July 16 down the years

The real deal

Jack of all trades

Shaun Pollock was the first South African to 400 Test wickets © AFP

When he was captain, nobody in world cricket had as much on his plate as Shaun Pollock, who was born today. Captain, premier strike bowler, lower middle-order counterattacker, and possessor of one of cricket's more ginger tops, Pollock, son of Peter Pollock and nephew of Graeme, was the real deal from the moment he came in against England in 1995-96 and cracked 66 and took 4 for 34 on his one-day international debut, in Cape Town. A masterful wicket-to-wicket bowler, his average, when he passed the milestone, was the lowest of the 41 men to have taken 200 Test wickets. It was fitting, then, that he was the first South African to take 400 wickets. But his captaincy stint was far from memorable. South Africa suffered a first-round exit in their home World Cup after he miscalculated the D/L score required for them to beat West Indies - that was his final game as captain. He played his fourth World Cup in 2007 but was noticeably slower, and he retired from the game the following year.

Stan McCabe, who was born today, loved mixing it with the fast bowlers, and in the first match of the 1932-33 Bodyline series, he walloped 187 not out in the first innings. No other Aussie managed even a half-century. McCabe was a batsman of the highest class, a brilliant hooker in particular. At Trent Bridge in 1938, he saved the match with a blistering 232 so good that it had even Don Bradman drooling. When McCabe returned to the dressing room, the Don said simply: "If I could play an innings like that, I'd be a proud man, Stan." McCabe died in Sydney in 1968.

At Taunton, Archie MacLaren completed a mighty 424 for Lancashire against Somerset, the highest score in first-class history at the time. It remained the highest in first-class cricket in England for 99 years... until Brian Lara shattered that, and a few other records besides, in 1994.

An MCC president is born. John Warr would rather be remembered for that than his Test bowling average - it was 281. And his strike rate was a wicket every 584 balls - or 97 overs. Both were the worst in Test history until Sri Lankan left-arm spinner Roger Wijesuriya kindly plumbed new depths. In Warr's defence, he was still a Cambridge undergraduate when he was picked for those Tests, in Australia in 1950-51. Warr later captained Middlesex - cue the famous Brian Johnston joke: "Warr's declared", whereupon an old woman in the crowd wakes up and enquires, "Who against?"

Against New Zealand at The Oval, Graeme Fowler and Chris Tavaré became the first England openers to score a century in the same Test innings for 23 years. And - shock, horror - Tavaré's was the quicker: his 109 came off 259 balls, Fowler's 105 off 299. Mind you, it was Fowler's maiden Test hundred, so you can understand his watchfulness. Allan Lamb cracked 102 not out as well, as England eased home by 189 runs.

Other birthdays
1920 Anwar Hussain (Pakistan)
1926 Hazel Sanders (England)
1936 Venkataraman Subramanya (India)
1976 Dale Richards (West Indies)
1977 Sune van Zyl (South Africa)