February 16 down the years

Sri Lanka pinch a classic

Kusal Perera's stunning 153 not out takes them home in Durban

Kusal Perera and Vishwa Fernando pulled off a corker of a win in Durban in 2019 © Getty Images

One of the all-time great finales in Test cricket took place in Durban on this day, with Sri Lanka clawing to a one-wicket win against South Africa. The last-wicket pair of Kusal Perera and Vishwa Fernando came together with 78 needed for what would have been an extremely unlikely win - against the might of Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Duanne Olivier and Keshav Maharaj. But Perera was equal to the task, taking the fight to the bowlers, as Fernando hung determinedly on, and finishing with an unbeaten 153 to pull off the 13th one-wicket win in Test history, and only the third successful 300-plus chase at Kingsmead ever.

A whispering birth. No bowler in history has run up with quite the lithe, rhythmic grace of Michael Holding - hence his nickname, "Whispering Death". Peculiarly, Holding's 60 Tests came against only four countries - England, Australia, India and New Zealand - but he was the sort of classy practitioner who could produce anywhere: 11 of his 13 five-fors came overseas, including two on an Oval featherbed in 1976, when he tore England apart with a magnificent performance (8 for 92 and 6 for 57). And there was that over to Geoff Boycott in Barbados in 1980-81, when Holding softened him up with the first five balls and sent the off stump flying with the sixth. In Wisden Cricket Monthly, Boycott's team-mate Chris Old was described as "having the look of a man who had seen a monster". Holding also whacked six Test fifties, four of them off England. He is now a high-class TV commentator, with a voice to make listeners drool.

The end that justified the means. England's Bodyline tactics weren't popular, but they brought the Ashes back today with a six-wicket victory that gave them an unassailable 3-1 lead with one to play. Eddie Paynter was the hero, overcoming tonsillitis to make a decisive 83 in the first innings. The relative failure of Don Bradman - who made 76 and 24 and was out to Harold Larwood in both innings - was also crucial to England's success. England's celebrations were muted, however, by the news that Australian batsman Archie Jackson, aged just 23, had died of tuberculosis.

The beginning of the most successful batting debut of all. Lawrence Rowe, playing in Kingston, the town of his birth, became the only man to make a double-century and a hundred on Test debut. At the end of this first day he was not out on 94, which he extended on the second day to a mighty 214, before cracking an unbeaten 100 in the second innings. But the match was drawn, thanks mainly to Glenn Turner, who carried his bat in New Zealand's first innings for a brilliant 223 - the highest score by a batsman carrying his bat. Interestingly, Turner and Rowe had both made a double-hundred in their last first-class match before this Test.

A meticulous 307 from Bob Cowper as the final Test between Australia and England at the MCG drifted towards a draw. With the series squared at 1-1, Australia retained the Ashes. Cowper batted 727 minutes in all - at the time it was the longest first-class innings in Australia - and was also the first triple-hundred in a Test in Australia, a feat that even eluded Don Bradman. This was also the last of wicketkeeper Wally Grout's 51 Tests - he ended with 187 dismissals.

Wasim Jaffer, born today, scored a triple-century in his second first-class match and much was expected of him when he made his Test debut in February 2000, but Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock proved too hot to handle. In 2006 he scored his maiden Test hundred - against England - in Nagpur and followed with a double in the West Indies. But Gautam Gambhir's success as a Test opener meant Jaffer was forced to return to domestic cricket, where he continued to dominate bowling attacks. He captained Mumbai to Ranji titles in 2008-09 and 2009-10, as well as overseeing West Zone's 16th Duleep Trophy success in early 2010. The year after that he became the highest run-getter in the Ranji Trophy, going past team-mate Amol Muzumdar's 8237 runs, at the Wankhede, his home ground.

Australia pulled off a world-record T20I chase, 245 for 5, in Auckland against New Zealand in a match where records fell like ninepins. Thirty-two sixes were hit in all, nine of them by Martin Guptill, who finished on 105 after an all-guns-blazing partnership with Colin Munro, and then watched D'Arcy Short, David Warner and Aaron Finch monster Australia to a win with room to spare. Andrew Tye and Ben Wheeler both conceded 64 each off their four overs, the joint second-most expensive in T20Is.

Plenty of candy for Gary Kirsten, who took 188 off the cricketing babies of the United Arab Emirates in the second match of the 1996 World Cup in Rawalpindi. It was the highest score in the World Cup for nearly 20 years, and he fell just one short of the record at that time, Viv Richards' 189 against England in 1984. South Africa won at a canter, predictably, but only after Allan Donald had felled the UAE's captain, Sultan Zarawani, with a blow to the head first ball. Zarawani had only himself to blame: you don't come out to face Donald wearing a sunhat and expect a half-volley.

Birth of the South African allrounder Cyril Vincent, a useful batsman and a fine, accurate left-arm spinner. In 25 Tests he hit a couple of fifties, both against England, although he did his best work with the ball. He took three five-fors, all against England, all in drawn Tests. Vincent had a very good strike rate for a spinner (a wicket every 69 balls) and a distinguished rabbit: Wally Hammond, whom he dismissed ten times. He died in Durban in 1968.

West Indies took the field in a Test without Garry Sobers for the first time in 18 years today. This first Test against Australia in Jamaica, which was drawn, was notable for a brutal 142 from Keith Stackpole. In particular he got stuck into quick bowler Uton Dowe, leading to some of the crowd erecting banners announcing an 11th commandment: "Dowe Shall Not Bowl."

Fast bowler Kyle Jarvis, son of Zimbabwe cricketer Malcolm Jarvis, was born on this day. He came to attention in the 2008 Under-19 World Cup, and then impressed with his pace in senior cricket. He was included in the Zimbabwe squad for the West Indies tour of 2009-10, but had to withdraw owing to injury, and returned to international cricket in Zimbabwe's first Test after their return to the top level, against Bangladesh in Harare in 2011. It was against the same opponents and at the same venue that Jarvis took 7 for 115 in the match two years later, his best performance to date.

The start of England's tour of West Indies, and a shock victory. Nobody gave England much hope in the first one-day international, in Barbados, but Mike Atherton - in his first one-dayer for nearly three years - anchored them to 202 for 5 before Devon Malcolm (3 for 41), Chris Lewis (3 for 18) and Alan Igglesden (2 for 12) bowled them to a famous win.

Birth of the man who invented the "chinaman" delivery. Trinidadian Ellis "Puss" Achong was a slow left-armer of Chinese extraction, from whom the expression for the left-arm spinner's wrong'un is believed to originate. The story goes that, in the second Test at Old Trafford in 1933, he had Walter Robins stumped. Robins left the crease cursing, "Fancy being out to a bloody Chinaman," to which Learie Constantine replied: "Do you mean the bowler or the ball?" Achong played six Tests without much success, although he did find the Lancashire Leagues more conducive to his art: he took over 1000 wickets there.

A double international is born. Surrey's Andy Ducat played one Test, in 1921 - the call came as such a surprise that he thought the telegram was a wind-up - and six matches for England's football team in the old half-back position. He also led Aston Villa to victory in the 1920 FA Cup final. Ducat died at Lord's in 1942, while batting in a match between Home Guard units.

Other birthdays
1868 Albert Rose-Innes (South Africa)
1917 Jack Martin (England)
1931 Gamini Goonesena (Sri Lanka)
1946 Mevan Pieris (Sri Lanka)
1978 Suresh Perera (Sri Lanka)