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January 4 down the years

The shortest Test

India beat South Africa in four innings over 107 overs

Mohammed Siraj was Player of the Match for his 7 for 46 at Newlands in 2024  •  Gallo Images

Mohammed Siraj was Player of the Match for his 7 for 46 at Newlands in 2024  •  Gallo Images

2024
The shortest Test ever to produce a result. In Cape Town, South Africa and India lost 33 wickets between them in 642 balls of mayhem over a day and a bit, on a pitch that turned batting into Russian roulette. South Africa were booted out for 55 in the first innings by Mohammed Siraj, who took 6 for 15. In reply, India got to 153 for 5… and ten balls later, were 153 all out courtesy a spectacular collapse. Aiden Markram produced a ridiculous hundred, given the circumstances, at a run a ball in the third innings, but with little support, which left India 79 to chase. They got there before lunch on day two.
1898
Big in frame and heart, Australian fast bowler Ernie Jones is famous for two things. Sending a bouncer through WG Grace's beard ("Sorry, Doc, she slipped") - and becoming the first bowler to be called for throwing in a Test, which happened on this day against England in Melbourne. "Jonah", who was no-balled by umpire Jim Phillips, the scourge of all chuckers, took 64 Test wickets, some of them possibly kosher.
1937
The start of Don Bradman's 270 against England in Melbourne. Trailing 2-0 after defeats in Brisbane and Sydney, Australia were facing defeat when Bradman, struggling with flu, his reputation as a batter and captain on the line, came in for the second innings. He faced Bill Voce and Gubby Allen, frighteningly fast on a rain-affected pitch that also helped the master spinner Hedley Verity. Careful at first, increasing the tempo as he went on, Bradman hit his highest score against England at home, sharing a record stand of 346 with Jack Fingleton, and turning the match and the series. Australia remain the only side to come back to win from two-down in a five-match series.
1975
A rare instance of a captain dropping himself. A shell-shocked Mike Denness left himself out of the England side for the fourth Test against Australia in Sydney after scoring 65 runs in six innings. The ploy didn't work as England lost the match by 171 runs and with it the Ashes. Denness' replacement as captain, John Edrich, was struck by Dennis Lillee with the first ball he received and was taken to hospital with a broken rib. Denness returned with a half-century in the fifth Test and a hundred in the final game of the series.
2002
Muthiah Muralidaran came agonisingly close to the best innings figures in all Test cricket. By the first evening in Kandy against Zimbabwe, he had taken 9 for 51 from 39 overs. The next morning Travis Friend offered a regulation bat-pad catch off Murali's first ball, only for Russel Arnold to drop it; then an lbw appeal was turned down. At the other end Chaminda Vaas bowled wide of off stump to Henry Olonga but could not stop him nicking one - which Kumar Sangakkara could not bring himself to drop. Murali took another four in the second innings and Sri Lanka won by an innings and 94 runs.
1906
England on the receiving end again. It was only by one wicket, but that was enough to give South Africa their first ever Test victory. They needed a last-wicket stand of 48 between Percy Sherwell, their captain, wicketkeeper and No. 11, and AW "Dave" Nourse, to beat a scandalously weak England team. South Africa won the next two Tests as well, and took the series 4-1.
1936
Clarrie Grimmett's 190th Test wicket, for Australia v South Africa in Cape Town on this day, overtook the total reached by the great Sydney Barnes, also in South Africa, in 1913-14.
2016
Chris Gayle found himself at the centre of an ugly storm of his own making when he made sexist remarks to a reporter on camera during the BBL. Interviewed by Channel Ten's Mel McLaughlin after his dismissal in a game for Melbourne Renegades, Gayle said, "I wanted to come and have an interview with you as well. That's the reason why I'm here, just to see your eyes for the first time. It's nice so… Hopefully we can win this game and have a drink after. Don't blush, baby." Gayle was fined A$10,000 by Renegades for his remarks. He had previously got off scot-free after a similar incident in the Caribbean Premier League in 2014."
Other birthdays
1937 Surendranath (India)
1971 Richard Chee Quee (Australia)
1979 John Blain (Scotland)
1979 Gulam Bodi (South Africa)
1979 Chamila Gamage (Sri Lanka)
1980 Justin Ontong (South Africa)