Makhaya makes his entry
Birth of the first black man to play for South Africa. With an action consciously modelled on that of Malcolm Marshall, Makhaya Ntini made his ODI and Test debut in 1998. In 1999 his career looked over when he was convicted of rape. However, he was acquitted on appeal and went on to build a formidable international career, becoming a regular in the South African line-up and troubling opposition batsmen with steep bounce derived from deliveries bowled wide of the crease from over the wicket. In 2003, he became the first South African to take ten wickets in a Test at Lord's, and his 13 for 132 against West Indies in Trinidad in 2005 is the best match haul for a South African in Tests. Ntini became the third South African to get to 300 Test wickets, in January 2007. His form tapered off after that, but he remained among the top three wicket-takers in the 2000s. He was named South Africa's Cricketer of the Year in 2005 and 2006, and completed 100 Tests in 2009. But he played just one more Test after that, and was dropped for poor form. He announced his retirement from international cricket in November 2010.
It's a fair bet that Aaqib Javed and umpire Roy Palmer don't exchange Christmas cards, and though their quarrel wasn't up there with Mike Gatting v Shakoor Rana, it was pretty unedifying nonetheless. As the Old Trafford Test between England and Pakistan drifted away on the fourth evening, Aaqib decided to spice things up by working over Devon Malcolm with a barrage of bouncers. He was officially warned, and at the end of the over, Aaqib complained that Palmer had handed him his sweater with what the Wisden Almanack described as "more emphasis than usual, probably because it was caught in his belt". Aaqib's captain, Javed Miandad, didn't help matters at all. Nor did the match referee Clyde Walcott, who was decisive only in his indecisiveness.
It would be the killer entry on most people's CV, but Steve Waugh's twin centuries against England at Old Trafford probably come in second place, behind his 200 in Jamaica in 1994-95. Australia were in big trouble - 1-0 down and 160 for 7 - but Waugh kept them in the game with a brilliant, counterattacking 108. And when Shane Warne secured a first-innings lead (aided by one of the greater stumpings in Test history, Ian Healy's leg-side effort off Michael Bevan to get rid of Mark Butcher), Waugh closed the door on England with a ruthlessly drawn out 116. All this with a badly bruised hand, on a dog of a pitch, and with nobody having scored two centuries in an Ashes Test for 50 years. Wisden Cricket Monthly said he "wore down England with a certainty that was awe-inspiring".
Forget the Waughs, the first twins to play in the same Test came from New Zealand. Rose and Liz Signal both made their debuts in the first Test against England at Headingley, which started on this day in 1984. There the comparison with the Waughs end. It was Rose's only Test, and Liz only played five more times.
Another heroic batting display at Old Trafford, from Robert Croft. Croft survived over three hours for 37 not out, in the process salvaging a draw for England against South Africa. It kept England alive at 1-0, though they were barely breathing, having been battered here and in defeat at Lord's. Croft's reward was the axe for the last two Tests.
Test cricket's first triple-centurion is born. Andrew Sandham played 14 Tests and 23 innings for England. In 21 of them he made 402 runs and in the other two he made 477. That included a monstrous 325 in Jamaica in 1929-30, in Sandham's last Test, when he was pushing 40. Sandham was at his best square of the wicket, and made over 40,000 first-class runs. Most of them came for Surrey, where he and Jack Hobbs were a formidable opening partnership - they shared 66 century stands. Sandham also later coached Surrey. He died in Westminster in 1982.
In Glamorgan, a cricketer-turned-broadcaster is born. Most people remember Tony Lewis as the smooth, unsullied face of the BBC's Test coverage in the 1990s. But he was also the last man to captain England on Test debut. That was in Delhi in 1972-73, when Lewis got a duck - and then guided England to victory with 70 not out in the second innings on Christmas Day. He scored his only Test century in Kanpur later in that series, but played only nine Tests in all. After a long career with the BBC, including one unfortunate four-letter outburst live on air in 1991, he became president of MCC, and then chairman of the Welsh Tourist Board.
A crushing win for Pakistan at Headingley. In a miserably rain-affected summer, this was the only result of the five-Test series. The inspiration came from Imran Khan, who took 3 for 37 and 7 for 40, and in the process become the first Pakistani to take 300 Test wickets. And Saleem Malik began an unlikely Headingley love affair. Here he made 99, the highest score in the match, and on a terrible pitch in 1992 he made 82 and 84, both not out. In all, he averaged 108 there.
The day David Lloyd made the only half-century of his nine Tests, against India at Edgbaston. He was enjoying himself so much that he carried on to 214 not out. This was only Lloyd's second Test, and he was on the field for the whole match. It was also his highest first-class score, and England won, losing only two wickets in the match.