July 28 down the years

A colossus with bad knees

Birth of surely the greatest allrounder in cricket history

1936
Born this day, 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 gigantic 365 not out against Pakistan in 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 in 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, who Bradman called "the greatest cricketing being to have ever walked the earth", 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. Botham 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 in the first innings and, at the age of just 22, 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 West Indies 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 even to 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.

1978
Birth of injury-prone New Zealand allrounder Jacob Oram. He took six wickets in his second Test, in 2002, against India in Hamilton - where he got his maiden Test hundred two years later. Oram packed in many ODIs in between his various injuries, with memorable assaults against Australia in the 2006-07 CB Series. A broken finger nearly kept him out of the 2007 World Cup, in which he averaged 33 with the bat and 25 with ball as New Zealand reached the semis. In 2009, more injury problems forced him to retire from Test cricket so he could concentrate on the limited-overs formats.

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 in 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 in Bulawayo in 2000-01.

2003
The first of Graeme Smith's consecutive Test double-hundreds against England. Out of form and struggling to keep his place as captain, Smith went out to bat with Herschelle Gibbs, equally out of sorts, in the first Test in Edgbaston and the two added 338 in less than 75 overs. Though the more cautious opener, once settled, Smith was unstoppable, going on to 277 - the highest by a South African at the time. England were saved from a follow-on by Ashley Giles' lower-order hitting, but despite Smith's effort to push for a result, rain forced a draw.

1937
Oh we do like to be beside the seaside. Two triple-centuries on the same day. Bouncy little Eddie Paynter scored 322 in five hours for Lancashire against Sussex in Hove - and Richard Moore hit 316 against Warwickshire in Bournemouth, still the highest County Championship score for Hampshire.

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

1973
Victory for England in the inaugural women's World Cup. Enid Bakewell hit 118 out of 279 for 3 to beat Australia by 92 runs at Edgbaston.

1979
Birth of a centurion on Test debut (at nearly 30). Marcus North started off memorably at the Wanderers, and scored two more hundreds - in the 2009 Ashes - in the first six months of his career. But then he was struck by a bout of inconsistency. In fact even in England he had had six scores of 12 or under. Against Pakistan at Lord's in 2010, North made it to the honours board… with the ball, taking 6 for 55 in a big win. But six months later his Test career seemed all but over.

2014
The day South Africa won their first Test series in Sri Lanka in 21 years and extended their eight-year unbeaten run away from home. Putting behind the retirements of Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith, South Africa - led by Hashim Amla - regained the top spot in the Test rankings after a battling draw in the second Test at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo to win the series 1-0. Needing 369 to win on the final day, South Africa sealed the draw by finishing on 159 for 8. Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath claimed 5 for 40 from 45 overs on a slow day that saw 30 maidens.

Other birthdays
1891 Ron Oxenham (Australia)
1902 Vibart Wight (West Indies)
1924 Eric Fisher (New Zealand)
1931 Johnny Martin (Australia)