The Australian in excelsis
Birth of Australia's finest allrounder. Any self-respecting cobber would have Keith Miller as the fulcrum of his all-time Australian XI. Miller was a brilliant, glitzy batsman who spent most of his career at No. 5 but was good enough to bat as high as No. 3, and a genuinely fast opening bowler who was often at his most dangerous off a short run. He took 7 for 60 in only his second Test as Australia massacred England by an innings and 332 runs in Brisbane in 1946-47. Four years later he slammed an unbeaten 145 in Sydney in another innings victory over the old enemy. Perhaps Miller's finest hour came in the Caribbean in 1954-55, when he scored three hundreds in six innings, and also chipped in with 20 wickets as Australia won 3-0. He was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1954, and played the last of his 55 Tests, against Pakistan in Karachi, in 1956-57. He died in October 2004 and received a state funeral in Melbourne.
The great Michael Holding made his debut in the first Test of the series between Australia and West Indies in Brisbane. He won't remember it too fondly, though: he took 0 for 127 in the match, as West Indies were thumped by eight wickets in a series they would eventually lose 1-5. Australia faced a potentially tricky target of 219, but this was before Headingley '81 gave them the fourth-innings wobbles, and the Chappell brothers, Ian and Greg, hammered an unbroken 159 for the third wicket to seal victory, Greg adding an unbeaten 109 to his first-innings 123. The match also had Dennis Lillee returning the bizarre first-innings figures of 11-0-84-3. Even allowing for the fact that these were eight-ball overs, West Indies' approach on the first morning (Roy Fredericks creamed 46 off 30 balls), bordered on the feckless - they were bowled out for 214 in 37.5 overs.
England beat West Indies by two runs in a one-dayer in Sydney, a match that led to the introduction of fielding restrictions in one-day internationals. West Indies needed three to win off the last ball, Mike Brearley positioned all his fielders, including the wicketkeeper, on the boundary, and the West Indians and the patrons at the SCG were outraged. It was within the rules... but not for much longer.
Another memorable West Indian debut. Nineteen-year-old Adrian Barath made a hundred in his first Test, at the Gabba. Barath had been picked out for greatness as an 11-year-old by Brian Lara and he did not disappoint - his second-innings century, with West Indies following on, was scored off 132 balls. However, West Indies lost the Test by over an innings.
Fast bowlers Shabnim Ismail and Sammy Jo-Johnson decimated the powerful Melbourne Stars batting line-up for 86 to give Sydney Thunder their second title. Ismail's contest with Meg Lanning lived up to expectations, and despite a dropped catch, she kept Lanning in check and got her to nick one to the keeper for 13. At the end of ten overs, the Stars were 36 for 4. All six of Thunder's bowlers took wickets, making sure there was no room for recovery. There were a few nervous moments in the chase, but it was sealed in the 14th over with a six over long-off by Heather Knight.
Dick Lilley, who was born today, kept wicket for Warwickshire, the Players and England - a career during which he caught out 714 batsmen and stumped 197. He was also a fine forcing batsman, and could generally be relied on for runs. He debuted at Lord's in 1896 and toured Australia in 1901-02 and 1903-04. He was also associated with two dramatic losses at Old Trafford. In 1896, Australia needed nine runs for victory with three wickets in hand, and Lilley put down James Kelly in curious fashion. He took the ball cleanly enough but as he did so, pulled his arm back and struck his thigh, shaking the ball out of his hands. Six years later, England, with two wickets to fall, were within eight runs of victory when Lilley was caught by Clem Hill off a splendid square-leg hit.
When he flew down the wicket to slap world-class bowlers over the infield in one-day internationals, it was hard to believe that Nick Knight never cracked it at Test level. With an array of shots, a cool head and the ability to improvise in the first 15 overs, Knight was England's best one-day batsman for years - though he was, ludicrously, a non-playing member of the 1999 World Cup squad after being made to pay for a dip in form - but he never really established himself in the Test team. Knight, who was born on this day, retired from ODIs in 2003.
Bert Vogler, who was born today and was regarded by many as the best bowler in the world in 1907, reached the highest class while playing for South Africa. Delivering the offbreak with a legbreak action, while depending chiefly upon the legbreak, he could keep going for a long time without losing length. He picked up 64 wickets in 15 Tests at 22.73, and his impressive first-class showing resulted in 393 wickets in 83 matches at 18.27. Strangely enough, considering the height he attained in 1907, Vogler accomplished little afterwards, barring his innings-best of 7 for 94, which came against England in Johannesburg in 1910.
Debuts for Wes Hall, Basil Butcher and Chandu Borde in a drawn Test in Bombay. It was a memorable one for the two West Indians - Hall took four wickets, which included the top three in the first innings, and Butcher, after being dismissed for 28, made an unbeaten 64. Borde, who went on to become India's leading allrounder of his era, went wicketless in the match and was run out for 7 in his only time batting.
A Dunedin Test match that had it all. Quality seam bowling, collapses, reviving partnerships in the middle and lower orders, and numerous twists and turns. Going into the final session on the fifth day, Pakistan had five wickets in hand and needed 86 runs to beat New Zealand to register their first Test win in close to three years. Shane Bond and Mohammad Asif picked up eight wickets each and made reassuring comebacks to Test cricket. Nineteen-year-old Umar Akmal made a storied debut: a counterattacking 129 after Pakistan were 85 for 5 in the first innings, followed by a mature 75 in the second. But Bond provided the final twist, dismissing Akmal with 56 still required, and New Zealand had their first Test win in more than a year.
England's brave new world under Duncan Fletcher began with an innings defeat in the first Test against South Africa in Johannesburg. But that almost represented a moral victory - after 17 balls of the match England were a staggering 2 for 4, the worst start to an innings in their history, with four Test captains (Mike Atherton, Mark Butcher, Nasser Hussain and Alec Stewart) all back in the pavilion as Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock (who shared 19 of the 20 wickets to fall) wreaked havoc on a damp surface (it was no surprise that Nasser Hussain had lost a crucial toss).
Birth of yet another South African who played for England. Wicketkeeper-batsman Craig Kieswetter came to notice in the 2010 World T20, where he scored a match-winning half-century in the final. He had already scored a one-day hundred by then - in his third match - but a weakness against the moving ball sent him out of the side. He missed the 2011 World Cup but returned that summer against Sri Lanka when Matt Prior was dropped. Kieswetter's career was cut short when he was hit by a ball that broke his nose and fractured his orbital socket during a Championship game in Northampton in July 2014. He returned for the 2015 county season but couldn't shrug off the psychological trauma, and he quit cricket in June that year.