England rule the world
With an innings victory over India at Edgbaston, England became the No. 1 Test side for the first time since the rankings were established in 2003. Alastair Cook's remorseless run-accumulation - he finished six heartbreaking runs short of a triple-hundred here - reflected England's dominance in the series. He added century partnerships with Andrew Strauss, Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan, and England gained a first-innings lead of 486. With the win, England took the series 3-0, with a Test to go. The only thing India, who had their share of poor luck in terms of injuries, could pat themselves on the back for was having sportingly called Ian Bell back at Trent Bridge after he had been run out when he walked off thinking it was tea.
One of the fastest bowlers of all time is born. Shoaib Akhtar was twice clocked going past the 100mph barrier - though the figures remain unofficial - but he generated as much interest for his bowling action and his attitude to the game. When on song, Shoaib was a fearful proposition - however, along with the star performances came several controversies and brushes with the authorities. He had to remodel his action after suspicions of throwing, and his attitude came in for severe criticism after his listless performances in Pakistan's 1-2 series defeat against India in 2003-04. He showed glimpses of his lethal best on a few occasions since then, but missed more Tests than he played, though he was in the headlines often, due to injury and controversy (an alleged drug scandal in 2006, a spat with team-mate Mohammad Asif the year after, and being declared unfit to play after an attack of genital warts). Shoaib retired from international cricket after a disappointing 2011 World Cup.
Birth of the talented but accident-prone wicketkeeper Bruce French. He began by being bitten by a dog in the West Indies, then during a practice session in Pakistan he was hit on the head by a ball thrown back by a spectator. As he walked across the hospital grounds to have his eyebrow stitched, he was knocked down by a car. When he woke up after the operation, he hit his head on an overhead light. In the circumstances, playing in 16 Tests for England was no mean feat.
In the fifth and final Test of a blazing summer, Viv Richards completed his highest Test score, a murderous 291 at The Oval, finishing with 829 runs in the series - which West Indies won 3-0. King Viv eventually scored 1710 Test runs in 1976, a record that stood for 30 years, until Mohammad Yousuf compiled 1788 runs in 2006.
The concluding day of one of the most dramatic Test matches of all time. Big-hitting Gilbert Jessop made only one century at this level, but it was a classic. Scored in only 75 minutes, it revived a second innings that was in tatters at 48 for 5 when he went in. England beat Australia thanks to Yorkshire allrounders George Hirst and Wilfred Rhodes, who made 15 for the last wicket. If they didn't utter their famous "We'll get 'em in singles" line, they should have.
A 237-run win in the third Test in St Lucia gave India an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-Test series and their fourth series win in the West Indies. The whole of the third day was lost to rain, but India managed to win with time to spare on the fifth, after the hosts crumbled to 108. The Indian seamers dominated the Test, sharing 12 wickets between them. Centuries by R Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha helped India gain a handy first-innings lead to work from. West Indies, though, failed to show the resilience that had helped them draw the previous Test, in Jamaica.
An unlikely hero for England. Nick Cook took eight wickets on his debut, including 5 for 35 in the first innings, as England beat New Zealand by 127 runs at Lord's - but he shouldn't even have been playing. Cook only got in because Phil Edmonds ricked his back getting out of his car (yes, really). Cook made the most of the opportunity: he took 34 wickets in his first five Tests. Shame that he then took only 18 in his next (and final) ten appearances.
A round 200 from Mohsin Khan, the first double-century in a Lord's Test since 1949, set Pakistan on their way to a ten-wicket win over England. The unlikely match-winner was Mohsin's opening partner, Mudassar Nazar, who took 6 for 32 in the second innings with his gentle medium-pacers. This was Mudassar's 25th Test - in the previous 24 he'd taken only 11 wickets.
Birth of a cricketer whose maiden Test was cancelled because he'd been picked to play in it. When Surrey's enthusiastic fast-medium bowler Robin Jackman joined England's Caribbean tour as a replacement in 1980-81, he was hurried into the team for the second Test in Georgetown - only for the Guyanese government to raise objections to his years as a player in South Africa. When he eventually got onto the pitch, in Bridgetown, he took a wicket in his first over in Test cricket - at the age of 35. He finished with 14 wickets in his four Tests.
Birth of an unexpected hero. Picked to exploit the seamer's wicket at Headingley in 1992, unsung Somerset bowler Neil Mallender did exactly that. His 3 for 72 and 5 for 50, one of the best performances by a bowler making his England debut, helped win the match by six wickets. After Pakistan had won the next Test to take the series 2-1, Mallender wasn't capped again - but he'd had his moment in the sun. He went on to become a successful umpire.
Birth of Unaarrimin, known as Johnny Mullagh, part of the famous Australian Aborigine team that toured England in 1868, playing an eyebrow-raising total of 47 matches. A talented allrounder, Unaarrimin hit 1698 runs at an average of 23 and took 245 wickets at only ten apiece. He died in 1891, the day after his 50th birthday.
The cunning medium-pacer Harry Dean was born. Although he played in only three Tests, his bowling decided the outcome of the last of those, where his 4 for 19 helped England dismiss Australia for 65 at The Oval and win the Triangular Tournament. He equalled what was then a world record in first-class cricket by taking 17 for 91 for Lancashire v Yorkshire in 1913.
Birth of Australian allrounder Lisa Sthalekar, who made her maiden Test hundred on the tour of England in 2003. Sthalekar, an offspinner and middle-order bat, took eight wickets in the 2005 World Cup, which Australia won. She also made a half-century in the final, against India. In February 2007, Sthalekar won the Women's International Cricketer of the Year for Australia, edging out Karen Rolton, the captain, by one vote. She admitted to suffering from depression in her autobiography, released in 2012, and retired after winning the World Cup in 2013.