All Today's Yesterdays - May 27 down the years

1887
A Kent legend is born. Frank Woolley was one of the greatest allrounders to have played the game - a magisterial, fleet-footed left-hander, who was a natural timer of the ball, and a textbook slow left-armer whose height enabled him to get considerable bounce. He and WG Grace are the only men to score 50,000 runs and take 2000 wickets in first-class cricket. (Only Jack Hobbs has scored more than Woolley's 58,969 runs.) For good measure, Woolley is the only man to take 1000 catches, most of them at slip. The sole blot on a fine Test career was a fairly modest record against Australia. He made only two hundreds in 32 Tests against them - both at Sydney - and played in all of England's record eight consecutive Ashes defeats in 1920-21. He did return match figures of 10 for 49 against them at The Oval in 1912, though, as England won by 244 runs to take the Triangular Tournament. Woolley married a Canadian late in life, and died in Nova Scotia in 1978.

1962
Birth of the man who mastered Shane Warne. Indian allrounder Ravi Shastri famously made Warne look like an overweight beach bum as he cuffed him round the SCG on Warne's debut, in 1991-92, when Shastri made a Test-best 206 in almost ten hours (Warne took 1 for 150). Of batsmen who have played ten Test innings against Australia, only Eddie Paynter averages more than Shastri's 77.75. He was like Navjot Sidhu in reverse: he started off as a lower-order hitter, but ended up as the original stonewaller at the top of the order. At The Oval in 1990 he made 187 in another ten-hour vigil. Shastri's flat left-arm spin was of the containing variety, but he had his moments: when summoned for his Test debut at the age of 18 against New Zealand at Wellington in 1980-81, he took three wickets in four balls, although the only time he won a match with the ball (India won only 10 of Shastri's 80 Tests) was against a poor Sri Lanka side at Cuttack in 1986-87. Amiable and distinguished, Shastri - who played his last Test aged just 30 - is now a popular and erudite TV commentator; the reverse of Sidhu once more.

1878
An amazing day's play at Lord's, where Australia beat MCC by nine wickets ... in a match of only 105 runs, a record low for a completed first-class match. MCC made 33 and 19, Australia 41 (in 66.2 overs), and 12 for 1. Only three players made double figures, and there were no fewer than 16 ducks. Fred Spofforth took 6 for 4 in the first innings, Harry Boyle 6 for 3 in the second.

1977
The world's best young batsman is born. Given what he's already achieved, it's frightening to think that Mahela Jayawardene is only 26 today. He made his debut at 21, coming to the crease at the unique position of 790 for 4, when Sri Lanka milked India for 952 for 6 in Colombo in 1997-98. He made 66 and was soon winning a match with a thrillingly daring 167 against New Zealand at Galle in 1997-98, when nobody else on either side exceeded 53. Jayawardene, a wonderfully stylish performer and the natural heir to Aravinda de Silva as Sri Lanka's main man in the middle order, made his first eight centuries on home soil. This invited a few accusations that he is a fairweather performer, which were partly laid to rest by his sumptuous century in the first Test at Lord's in 2002.

1991
A dreamy Bank Holiday Monday at Lord's, as England completed their second consecutive home one-day whitewash of West Indies. They had Neil Fairbrother and Graeme Hick to thank. Fairbrother cracked and scampered a marvellous century, adding 213 with Hick. The time looked right for Fairbrother, but a week later England announced their Test squad with Mark Ramprakash in his stead. For Hick it was a bit of a false dawn too: he made fewer runs in four Tests that summer (75) that he did in this innings (86 not out), as Curtly Ambrose flexed his muscles irresistibly.

1999
The ultimate World Cup mismatch at Leicester. Scotland against West Indies was never likely to detain anyone for too long, and so it proved. Curtly Ambrose (10-4-8-2) and Courtney Walsh (7-1-7-3) helped themselves as Scotland were routed for 68. The only Scotsmen who reached double figures were Gavin Hamilton (who later played for England) and Asim Butt (who was born in Lahore). West Indies polished off the target in 10.1 overs; at the time it was the shortest game in one-day international history.

1852
Birth of an English seamer with a Test bowling average of 15. Billy Barnes was also a hugely talented batsman, who smacked a matchwinning 134 in the first Test at Adelaide in 1884-85. In the next Test of that series, at Melbourne, he bowled England into a 2-0 lead with second-innings figures of 38.3-26-31-6. At Sydney two years later he did likewise - 6 for 28 off 46 (four-ball) overs, a match in which England were skittled for 45 on the first morning and still won. Legend has it that Barnes once made a match-saving century for Nottinghamshire after having more than one shandy too many. Appropriately, he later became landlord of a pub, and was only 46 when he died in Nottingham in 1899.

1989
Only the second tie in one-day history, at Trent Bridge, and England's first. Ian Healy at the non-striker's end scampered a bye when Carl Rackemann missed the last ball of the match from Phil DeFreitas. It was fitting that Healy should square things up: he earlier outran his runner Dean Jones, who was promptly invited to leave the field by England's captain David Gower.

1892
An England captain is born. The Hon. Freddie Calthorpe led England in all four of his Test appearances, in the West Indies in 1929-30. In what was supposed to be a timeless, deciding Test in Jamaica - it was eventually abandoned as a draw when the last two days before England's scheduled trip home were washed out - he failed to enforce the follow-on after West Indies replied to England's 849 with 286. As a result the series was drawn. He was a dashing batsman and a wobbly medium-pacer who captained Warwickshire between 1920 and 1929. Calthorpe was only 43 when he died in Worplesdon, Surrey, in 1935.

1996
Ally Brown answered his critics with a matchwinning hundred for England against India at Old Trafford, four days after he had been called a "clown" in the press after a scratchy debut innings. Brown's 118 gave England a 2-0 series win, but is the only century of a 16-match one-day career that has never delivered on his lusty county promise.

Other birthdays
1863 Arthur Mold (England)
1863 Charles Wright (England)
1870 Lionel Palairet (England)
1899 George Parker (South Africa)
1926 Gordon Leggat (New Zealand)
1955 Jock Edwards (New Zealand)
1960 Vinothen John (Sri Lanka)