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Born in the SCG, and Leap Year babies

Where and how it all began

Steven Lynch

September 17, 2007

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The regular Monday column in which Steven Lynch answers your questions about (almost) any aspect of cricket. This week, after a happy event in the Lynch family (surely it must be a good omen when a legspinner has a son who shares a birthday with Shane Warne?), it's all about births.



Syd Gregory was born where the Sydney Cricket Ground currently stands © The Cricketer International
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Which Test player was born on the Sydney Cricket Ground? asked Vishal Nehra from Trivandrum

The youngster born to cricket was Syd Gregory, who played 58 Tests for Australia between 1890 and 1912, 52 of them against England, a record (he made eight Test tours of England, and was captain on the last one, in 1912). Gregory was born on the site of the current Sydney Cricket Ground, where his father Ned Gregory lived as he was the SCG's curator (groundsman) at the time.

Who was the first son of a Test player to play a Test? asked Andy Lawrence from Nottingham

The answer to that one is the same as the first question: it's Syd Gregory again. His father Ned played for Australia in the inaugural Test at Melbourne in March 1877. For a full list of related Test players, click here.

Have any Test players been born at Lord's? asked Vicky Johnson from London

As far as I'm aware no Test players have actually been born at Lord's. The nearest miss was probably by John Carr, who was very close to selection for England, particularly during 1994 when he averaged 90.76 for Middlesex and topped the national averages. He was born in a house backing on the ground. It was owned by MCC and occupied by the former Derbyshire batsman and one-time England captain Donald Carr, who was MCC's assistant secretary at the time. He later became secretary of the TCCB, the forerunner of the ECB, in which John Carr now holds a high-ranking position.



Alf Gover could only celebrate his birthday every four years as he was born on February 29 © Cricinfo Ltd
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Were any Test players born on February 29? asked Gordon Donaldson from Beckenham

Two Test players were born on Leap Year Day, and thus sentenced to having a proper birthday only once every four years. The more famous of them is the Surrey and England fast bowler Alf Gover, who was born in Epsom (in a house overlooking the cricket ground) on February 29, 1908. Gover, who was England's oldest Test cricketer when he died in 2001 at 93, won four Test caps, but is probably better remembered as the proprietor of a famous indoor cricket school in south London. The other Test player born on February 29 is Gavin Stevens, a batsman from South Australia who won four caps on tour in India and Pakistan in 1959-60. But perhaps the most famous cricket event to have taken place on Leap Year Day was Kenya's upset victory over West Indies in Pune in the 1995-96 World Cup.

Who was the first Test player to be born? asked Rahul Dhinshaw from Delhi

The versatile bowler James Southerton is the answer: he was born on November 16, 1827, in Sussex, one of three counties he represented during a long career (he played for them, Surrey and Hampshire in first-class matches in 1867 alone, a feat not repeated until this year, when Kyle Hogg played for three different counties in the Championship (as mentioned in last week's column). Southerton played, aged 49, in the first Test of all, at Melbourne in March 1877. He also holds a more unwanted record: he was also the first Test cricketer to die, in 1880.

Who has fathered the most international cricketers? asked Patrick Leonard from Wokingham

My first thought was that it would be Sheikh Ismail, the father of the prodigious Mohammad clan: four brothers - Hanif, Wazir, Mushtaq and Sadiq - played for Pakistan, and that is indeed the Test record. Reggie Ranatunga, a former Sri Lankan government minister, has three Test-playing sons - Arjuna, Sri Lanka's former long-serving captain; Dammika, who was briefly the chief executive of the Sri Lankan board; and Sanjeewa, while a fourth brother, Nishantha, played for Sri Lanka in ODIs. But you asked about "international" cricketers, which widens the field beyond just Tests and ODIs, and I think the winner then comes from Ireland. James Joyce has three sons who have played for the Irish national team: Ed, who has also played for England; Dominick, who made his ODI debut in the same match as Ed, but for the opposite side (in this match at Belfast); and Gus, who played one first-class match for Ireland in 2000, before they gained full ODI status. But the Joyces also have twin daughters - Cecelia and Isobel - who have both played for Ireland's ladies' team. Of course, there might just be someone whose 11 sons all played for Vanuatu, but we haven't got his name yet ...

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Cricinfo Guide to International Cricket. If you want to ask Steven a question, use our feedback form. The most interesting questions will be answered here each week.

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Steven Lynch Steven Lynch won the Wisden Cricket Monthly Christmas Quiz three years running before the then-editor said "I can't let you win it again, but would you like a job?" That lasted for 15 years, before he moved across to the Wisden website when that was set up in 2000. Following the merger of the two sites early in 2003 he was appointed as the global editor of Wisden Cricinfo. In June 2005 he became the deputy editor of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. He continues to contribute the popular weekly "Ask Steven" question-and-answer column on ESPNcricinfo, and edits the Wisden Guide to International Cricket.

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