The Black Bradman
In Panama, The Black Bradman is born. Sachin Tendulkar's devotees might say otherwise, but most older people agree that George Headley was second only to the Don. Even though West Indies won only five of his 22 Tests, Headley averaged in excess of 60. And in those five victories, his average was a Bradmanesque 95. That included two centuries in West Indies' first-ever victory, against England in Guyana in 1929-30, and a mighty 270 not out, also against England, in Jamaica in 1934-35. In 1939 he became the first person to score two centuries in a Lord's Test.
A remarkable achievement by the 47-year-old WG Grace, who became the first man to score 1000 runs before the end of May. In fact, he reached the landmark in only 22 days and in six matches. He did not start until May 9 but then recorded scores of 13, 103 not out, 18, 25, 52, 288, 18, 257, 73 not out and 169.
Alastair Cook became the first Englishman to make 10,000 Test runs, and the youngest at 31 years and 157 days, when he hit the milestone in Chester-le-Street against Sri Lanka. Cook had started the Test, his 128th, on 9980 runs and fell for 15 in the first innings. After Sri Lanka's fightback in the follow-on, led by Dinesh Chandimal's century, England needed 79 to win on day four. Cook made 47 of those, reaching the landmark with a clip off his pads off the bowling of Nuwan Pradeep.
He may have taken 325 Test wickets and captained England, but the career of Bob Willis, who was born today, will be best remembered for one immortal spell at Headingley in 1981. Willis played 90 Tests in all - 18 as captain. Peculiarly, he took 16 five-fors but no ten-fors. After operations on both knees in 1975, when he was 26, he seldom bowled without pain. Yet through sheer willpower he sustained his career for nine more years. On retirement he moved into the media and was a commentator and studio expert with Sky Sports. He died in December 2019 aged 70, after a short battle with cancer.
A fairly dull County Championship match was unfolding at Chelmsford as Surrey dismissed Essex for 287. Then, unbelievably, Surrey were skittled for 14. It could have been worse: Surrey were 8 for 8 - they had been 8 for 3, but Nos. 3 to 8 all made ducks - before Sylvester Clarke biffed a boundary. Norbert Phillip took 6 for 4 and Neil Foster 4 for 10, and it remains the only sub-20 total in county cricket since the Second World War. It was swing that did it. There was nothing wrong with the pitch, as Surrey's captain Roger Knight proved the next day with a match-saving century.
In an astonishing end to the rain-hit Cardiff Test, England beat Sri Lanka by an innings and 14 runs. On the first four days, during which Prasanna Jayawardene, Alastair Cook and Ian Bell made hundreds and Jonathan Trott his second double-century, a draw seemed the only possible result. Two overs into the final day - the start of which was delayed to 3pm - Andrew Strauss declared 96 runs ahead. Then in 24.4 overs Chris Tremlett and Graeme Swann triggered a collapse, helped by a panicky Sri Lankan line-up. England didn't even miss James Anderson, who was unable to bowl due to a side strain, as Tremlett and Swann took eight, leaving the final two wickets for Stuart Broad. This was Sri Lanka's first overseas tour since Muttiah Muralitharan had retired, and also their first since Tillakaratne Dilshan officially took over from Kumar Sangakkara.
Sri Lanka fast bowler Dhammika Prasad, born today, started as a No. 3 batsman, but when 17 had to switch when his school, De Mazenod College, could not find a suitable new-ball bowler. The move seemed to suit him fine as he made it to the Under-19 World Cup, and won a scholarship to play in England. He debuted for Sri Lanka in an ODI in 2006, against Bangladesh in Chittagong, and was on a hat-trick in his first over. The highlight of his career came in June 2014, in Leeds, when he claimed a second-innings five-for to help Sri Lanka beat England by 100 runs and seal their first Test series win in the country.
Sir Francis Lacey scored 323 not out for Hampshire against Norfolk in Southampton, the highest score in a Minor County match (Hampshire did not become a first-class county until 1895).
The day England were asked to leave their own World Cup party. About 20 hours before the official World Cup song was released, England slid to a fatal 63-run defeat to India at Edgbaston. It was all thoroughly depressing, and England, who went out on run rate, were left to clutch only at a number of ifs: if Zimbabwe hadn't beaten a South African side that had, up to then, been irresistible; if England themselves hadn't dawdled in completing comfortable victories over Zimbabwe and Kenya; if Javed Akhtar hadn't triggered Graham Thorpe with one of the worst lbw decisions in history...
On the same day, in the same competition, cricket lost a little bit of its innocence. Australia, and Steve Waugh in particular, staged a deliberate go-slow (12 runs in ten overs) at the conclusion of a comfortable six-wicket victory over West Indies at Old Trafford. It was designed to enable West Indies to get through at New Zealand's expense, on run rate. If that happened - it ultimately didn't - Australia would have taken two extra points to the Super Six stage, having beaten West Indies but lost to New Zealand. A forgettable and depressing match was at least memorable for one thing: the ball of the tournament from Glenn McGrath, an absolute jaffa to bowl Brian Lara.
Birth of the great Colin Blythe, an artistic slow left-armer who used flight to lure batsmen to their doom. Despite suffering from epilepsy, he took 100 wickets in a season 14 times for Kent. His Test career got off to a slow start, but in his last ten appearances he took a Murali-esque 70 wickets at an average of 14, including 11 to beat the Australians at Edgbaston in 1909. He was killed in Belgium during the First World War.
The Sussex allrounder Maurice "Chubby" Tate, who was born today, started life as an offspinner, but after ten years of modest success he repackaged himself as a quick bowler. The results were devastating. He made his Test debut two years later and had a storming start, with 65 wickets in his first ten matches. His Wisden obituary described him as "probably the first bowler to deliberately use the seam". He was also good enough with the bat to make a Test hundred, against South Africa at Lord's in 1929.