AB goes mental
Just a year after New Zealand's Corey Anderson broke the record for the fastest ODI hundred - getting one off 36 balls - South Africa's AB de Villiers bettered it by five balls, against West Indies in Johannesburg. He also broke the record for the fastest fifty, reaching his in 16 balls, one less than Sanath Jayasuriya took in 1996, and equalled the one for most sixes in an innings - 16. Hashim Amla and Rilee Rossouw also made hundreds in the game, the first time three triple-figure scores were made in an ODI innings, and South Africa scored 439. In reply, West Indies managed 291 for 7.
A glorious victory for England - or so we thought. After unprecedented collusion between Hansie Cronje and Nasser Hussain, which led to innings forfeitures for the first time in Test history, England staged a successful run-chase to win by two wickets with five balls to spare in Centurion. But the match was later discredited by the revelation that Cronje received money from bookmaker Marlon Aronstam in order to instigate a positive result.
Two double-hundreds in his first four Tests and an average of 54, but Vinod Kambli, born today, didn't play a Test for India since 1995. Why? Well, he had his share of disciplinary problems for one, those double-hundreds came against Zimbabwe and England (circa '93), and two years later he made three ducks in six innings against West Indies. As a schoolboy he added a staggering 664 for the third wicket with his mate Sachin Tendulkar, a partnership broken only when their team's benevolent coach decided to give someone else a go.
The classic 1960-61 series took another twist when West Indies levelled things with a big victory over Australia in the third match in Sydney. Their star turns were Garry Sobers, who cracked a majestic 168, wicketkeeper Gerry Alexander, who made the only first-class hundred of his career, and Lance Gibbs and Alf Valentine, who both took eight wickets in the match.
A black day for a once-proud cricketing nation. West Indies were walloped by 351 runs in the fifth Test against South Africa in Centurion to complete a miserable whitewash, the first 0-5 defeat in their history. Only two men reached double figures in the first innings, and after Jonty Rhodes spanked a 95-ball hundred that included six sixes, West Indies subsided again.
As the Adelaide Test lurched to a conclusion, the Australian board met and sent its now infamous cable to the MCC, accusing the English of "unsportsmanlike behaviour" and describing Bodyline as a "menace to the game". The board sent the cable normal rate, but newspapermen sent their copy marked urgent. The result was, the London papers were made aware of the cable before it was received by the MCC.
Aravinda de Silva's dreamy form continued, helping clinch a Sri Lankan series win over Zimbabwe. He made an unbeaten 143 as they made 326 for 5 to seal the series 2-0. As well as being Sri Lanka's highest total to win a Test batting last, it was, astonishingly, de Silva's seventh hundred in eight Test innings at various grounds in Colombo.
Only 17 wickets fell in the drawn fifth Test between England and India in Madras, which ended on this day. Keen to force the pace in a series that England were losing, Keith Fletcher became the first captain to win the toss and bowl in India. He soon regretted it as Gundappa Viswanath and Yashpal Sharma batted well into the third day in a partnership of 415, the highest for the third wicket in Tests until Martin Crowe and Andrew Jones bettered it nine years later. Then came the real fireworks. While his opening partner Graham Gooch laced 50 in 46 balls and 100 in 139, Chris Tavaré eked out 35 off a staggering 240 deliveries (exactly 40 overs) in an innings that lasted over five and a half hours. In the second innings every Englishman got a bowl - except Paul Allott, ironically enough, with Gooch keeping wicket for the last 12 overs and Bob Taylor turning his arm over.
Pakistan's first Test victory in Australia. They had their new-ball pair of Imran Khan and Sarfraz Nawaz, who shared 18 wickets, to thank. Imran took 12 of those 18, and Asif Iqbal made a crucial 120. Pakistan were left needing only 32 to level the series in what was the final Test, and got there with eight wickets left.
Record-breaking stuff from the Indians in Dhaka, in the Independence Cup final. With Sourav Ganguly hammering 124 and Robin Singh 82, they made 316 for 7 to beat Pakistan with one ball to spare, the highest total at the time to win a one-dayer batting second.
South Africa sealed a thumping seven-wicket win against Australia in the one-dayer in Perth with a massive 22 overs to spare - their fifth in a run of six straight wins against the Aussies. The sixth came five days later in the first final of the tournament, but led to a run of four without a win: the remaining two finals, the Waugh/Gibbs World Cup match at Headingley, and the famous, agonising semi-final tie at Edgbaston.
Before he mangled proverbs, Navjot Sidhu butchered spin bowlers. Good ones too. Here he flayed eight sixes - just two short of Wally Hammond's Test record (though Wasim Akram moved the bar up to 12 two years later) - off a Sri Lankan attack that included Muttiah Muralitharan (41.5-3-162-5: even in the maelstrom he picked up a five-for). Sidhu's 124 and a record-breaking 142 from Sachin Tendulkar (it made him the first man to hit seven Test tons before his 21st birthday) set up India's innings victory over Sri Lanka in Lucknow. Anil Kumble, with 11 for 128, finished the job.