July 16, 2003

The real deal

Wisden CricInfo staff

All Today's Yesterdays - July 16 down the years

July 15| July 17

1973
When he was captain, nobody in world cricket had as much on his plate as Shaun Pollock, who was born today. Captain, premier strike bowler, lower middle-order counter-attacker, and possessor of one of cricket's more ginger tops, Pollock was the real deal from the moment he came in against England in 1995-96, and cracked 66 and took 4 for 34 on his one-day international debut, at Cape Town. He is the pivot of South Africa's side, the definitive allrounder in a team of them. He averages over 30 with the bat, and thrashed a Bothamesque, 95-ball first Test hundred from No. 9 against Sri Lanka at Centurion in 2000-01, a match in which his bowling average dipped below 20. A masterful wicket-to-wicket bowler, his average, when he passed the milestone, was the lowest of the 41 men to have taken 200 Test wickets. His father Peter and uncle Graeme were pretty good as well. All he has to do now is find a way to beat those pesky Australians.

1910
A fearless Aussie is born. Stan McCabe loved mixing it with the fast bowlers, and in the first match of the 1932-33 Bodyline series he walloped 187 not out in the first innings. No other Aussie managed even a half-century. McCabe was a batsman of the highest class, a brilliant hooker in particular. At Trent Bridge in 1938 he saved the match with a blistering 232 so good that it had even Don Bradman drooling. When McCabe returned to the dressing-room, The Don said simply: "If I could play an innings like that, I'd be a proud man, Stan."According to the Wisden 100, it is the greatest Test innings played at Trent Bridge. McCabe died in Syndey in 1968.

1895
At Taunton, Archie MacLaren completed a mighty 424 for Lancashire against Somerset, the highest score in first-class history at the time. It remained the highest in first-class cricket in England for 99 years ... until Brian Lara shattered that, and a few other records besides, in 1994.

1981
The first day of an immortal Test. There was nothing miraculous for England at the start, just 90 overs of solid frustration as Australia ground them down on a typically bowler-friendly Headingley track. At the close the Aussies were 203 for 3, with John Dyson having made a fine 104. Wisden Cricket Monthly said he batted "like a Woodfull". England were under the cosh already.

1927
An MCC president is born. John Warr would rather be remembered for that than his Test bowling average - it was 281. And his strike rate was a wicket every 584 balls - or 97 overs. Both were the worst in Test history until West Indian legspinner Rawl Lewis kindly plumbed new depths. In Warr's defence, he was still a Cambridge undergraduate when he was picked for those Tests, in Australia in 1950-51. Most students struggle to get up before midday to brush their teeth, let alone to bowl to Hassett, Harvey and Miller on an Adelaide shirtfront. Warr later captained Middlesex - cue the famous Brian Johnston joke that "Warr's declared", whereupon an old woman in the crowd wakes up and enquires, "Who against?"

1983
Against New Zealand at The Oval, Graeme Fowler and Chris Tavare became the first England openers to score a century in the same Test innings for 23 years. And - shock, horror - Tavare's was the quicker: his 109 came off 255 balls, Fowler's 105 off 303. Mind you, it was Fowler's maiden Test hundred, so you can understand his watchfulness. Allan Lamb cracked 102 not out as well, as England eased home by 189 runs.

Other birthdays

1920 Anwar Hussain (Pakistan)
1936 Venkataraman Subramanya (India)