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May 23 down the years

The original Brylcreem boy

The birth of Compo

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Denis Compton: the dasher
Denis Compton: the dasher © Wisden

Denis Compton, born today, was the original Brylcreem boy. He was a breathtakingly talented batsman, renowned for the latest of sweeps, who had all the cavalier abandon and audacity of youth, although he was from the Inzamam school of yes-no running: Trevor Bailey described a call from Compton as "a basis for negotiation". As well as that, Compton was a fine fielder and a dangerous, unorthodox left-arm spinner. His annus mirabilis was 1947, when he made 3816 runs, including a record 18 centuries, 11 of them in the County Championship for Middlesex. For good measure, he took 72 wickets. Compton made 17 Test hundreds in all, 13 of them in England; the highest was 278 against Pakistan at Trent Bridge in 1954. He also made the fastest triple-century in first-class history, smashed in 181 minutes for MCC against NE Transvaal in Benoni in 1948-49.

In Salisbury, Rhodesia, the enigma that is Graeme Hick is born. Hick was dismissed by many as a front-foot thumper who was found out at the top level, but only in 20 years' time will we fully appreciate just what an unlikely failure his was: this was a man who smashed 405 not out against Somerset in 1988, who scored 2000 first-class runs at the age of 20 in 1986 (the youngest-ever), who smashed a hundred first-class hundreds by the age of 32. Hick retired in 2008, having become one of the most prolific run-scorers of all time, with over 63,000 runs in all forms of the game and 136 first-class hundreds.

A curious and unproductive benefit match for Nottinghamshire's Wilf Flowers, not least because the game took place at Lord's between Middlesex and Somerset, a curiosity explained by the fact Flowers had been on the MCC groundstaff for many years. The first day was washed out and on the second Middlesex won by an innings inside five hours, scoring 86 and bowling the visitors out for 44 and 34 (Albert Trott took 11 for 31).

Given his record, Trinidad paceman Tony Gray, who was born today, was a bit unlucky not to play more than five Tests and 25 one-day internationals. His stats are sensational: Gray averaged 17.13 with the ball in Tests, and 18.97 in one-dayers, taking a wicket every 29 balls. That included 6 for 50 against Australia on his home ground in 1990-91. A height of 6ft 6in allowed Gray to generate disconcerting bounce, which combined with genuine pace made him a fearsome proposition. But injuries, and the emergence of the likes of Ian Bishop, limited Gray's appearances.

A tragic day for Colin Milburn who was involved in a car accident that necessitated the removal of his left eye. Milburn was a popular hard-hitting batsman, who two months earlier had smacked a big hundred against Pakistan. He briefly made an ill-advised comeback in 1973 but was a shadow of his former self.

WV Raman, the Indian opener who was born today, made his debut against West Indies in Chennai in 1987-88, the match in which another debutant, Narendra Hirwani, took 16 wickets. Not surprisingly, therefore, Raman's contribution was overshadowed, but he made a crucial 83 in the second innings. That was the highlight of a mixed 11-Test career, although he also made 96, his highest score, in Christchurch in 1989-90. He made 313 for Tamil Nadu against Goa in Panjim in 1988-89.

Other birthdays
1903 Bill Farrimond (England)
1923 Nirode Chowdhury (India)
1924 Narain Swamy (India)
1954 Ray Phillips (Australia)
1968 Mark Alleyne (England)
1972 Martin Saggers (England)
1974 Darren Maddy (England)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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