The man who became a cause
Despite his dazzling talent, Basil D'Oliveira, who was born today, will always be remembered for the wrong reasons. "Dolly" was excluded from playing top-class cricket in South Africa because he was a Cape Colored. He came to play league cricket in England, was snapped up by Worcestershire, and within a couple of years was making his Test debut for England at 34 against West Indies at Lord's. Despite all-round success, he was controversially omitted from the team to tour South Africa in 1968-69, only to be called up as a replacement for the injured Tom Cartwight. But the South African government made it known that D'Oliveira was not welcome, forcing the tour to be cancelled and sparking an international incident that was not resolved for 25 years. Throughout the fracas D'Oliveira exuded decency and dignity.
Before Corey Anderson exploded on New Year's Day in 2014, it was Boom Boom who held the record for the fastest hundred in one-day history for 17 years. Promoted to pinch-hit at No. 3 in his first ODI innings, Shahid Afridi savaged Sri Lanka in the KCA Centenary Tournament match in Nairobi. He took only 37 balls to reach three figures, comfortably beating Sanath Jayasuriya's existing record of 48. And that wasn't the only record to go: Afridi hit 11 sixes (equalling Jayasuriya's ODI record); the 28 runs he took off one over from Jayasuriya was then a record for batsmen not called Jayasuriya.
A big day for Ian Healy. In the first Test in Rawalpindi, Healy caught Wasim Akram off the bowling of Colin Miller to overtake Rod Marsh's world record of 355 Test dismissals. In all, Healy took 366 catches and 29 stumpings in his 119 Tests. His record stood for exactly nine years before Mark Boucher overtook his mark in the Karachi Test in 2007.
Only three Tests for Australian George Tribe, who was born today, but he was a distinguished performer for Northants throughout the 1950s. Tribe had the ability to mix up chinamen with orthodox left-arm spinners, and with his disciplined batting and brilliant fielding at short leg he was a true allrounder. He did the double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets on seven occasions, including six in a row between 1952 and 1957, and was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1955.
With his textbook action Reg Perks, who was born today, took over 2000 first-class wickets for Worcestershire, and managed 100 wickets in a season on 16 occasions. But he played only two Tests, a selectorial oversight that seems harsh in view of the fact that he managed a five-for in both of those games. On debut he took 5 for 100 in the timeless Test of 1938-39, when England closed a 10-day Test on 654 for 5 (chasing 696 to beat South Africa) in Durban because they had to begin the rail journey back to their ship in Cape Town. And the following summer, Perks took 5 for 156 against West Indies in England's last Test before the Second World War at The Oval.
Rain in Colombo meant that no play was possible on the final day of the third Test. Good news for Sri Lanka, who clinched their first series victory over Australia; less so for Steve Waugh's men, whose subcontinental woes continued. But they didn't take defeat too badly here: they would win their next 16 Tests.