A colossus with bad knees

Wisden CricInfo staff

July 28, 2003

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All Today's Yesterdays - July 28 down the years

July 27| July 29

1936
Birth of surely the greatest allrounder in cricket history. Garry Sobers, one of Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Century, was just 21 years old when he converted his maiden Test century into a colossal 365 not out against Pakistan at Kingston in 1957-58, which remained the Test record for 36 years, until Brian Lara came along. Sobers won the 1966 series in England almost single-handed, scoring three centuries - all in excess of 160 - and a 94, as well as taking 20 wickets with his left-arm bowling, which would flit between seam and spin as befitted the situation. For many years he was a stalwart at Nottinghamshire, and against Glamorgan at Swansea in 1968, he became the first batsman to hit six sixes in an over in first-class cricket, making Malcolm Nash famous in the process. A colossus with bad knees, Sobers retired from the game in 1974, with 8032 Test runs and 235 wickets to his name, and was knighted shortly afterwards.

1977
Talking of allrounders, on this day a likely lad called Ian Botham made his Test debut for England. He started as he meant to go on by taking five Australian wickets on his first day, and immediately served notice of his ability to buy wickets through sheer force of personality. His maiden scalp was a memorable one - Greg Chappell, bowled off what can only be described as a rank long hop. He added a handy 25 from No. 8, as England won by seven wickets.

1991
Order is restored at Edgbaston. After falling behind in the series, West Indies went 2-1 up against England with a seven-wicket victory in the fourth Test. The only English fifty of the match came from their No. 10, Chris Lewis, who also took six-for in the first innings and, at the age of just 23, was starting to look like the new Botham. The real deal, though, was Richie Richardson, who continued an outstanding year - nobody matched his four Test hundreds in 1991 - with a decisive 104. As for England, their dreams of their first series win over the Windies since 1969 were over, but they salvaged plenty of pride by squaring the series at The Oval.

1987
A maniacal run-chase at Edgbaston. England were left to chase 124 off 18 overs to beat Pakistan and square the series. It called for a Flintoff or a Trescothick: instead Tim Robinson (4 off 10 balls) and Bill Athey (14 off 20) struggled to give them the requisite oomph, and England ended up on 109 for 7. In Wisden Cricket Monthly, David Frith said that "like a man who had given up all hope of wealth and then seen some diamonds in the ditch, England had ruptured themselves in their anxiety to grasp the prize." They did well to even get close, though: at lunch on the final day, Pakistan were 79 for 1 - three runs behind and the most boring of draws drifting to sleep. Instead, it was so nearly a classic.

1970
Birth of the first legspinner to play Test cricket for Zimbabwe. Paul Strang won his first cap in 1994-95 and was soon joined in the team by his brother Bryan. The highlight of his career came at Sheikhupura in 1996-97, when he followed an unbeaten century from No. 8 with five wickets in Pakistan's reply, though he was somewhat overshadowed by his opposite number in the batting order, Wasim Akram, who finished unbeaten on 257. A wrist injury kept him out of the side for three years, though his comeback was impressive - he took 8 for 109 against New Zealand at Bulawayo in 2000-01.

1937
Two triple-centuries on the same day. Bouncy little Eddie Paynter scored 322 in five hours for Lancashire v Surrey at Hove - and Richard Moore hit 316 against Warwickshire at Bournemouth, still the highest County Championship score for Hampshire.

1973
One of the new wave of West Indian fast bowlers, Nixon McLean was born. So far his middle names (Alexei McNamara) have been more impressive than his Test average (42.56).

1934
South African batsman Louis Tancred died. His highest Test score was made in his very first innings: 97 against Australia in 1902-03. His brother Bernard was the first opener to carry his bat in Test cricket.

1973
Victory for England in the inaugural women's World Cup. Enid Bakewell hit 118 out of 273 for 3 to beat Australia by 92 runs at Edgbaston.

Other birthdays
1931 Johnny Martin (Australia)
1891 Ron Oxenham (Australia)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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