Three cricketers go to prison
In a historic decision, three Pakistani players were sentenced to jail terms for their involvement in spot-fixing during the Lord's Test in 2010. Salman Butt, who received two and a half years, Mohammad Asif (one year), and Mohammad Amir (six months), were serving ICC bans when they were tried by a London court, charged with accepting corrupt payments, and conspiracy to cheat. While Amir and the players' agent, Mazhar Majeed, who was sentenced for two years and eight months, pleaded guilty before the trial began, Butt and Asif denied the charges and were found guilty by a jury. The evidence in the trial included hidden-camera footage of a sting conducted by the now-defunct newspaper News of the World, in which an undercover journalist met Majeed, who told him he could have Asif and Amir bowl no-balls at specified times during the match. The three were free to return to official cricket once their bans were lifted in September 2015.
The first concession in international cricket history. In the third one-dayer against Pakistan in Sahiwal, Indian captain Bishan Bedi called his batsmen from the field - they needed only 23 off 14 balls with eight wickets in hand - as a protest against the bowling of Sarfraz Nawaz, who had just sent down four bouncers on the trot, none of which were called a wide. Never shy when it came to sticking to his principles, Bedi already had form in this area: in the fourth Test against West Indies in Jamaica in 1975-76, he declared India's first innings closed as a protest against intimidatory bowling. A second concession occurred in 2001 - when Alec Stewart gave a match at Headingley to Pakistan - though a few games have been abandoned because of crowd trouble, most notably the 1996 World Cup semi-final between India and Sri Lanka in Calcutta.
The end of the longest innings in first-class cricket. Rajeev Nayyar, a 31-year-old middle-order batsman, took 1015 minutes (five minutes short of 17 hours) to compile a career-best 271 for Himachal Pradesh against Jammu & Kashmir in the Ranji Trophy. He faced 728 balls and hit 26 fours and, rather rashly, one six.
Virender Sehwag arrives. India were on the verge of a collapse in Bloemfontein when Sehwag, on debut, joined his idol Sachin Tendulkar at the crease. Tendulkar played the lead role with a magnificent 155 but Sehwag wasn't standing in his shadow. "I know you're tense. You're never going to be this tense again, so enjoy the moment," Tendulkar told him, and that's what he did. Sehwag got his hundred in 157 balls and added 220 with Tendulkar to stage a first-innings recovery. But Shaun Pollock took 6 for 56 in the second innings to set up a nine-wicket win for South Africa.
Kraigg Brathwaite starred in West Indies' first Test win away from home and outside of Bangladesh in nine years - against Pakistan >in Sharjah. Brathwaite became the first opener to carry his bat in both innings, and on the last day, he and wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich nervelessly saw West Indies home to their target of 153. Devendra Bishoo took seven wickets in the match to make it an extraordinary 18 in the three-match series for him - though West Indies lost the first two Tests, albeit having taken both into a fifth day. The Sharjah win was Jason Holder's first as Test captain.
A hat-trick for Saqlain Mushtaq as Pakistan thrashed Zimbabwe in the third one-dayer in Peshawar, a match continually interrupted by crowd trouble. Zimbabwe were set to chase 225 from 34 overs and Saqlain removed Nos. 8, 9 and 10 - John Rennie, Gavin Rennie and Andy Whittall - and the match ended there as Alistair Campbell was absent hurt.
Pakistan's first series win over Australia in 20 years, and how: they won the two Tests in the UAE by 221 and 356 runs, the latter, in Abu Dhabi, being their biggest ever win. And all this without enjoying the services of their premier offspinner, Saeed Ajmal, who was banned for chucking. The stars instead were the ageing Misbah-ul-Haq, who, to everyone's disbelief, equalled the record for the fastest Test hundred (breaking the record for the fastest fifty on the way, having scored a hundred in the first innings as well), and Younis Khan, who followed twin centuries in Dubai with a double in Abu Dhabi. Azhar Ali also scored twin centuries in Abu Dhabi.
Birth of Vaughan Brown, the New Zealand offspinner whose only Test wicket cost Richard Hadlee a ten-for. In the first Test of the 1985-86 series, in Brisbane, a rampant Hadlee had taken the first eight wickets to fall when Brown had Geoff Lawson well caught in the deep... by Hadlee himself. Frank Keating described it as the catch of the century, not so much for the catch itself (though it was eminently droppable) but because, with Dave Gilbert (Test average: 7) and Bob Holland (3) at Nos. 10 and 11, Hadlee was well set to become only the second bowler to take all ten in a Test innings, after Jim Laker (Anil Kumble later achieved the feat against Pakistan in Delhi in 1999). Brown was also the first winner of the New Zealand Cricket Council's "Young Player to Lord's" scholarship, in 1979, although he had to return after injuring his neck in a car accident.
Birth of a late developer. New Zealander Bryan Young was a journeyman wicketkeeper and lower-order bat with Northern Districts for almost ten years before he reinvented himself as a dogged opening batsman to great effect in the early 1990s. He ground out 38 (off 167 balls) and a relatively skittish 53 (off 122) on debut in Brisbane in 1993-94, and the following winter, in the second Test against South Africa, he treated the Durban crowd to a painstaking half-century, made in 333 minutes, despite New Zealand being well on their way to defeat. But Young could win Test matches too: his 120 anchored the remarkable chase (324 for 5) against Pakistan in Christchurch in 1993-94, and he hammered an unbeaten 267 in the innings victory over Sri Lanka in 1996-97.
Allrounder Roger Blunt was born in Durham today. He played in New Zealand's first nine Tests, but this was no case of a rat joining a sinking ship - Blunt's parents emigrated when he was six months old. He started off as predominantly a legspinner but developed into a stylish batsman whose bowling was a handy second suit. He was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year before New Zealand had played a Test, after an impressive 1927 tour, and he hit 42 off an eight-ball over, with seven sixes, for West Christchurch against Riccarton in 1923. And in 1931-32 he slammed a run-a-minute 338 not out for Otago against Canterbury. Blunt died in London in 1966.
A drawn second Test against West Indies in Delhi extended India's winless run to 25 matches, a national record, but having been pasted by an innings in the first Test they were probably happy to get away unscathed. As high-scoring draws go, this wasn't a bad one. Sunil Gavaskar flashed the quickest of his 34 Test hundreds, off only 94 balls on the first day, and when he reached 104 he became the third man to reach 8000 Test runs after Garry Sobers and Geoff Boycott. There were also tons for Dilip Vengsarkar and Clive Lloyd, as well as a successful return to the Test arena for Wayne Daniel, who took three wickets in each innings in his first Test appearance for seven years.
Patsy Hendren hit an even 100 for MCC against Victoria in a tour match in Melbourne, thus becoming the fifth batsman to make a century of first-class centuries, after WG Grace, Tom Hayward, Jack Hobbs and Phil Mead. Hendren went on to make a further 70 tons before retiring in 1937.
1884 Claude Floquet (South Africa)
1892 Joe Small (West Indies)
1902 Charles Jones (West Indies)
1934 Dick Richardson (England)
1951 Azmat Rana (Pakistan)
1977 Hemantha Boteju (Sri Lanka)