Cricket in a spot
Ten years after the first big match-fixing scandal broke, news came that the ongoing Lord's Test was under investigation over spot-fixing allegations. Mazhar Majeed, a Pakistan player agent, had been filmed, in a sting operation by English tabloid News of the World, claiming to have bribed Pakistan's bowlers to bowl no-balls on demand. According to the report, Majeed accepted £150,000 to arrange a fix in which Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif bowled no-balls at specific moments of the match. He also alleged that Pakistan captain Salman Butt and wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal were involved, along with three other unnamed cricketers. The ICC's anti-corruption unit and Scotland Yard began investigations, and in February 2011, Amir, Asif and Butt were handed bans for five, seven and 10 years respectively. The sanctions against Asif and Butt had two and five years suspended, which meant none of the three could play official, sanctioned cricket till September 2015.
The Test debut of a bowler who was once controversial and went on to be nothing but successful. Having picked up just the one wicket in the first innings in Colombo, offspinner Muttiah Muralitharan went on to dismiss Tom Moody and Mark Waugh off consecutive balls in the second essay. Australia looked to be all at sea against both Don Anurasiri and Muralitharan, who bowled 34 overs between them in that drawn match. Muralitharan was also no-balled seven times for throwing in a Test in Melbourne in 1995-96, but his action was since cleared by the ICC, leaving him free to do what he did best - bamboozle batsmen with the extravagant turn he got from his loose-jointed arm. Responsible for about a third of the wickets taken by Sri Lanka, Murali went on to become the most prolific of them all, with a round 800 wickets when he retired from Tests in 2010. He retired from international cricket after appearing in the 2011 World Cup final. Among his many records: 22 ten-fors, including twice in four consecutive Tests.
Another remarkable finale in a remarkable Ashes series. Set 129 to win the fourth Test at Trent Bridge, England slipped to 57 for 4 and 116 for 7 before Ashley Giles and Matthew Hoggard managed to crawl over the finishing line, securing a three-wicket win and a 2-1 series lead. Channel 4, which 13 days earlier had attracted record viewing figures for the final overs of the Old Trafford Test, reported that 8.4 million people, or 45% of the UK TV audience, tuned in for the agonising last rites.
The last day of one of the most amazing County Championship matches of all time. At the very least, Nottinghamshire must have felt safe from defeat when they made 527 in their first innings in Northampton (Tim Robinson 209, Graeme Archer 158) - only for Northamptonshire to reply with a colossal 781 for 7 declared, the highest total in their history and the highest ever against Nottinghamshire. Anil Kumble then took 5 for 43 as Notts made only 157 in their second innings. Their 527 is the highest score by a team losing a first-class match by an innings.
Birth of Lindsay Hassett, perhaps best remembered as the Australian captain who lost the Ashes after 19 years despite winning the toss in all five Tests. But even in that 1953 series, his last, he demonstrated what a superb little batsman he was, hitting hundreds at Lord's. He averaged 46.56 in a Test career that had started in 1938.
On a difficult pitch at Lord's, Kent's stylish England allrounder Frank Woolley "showed all his well-known skill" (said Wisden) in hitting 176 against Middlesex. This made him the sixth man to make 100 first-class hundreds. He finished his career with 145 centuries and scored a total of 58,969 first-class runs, second on the all-time list. He was also one of the greatest fielders of all time, the only non-wicketkeeper to take 1000 catches.
The last hurrah of Denis Compton. Forced to retire by an ongoing knee problem that had dogged him for the best part of a decade, Compton signed off with 143 against Worcestershire at Lord's.
The birth of a human slingshot. Lasith Malinga propelled himself to fame during the 2007 World Cup, where his extraordinary round-arm exocets helped carry Sri Lanka all the way to the final in Barbados against the eventual champions, Australia. Along the way he proved irresistible at times, not least against South Africa in Guyana, when he grabbed four wickets in consecutive deliveries. He took six on Test debut in Darwin in 2004 and nine in Napier in 2005 but in 2007, a knee injury forced him out of cricket for nine months. On his return, he stuck to limited-overs cricket and made a Test comeback only in 2010 when he joined the 100-wickets club. In April 2011, he finally quit Tests to preserve himself for the shorter formats. It worked out well when later that year he became the first bowler to take three hat-tricks - this one against against Australia in Colombo.
Ravindu Shah, who was born today, burst on to the scene in 1998 with three half-centuries in his first ODI series. Given his consistency, style and wristy strokeplay, Shah was soon talked about as a batsman of genuine class. He had an impressive 2003 World Cup with two half-centuries in the league stages and contributions of 34 and 46 besides. However, he was unable to completely live up to his promise due to injury and had his opportunities for Kenya curtailed as a result of infighting within the board.
Pakistan were sliding to an innings defeat when Asif Iqbal was joined by Intikhab Alam at The Oval. Together they put on 190 for the ninth wicket, a Test record that lasted until 1997-98. Intikhab's 51 was an ideal foil for Asif's joyful 146 off 244 balls. Pakistan lost the Test and the series, but its final day belonged to them.
Australia finished the match at The Oval and the series on 27 for 5, relieved to cling on for a draw but leaving the Ashes in England. Jim Laker took the last wicket, his 46th in the five matches, a record for a series in England. Nineteen of them were taken in the previous match, the famous fourth Test at Old Trafford.
The birth of Tony MacGibbon, the fast-medium bowler who spearheaded New Zealand's attack from 1950 to 1958. He was also a useful late-order batsman and a superb slip fielder. On the 1953-54 tour of South Africa he was crippled by enteritis, but still took 22 Test wickets. His 35 runs in a low-scoring match in Auckland in 1955-56 contributed considerably to New Zealand's maiden Test victory, against West Indies.
In Somerset's second innings at Weston-super-Mare, Yorkshire slow left-armer Alonzo Drake took all 10 wickets, in 8.5 overs, finishing with figures of 10 for 35. He bowled unchanged throughout both innings.
Death of a South African who was one of only 13 players to have made a Test debut after the age of 40. Geoff Chubb was that rarity in Test cricket, an opening bowler who played in glasses. When he made his debut, at Trent Bridge in 1951, he joined two other 40-year-olds in the team, Eric Rowan and captain Dudley Nourse. South Africa won by 71 runs. In this, his only Test series, Chubb had innings figures of 5 for 77 at Old Trafford.