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March 19 down the years

Sobers declares

West Indies declare twice against England, and lose

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Geoff Boycott's unbeaten 80 led England to a famous win in Trinidad
Geoff Boycott's unbeaten 80 led England to a famous win in Trinidad © Getty Images
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1968
An infamously duff declaration from Garry Sobers in the fourth Test in Trinidad. Only 11 captains have declared in the third innings and watched their side lose a Test, and none of them were vilified quite as much as Sobers was after this. He declared twice in this match, at 526 for 7 and then 92 for 2. That left England needing 215 in 165 minutes, and anchored by Geoff Boycott's unbeaten 80 they got there with seven wickets and, more importantly, three minutes to spare. Sobers' gamble was brave - he wanted to inject some life into a series that was drifting along aimlessly - but also foolhardy, as his attack was weakened by an injury to Charlie Griffith. It ended up costing West Indies the series - England drew the last Test to win 1-0, despite Sobers' best efforts: he hammered 152 and 95 not out, and took six wickets.

1948
One of the greatest uncapped cricketers in history is born. There's no doubt the 6ft 8in Vince van der Bijl would have played many Tests had South Africa not been ostracised during the prime of his career. He settled instead for 767 first-class wickets at the awesome average of 16.54 with Natal, Transvaal and Middlesex, whom he helped to the County Championship in 1980, his only full season there.

1958
A better day for Mr Sobers. He eschewed that after-the-Lord-Mayor's-Show nonsense to follow up his 365 with two more centuries in his next Test, against Pakistan in Georgetown, making it 599 runs for once out in three innings. It was also his sixth fifty in as many innings in the series. West Indies cruised to an eight-wicket victory despite a tricky target of 317, giving them a 3-0 lead with one to play. Pakistan won the last match, though, when - shock, horror - Sobers made only 14 and 27.

1973
Birth of Ashley Giles, the man with an approach to the wicket that was likened to "an overflowing wheelie-bin", but who had the uncanny knack of matching Asia's spinners in their own backyards. Giles established himself with match-winning performances on the tours of Pakistan and Sri Lanka in 2000-01. He missed most of the 2001 Ashes, but was back in India, leg-theory and all, when he became the first person to have Sachin Tendulkar stumped in a Test, and offended legions of purists in the process. He suffered a dreadful 18 months on England's unforgiving greentops but burst back to form with 18 wickets in the return series in Sri Lanka, in December 2003. He played an important role in England's Ashes win in 2005, but a long-term hip injury kept him out of cricket for much of the next year before forcing his retirement in 2007. Within weeks he was appointed Warwickshire's director of cricket. A year later he was named part-time England selector and in late 2012 he was appointed England's limited-overs coach.

1977
Not too many debut centurions disappear without trace after five Tests, but that's what happened to the Pakistan opener Ali Naqvi, who was born today. He had a meteoric rise to fame: after making his first-class debut for Pakistan A in England in July 1997, he played his first first-class game in Pakistan in a tour match against the South Africans less than three months later. He made 61 and 113, and three days later was making his Test debut, against Donald, Pollock and Co in Rawalpindi. Naqvi made 115 - Azhar Mahmood made a debut hundred in the same innings - but after that Naqvi failed to pass 30.

1952
Birth of one of New Zealand's better wicketkeepers. Warren Lees played 21 Tests between 1976-77 and 1983, before Ian Smith established himself, and as well as being very tidy behind the stumps, Lees was a useful batsman. In only his third Test, in 1976-77, he whacked 152 against Pakistan in Karachi to get the Kiwis out of a tight spot. He later became national coach and was awarded an MBE.

1954
The three Ws rattled up hundreds (a double for Everton Weekes) on a flat Queen's Park Oval track that eventually gave up 1528 runs for just 25 wickets in six days of the drawn fourth Test. Weekes reached his hundred on day one, Frank Worrell his the next day, and Clyde Walcott on day three. West Indies declared on 681 for 6 - then their highest total in Tests. Peter May and Denis Compton got centuries for England, while Tom Graveney was out on 92. Worrell and Walcott scored fifties in the second innings and the Test ended 30 overs into England's second innings.

1928
An athlete is born. Clive van Ryneveld excelled at most sports, especially rugby and cricket: he was an outstanding three-quarter for England and a useful allrounder for South Africa, a sound batsman and a dangerous if somewhat erratic legspinner. He played 19 Tests, eight as captain, the highlight of which was a fine 83 at Headingley in 1951, when he added 198 with Eric Rowan. He later became a politician and was elected to South Africa's Parliament.

1892
A proud day for Mr and Mrs Hearne, whose three sons - Alec, George and Frank - all took the field in the one-off Test between England and South Africa in Cape Town. Frank was making his debut for South Africa, having already played two Tests for England, with Alec and George in opposition. There was another Hearne playing too - the unrelated JT, better known as Old Jack. England were comfortable victors with JJ Ferris, who earlier played eight times for Australia, taking 13 wickets in his only Test for England.

1915
Birth of Norman Yardley, who bustled through 20 Tests for England either side of the Second World War. They won only four of those 20, but Yardley's figures (batting average 25, bowling average 33) were certainly respectable. He was a bit of a nearly man, though. He didn't take a five-for, and is one of the eight unfortunates to make 99 - against South Africa at Trent Bridge in 1947 - but not a century in a Test. He had a pretty good rabbit, though: Don Bradman, whom he dismissed three times in a row in 1946-47. Yardley was captain and, later, president of Yorkshire, as well as a popular BBC broadcaster.

1978
Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath shot to prominence against Australia in 1999 with a "mystery" ball, but found himself on the fringes of the Sri Lankan squad thereafter. He was recalled for the West Indies tour in early 2008 and then got one Test against Bangladesh. But Herath really made his presence felt against the Pakistanis: he took 11 wickets in two Tests against them in 2004-05, and in 2009, when he was called in as a last-minute replacement for the injured Muttiah Muralitharan, he delivered a match-winning performance in the first Test - 4 for 15 in the second-innings to bowl Pakistan out for 117, chasing 168. In 2011, Herath starred in Sri Lanka's maiden Test win in South Africa, with nine wickets, having taken eight each in two Tests against Australia earlier in the year.

1939
Abbas Ali Baig, born today, was one among several Indian batsmen who made centuries on debut but never again. Coming in as a replacement for the injured Vijay Manjrekar, Baig hit a superb 112 at Old Trafford in 1959. Not only was he the first to accomplish the feat outside India, but at 20 years and 131 days he was then the youngest Indian to get a Test hundred. An attractive strokeplayer, he performed well against the touring Australians that year but after a poor series against Pakistan, got the axe. He scored heavily in first-class cricket but had to wait six years for a recall, which lasted two Tests.

1878
One of cricket's most enduring characters is born. Stephen "Yabba" Gascoigne was a fixture on the hill in front of the SCG scoreboard during the 1920s and 30s and his unique brand of barracking made him a household name. A rabbit-seller by trade, Yabba was renowned for his booming voice and his wit - he once told a wayward bowler: "Your length's lousy but you bowl a good width!" He died of heart disease in 1942 but was recognised half a century later when the SCG gained a new stand where Yabba had perched himself all those years ago; the structure was named "Yabba's Hill".

1985
End of a cracking Sheffield Shield final, in which New South Wales squeezed past Queensland by just one wicket. Amid agonising tension at the SCG, Peter Clifford and Dave Gilbert survived a pumped-up Jeff Thomson and Carl Rackemann to add 14 for the last wicket. Batting at No. 8 for NSW, in his first season of first-class cricket, was a 19-year-old allrounder called Steve Waugh, and he hit a crucial 71 in the first innings with his side in big trouble. Queensland had to wait another 10 years for their long-overdue first Shield victory.

Other birthdays
1870 Frank Milligan (England)
1876 Palwankar Baloo (India)
1871 Schofield Haigh (England)
1907 Dilawar Hussain (India)
1945 John Holder (West Indies)
1946 Mohammad Ilyas (Pakistan)
1984 Amanda Green (New Zealand)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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