June 27 down the years

England's own South African

Kevin Pietersen makes an entrance

The day two modern greats were born © Getty Images

1980
Birth of Kevin Pietersen, in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. KP signed for Nottinghamshire in 2000, and in 2004 was selected for England's tour of Zimbabwe, before he scored three ODI centuries in South Africa. He set the stamp on England's seismic Ashes win in 2005, the series in which he made his Test debut, with a phenomenal 158 on the final day of the series, at The Oval. In 2008, Pietersen took over the captaincy but he stepped down early in 2009 after an acrimonious falling out with coach Peter Moores. Pietersen's one-day form fell away and in 2012, he announced his limited-overs retirement to prolong his Test career. He was dropped after reports said he had sent derogatory text messages about his captain, Andrew Strauss, to South Africa players in 2012. He was invited back a few months later and his masterful 186 in Mumbai led England to their first series win in India in 28 years. The detente was short-lived. On the tour to Australia in 2013-14, there was a further deterioration in his relationship with coach Andy Flower, and the ECB brought down the curtain on his England career. Allegations thrown at many of his team-mates in his autobiography, published late in 2014, widened the divide.

1983
Dale Steyn, the South African fast bowler, is born in Phalaborwa. Steyn burst onto the scene in April 2006, when he finished a three-Test series against New Zealand with 16 wickets. He was the dominant force behind South Africa's home series wins against New Zealand and West Indies in 2007, picking up 40 wickets in five Tests. On the slow Motera pitch, in 2008, Steyn decimated the Indian line-up for 76, with figures of 8-2-23-5. Later that year he took ten wickets and made a crucial 76 in South Africa's first Test win in Australia, at the MCG. In 2010 he became the fourth fastest of all time to 200 wickets, reaching the mark in his 39th Test. He rocked Pakistan with a career-best 11 for 60 in Johannesburg in 2013 - including first-innings figures of 6 for 8 - and bagged nine wickets against India in Durban in a series-winning effort later that year. Another match-winning nine-for came against Sri Lanka in Galle in July 2014. One of the most iconic images of Steyn, though, will remain that of him lying distraught on the Eden Park pitch after bowling a ball that was dispatched by Grant Elliott for a six in the 2015 World Cup semi-final to hand South Africa more World Cup heartbreak. Later that year Steyn became the joint fastest (with Richard Hadlee) to 400 Test wickets. In 2019, after multiple injuries had forced him to miss several series, including the World Cup that year, Steyn announced his decision to retire from Tests to focus on a limited-overs career. In August 2021, he stepped away from all forms of cricket.

1939
An unlucky charm is born. Fast bowler Neil Hawke did most of his best work in Australian defeats, where he took 29 wickets at an average of 21, including his Test best figures, 7 for 105 against England in Sydney in 1965-66. Hawke is one of the few men to play for three states - Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania - and was a top-quality Aussie Rules player as well. His nickname wasn't the most original, though: "Hawkeye" was prowling round cricket circles long before Channel 4's technology hit the screens. An extremely tough character, Hawke lived for 20 years after bowel surgery kick-started a terrible run of ill-health, dying on Christmas Day 2000, in Adelaide.

1939
A renowned performance from the great George Headley. He became the first person to score two centuries in a Lord's Test, although West Indies still went down by eight wickets to England. It was the second time in his career that Headley had made two centuries in a Test, making him only the second person (after Herbert Sutcliffe) to do so. Headley's was a one-man show, though. Only one other West Indian passed 29 in the match, and England only lost seven wickets in completing victory.

2022
Having won just two of their last 17 Tests, a new-look England under coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes stormed to a 3-0 whitewash of New Zealand at Headingley, becoming the first team to chase down three consecutive 250-plus scores in a series. After Jack Leach picked up his second five-for of the Test, the required 296 never looked daunting to an attacking England line-up. Ollie Pope's 81 whittled the target down to 113, which Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root made quick work of on a rain-interrupted final day. New Zealand's injury-hit bowling struggled to make inroads, while their highest scores came from Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell, who put on 724 partnership runs from Nos. 6 and 7 in the series. The loss capped a winless 12 months for New Zealand, and a poor run of form for captain Kane Williamson, who passed 50 just once in his last ten innings.

1949
Martin Donnelly, one of New Zealand's greatest batters, stroked a glorious century against England on this day, which he extended to 206 on the third and final day. It completed a unique treble, which only Donnelly and Percy Chapman, another left-hander, have managed - Donnelly also made Lord's hundreds for Gentlemen against Players, and for Oxford against Cambridge. In addition to that he made a famous ton at Lord's for the Dominions against England - after which, a probably apocryphal story runs, a spectator went into a nearby pub, said, "I have just seen the most marvellous day's play," drank a double whisky and dropped dead.

1886
The Governor General of Australian cricket is born. That's how Charles Macartney, an outstanding allrounder from New South Wales, was known. He was a charming improviser of a batter, who finished his Test career with a flourish, when he made three centuries in a row in his last series, in England in 1926. His left-arm spinners could also be very handy, and he took 11 for 85 against England when Australia won at Headingley in 1909. Macartney died in Sydney in 1958.

1924
Birth of Bob Appleyard, the Yorkshire and England offspinner whose career was dogged by poor health. As a result he only played nine Tests, but England won seven of them, and Appleyard snared 31 wickets at an average of only 17. He was like Derek Underwood: quickish, flat, and devastating on damp wickets. Appleyard did not make his first-class debut until he was 27, and had to retire at 34 because of sickness, but managed to take almost as many wickets (708) as he made runs (776).

1899
At a house match at Clifton College, 13-year-old Arthur Collins carried his bat for 628, an innings that spanned five days and contained one six, four fives, 31 fours, 33 threes, 146 twos and 87 singles. The feat, the highest cricket innings for more than a century before Mumbai teenager Pranav Dhanawade made 1009 not out in 2016, made national headlines and the schoolboy became a reluctant celebrity. Collins wasn't quite finished. As his weary opponents contemplated replying to a score of 836, Collins wreaked havoc with the ball, taking 7 for 33 and then 4 for 30 when they followed on.

Other birthdays
1914 Derrick Robins (England)
1917 Khanderao Rangnekar (India)
1938 Gordon Rorke (Australia)
1943 Shirley Hodges (England)
1964 Graham Cowdrey (England)
1967 Karen Musson (New Zealand)

Comments