Oval Diary

Sad end for Monty but it's paradise for Milton

This is not the first time that both captains in a Test match were born in the same country, in this case, Graeme Smith and Kevin Pietersen in South Africa. That was in 1887, when Arthur Shrewsbury and Percy "Greatheart" McDonnell led England and Australia respectively at Sydney. Both were born in England, although McDonnell emigrated when he was six. Nor is it the first match involving these two sides when both captains were born in the same country. That was in the second Test between them in 1889, in Cape Town, when William Milton and Monty Bowden, both Englishmen, were captains.

Bowden, who remains England's youngest captain, never came back to England and eventually made his way to what was then Rhodesia, where he died in a wooden hut and was buried in a coffin made of whisky crates. Milton, who became Sir William, also ended up in Rhodesia, as an administrator, before retiring to Cannes.

KP on familiar ground

Nor is Pietersen remotely alone in being an England captain who was not born in England. Of the 78 men to have done the job, 18 were born outside England. He is the fourth born in South Africa, following Tony Greig, Allan Lamb and Andrew Strauss. Other lands of origin are India (3), Trinidad (2), Ireland (2), Wales (2), with Australia, Scotland, Peru, Italy and Germany having one each.

Langer can join 100 club

A significant little ceremony took place at The Oval on Friday when Mark Ramprakash had his photograph taken with four of the other 24 men to have made a hundred hundreds. Ten of them are still alive. It is confidently predicted that Ramprakash will be the last member of the Centurion Club, such is the dearth of first-class cricket (and indeed only Don Bradman didn't play in the County Championship). But if one-day matches are included there are two other players with a hundred hundreds: Sachin Tendulkar (65 first-class, 53 one-day); and, more surprisingly, Matthew Hayden (79, 27). Ricky Ponting on 99 (69, 30) and Justin Langer on 97 (83, 14) should get there.

No match for Wally

Who was the last player to average as high as Pietersen's 50.36 on assuming the England captaincy? It was Michael Vaughan, who had an average of 50.98 when he took over in 2003. Others of recent vintage had been nowhere near as successful. Michael Atherton averaged 34 when he was made captain, Nasser Hussain 37 and Michael Brearley 22, a figure which stayed the same (Brearley could not survive in this era). Wally Hammond averaged 60 when he took over in 1938.

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