All Today's Yesterdays - May 23 down the years

1918
The birth of Compo. Denis Compton was the original Brylcreem boy, long before the word "metatarsal" was ingrained in the fabric of our culture, and his knee held the same status as David Beckham's foot. (Compton eventually did his knee playing football for Arsenal, and his kneecap is in the museum at Lord's.) He was a breathtakingly talented batsman, renowned for the latest of sweeps, who had all the cavalier abandon and audacity of youth, although he was from the Inzamam school of yes-no running: Trevor Bailey described a call from Compton as "a basis for negotiation". As well as that, Compton was a fine fielder and a dangerous, unorthodox left-arm spinner. His annus mirabilis was 1947, when he made 3816 runs, including a record 18 centuries, 11 of them in the County Championship for Middlesex. For good measure, he took 72 wickets. Compton made 17 Test hundreds in all, 13 of them in England, the highest being 278 against Pakistan at Trent Bridge in 1954. He also made the fastest triple-century in first-class history, smashed in 181 minutes for MCC against NE Transvaal at Benoni in 1948-49. He remained a hugely popular figure into his retirement, and a huge crowd attended his memorial service in Westminster Abbey after he died in 1997.

1966
In Salisbury, Rhodesia, the enigma that is Graeme Hick is born. Hick has been dismissed by many as a front-foot thumper who was found out at the top level, but only in 20 years' time will we fully appreciate just what an unlikely failure his was: this is a man who smashed 405 not out against Somerset in 1988, who scored 2000 first-class runs at the age of 20 in 1986, the youngest-ever, who smashed a hundred first-class hundreds by the age of 32. His mental frailties are undeniable, but even Ray Illingworth would struggle to get over some of the treatment Hick has had: dropped just three Tests after his maiden Test century, that mighty 178 at Bombay in 1992-93; dismissed publicly by Illingworth, who came into Hick's life at the wrong time and never trusted him. Then there was Mike Atherton's infamous Sydney declaration, when Hick was on 98 not out and on the brink of his first Ashes hundred. He never did get one. There was one summer in particular that did for Hick: in 30 Tests from 1993-1995 - 23 of them against Australia, West Indies and South Africa - he averaged 46.61. A summer of plenty beckoned against India and Pakistan, but a series of lame dismissals (a hook to fine leg here, a loose waft to cover there) led to his being dropped. He's been back and forth ever since, but since January 1996, Hick's Test average is a pathetic 18.86.

1996
The day of the clown. Alistair Brown's first innings for England's wasn't the best - a scratchy 37 in the first one-dayer against India at The Oval - but it produced an extraordinary critique from Simon Wilde in The Times. He wrote that: "If Alistair Brown had appeared on a one-wheeled bike, wearing a silly hat and a red nose, and thrown custard pies at the umpires, he would scarcely have struck a more ridiculous figure than he did yesterday." Brown got rid of the silly hat in time to make a matchwinning hundred in the third one-dayer at Old Trafford four days later.

1963
Given his record, Trinidad paceman Tony Gray, who was born today, was a bit unlucky not to play more than five Tests and 25 one-day internationals. His stats are sensational: Gray averaged 17 with the ball in Tests, and 18 in one-dayers, when he took a wicket every 28 balls. That included 6 for 50 against Australia on his home ground in 1990-91. His 6ft 6ins allowed Gray to generate disconcerting bounce, which allied to genuine pace made him a fearsome proposition. But injuries, added to the emergence of the likes of Ian Bishop, limited his appearances. He also played for Surrey.

1993
Another day, another England collapse. Not content with throwing away a winning position against Australia in the first two one-day internationals of the season, they caved in again at Lord's. England breezed to 96 for 0 in pursuit of 231, before wickets began to fall steadily. Eventually they fell 19 runs short. England had lost seven one-dayers in a row, and Australia had taken the series 3-0. But even Allan Border admitted England should have won 2-1.

1966
Woorkeri Raman, the Indian opener who was born today, made his debut against West Indies at Chennai in 1987-88, the match in which another debutant, Narendra Hirwani, took 16 wickets. Not surprisingly, therefore, Raman's contribution was overshadowed, but he made a crucial 83 in the second innings. That was the highlight of a mixed 11-Test career, although he also made 96, his highest score, at Christchurch in 1989-90. He also made 313 for Tamil Nadu against Goa at Panjim in 1988-89.

Other birthdays
1903 Bill Farrimond (England)
1923 Nirode Chowdhury (India)
1924 Narain Swamy (India)
1968 Mark Alleyne (England)
1974 Darren Maddy (England)