Monty comes around
Arguably Australia's greatest allrounder is born. Keith Miller may have had something to say on the subject, but Monty Noble's record is certainly comparable. A classical right-hand batter and an offspinner who could bowl pretty quickly, Noble also captained Australia to successive Ashes wins in 1907-08 and 1909. He took 7 for 17 and 6 for 60 when the Aussies beat England at the MCG in 1901-02, and took 11 for 103 to win Sheffield's only Test, in 1902. And in 51 Sheffield Shield matches he averaged 68 with the bat and 22 with the ball. He died in his native Sydney in 1940.
A 4-0 clean sweep for Australia in Adelaide also doubled up as an eighth consecutive overseas Test defeat for India. Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke scored double-hundreds - their combined score was just over 40 runs short of India's match aggregate - which took Australia to their second 600-plus total of the series. India were set a target of 500, which they failed to achieve. The two consolations for India: Virat Kohli scored his maiden Test hundred and it was the first Test of the series that went into the fifth day (though that had more to do with Clarke not enforcing the follow-on than any resistance shown by the Indian batters). For Australia, it was their first series whitewash against India since 1999-2000.
Birth of Pakistan batter Asad Shafiq, who started his Test career with two half-centuries, in 2010. Not that it surprised those who knew him, since Shafiq had scored nearly 1000 runs in his maiden first-class season and over 1200 in his third. He scored his maiden Test hundred against Bangladesh in 2011. Against South Africa in 2013, coming in to bat at 33 for 4, Shafiq smashed 111 against an attack that included Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel. He had a prolific 2015, making hundreds against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and England, and averaging 54.3 from eight Tests. But Shafiq will look back at 2016 with bittersweet memories: in Brisbane, Pakistan were chasing an improbable 490 and Shafiq, making 137 while herding the lower order, took them to 40 runs short of the target. There was heartache in 2017 too: against Sri Lanka, Shafiq made a second-innings century and added 173 runs with Sarfraz Ahmed but Pakistan ended up falling 68 runs short and lost their first series in the UAE since adopting it as a home in 2010.
An English nadir. In their rich Test history, England have never been dismissed for less than the 45 they managed today. Charlie Turner (6 for 15) and JJ Ferris (4 for 27) did the damage, both bowling unchanged throughout. Not bad when you consider they were both making their debuts. England were 29 for 8, but George Lohmann - the only man to reach double figures - made 17 to bring them to 45. This was an extraordinary match: nobody made a half-century, and despite their first-day disaster, England won when Australia fell 14 runs short of their target of 111. England's own new-ball pair of George Lohmann and Billy Barnes had combined match figures of 113.1-68-97-14. Four-ball overs or no four-ball overs, you can't argue with that.
Another England low. Pakistan's spinners bowled them out for 72 in a chase of 145 in Abu Dhabi. England had struggled against Saeed Ajmal's offspin in the first Test, in Dubai, but they fared better here, and even gained a first-innings lead. And they had two spinners of their own - Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar, playing his first Test in two and a half years. Panesar thrived in the friendly conditions and his second-innings six-for gave England a modest target to chase. But another left-arm spinner refused to oblige - Abdur Rehman took a career-best 6 for 25, wrapping up the match in four days. Ajmal took seven in the match, his 19th Test, breaking Waqar Younis' national record to become the fastest Pakistani to 100 Test wickets.
Erapalli Prasanna became India's most successful spinner, in a rare overseas win for India, against New Zealand in Auckland. Prasanna was 35 at the time, and Mihir Bose, writing about this tour, said: "On the plane taking him to New Zealand, Prasanna had suddenly felt old. A new generation of Indian cricketers was emerging and he felt like the last and forgotten remnant of a bygone age." But after a haul of 3 for 64 in the first innings, Prasanna took 8 for 76 in the second, setting up a memorable eight-wicket victory for India. On the way, he also went past Vinoo Mankad's 162 wickets, making him the No. 1 spinner in India's history. Bhagwath Chandrasekhar, Bishan Bedi, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh would pass him later, but the numbers counted for little when the memories were this good.
High drama in Brett Lee's final over in competitive cricket, bowled in the Big Bash final between Perth Scorchers and Sydney Sixers in Canberra. Scorchers needed eight from the last over and Michael Carberry got them seven runs from Lee's first three balls. Nathan Coulter-Nile was bowled off the fourth and Sam Whiteman off the fifth. With the scores tied, Lee bowled another full and fast ball: new man Yasir Arafat flicked it towards midwicket and dashed for a dangerous single. Standing over the stumps at the non-striker's end, Sixers' captain Moises Henriques, who had top-scored in the match with 77, dropped the on-the-bounce throw from midwicket and Scorchers won their second consecutive BBL title.
Two years later, Perth Scorchers won their third Big Bash League title with an emphatic nine-wicket win over Sydney Sixers at the WACA. Mitchell Johnson started off proceedings by conceding only one run in the first over, and another 12 in his next three. Twenty-year-old fast bowler Jhye Richardson and 31-year-old medium-pacer Tim Bresnan took three wickets each. Scorchers chased down Sixers' 141 inside 16 overs.
A rarity is born: a modern-day Englishman with the letters RF on his CV. David "Syd" Lawrence was most definitely fast, and as wholehearted as they come. He played five Tests before a horrible knee injury, marked by chilling cries of pain, in Wellington in 1991-92, wrecked his career. What is more easily forgotten is the crucial part Lawrence played in England's series-squaring victory over West Indies at The Oval in 1991. He took seven wickets, the same as Phil Tufnell but at two runs less cost. All anybody ever remembers, though, is Tufnell's first innings six-for.
Birth of England wicketkeeper Bert Strudwick, who played 28 Tests at a time when excellence with the gloves was enough - witness a batting average of 7.93 and a top score of 24. And Strudwick was certainly accomplished with the gloves: until John Murray trumped him in 1975 he held the world record for most first-class dismissals in a career (1495). He was an extremely popular character: the story goes that, on one tour, a letter was sent to "Struddy, 'Stralia" and reached him without delay. Strudwick died in Sussex in 1970.
Mumbai won their 40th Ranji Trophy title, at the Wankhede, when they beat Saurashtra, playing their first final since independence, by an innings and 125 runs inside three days. Seamers Dhawal Kulkarni (nine) and Ajit Agarkar (five) were chiefly responsible for bowling out Saurashtra for 148 and 82.
Not content with five Test hundreds in a row, the great Everton Weekes was homing in on a sixth when he was contentiously run out for 90 in Madras today. West Indies thrashed India by an innings, and in the next match Weekes made 56 (to set a record of seven consecutive fifties that Andy Flower and Shivnarine Chanderpaul have since equalled) and 48. Patches don't come much purpler.
Perth Scorchers won their fourth BBL title, bouncing back from 25 for 4 to post 171 against Sydney Sixers in the final, in Melbourne. Laurie Evans led the rescue, blitzing 76 off 41 from No. 6 and putting on 104 with Ashton Turner. Andrew Tye then took 3 for 15 as Sixers were rolled in under 17 overs, with no player outside their top three getting past 10. Sixers were missing multiple players in a season hard-hit by Covid cases among the teams, and made repeated attempts to bring in Steven Smith as a last-minute signing after he became available in the wake of the postponement of Australia's ODI series against New Zealand, but were shot down.
A century for David Boon, whose patient 149 helped Australia to a surprise victory over West Indies in the fourth Test in Sydney...
...and another century for Boon, this one against England in Adelaide. His 121 was his ninth Test hundred...
... and the innings that finished against India today, again in Adelaide, was his 12th and the second of three in successive Tests, a feat he achieved twice. Boon's 135 also made him the first Australian to score five Test hundreds against India.
When Danny Morrison, he of 24 Test ducks in 71 innings, strode to the crease in the afternoon session against England in Auckland today, New Zealand were 11 runs ahead with one second-innings wicket and 53.1 overs remaining. There could only be one outcome, right? Not when England are involved. Somehow Morrison survived 166 minutes, and with Nathan Astle making a century, the match was drawn. England fans felt like they'd been dragging their nails down a chalkboard for nearly three hours.
Birth of the first New Zealander to be dismissed in a Test. Henry Foley played their inaugural Test, against England in Christchurch in 1929-30, and was out for 2 in both innings. He didn't play for his country again, and died in Brisbane, Australia in 1948, aged 42.
1910 Hopper Read (England)