The death of Phillip Hughes
The cricket world received a terrible jolt when Phillip Hughes died at the age of 25 after being struck by a bouncer on the side of his head, below the helmet. Playing a Shield game in Sydney, Hughes was hit when he missed an attempted hook, causing a cerebral haemorrhage. He underwent surgery after being rushed to hospital from the SCG but did not regain consciousness. His hometown, Macksville, came to a standstill for his funeral on December 3, which was attended by cricketers of every stripe, and dignitaries including the Australian prime minister Tony Abbott.
Desmond Haynes became only the fourth batsman to be given out handled the ball in Tests, in the fourth Test between India and West Indies, in Bombay. A ball from Kapil Dev went off the inside edge and pad and was rolling towards the stumps when Haynes brushed it away. It didn't affect the match too much, though: it was a high-scoring draw that included Dilip Vengsarkar's second hundred in successive Tests and Viv Richards' sixth hundred in 18 matches against India. It was also the Test debut of Richie Richardson, who started inauspiciously: lbw b Shivlal Yadav 0.
A debutant who did slightly better on this day was Kepler Wessels. He was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa, but qualified for Australia and cracked 162 on debut, on his adopted home ground in Brisbane, in the second Test against England. The visitors were under the cosh from the moment Geoff Lawson (6 for 47) bundled them out for 219 early on the second morning. Wessels, helped by a skittish 53 from Bruce Yardley, then gave Australia a lead of 122. Jeff Thomson (5 for 73) tore through England's middle order in the second innings, and Lawson picked up another five as Australia took a 1-0 lead with a seven-wicket victory. The wheels were coming off for England, who went on to lose the series 2-1.
The one-day Hero Cup final in Calcutta featured Anil Kumble conquering West Indies with an outstanding display. He took 6 for 12, the best ODI figures by an Indian, with all his wickets coming at a cost of four runs in a 26-ball spell. West Indies had elected to bowl - a tactic that had served them well in their semi-final victory over Sri Lanka - and a target of 226 seemed perfectly gettable when they made it to 57 for 1, but then nine went down for 66 and the game was up with almost ten overs to spare. Roland Holder became the first person to be given out bowled by a TV umpire - the on-field officials weren't sure if the ball had gone off wicketkeeper Vijay Yadav on to the stumps. A crowd estimated at close to 100,000 remains a world record for any day's cricket.
A nine-year long, 15-series undefeated streak away from home ended for South Africa when India took an unassailable 2-0 series lead, routing the visitors inside three days in Nagpur. The opening Test, in Mohali, had followed a similar script, and here batsmen from both sides struggled on a dusty pitch that took turn from the opening session. India made 215 after opting to bat and it turned out to be the highest total of the match. South Africa were bundled out for 79, with R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja sharing nine wickets between them. Imran Tahir took five in India's second innings, but it still left the visitors an improbable 310 to chase. They got about halfway there: Ashwin took another seven to keep them to 185.
South Africa needed one run off the final ball of the fourth women's ODI, in Coff's Harbour, to get their first international win over Australia, but Masabata Klaas was run out to end the match in a tie - only the fifth in women's ODIs. Chasing 243, South Africa had staged a recovery from 40 for 4, thanks to half-centuries from Marizanne Kapp and captain Dane van Niekerk, and needed eight from the final over. A four from Klaas off the penultimate ball levelled the scores.
Australia staved off being clean-swept in the series by South Africa with a convincing seven-wicket win in the day-night dead rubber in Adelaide. Usman Khawaja became the first Australian batsman in over 30 years to score a hundred in his first innings as opener. Four new players had been introduced into the under-pressure Australian XI, three of them debutants - Matt Renshaw, Nic Maddinson and Pete Handscomb, the last of whom made a fifty. The match was played under the cloud of a ball-tampering charge laid on Faf du Plessis, South Africa's captain, who responded with an unbeaten hundred on day one of the Test.
A tortuous defeat for Sri Lanka in a one-off Test against India in Chandigarh. India crawled to 288, but it was enough for an innings victory - and Sri Lanka's totals of 82 and 198 used up 51.5 and 120.4 overs respectively. Only two men made double figures in the first innings, and Asanka Gurusinha's unbeaten 52 accounted for 63.4% of the total. Playing in only his third Test, Indian left-arm spinner Venkatapathy Raju had remarkable match figures of 53.5-38-37-8. It was India's first win in 15 Tests - the barren 14 had all been overseas.
An aggressive young batsman who has dismantled bowling attacks aplenty, Suresh Raina, who was born today, began with a string of fine performances at the junior levels, which landed him a spot in the India Under-19 squad and then a call to the senior side, following which he was out for more than a year. Raina finally played to his true potential in the Asia Cup in June 2008, scoring two centuries, including his highest, 116 against Bangladesh, and finishing as the second-highest run getter. After playing 98 ODIs, he was at last handed a Test cap in 2010, and he promptly scored a hundred and two half-centuries in his first three Tests, against Sri Lanka and Australia. He has mostly been out of the Test side since, though he remains a crucial member of the limited-overs sides, and was a lynchpin for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL.
Masterly blasting from Viv Richards, who smote 80 off only 39 balls to take West Indies to a comfortable eight-wicket win over Pakistan in the first match of the Wills Series, in Gujranwala. One over from Abdul Qadir went for 24, and it was the start of a run of six fifties in eight ODI innings for Richards. Pakistan's 218 for 5 off 40 overs seemed to be competitive, but Richards' brutal assault pushed West Indies home with 27 deliveries to spare.
The first day of a match between the Bombay Governor's XI and Frank Worrell's Commonwealth XI in Bombay. Nothing too exciting in that, but it did mark the debut of the oldest man ever to play first-class cricket. Raja Maharaj Singh took his first-class bow... at the age of 72! He made 4, didn't bowl, took no catches, and didn't play again.
Some saw it as the end of civilisation, others as a sign that the county was being dragged screaming into the modern world, when Yorkshire's committee voted 18-1 to relax the Yorkshire-born-only policy, which had tied their hands. They stopped short of allowing overseas players (Dean Jones was on standby, and it was another year before Sachin Tendulkar turned out for them). "It's a bloody disgrace," fumed Fred Trueman. "Anybody who was not born in this great county should not be allowed to take the field for Yorkshire."
Birth of Christopher Mpofu, the promising Zimbabwean right-arm seamer. He made his ODI debut against England in October 2004 and caused their top order a few anxious moments. His early Test appearances did not set the world alight, and he lost his place after taking 3 for 400 in five matches. He benefited from Heath Streak's appointment as Zimbabwe's bowling coach and took seven wickets at an average of 22.71 during the 2011 World Cup. He was out of the Test side for five years starting that year, but he continued to play a big role in the team's ODI progress.
In her decade playing for England, Laura Newton, born today, transformed herself from a middle-order batsman to opener, and turned from a fast-medium bowler to an offspinner. And it paid off. She struck just one Test hundred and her one-day best was 78, but in her explosive, flamboyant role, she had licence to go at the ball. She quit the game in May 2007, aged just 29, citing the pressures of being an amateur player in an era of increasing amounts of international cricket.