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Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi makes his entrance
Birth of Mansur Ali Khan, aka the Nawab of Pataudi junior. The Nawab of Pataudi senior had scored a Test century for England, but his son "Tiger" played exclusively for India, 40 times as captain (in 46 Tests), scoring 2793 runs and six centuries. Not bad for someone whose Test career didn't begin until a car crash had cost him the sight in one eye. Pataudi Jr was credited with the strategy that saw India play a spin-heavy attack for much of the 1970s, and it was under him that they won their first Test overseas, against New Zealand in 1968. Pataudi, arguably India's finest captain, first took charge in 1962, at 21, becoming the youngest captain in Tests, a record that stood for over 40 years. He retired in 1975, and served as a match referee between 1993 and 1996. He died of a lung infection in 2011.
A maiden, and epic, Test century for Brian Lara turned into a crucial and commanding one, the first of nine against Australia. Wisden described his 277 in Sydney as an innings of "breathtaking quality" which turned a series that was slipping from West Indies. Richie Richardson, who scored a century of his own, later said: "I can hardly remember my hundred. It was difficult playing and being a spectator at the same time." At the close on the third day Lara had made 124.
Australia drubbed England 5-0 in the Ashes - only the second whitewash in the bilateral contest - with a win in the final Test in Sydney. It was a fitting way to get over the loss in 2005, and also a fitting farewell for Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and Justin Langer - the Test careers of all three came to a close with the series.
In the first ever one-day international, in Melbourne, John Edrich was made Man of the Match for his top score of 82, but England's bowlers were too expensive to stop Australia winning by five wickets. The match was played only because the third Test had been washed out. To the astonishment of the Australian board, 46,000 turned up - it was then they realised that this one-day malarkey might be a good, money-spinning idea.
Marlon Samuels, born today, was talented enough at the start of his career to be compared to Viv Richards, before he had played first-class cricket. He scored his maiden hundred in Kolkata in 2002 but struggled with his discipline off the field. In 2007, Samuels was embroiled in a match-fixing controversy after the Nagpur police alleged he had passed on match-related information to an alleged bookie. In 2008, after his bowling action was deemed illegal, Samuels was found guilty of match-fixing and banned for two years. He returned in 2011, and in England in 2012, against a top-class bowling attack in difficult conditions, Samuels scored 386 runs in five innings. Later that year his gutsy 78 in the World Twenty20 final helped West Indies to their first world title since the 1979 World Cup.
England won by 185 runs in Melbourne thanks to the slow left-arm of Wilfred Rhodes, who took 7 for 56 and 8 for 68. Australia's totals would have been much lower if eight catches hadn't been dropped off Rhodes' bowling.
One of Pakistan's early stalwarts was born. Wicketkeeper, batsman and captain, Imtiaz Ahmed played in 41 Tests from 1952-53 to 1962, making 93 dismissals, including seven catches, all off Fazal Mahmood, in Pakistan's first Test win against England, at The Oval in 1954. The highest of his three Test centuries was 209, at No. 8, against New Zealand in Lahore in 1955-56.
Birth of Brendon Kuruppu, who set two Test records while making his debut for Sri Lanka, against New Zealand at the Colombo Cricket Club. His 201 was at the time the highest not-out score by a batsman playing in his first Test, let alone his first Test innings - and it was the slowest Test double-ton of all time until Gary Kirsten's 275 in 1999-2000. Kuruppu's innings lasted 777 minutes, which must be some kind of devil's number as it is three minutes short of 13 hours. He kept wicket too, so he had his pads on for the entire match.
In his final Test innings, against Pakistan in Sydney, Greg Chappell signed off a great career with an innings of 182. Against West Indies eight years earlier, he'd made the same score on the same ground on the same day.
Birth of the man described by John Warr as "neither one thing nor the other". Bob Cunis, an honest seamer and lower-order scrapper, played 20 Tests for New Zealand between 1964 and 1972 with limited success. He made only one fifty and took only one five-for, the latter against England in Auckland in 1970-71, when he bowled Alan Knott four runs short of a second hundred in the match. Cunis went on to coach New Zealand for a time, and in his playing days was also a very handy rugby three-quarter.
After being called for throwing in a Test match (see 26 December), Muttiah Muralitharan had to suffer the same humiliation in a one-day international, against West Indies in Brisbane.
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