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December 16 down the years

The birth of the Master

The man who made the most first-class runs and hundreds ever

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Jack Hobbs: nearly a double-century of centuries
Jack Hobbs: nearly a double-century of centuries © Getty Images
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1882
Birth of The Master. Nobody has scored more first-class runs than Jack Hobbs' 61,760, or more hundreds than his 199, and he was one of Wisden's Five Cricketers of the 20th Century. He scored most of those runs for Surrey, but he was hugely prolific for England, and formed possibly cricket's best-ever opening partnership, with Herbert Sutcliffe. Hobbs made a record 12 Test hundreds against Australia, including three in four innings in 1911-12. He died in Hove in 1963.

1927
The greatest batsman makes his first appearance in first-class cricket. Don Bradman scored a century on debut for New South Wales in Adelaide against South Australia, a side he joined eight years later and ended his career at. In the match he batted at No. 7 for a side that included Alan Kippax, Arthur Mailey and Bert Oldfield. He scored 118 in 188 minutes with eight fours before being the last batsman to be dismissed, caught off John Scott. In the second innings he made only 33 and was bowled by legspinner Clarrie Grimmett, who reached 300 first-class wickets in the match. South Australia won the match by one wicket.

1952
Big Bird is born. Rampaging in at 6ft 8in, with a yorker from hell, Joel Garner was a nightmare proposition for any batsman. The destructiveness of his pals Malcolm Marshall and Michael Holding meant he rarely had time for the headline-grabbing performance - Garner took four wickets 18 times but managed only seven five-fors in Tests - but he was virtually unhittable at the death in one-day cricket; more than 20 years since his last game, Garner still holds the record for the lowest economy rate in the format. He did it time and time again for Somerset, and destroyed England in the 1979 World Cup final with a devastating spell of 5 for 4 in 11 balls: four were bowled, three of them yorked.

1910
An England captain is born... in Peru. Freddie Brown, whose father was running a business in Lima when he was born, was a lusty lower middle-order hitter - his signature shot was a thumping straight-drive - and an effective legspinner who later turned to medium-pacers. He led England between 1950 and 1953, and though he was in charge during England's 1-4 Ashes defeat in 1950-51, when England actually played much of the better cricket, his impressive captaincy led to him being revered in Australia. He died in Wiltshire in 1991.

1997
Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag made history with their one-day double-hundreds, but the first cricketer to break the 200 barrier was Belinda Clark, who did it on this day in Mumbai against Denmark in the 1997 women's World Cup. Her unbeaten 229 came off 155 balls and included 22 boundaries. Australia reached 412 for 3, and in reply Denmark scored 49 - just over a fifth of Clark's score. Clark went on to lead Australia to the title and play another two World Cups and retire as the leading run-scorer and the most capped captain in the women's game.

1969
Birth of Craig White, England's shaven-headed, toy motorbike-loving allrounder. More than a few people queried Duncan Fletcher's judgment when he gave White a central contract in 2000, but White flourished; first as a 90mph destroyer of West Indies in 2000, then as a clean-hitting, partnership-breaking allrounder for the subcontinent - he averaged almost 45 with the bat against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India, as against 11 versus the rest.

1995
Rain had the final say just as the third Test between England and South Africa in Durban was boiling up nicely. England went horses for courses, bringing in the swing and cunning of Peter Martin, Mark Ilott and Richard Illingworth for the pace and vim of Devon Malcolm and Darren Gough and the accuracy of Angus Fraser. It worked too: they hustled South Africa out for 225 (it would have been a lot less but for an irksome last-wicket stand of 72 between Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald) and England were 152 for 5 when rain washed out the last two-and-a-half days.

1980
Only the second Hindu to play for Pakistan was born today. Legspinner Danish Kaneria was hyped as a secret weapon when he made his debut against England in 2000-01, but he made little impact in the two Tests he played. In 2003 he took seven wickets in the Lahore Test against South Africa and established himself as Pakistan's lead spinner. He blossomed over the next two years, taking 78 wickets in 15 Tests, including a 10-wicket match haul against Sri Lanka in Karachi and a seven-for in Sydney. He continued to keep his place in the Test side - reaching the 50-Test landmark in 2007 - but failed to cement his position in the one-day side. Then came the body blow. Kaneria and Mervyn Westfield, two Essex bowlers, were found to have underperformed in a 2009 Pro40 match against Durham. Westfield pleaded guilty in January 2012, while Kaneria was banned for life by the ECB in June that year, thus practically ending his career.

1978
Ricardo Powell was thrust into international cricket at the age of 20 and impressed with a 93-ball 124 in the final of the 1999 Coca-Cola Singapore Challenge against India. He made his Test debut later that year in Hamilton but was dropped from the side after just one try; he played one more Test in 2004. Powell gained a reputation as a one-day slogger but struggled to retain a regular place in the side. A run of low scores led to him being eventually dropped, and in 2006-07 he took a break from the game to look for opportunities outside.

1981
When he made his debut for Pakistan in 1999, Imran Nazir, who was born today, was regarded as a prodigiously gifted batsman, backed by former captain Imran Khan. Nazir scored 64 on his Test debut, against Sri Lanka, and soon became an attacking one-day opener, particularly strong off his back foot. However he was found out against Glenn McGrath and Co in two Tests, and he was then upstaged by the likes of Mohammad Hafeez, Yasir Hameed, Imran Farhat and Taufeeq Umar. But after an explosive domestic season he returned to the national squad and made it to the 2007 World Cup, where he hit a career-best 160 against Zimbabwe. He then joined the ICL and did particularly well for the Lahore Badshahs before returning to the official fold in 2009.

1955
Birth of the unpretentious Yorkshire allrounder Graham Stevenson, who played a couple of Tests and four one-dayers for England in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He had a storming ODI debut, taking 4 for 33 and cracking 28 off 18 balls to squeeze England home by two wickets against Australia in Sydney. He also made an unbeaten 115 from No. 11 for Yorkshire against Warwickshire in 1982, in a last-wicket partnership of 149 with... Geoff Boycott, who merrily crawled to 79 before being last out.

1997
A West Indies one-day victory - and not a single wicket to a quick bowler. Carl Hooper, Rawl Lewis and Shivnarine Chanderpaul shared eight of the 10 wickets to fall (the other two were run-outs) as the Windies beat India by 41 runs in Sharjah to book their place in the final against England.

Other birthdays
1850 Fred Morley (England)
1897 Jacobus Duminy (South Africa)
1907 Syd Curnow (South Africa)
1909 Lall Singh (India)
1992 Anamul Haque (Bangladesh)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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