The calypso swagger of Richie Richardson, who was born today in Antigua, masked a shy, introverted character, on whom captaining a once-great side on the way out took its toll. In his pomp Richardson was a glorious player, his square-driving a particular delight. He made 16 Test hundreds - starting with 131 not out against Australia in Bridgetown and following it up with 154 in St John's, in the 1984 series West Indies won 3-0. In the return series that followed immediately after, he kicked things off with 138 in the opener, in Brisbane. Richardson averaged close to 60 against India over nine Tests, but made a third of his runs against Australia, and it was against them that he produced the last of his Test centuries, in a forgettable context - dethronement in Jamaica in 1994-95. Richardson was in charge then, as he was when West Indies were humiliated by Kenya in the 1996 World Cup.
Records galore for Garry Sobers and Frank Worrell, who punished England in Barbados with a partnership of 399, West Indies' highest for the fourth wicket and their highest for any wicket against England. Sobers made 226 and Worrell was unbeaten on 197, having batted for 682 minutes, then the longest innings by a West Indian. He and Sobers were the first pair to bat through two consecutive days of a Test, though there was a rest day in between and an hour was lost to rain on the first day of their alliance.
Birth of the first New Zealander to take 100 Test wickets. The robust, indefatigable seamer Dick Motz wasn't used to success - New Zealand won only four of his 32 Tests - but he got to 100 wickets in his last match, at The Oval in 1969. Good job he did, as at the end of the summer it was discovered that he had been bowling for 18 months with a displaced vertebra. He retired immediately. As a beefy lower-order slogger Motz was a dangerous customer, and made three fifties, all against England, all laden with sixes.
Australia lost back-to-back home Tests for the first time since 1954. If it's Sydney, it must be the spinners doing the damage: Messrs Bedi, Prasanna and Chandrasekhar shared 16 wickets. This squared the series at 2-2, but Australia took the series with a tight win in the final Test.
A landslide in Johannesburg. South Africa thrashed Pakistan by a whopping 157 runs in the second Mandela Trophy final. Gary Kirsten and Mike Rindel had hammered 190 for the first wicket, and Pakistan showed no stomach for chasing 267: they were swiftly 42 for 6, and nobody made more than Wasim Akram's 26.
More humiliation for England, who were beaten to a place in the quadrangular Benson & Hedges World Series final... by Australia A. England lost the last group match in Sydney comfortably but fell only two runs short of the 237 they needed to qualify for the final on run rate. Still, there were mitigating circumstances: as well as containing Merv Hughes and Paul Reiffel, the A side had a top six that read: Hayden, Blewett, Martyn, Bevan, Langer, Ponting. The matches involving Australia A were eventually not counted as official - their presence was a one-season experiment, perhaps not entirely unconnected with the fact that Zimbabwe were the other team in the tournament.
Gavin Rennie, born today, was a compact left-hand opener for Zimbabwe, who started off with four half-centuries in his first four Tests, in 1997-1998. He had a poor series in New Zealand soon after, bagging a pair in Auckland, but made his Test-best 93 in his next tour there, in 2000. Rennie was part of two unique occurrences in international cricket: when his brother John joined him for an ODI in Pakistan, it was the first instance of a team fielding three sets of brothers (Rennies, Flowers and Strangs). It happened again in a Test in 1997-98.