/1930 was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle — slightly more renowned for his accomplishments in another field.

Two birth and death combinations stand out. England batsman Frank Mann was born on 3/3/1888 while his son, former England captain George Mann, passed away on 8/8/2001.

But the man who deserves to be the president of this unique club is Bill Voce. The Bodyline speedster was born on 8/8/1909, and died on 6/6/1984.

All Time XIs

The next endeavour for the cricket enthusiast is obviously to create separate all time elevens from the men who were born and who died on such dates.

Creating elevens is easy enough. Perhaps the best representative side of men with such birthdays is as follows:

Birth XI

Cricketer Date of Birth Year
Roy Fredericks 11/11 1942
Sadiq Mohammad 5/5 1945
Herbie Taylor 5/5 1889
Inzamam-ul-Haq 3/3 1970
Jack Ryder 8/8 1889
MS Dhoni (wk) 7/7 1981
Gerry Gomez 10/10 1919
Bapu Nadkarni 4/4 1932
Fred Spofforth 9/9 1853
Frank Tyson 6/6 1930
Bill Voce 8/8 1909

Similarly, the ideal side with men who breathed their last on such dates is given here:

Deceased XI

Cricketer Date of Death Year
Charlie Macartney 9/9 1958
Jim Burke 2/2 1979
Norman O’Neill 3/3 2008
Maurice Leyland 1/1 1967
Joe Hardstaff Jr 1/1 1990
Collie Smith 9/9 1959
Walter Robins 12/12 1968
Cyril Christiani (wk) 4/4 1938
Alec Bedser 4/4 2010
Charlie Turner 1/1 1944
Bill Voce 6/6 1984

However, the cricket tragic has a habit of setting himself more difficult challenges.

Hence the final task is to make two elevens — one for the births and one for the deaths. The additional stipulation is that there will be a twelfth man for each, so that each date will appear exactly once for the teams.

This means Sadiq Mohammad and Herbie Taylor cannot play together, neither can the combinations comprising of Jack Ryder and Bill Voce; Maurice Leyland, Joe Hardstaff Jr and Charlie Turner; Alec Bedser and Cyril Christiani; Charlie Macartney and Collie Smith.

Ideally the twelfth men should also be excellent fielders.

The added caveat is that Bill Voce cannot play for both sides.

A lot of changes need to be made to maintain the balance of the side while catering to the demanding constraints.

Some serious optimisation is required especially for the Deceased XI. Zimbabwean all-rounder Kevin Curran has to be brought in while Nottinghamshire and England batsman WW Whysall’s wicketkeeping skills need to be made use of.

Here are the final XIs.

Birth XI (each date appears once)

Cricketer Date of Birth Year
Roy Fredericks 11/11 1942
Sadiq Mohammad 5/5 1945
Johnny Taylor 10/10 1895
Inzamam-ul-Haq 3/3 1970
Jack Ryder 8/8 1889
MS Dhoni (wk) 7/7 1981
DG Phadkar 12/12 1925
BapuNadkarni 4/4 1932
Fred Spofforth 9/9 1853
Frank Tyson 6/6 1930
Khan Mohammad 1/1 1928
12th Man:UpulTharanga 2/2 1985

Similarly, we have the following team with the men who passed away on these dates …

Deceased XI (each date appears once)

Cricketer Date of Death Year
Charlie Macartney 9/9 1958
Jim Burke 2/2 1979
Norman O’Neill 3/3 2008
Ernest Tyldesley 5/5 1962
George Mann 8/8 2001
Kevin Curran 10/10 2012
Walter Robins 12/12 1968
WW Whysall (wk) 11/11 1930
Alec Bedser 4/4 2010
Charlie Turner 1/1 1944
Bill Voce 6/6 1984
12th Man:Doodles Tapscott 7/7 1934

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)