A Valentine's Day massacre
Not a day to spark celebrations in South Africa. Today they were bowled out for 30 by England in Port Elizabeth, their lowest score in Tests and the second lowest by anyone. The deadly George Lohmann did the damage: having found his range with 7 for 38 in the first innings, he took a remarkable 8 for 7 here. Fittingly, he rounded off the match - which was over inside two days and 200 (five-ball) overs - with a hat-trick.
A St Valentine's Day massacre. West Indies went down in two days to Australia in the fourth Test, in Melbourne, bowled out for 99 and 107, with Bert Ironmonger taking 11 wickets. There was also a luscious 152 from Don Bradman to add to the 223 he made in the previous Test.
Muttiah Muralitharan might be Sri Lanka's most potent bowling weapon ever, but when it came to collecting one-day records, Chaminda Vaas was peerless. Already the holder of the best analysis in one-day cricket, 8 for 19 against Zimbabwe, on this day he became the first bowler to take a hat-trick with the first three balls of a match, against the hapless Bangladeshis in Pietermaritzburg. He added a fourth in the same over, en route to figures of 6 for 25, and Sri Lanka won by ten wickets with almost 30 overs to spare.
The end of a Jamaican cracker. England were in control for most of the second Test, but after they made West Indies follow on for the second Test in a row, a century from Garry Sobers (who in the first innings went first ball to John Snow, for the second consecutive innings in which Snow had bowled to him) left England needing 159 to win on a tricky surface. Sobers and Lance Gibbs almost sent them to a sensational defeat, but they hung on at 68 for 8. All this on the sixth day of the match - an extra 75 minutes were played because of a bottle-throwing riot on the fourth day, precipitated by the dismissal of Basil Butcher.
West Indies won their first overseas series in four years when they beat Bangladesh by 17 runs in Mirpur. A second-string West Indies side (many first-choice players had pulled out of the tour due to Covid fears) had chased 395 to win in the first Test; this time round, they prevented Bangladesh from chasing a modest 231. The star turn belonged to offspinner Rahkeem Cornwall, who finished with nine wickets. Nkrumah Bonner, Joshua da Silva, and Alzarri Joseph all made over 80 each in West Indies' first-innings 409, and Kraigg Brathwaite took the vital wickets of the openers, Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar, in the chase. Seventeen wickets fell on a deteriorating day-four pitch, as Bangladesh made a push to level the series; they fell short by 18 in the end.
Eighteen-year-old Wasim Akram won a few battles with a ten-for in only his second Test, but New Zealand won the war with a tense two-wicket win in Dunedin today. It was even tighter than the scoreline suggests: Lance Cairns was hospitalised with a suspected fractured skull, and New Zealand were effectively nine down. Somehow Ewen Chatfield (Test average: 8) managed to stay with Jeremy Coney for 104 minutes - his longest first-class innings - while 50 runs were added. It was the difference between a 2-0 New Zealand win and a 1-1 draw.
On Valentine's Day, a charmer and a cad was born. Described by Vic Marks as "an enigma without a variation", Chris Lewis had probably the greatest natural talent of all England's post-Botham wannabes, and at his best he could charm the pants off any cricket lover. But too often he'd leave his admirers in the lurch with a nothing performance when it mattered: remember that ridiculous sojourn down the track to Tim May at Lord's in 1993? Or the time he shaved his head in the Caribbean and got sunstroke? Or the puncture at The Oval in 1996 that led to him being dropped for the final time? He scored a Test hundred - made in a match that was long since lost - and did help win three Tests with the ball, but Lewis could have done so much more. He drifted out of cricket at the end of 2000, and in late 2008 was found guilty of smuggling cocaine into England and was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
The beginning of the sixth World Cup. They say you shouldn't peak too early in a big tournament, and England followed that maxim a bit too keenly, losing an eminently winnable match against New Zealand by 11 runs. The key moment came when Graeme Hick, who played beautifully for 85, was run out after a mix-up between his runner, Mike Atherton, and Neil Fairbrother.
Sri Lanka's first victory as a Test-playing nation. Okay, it came in a one-dayer and was largely a product of English incompetence, but they all count. Chasing 216 to win, England were cruising at 203 for 5 when the last five wickets went down for nine runs, four of them run-outs. Such a show of blind panic was pretty embarrassing for England, who did not lose to Sri Lanka in a one-dayer again for 11 years.
Twin hundreds for Australian opener Jack Moroney in Johannesburg, where six weeks earlier he had begun his Test career by being run out for 0. Curiously this was the only match of his seven-Test career that Australia didn't win. When they didn't win, he averaged 219; when they did, the figure was just 16.
A run-feast in the Shell Trophy match in Christchurch. Canterbury (496 and 476 for 2 dec) lost to Wellington (498 for 2 dec and 475 for 4) by six wickets in a match that produced an average of 108 runs per wicket. There were seven centuries - not a great surprise when you consider that the two teams contained a nap hand of international batters and allrounders. Messrs Hartland, Stead, Harris, Latham, Cairns, Astle, McMillan, Priest, Germon, Twose, Crowe and Larsen all played in this match; between them they accounted for five of those hundreds.
While the senior West Indies side was embroiled in yet another payment dispute with the board, this time putting their participation in the World T20 in doubt, their Under-19 team brought respite to beleaguered fans by winning the junior World Cup in Mirpur. Fast bowlers Alzarri Joseph and Ryan John took three wickets each to bowl out India for 145 and then batter Keacy Carty led the chase with a patient 52 not out. It was India's first Youth ODI defeat since their quarter-final exit from the 2014 World Cup.