Victory in Oz
India's first Test series win in Australia came after persistent drizzle washed out the final day of the fourth match, in Sydney. It denied India the emphatic 3-1 scoreline that looked likely when Australia were made to follow on for the first time at home since 1988. The architects of the victory were Cheteshwar Pujara, who made 521 runs in the series, including 193 in Sydney, and Jasprit Bumrah, who took 21 wickets at 17. Rishabh Pant, India's 21-year-old wicketkeeper, followed up his maiden Test hundred, at The Oval in 2018, with a second in Sydney.
The last day of one of the longest and most successful Test careers, which began in 1971. Imran Khan took 362 Test wickets, including 40 (a record for Pakistan) against India in 1982-83, and hit six Test centuries. In the third Test against Sri Lanka, in Faisalabad, he didn't bowl, and made 22 and 0, but he did lead Pakistan to a face-saving, series-clinching three-wicket win. Oh, and after the end of his Test career there was the little matter of the 1992 World Cup.
England wrapped up their first Ashes victory in Australia for 24 years with an unprecedented third innings victory of the series, this time in Sydney, where Alastair Cook was named Man of the Match and of the series, after his 189 took his tally to 766 runs in seven innings. The final wicket was claimed by Chris Tremlett, who bowled Michael Beer off the inside edge. The day was also Paul Collingwood's last as a Test cricketer (he announced his retirement mid-way through the game).
Australia regained the Ashes which they had lost in 1977 with a 2-1 win at home after the fifth Test was drawn. The first Test was also drawn and Australia won the next two - by seven wickets in Brisbane and eight wickets in Adelaide - to take the series lead. The fourth Test was a thriller that England won by three runs. After conceding a slim first-innings lead, England set Australia a target of 298. The hosts ended day four on 255 for 9; fast bowler Norman Cowans took 6 for 77. Allan Border was unbeaten on 62 when Ian Botham took the final wicket. It was a particularly successful series for Geoff Lawson, who took 34 wickets at just over 20, with a career-best 11 for 134 in Brisbane.
Kapil Dev took his 300th Test wicket in an innings victory over Sri Lanka on an underprepared wicket in Cuttack, where he bowled slow-medium and produced shooters at will. Dilip Vengsarkar scored a career-best 166 despite the unpredictable bounce and movement, but Sri Lanka's batsmen couldn't cope and followed on, on day three. On the fourth morning, Kapil bowled Rumesh Ratnayake to get to the milestone, and after Ravi Shastri took for 4 for 11, India won their first home series since beating England in 1981-82.
A tense finish in Melbourne. If Gerry Hazlitt's throw had hit the stumps, the game would have ended in Test cricket's first tie. Instead he missed, and England sneaked home by one wicket. Only fair: Australia had won the previous Test by two wickets.
Not quite up there with Headingley 2019 on the list of Ben Stokes classics, but the England allrounder left his mark on this Cape Town Test all right, taking three dramatic late wickets to steal a win for England. After the teams finished roughly on par in the first innings, Dom Sibley's 133 set England up nicely. South Africa looked like they might eke out a draw, getting to 123 for 1 late on day four, but old fox James Anderson, who was bowling with an injured rib, it was later revealed, broke through with the wicket of Zubayr Hamza. Quinton de Kock hung in for a while, making a fifty, only to be dismissed off a long hop. Then came Stokes, who had made 47 and 72 in the match, and now accounted for Dwaine Pretorius and Anrich Nortje off successive balls, before ending last man Vernon Philander's 51-ball resistance with a short one that took the glove.
After batting through the whole of the previous day against New Zealand in Madras, Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy completed their stand of 413, then a record for the first wicket in any Test match. Roy made 173, while Mankad's 231 was a record for India until Sunil Gavaskar scored an unbeaten 236 against West Indies in the same city in 1983-84.
New Zealand kicked off the new year with an incredible turnaround in Wellington after conceding a first-innings lead of 135 against Sri Lanka. Kane Williamson's double-hundred and world-record sixth-wicket stand with keeper BJ Watling (who broke his own record partnership with Brendon McCullum, set at the same venue a year before) stole the thunder from Kumar Sangakkara's 11th double-century and helped New Zealand set a massive target and win 2-0. Hagley Oval had made its Test debut in the first match of the series, in which McCullum narrowly missed his fourth double-hundred of the year. Sri Lanka followed on and fought back with a big maiden hundred by opener Dimuth Karunaratne but still lost by eight wickets.
David Warner became only the fifth batsman to score a century before lunch on the first day of a Test, and the first to do it in Australia, in a series-sweeping win over Pakistan in Sydney. Australia finished the first session on 126 for 0, with Warner's opening partner, Matt Renshaw, on 25. But the 20-year-old Renshaw cashed in later, making his maiden Test hundred - 184 in all - in his fourth match. Pakistan, who had lost the rain-hit second Test in Melbourne by an innings after scoring 443, couldn't muster up the will to stave off a clean sweep, despite Younis Khan making an unbeaten 175 - his first Test hundred in Australia. It was Pakistan's fourth consecutive series whitewash in the country.
Birth of a Test cricketer whose son also played for England and who nearly appeared in the same Championship match with him. According to Mike Brearley, Geoff Boycott didn't do his new opening partner, Alan Butcher, any favours against India at The Oval in 1979, "almost paralysing him with his account of the risks of playing shots in a Test match". Butcher didn't exactly fail but his 14 and 20 weren't enough to win him a second cap. When he was called up to play against Derbyshire at The Oval in 1998, he was Surrey's 2nd XI coach and hadn't played in a Championship match for 12 years. At the same time, his son Mark was scoring his first Test century for England, against South Africa at Headingley.
Despite a sixth day's play, the Melbourne match against England ended in a draw, the first in any Test in Australia since 1882. Not quite such an amazing fact when you realise that most of the matches in between were played to a finish.
Not many teams could come back from losing their top three batsmen for nought to win a one-dayer, but then not many teams are like Pakistan. Against Australia they lost Aamer Sohail, Zahoor Elahi and Ijaz Ahmed, but Mohammad Wasim made 54 and Australia (whose top scorer was Michael Bevan with 24) could not reach a target of 150.
Travis Friend, born today, made his international debut at 19, bowling with genuine pace despite having changed from legspin only two years earlier. He took his career-best 7 for 57 in Dhaka in 2001. But his career turned after he was one of the 15 rebels involved in the dispute with the board that followed the sacking of Heath Streak in April 2004. Friend played briefly for Derbyshire before drifting out of the professional game.
1901 Greville Stevens (England)
1911 Mervyn Waite (Australia)
1918 Colin Snedden (New Zealand)
1928 Vijay Rajindernath (India)
1953 Agha Zahid (Pakistan)
1965 Mark Rushmere (South Africa)