Perfection in gauntlets

Wisden CricInfo staff

July 17, 2003

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All Today's Yesterdays - July 17 down the years

July 16| July 18

1941
One of England's most accomplished wicketkeepers is born. It was Bob Taylor's misfortune that he was around at the same time as Alan Knott, and in an era when wicketkeepers were expected to deliver with the bat for the first time. Taylor couldn't - he made only three fifties in 57 Tests - but he could certainly keep. His glovework was near perfect at times, and nobody in history can match his 1649 dismissals (1473 caught, 176 stumped), most of them in a 28-year career with Derbyshire. Ten of those catches came at Bombay in the Golden Jubilee Test of 1979-80, when Taylor stole a bit of the limelight from Ian Botham. Taylor's last Test was in Pakistan in 1983-84, but two years later, against New Zealand at Lord's in 1986, he took over the gloves from the injured Bruce French. He was only at the match as a media relations officer for Cornhill Insurance, the sponsors.

1981
The second day of England's Headingley escapology act, and an Australian total that was "worth 1000". That's what the Australian captain Kim Hughes thought about his side's score of 401 for 9 declared. Hughes himself ground out 89, although his cap was sent flying at one point by a nasty bouncer that hinted at the demons that lurked both in the pitch and Bob Willis's head. If one thing seemed certain, it was that England couldn't win. The one bright spot on an increasingly ominous horizon was the return to form of Ian Botham. Freed of the captaincy shackles, and spurred on by Mike Brearley christening him the "sidestep queen", Botham took 6 for 95 with a zealous and muscular bowling display - his first five-for since the last match before he took over the captaincy. By the end of the match, his bowling would hardly be recalled at all.

1944
The New Zealand batsman Mark Burgess, who was born today, made five hundreds in his 50 Tests, and three of them came in consecutive Tests. It looks like the ultimate purple patch - except those three Tests were spread over two years. Burgess was only on a winning side five times, but one of those came when he was captain for the first time - the Wellington demolition of 1977-78, when New Zealand beat England for the first time in 42 attempts and 48 years.

1960
Birth of the man with the highest batting average in one-day internationals. Kim Barnett did only play one game, when he carved 84 against Sri Lanka at The Oval in 1988, but it's enough to put him top of the tree. A few weeks before that he hit 66 on his Test debut, against Sri Lanka at Lord's, and then thumped a merry 80 in England's next Test, against Australia at Headingley a year later. But Barnett's on-the-walk technique was soon found out, and after being dropped he went on the rebel tour to South Africa in 1989-90. That was his international career done, but he ploughed on as county cricket's elder statesman for another 13 years, mostly with Derbyshire but later with Gloucestershire, until his retirement in 2002.

1893
Against Australia at Lord's, England's Arthur Shrewsbury became the first man to make 1000 runs in Tests when he hammered 106 in the first innings.

1919
With a bowling average in excess of 50, New Zealand legspinner Alex Moir, who was born today, didn't exactly have a Boy's Own Test career. That was after something of a dream start, when he took 6 for 155 against England at Christchurch in 1950-51. But overall, New Zealand lost 12 and won none of Moir's 17 Tests.

1933
In Rhodesia, a South African batsman is born. Tony Pithey's 17-Test career had one distinct highlight: a patient 154 against England at Cape Town in 1964-65. It was his only Test hundred. His brother David also played eight Tests for South Africa.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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