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December 17 down the years

History in Nagpur

Cook leads England to a remarkable series win

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Alastair Cook: 562 runs in four Tests
Alastair Cook: 562 runs in four Tests © BCCI

The end of a 28-year wait. Newly appointed captain Alastair Cook racked up 562 runs (three centuries) as England won the series 2-1 after a sleep-inducing draw in the fourth Test in Nagpur. Having levelled the series in Mumbai, England arrived for the third Test in Kolkata expecting a raging turner. But the Eden Gardens curator didn't oblige MS Dhoni's request. It may not have helped anyway since India's batsmen failed in both innings (James Anderson took six and Monty Panesar five) as R Ashwin top-scored with an unbeaten 91 from No. 8. Panesar and Graeme Swann took 47 wickets between them in the series.

The day the tide turned in another England tour to India, as they squared the series with an eight-wicket win in the second Test in Delhi. Most of them still had no answer to young leggie Laxman Sivaramakrishnan - he took seven of the 11 English wickets to fall - but Tim Robinson did. Playing in only his second Test, he anchored England's first innings with a magnificent eight-hour 160. England's old stagers Phil Edmonds and Pat Pocock (combined match figures: 160-57-306-13, combined age: 72) gave India a taste of their own medicine.

The urn returned to Australia after they completed a pounding of England in Perth to regain the Ashes lost in 2009. It took them only 14 days, a feat made possible thanks largely to Mitchell Johnson's scorching match-winning spells that fetched him 23 wickets in three Tests. There were tears among Australia's players at the WACA Ground after a morning on which they were made to wait by Ben Stokes, who sculpted a maiden century on a pitch that had become patchworked with deep and wide cracks. Johnson's dismissal of Matt Prior opened up one end, then Nathan Lyon defeated Stokes after lunch to begin the final drive to victory.

Lala Amarnath scored the first Test century for India, on debut against England in the first Test in Bombay. Victory for England by nine wickets was the result soon after lunch on the fourth day, but an Indian legend was born. India were precariously placed at 21 for 2 in the second innings when Amarnath raced to his hundred in 117 minutes. He hit 21 fours in his 118, and added 186 with CK Nayudu - the largest partnership of the match. Amarnath later said the hundred was his best, and he received gold and silver cups and money for his efforts. When he brought up the landmark, pandemonium broke loose: the applause was long and loud and hats were thrown in the air. Two spectators even ran on to the pitch to garland him, much to the annoyance of Nayudu who tried to shoo them off, forgetting the ball was in play. The wicketkeeper Harry Elliott saw the chance to run him out but Douglas Jardine signalled him not to.

A staggering performance from Trinidad's Phil Simmons, who was thrift personified as he hurried Pakistan to defeat in the World Series match in Sydney with amazing figures of 10-8-3-4, still the most economical for a completed ten-over spell in ODIs. In pursuit of West Indies' 215, Pakistan were 14 for 5 after Simmons took out Messrs Sohail, Mujtaba, Malik and Miandad, and though they recovered to something resembling respectability - Rashid Latif played perhaps the dullest ODI innings ever, a 72-ball 8 - they were still all out for 81. They didn't learn many lessons, though: when the teams next met, 26 days later, Pakistan were cleaned up for 71.

At the SCG, Sid Barnes and Don Bradman established a new fifth-wicket Test partnership record of 405. The two each hit 234 against England. It was also a fifth-wicket world record for first-class cricket, and at the time there was only one bigger in Test cricket, 451 by Bradman and Bill Ponsford for the second wicket at Kennington Oval in 1934. Wisden reported that brilliant sunshine on Sunday transformed the pitch, which rolled out perfectly on Monday when cricket took place in glorious weather. The biggest crowd of the match, 51,459, saw Barnes bat all day.

More misery for England at the raw hands of Jeff Thomson. He took seven wickets in Australia's nine-wicket victory in the second Test in Perth. It put them 2-0 up after two in a series they would eventually win 4-1, and took Thommo's series tally to 16. The match was notable for Colin Cowdrey being flown out to open at the age of 41, for his first Test in almost four years, but after some typically brave resistance the irresistible Thomson did for him twice.

Charlotte Edwards, who has been called the female Freddie Flintoff , was the youngest player ever to play for England when she made her debut in 1995 (a record since broken by team-mate Holly Colvin). Edwards shot to fame in 1997, when she reeled off 12 centuries, and the day before her 18th birthday she scored a then-record ODI score of 173 not out in a World Cup match against Ireland. In March 2006, Edwards was appointed England captain when Clare Connor retired. Edwards won the ICC Women's Cricketer of the Year award in 2008. Under her captaincy England retained the Ashes in Australia in 2008, won the 50-over World Cup after 16 years in March 2009, and two months later took the inaugural World Twenty20. In 2013 she led England to back-to-back Ashes triumphs although the team's record in global tournaments took a hit with a number of near-misses. In 2014, Edwards was part of the group England players to be awarded central contracts by the ECB, a milestone for the women's game.

A big victory for West Indies in the second Test in Kanpur, despite the best efforts of Indian legspinner Subhash Gupte. He took 9 for 102 in the first innings, but after both sides managed 222 first up, Garry Sobers creamed 198 (his fifth century in as many Tests), and Wes Hall - 11 for 126 in the match - nailed India on the final day.

The most prolific batting debut of all. RE "Tip" Foster cracked 287 in the first Test in Sydney; it remains the highest score by an Englishman in a Test in Australia, and is one of only five debutant Test double-hundreds. England took a huge first-innings lead, and though Australia fought back with a brilliant 185 not out from Victor Trumper, England sealed a five-wicket victory on the sixth day of the timeless Test.

Till recently, the South African team was notable for its frightening array of allrounders, but the record of Aubrey Faulkner, who was born today, bears favourable comparison with Messrs Pollock, Kallis, Boucher and Klusener. He averaged 40 in the middle order and 26 with his legbreaks at a time when South Africa were still finding their feet at Test level. His most famous performance came in the victory over England in Johannesburg in 1909-10, when he added eight wickets to scores of 78 and 123. He committed suicide in his indoor school in 1930.

Birth of the graceful Indian batsman Mushtaq Ali, who overcame a propensity to toss his wicket away to average 32 from his 11 Tests, spread over 18 years. He formed a fine opening partnership with Vijay Merchant, and in the second Test in 1936, at Old Trafford, the pair added 203 for the first wicket in 150 breathtaking minutes. His last Test, against England in Madras in 1951-52, was India's first victory, at the 25th attempt.

A cricket-playing prison guard was born. Charl Langeveldt, a warder at the Drakenstein prison where Nelson Mandela was held, first came to prominence as a cricketer for his ability to swing the ball at genuine pace. He made his one-day debut in 2001 and his Test debut in 2005 against England in Cape Town, where he took 5 for 46 in the first innings despite a fractured finger as South Africa won by 196 runs. In the West Indies in 2005, he produced one of his most thrilling displays of bowling by taking a hat-trick in the last over to give South Africa a one-run win in Barbados. In March 2008, having been left out of the Test side for two years, Langeveldt was called up to the squad for the tour of India, but he decided to opt out after controversy that he was picked over Andre Nel as per Cricket South Africa's transformation policy.

A World Cup winner is born. Top-order batsman Barbara Daniels played nine Tests and 55 ODIs for England between 1993 and 2000 and was vice-captain of the national side for three years in the mid '90s. She worked for the ECB as their first National Manager of Women's Cricket from 1998 to 2000.

Other birthdays
1910 Keki Tarapore (India)
1933 Bruce Morrison (New Zealand)
1946 Albert Padmore (West Indies)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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