Captain Cook lands
Birth of an English run machine. Alastair Cook exploded into Test cricket at 20 with a hundred against India in 2006 and cemented his spot with back-to-back hundreds against Pakistan the same year. A stylish batsman with a simple approach to batting, Cook scored seven Test hundreds by his 23rd birthday. In the 2010-11 Ashes he scored 766 runs in seven innings to set up England's first win in Australia in 24 years. In 2012, when Andrew Strauss retired after England lost the series and the No. 1 ranking to South Africa, Cook took over as Test captain, and led the side to a historic series win in India, where he also became England's leading Test century-maker and the youngest player to pass 7000 runs. He then added a 3-0 win over Australia in the home Ashes in 2013 to his list of laurels, but England surrendered the urn later that year after a forgettable 100th Test for Cook in Perth. Two months before the World Cup of 2015, Cook was sacked as England's ODI captain in the wake of poor batting form and results, but he showed his resilience by leading England to a 3-2 Ashes win that summer, and then produced the longest innings in England's Test history, an 836-minute 263 in Abu Dhabi in October. In the 2016 summer, Cook became the first England batsman to cross the 10,000-runs milestone, but later that year things went pear-shaped, when he led England to a 4-0 loss in India and their first Test defeat against Bangladesh.
An unlikely cricketing giant was born. Small, bald and wizened, and known as the Gnome, Clarrie Grimmett didn't play Test cricket till he was 33, but went on to become the first bowler to take 200 Test wickets, the last 44 (which matched his age) in the 1935-36 series in South Africa. His legspin partnership with Bill O'Reilly was the greatest of all time, and he frequently celebrated his Christmas birthday on the field of play, often for South Australia v Queensland, taking six wickets in 1929, five in 1933, and setting up an innings win in 1939. South Australia were forever playing Queensland in Adelaide on Christmas Day at the time. They did so 24 times from 1926 to 1969.
Birth of a batsman who made a superb start to his international career. From the moment he made his England debut in the NatWest Series in 2000, the Somerset left-hander Marcus Trescothick - who had been a prolific schoolboy batsman, then took some time to show that form in county cricket - established himself as a key player in both forms of the game. But the pressures of the international game and the endless touring took its toll and he twice left tours early. He retired from international cricket in 2008 and wrote his autobiography, which dealt extensively with his struggles with depression.
The international career of Glamorgan and England fast bowler Simon Jones, who was born today, seemed over before it began when he suffered a horrific knee injury on the opening day of his debut in Brisbane in November 2002. But he returned and formed a vital part of England's seam attack in the 2005 Ashes. He claimed 18 wickets at 21 in the series, and was named one of Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Year. Injury problems returned, and he played little since that series till the 2008 season. Impressive performances put him back in the reckoning for a place in the England side, before he incurred another knee injury.
No Christmas cheer for Clarrie Grimmett's famous skipper, who controversially left him out of the 1938 trip to England. Playing for South Australia v Victoria in Adelaide, Don Bradman was out first ball.
A conventional slow left-armer, Hedley Howarth, who was born today, had excellent control and flight, which made him New Zealand's leading slow bowler for some time. He only took five wickets in an innings twice, both in the subcontinent in 1969-70 - and was often used in long spells to stem the flow of runs. At Lord's in 1973, when New Zealand had a real chance of beating England, he sent down 70 overs in the second innings, finishing with 4 for 144. He worked in his father's wholesale fish company during his career - according to Wisden, "even on match days, when team-mates often noticed that the match ball had a curious fishy smell" - and after retirement.
In the first Christmas Day's play in Test cricket, West Indies completed a three-day win in Adelaide, their only success in a series they eventually lost 4-1.
A record-breaking partner was born. Playing for Karachi Whites v Quetta in Karachi in 1976-77, Mansoor Akhtar scored 224 in an unbroken stand of 561 with Waheed Mirza (324). Their opening partnership, still the highest in first-class cricket, was a hammer cracking a nut: Quetta made only 104 and 163 and lost by the little matter of an innings and 294.
Birth of Bangladesh fast bowler Tapash Baisya, who played 21 Tests and 56 ODIs between 2002 and 2007. On Test debut at 19, Baisya managed to take only one wicket but hit an unbeaten 52 from No. 9. His best match figures - 6 for 117 - came three Tests later, in Chittagong against West Indies. Baisya also played the 2003 and 2007 World Cups, though he did not feature in the memorable win against India. He joined the rebel Indian Cricket League in 2008 but returned to the official fold a year later.
The one-day international between India and Sri Lanka in Indore was the first international match to be called off because of an unsafe pitch. Sri Lanka chose to bat but appealed to the umpires as early as the third over, to the annoyance of the local Madhya Pradesh cricket association officials.
The first Christmas Day's play in any first-class match: Hawkes Bay v Wellington in Napier.
1872 Charlie Smith (South Africa)
1875 Walter Lees (England)
1900 Walter "Tich" Cornford (England)
1912 Donald McRae (New Zealand)
1970 Azhar Saeed (UAE)
1970 Mohammad Ramzan (Pakistan)