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December 3 down the years

Wicketkeeper's day out

Starring Messrs Boucher and Ames

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Mark Boucher: keeper with the most Test dismissals
Mark Boucher: keeper with the most Test dismissals © AFP

Mark Boucher, who was born today, was often overshadowed by the spectacular run-scoring feats of two contemporaries, Andy Flower and Adam Gilchrist, but he holds the record for most Test dismissals by a keeper, 555. He was the first keeper to take 500 Test catches. Boucher seamlessly replaced Dave Richardson in 1997-98, and played a key role in a team largely in the top two in both forms. He overtook Ian Healy as the leading wicketkeeper in October 2007. Gilchrist edged past him, but Boucher, who pouched it back, is likely to keep the record for a while. A fighter to the core, he played 75 consecutive Tests before he was left out for a brief while. A very useful batsman, he made five Test hundreds, and could pack a punch when needed - he made an ODI hundred in 44 balls and three fifties in 22 balls or fewer. In 2012, he announced the upcoming England tour would be his last, but a freak injury during a warm-up game in Somerset, where a flying bail injured his eye, forced him out of the tour. He announced his retirement shortly after and returned home.

Birth of one of England's finest allrounders. Trevor "Barnacle" Bailey was a dour batsman and a fine fast-medium swing bowler who met the classical allrounder's criterion of having a higher batting average than bowling one (albeit by only 0.53). But Bailey will always be remembered for scoring the slowest half-century in first-class cricket. It took him 357 minutes. That came in the first Test in Brisbane in 1958-59, but Bailey's finest hour came in 1953, when he and Willie Watson batted out most of the last day at Lord's to earn England a second Test draw that was ultimately crucial to them regaining the Ashes. He later became a respected summariser with the BBC's Test Match Special radio team. He died at the age of 87 in a fire in his retirement home in Essex.

Delirium in Kandy, after Muttiah Muralitharan, the town's biggest icon, ended the cat-and-mouse game with Shane Warne by regaining the record for most Test wickets. Warne had well retired by then, and the next-best - Anil Kumble - was still chugging along to 600 wickets when Murali captured his 709th, that of Paul Collingwood in the first innings. Murali took nine in the Test - six in the first innings - that was Sanath Jayasuriya's last and Chaminda Vaas' 100th.

Birth of the most prolific wicketkeeper-batsman of all. Les Ames scored over 37,000 runs between 1926 and 1951 for Kent and England. He is also the only wicketkeeper to score 100 first-class hundreds. He played 47 Tests for England, averaging over 40, and Andy Flower and Adam Gilchrist are the only keepers in Test history to score more than his eight Test hundreds. Ames died in Kent in 1990.

A new world record for Australia, who hammered West Indies by an innings and 27 runs in Perth to record their 12th consecutive Test victory. West Indies were never in the game from the moment Glenn McGrath took a hat-trick to reduce them to 19 for 4 in the ninth over, and their fortunes were aptly summed up by Brian Lara's second-innings dismissal, bowled as he missed a horrible swipe at Stuart MacGill. It was their 15th defeat in 17 overseas Tests.

One of the more romantic stories of modern times, in which 18-year-old Indian legspinner Laxman Sivaramakrishnan spun England to defeat in the first Test in Bombay. Playing in only his second Test, Siva bamboozled the English batsmen and took 12 for 181 in the match. Amazingly, it was India's only victory in 42 Tests between 1981 and 1986. The only good news for England was - at last - a first Test ton for Mike Gatting, in his 54th innings.

The cheapest five-wicket haul in international history. Courtney Walsh helped West Indies rout Sri Lanka by 193 runs with remarkable figures of 4.3-3-1-5 in Sharjah. Sri Lanka crumbled from 45 for 2 to 55 all out, their second-lowest one-day score.

Pakistan sealed their first series victory over West Indies for 39 years with another innings victory in the second Test in Rawalpindi. Faced with a first-innings deficit of 168, West Indies were blown away in just 41 overs, with only Carl Hooper and Sherwin Campbell reaching double figures.

The birth of Tibby Cotter, the short Australian fast bowler who made his Test debut against England in 1903-04. In just his second Test, he took 8 for 65 to guide Australia to victory. He took 7 for 148 in the first innings at The Oval in 1905, five-fors in the first two Tests of the 1907-08 Ashes, and 17 wickets at 21.47 in an Australian Ashes success, in 1909. He was one of the six leading cricketers who refused to tour England for the 1912 Triangular tournament, bringing an end to his international career.

Australia went 2-0 up after two Tests with a 124-run victory over West Indies in Sydney. As West Indies looked to bat out the final day, the key moment came when Shane Warne spun a ripper through the defences of top-scorer Shivnarine Chanderpaul to hit middle stump. From 152 for 3 on the stroke of lunch, West Indies fell away for 215. The tide of world cricket had turned: it was the first time for 39 years that West Indies had lost the first two matches of an overseas series - it was to become a regular occurrence since.

"Iron" Mike Atherton fought his corner to successfully secure a draw for England in the second Test against Pakistan in Faisalabad. After a topsy-turvy match notable for Abdul Razzaq's maiden Test hundred and another masterclass in patience from Graham Thorpe, Atherton stood firm despite the middle order getting the jitters as England batted out the last two sessions for a draw.

An aggressive presence in South Africa's middle order, Ken Funston, who was born today, played 18 Tests but never scored a century. His nearest miss, 92 in Adelaide, came on the 1952-53 tour, when the South Africans stunned Australia with their athleticism; Funston, lurking in the covers, was an integral part of that. He missed the 1955 tour of England, and his best match was a heavy defeat: he scored 70 and 64 not out against the 1957-58 Australians at the Wanderers when he joined Jackie McGlew in a brave, tedious and ultimately futile rearguard action.

The first-ever Test at the Gabba in Brisbane (previous Tests there had been at the Exhibition Ground) produced yet another match-winning hand from Don Bradman. He cracked 226 before Bert Ironmonger spun South Africa to an innings defeat with match figures of 9 for 86 off 77 overs. In what was a timeless Test, South Africa had to wait three-and-a-half days to resume their first innings, having closed the second day on 126 for 3.

Mithali Raj, who was born today, emerged as one of India women's most capable batsmen with a staggering 214 against England in Taunton at the age of 19. Representing Railways in the domestic competition, Mithali began by playing with stars like Purnima Rau, Anjum Chopra and Anju Jain for Air India. She emerged as one of India's most dependable bats, scoring heavily in both one-dayers and Tests, and went on to captain India to their first World Cup final, in 2005 against Australia, and their first series victory in England, in 2006. Raj is one of six women to score more than 4000 runs in ODIs. In 2014, she captained India to a memorable Test victory over England in Wormsley.

Other birthdays
1854 William Milton (South Africa)
1958 Richard Reid (New Zealand)
1963 Ashley de Silva (Sri Lanka)
1974 Charl Willoughby (South Africa)
1977 David Sales (England)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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