The perils of captaincy
A top batsman turned unsuccessful captain was born. Jimmy Adams' Test career started with a century against England, two in India, and an unbeaten double ton against New Zealand. But you can chart West Indies' decline by following his batting average, which was once the highest around: 81.07 after 12 Tests and 41.26 after 54. Given the captaincy when Brian Lara resigned it, Adams led West Indies to two rather streaky series wins but then captained them to their first series defeat against England since 1969, and went on to lead the Test team to seven consecutive defeats, culminating in the 0-5 whitewash down under that cost him his job (as a batsman too).
Australia's emphasis on sheer terrifying speed paid dividends as England capitulated to Lillee and Thomson again, losing the Ashes in this 171-run defeat in Sydney. John Edrich, made captain after Mike Denness dropped himself, had to go to hospital after the first ball he received from Lillee. Story of the series.
Another day in January, another Ashes series won and lost. Australia's innings win in Sydney gave them a 3-0 lead in the series. Poor young John Warr had figures of 0 for 142, Alec Bedser and Freddie Brown also conceded 100, and the absence of injured legspinner Doug Wright didn't make any difference: he had a bowling average of 42.47 against Australia.
A better day for England down under, and a big one for Bob Willis. Flown out as a replacement, he made his Test debut before being awarded his county cap - and enjoyed it fully, taking a very cheap wicket and making the first of his 55 Test not-outs, a record before Courtney Walsh. England's huge 299-run win in Sydney set them on their way to regaining the Ashes.
A great performance from Shaun Pollock, on his one-day debut, gave South Africa victory over England in the first ODI, in Cape Town. With South Africa 107 for 6, Pollock cracked a run-a-ball 66 and then took 4 for 34. England lost by five runs a game they should have easily won. It set the tone for the series (which they lost 1-6, but could feasibly have won 4-3) and the World Cup that followed it, in which a thoroughly demoralised England failed to win a single game against Test opposition.
For the first time in almost five years, Sri Lanka took a punt on opening up with Romesh Kaluwitharana, and boy did it pay off. He slammed a boundary-laden 77 in the day-nighter in Melbourne, Sri Lanka squeezed past Australia by three wickets, and almost inadvertently a pinch-hitting plan had come together. Within ten weeks, for all the paucity of Kalu's individual contributions, it would bring Sri Lanka the World Cup.
Birth of perhaps the fastest bowler of all time. For a player who never appeared in a Test match, Charles Jesse Kortright had a reputation second to none. So many of his contemporaries attested to his sheer blinding speed that you have to believe it. At one stage in his career, from 1895 to 1898, he had bowled 201 of his 297 victims in first-class cricket. An amateur all his life, when he was asked by John Arlott if he ever did anything except bowl fast, he replied: yes, he played golf and bowled legspin.
In the lead-up to the fourth season of the IPL, around 350 international and domestic cricketers went under the hammer and were bid for by the league's ten franchises. Gautam Gambhir was the most expensive signing, bought for US$2.4 million by Kolkata Knight Riders, who also paid big money for Yusuf Pathan ($2.1 million) and Jacques Kallis ($1.1million). The biggest surprise buy was Australian allrounder Daniel Christian, who had played just three T20s when Deccan Chargers bought him for $900,000. Eyebrows were raised when Sourav Ganguly, Chris Gayle and Brian Lara, who was looking to break into the IPL three years after retiring from international cricket, found no takers.
Birth of a player who wasn't always popular in county changing rooms but who batted bravely in the last of his two Tests, both on the disastrous 1985-86 Caribbean tour (another blackwash). After making only 1 and 0 on his debut in Kingston, David Smith top-scored in each innings in Port-of-Spain. The fact that he made 47 and 32 says everything about the quality of West Indies' pace attack and the dodgy pitches they were allowed to bowl on.
South Australia, all out for 156, one less than they made in their first knock, lost by the preposterous margin of an innings and 605 runs to New South Wales, who had scored a world record 918 on January 8, in Sydney.
Craig Wishart, born today, was a capable top-order batsman and an attacking strokeplayer but scored his maiden century only in his 18th Test, in Chittagong. He did better in one-dayers, playing every game of the 2003 World Cup, and scoring an unbeaten 172 against Namibia. Wishart was one of the 15 players who joined the strike after a dispute with the board led to the sacking of Heath Streak in 2004. He returned in 2005 but again fell out with the board after refusing to sign a new and controversial contract, and announced his retirement, saying he was "tired of Zimbabwe cricket, the fighting, and everything".