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December 24 down the years

A gentle giant

The first player to appear in 100 Tests

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Colin Cowdrey: one of the greats of his era
Colin Cowdrey: one of the greats of his era © Getty Images
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1932
One of the all-time greats was born, but one who didn't always seem to know it. Despite all his achievements and the sumptuous quality of his batting, Colin Cowdrey was forever experimenting with his grip or retreating into his shell - and his captaincy of England was sometimes indecisive. But let's not dwell on that side of things. The first player to appear in 100 Tests, he celebrated the occasion with a century against Australia in Edgbaston in 1968 despite pulling a leg muscle. At one stage he'd scored more Test runs than any other batsman, and his recall to face the venom of Lillee and Thomson in 1974-75 showed the respect he still commanded at the age of 42. It was his sixth tour Down Under, none of them as captain, which added to a slight sense of sadness that seemed to hang over one of the great careers.

1927
When Sir Colin set that new record for most Test runs, he broke the record set by Wally Hammond, who made his Test debut today in Johannesburg in 1927-28. One of the very greatest batsmen of all time, he scored 51 before showing another string to his bow by taking 5 for 36 in the second innings to bowl England to a 10-wicket win. Eleven years later to the day in Johannesburg he became the first man to reach 6000 Test runs.

1971
Birth of a bowler who holds a couple of serious records in international cricket. New Zealand seamer Geoff Allott took 20 wickets in the 1999 World Cup, which was at the time a new record for a single World Cup tournament. Shane Warne equalled that total in the final, but only after playing in 10 matches to Allott's nine. Before back trouble forced his retirement, willing Geoff set an unlikely Test record by batting for 101 minutes without scoring. The longest duck in Test history, it helped New Zealand to a draw against South Africa in Auckland in 1998-99.

1885
With the likes of Bert Strudwick and Tiger Smith around, it was no wonder that Arthur Dolphin, who was born today, should play in only one Test, in Melbourne in 1920-21 - but he won eight County Championships with Yorkshire. He later became a Test umpire.

1926
Another player with a short international career was born. Although Ronald Draper played in only two Tests, both against Australia in 1949-50, he hit a hundred before lunch four times in first-class cricket and occupies an important place in South African cricket as the first to score two centuries in a Currie Cup match, for Griqualand West v Border in Kimberley in 1952-53.

Other birthdays
1867 George Thornton (South Africa)
1988 Piyush Chawla (India)
1900 Reg Sinfield (England)
1924 Roy Miller (West Indies)
1955 Anwar Khan (Pakistan)
1968 Joe Scuderi (Australia)
1972 Jane Smit (England)

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