The greatest one-day match
The greatest one-day match in history, and arguably the greatest game of cricket anywhere. The 100 overs of the World Cup semi-final between Australia and South Africa at Edgbaston had just about everything. Everyone knows about the agonising end, when the match was tied and Australia went through to the final because of their superior run rate in the earlier Super Six stage, but there was so much more to the game than that heartbreaking finale. There was Michael Bevan and Steve Waugh coolly leading Australia's recovery with a patience reminiscent of Imran Khan and Javed Miandad's base-laying go-slow in the 1992 World Cup final; a seam-bowling masterclass from Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald, who had combined figures of 9 for 68; the performance of a true champion from Shane Warne (4 for 29) after South Africa had raced to 48 for 0; a titanic all-round display from a barely-fit Jacques Kallis; and some breathtaking hitting from Lance Klusener. But then, with two more balls to spare and one run needed, Klusener set off on that fateful run only to find that Allan Donald had lead in his boots, and South Africa's dream died in the cruellest manner possible.
Despite a brittle body and a score of injuries, Shane Watson, born today, stuck it out in international cricket long enough to make it as a successful one-day allrounder. At the crease he is an aggressive brute with a broad chest, a right-handed disciple of Matthew Hayden, and someone who doesn't need to follow-through to gain a boundary. While he has dazzled in ODIs and T20s, his Test returns have been less satisfying. In his first eight Tests as an opener, he scored seven fifties and a 120 but he struggled to maintain that consistency going forward. The low point came in 2013 in India, when he was axed along with three other players for failing to complete a task set by coach Mickey Arthur. He returned to the fold for the final Test in Delhi - captaining the side in Michael Clarke's absence - and then went on to crack two centuries and two fifties in the back-to-back Ashes series. After a challenging start to the 2015 World Cup, and an enthralling battle with Wahab Riaz, he finished 64 not out as Australia beat Pakistan in the quarter-final on their way to the title. Watson is also a fixture with Rajasthan Royals in the IPL.
Brian Statham, born today, was the quintessential English seamer - a disciple of line and length, and the original if-they-miss-I'll-hit bowler (over 40% of his Test victims were bowled). He was also a true gentleman: unassuming, hugely popular, and happy to give the limelight to Frank Tyson or Fred Trueman. Statham played the good cop to Trueman's bad. Between them they were England's best-ever new-ball partnership. Though he took 252 wickets at an average of less than 25, Statham's workhorse role meant that he only took one ten-for in his 70 Tests, against South Africa at Lord's in 1960. His first-class record (2260 wickets at 16.37), when he was the main man for Lancashire, was sensational. He died of leukaemia in June 2000.
One of the more famous catches in English cricket history, by a man who played only one first-class match. Sydney Copley was on the Nottinghamshire ground staff when he had to field as a substitute in the first Test between England and Australia at Trent Bridge. And with Australia on 229 for 3, chasing 429, Copley took a superb catch at mid-on to end a dangerous partnership between Stan McCabe and Don Bradman. Bradman went on to make a fine 131, but England won by 93 runs.
When rain stopped play with two hours remaining in the Championship match between Hampshire and Glamorgan in Bournemouth, the Hampshire players went home assuming that was that. But it wasn't. Glamorgan trooped back out when the rain stopped, stood around for two minutes, and were awarded the match by the umpires. MCC subsequently overturned the result on the grounds that there had been a misunderstanding.
Birth of the Worcestershire wicketkeeper Steve Rhodes, who looked the part in his first season of Test cricket before fading from the scene. Against New Zealand and South Africa in 1994, he excelled with bat and gloves, most notably saving the Lord's Test against New Zealand. But a horror tour of Australia followed, in which he made only 72 runs in nine innings, and his keeping went to pieces too, and Rhodes was not picked again.
Birth of left-arm spinner Nick Cook, who only made his debut, at Lord's in 1983, because Phil Edmonds ricked his back getting out of a car, but he didn't look back. He took 5 for 35 in his first innings, and four five-fors in his first four Tests. But after taking 32 wickets at an average of 17 in those four Tests, he was impotence personified: his last 11 Tests brought 20 wickets at an average of 57.
A shock for England, as a West Indies side that was supposed to be in terminal decline pummelled them by an innings in the first Test at Edgbaston. Courtney Walsh took eight wickets, in the process becoming the first man to pass 450 Test wickets, and Curtly Ambrose - despite bowling absolutely magnificently - ended with match figures of 34.5-18-48-1. All was well that ended well, though: England went on to win 3-1, their first series victory against West Indies for 31 years.
On the same day, in Colombo, Pakistan grabbed a tense five-wicket victory over Sri Lanka. Their star was Wasim Akram, who took his 25th five-for and smacked 78 in the first innings, adding 90 for the last wicket with Arshad Khan. Wasim then saw Pakistan home after they wobbled to 89 for 5 in pursuit of 131 for victory.
1902 Alec Hurwood (Australia)