December 4 down the years

Nearly three triples

Sehwag makes 293 against Sri Lanka

A bowler's worst nightmare: Sehwag scored 71% of his runs in boundaries © AFP

Virender Sehwag nearly became the first man to score three triple-centuries in Test cricket. The fans who had come to watch him set the record on day three of the Mumbai Test against Sri Lanka were in for a disappointment as he fell in the fourth over of the day, having added just nine to his overnight score: he finished on a manic 293 off 254 balls, with 40 fours and seven sixes. Sehwag became the third fastest Indian to 6000 Test runs during the innings.

Mike Atherton's finest hour. Nobody gave England a prayer when they were set 479 to win or 165 overs to survive by South Africa in the second Test, in Johannesburg. But Atherton was still there at the bitter end after 643 minutes and 492 balls of gallant resistance. He made 185 not out, his highest Test score, and got through the last two sessions with Jack Russell, who drove the South Africans to distraction with a 235-ball 29. It was a great game for Russell, who took a Test-record 11 catches in the match. When he caught Clive Eksteen off Dominic Cork on the fourth day, Russell broke Bob Taylor's record of ten dismissals in a Test. Taylor was present in Johannesburg when Russell pouched No. 11. Atherton and Russell shared the Man-of-the-Match award for the Test.

The Gabba hosted one of the most extraordinary days in Test history. There were 102 runs and 20 wickets after lunch as England and Australia fought to let each other have use of the stickiest of rain-affected wickets in Brisbane. They could hardly declare quickly enough. Australia eventually won by 70 runs - thanks mainly to getting their first innings in before the damaging storm - in spite of a brilliant 62 not out from Len Hutton.

England were blown away on a Brisbane flier by Jeff Thomson, who took nine wickets in only his second Test as they were thrashed by 166 runs. England went to Australia to defend the Ashes with a battle-hardened top seven (Dennis Amiss, Brian Luckhurst, John Edrich, Mike Denness, Keith Fletcher, Tony Greig, Alan Knott), and they were not especially worried about the threat of the Aussie quick men: nobody had heard of Thomson, and Dennis Lillee was just recovering from a horrendous back injury. But Thomson rattled them big time and dismissed all of them bar Fletcher at least once in the match. In addition, Amiss and Edrich sustained fractures - and by the fourth Test the captain, Denness, had decided to drop himself. In the end Australia regained the Ashes with a crushing 4-1 victory.

Yet another massive win for Australia. They overwhelmed England by an innings and 332 runs in the first Test in Brisbane. Don Bradman cracked 187, having controversially been given not out early in his innings, to lead the Aussies to 645 before Keith Miller (7 for 60) in the first innings, and Ernie Toshack (6 for 82) in the second, hurried England to a humiliating defeat.

A historic day for New Zealand, who won their first series against Australia and became the first holders of the Trans-Tasman Trophy. They took the third Test, in Perth, by six wickets with ten overs to spare. It wasn't always pretty - New Zealand's first-innings 299 took 157 overs - but it was historic, and in a big game their big guns delivered: Richard Hadlee took 11 for 155 (making it 33 in the three-match series) and Martin Crowe hit 113 runs for once out.

Birth of a man who fell prey to Steve Waugh's mental disintegration tactics like no other. Indian seamer Ajit Agarkar was a batter useful enough to have hit 67 off 25 balls in an ODI, and a Test hundred at Lord's, but at one stage seven Test innings against the Aussies did not fetch him a single run. In Australia in 1999-2000 he followed four consecutive golden ducks with a second-baller. For good measure, he added a pair in Mumbai in the first Test against the Aussies in 2000-01. Agarkar had his moments in international cricket - he was the fastest to reach 50 wickets in ODIs (a record Ajantha Mendis took since), and took 6 for 41 as India clinched a famous victory against the Australians in Adelaide in 2003-04. He captained the Mumbai team to their 40th Ranji title, in 2012-13, and retired before the start of the next season.

Ajaz Patel took all ten wickets in the first innings of the Mumbai Test for New Zealand, becoming only the third bowler to do so, after Jim Laker and Anil Kumble, the first one to do it away, the first one to do it in the first innings of a Test, and the first to do so in a Test his team lost. New Zealand folded in a little over three days, making a miserable 62 in their first innings, after Ajaz's feat, and then, chasing 540 in the second, lost by 372 runs. R Ashwin and Jayant Yadav took four apiece in the second innings, Ashwin finishing with 8 for 42 in the match.

The most one-sided match in cricket history. In Lahore, Railways smashed Dera Ismail Khan by a staggering innings and 851 runs. Railways made 910 for 6 declared, and then skittled DIK for 32 and 27. Afaq Khan took 7 for 14 in the first innings, but he couldn't even get a bowl in the second as Ahad Khan (6.3-4-7-9) finished things off almost single-handedly.

A familiar dead-rubber defeat for Australia under Mark Taylor as Pakistan grabbed a 74-run victory, their first in Australia for 14 years, in the third Test, in Sydney. The two Ahmeds, Ijaz (137) and Mushtaq (9 for 186 in the match), were the match-winners. Under Taylor, Australia were notorious for slackening off when the job was done, and they lost four out of seven final Tests of series they had already won. This was also Australia's seventh Test without a victory in Sydney.

Birth of Billy Gunn, who played 11 Tests for England before going on to found the famous Gunn & Moore bat-making firm. He was a technically impeccable batter in an age when batting was rarely easy, and he made the first Test hundred at Old Trafford, against Australia in 1893. He also gained two soccer caps for England. Gunn died in Nottinghamshire in 1921.

Sun stopped play in Gujranwala, where the first one-dayer between Pakistan and New Zealand had to be reduced to 46 overs a side because of sun shining in the batters' eyes. Pakistan won a tight encounter by 11 runs, thanks to a quickfire 52 from Wasim Akram and 5 for 44 from Saqlain Mushtaq.

Few Indian cricketers have played with as much of a swagger as Amar Singh, who was born today. A strapping allrounder and brilliant fielder, his bowling was described by Wally Hammond as coming off the pitch "like the crack of doom". Amar Singh played only seven Tests, though, before dying of pneumonia at the age of 29.

As a fast-medium bowler of healthy pace, Shahid Nazir, who was born today, made an impressive entry into international cricket in 1996-97. Seven wickets on debut against Zimbabwe, though, were ultimately overshadowed by Wasim Akram's 257. On the tour to England in 2006, Nazir started the third Test - at Headingley - more than seven years after his last Test. The emergence of Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul affected Nazir's chances, which he jeopardised further by joining the ICL.

Birth of Tim McIntosh, a graduate of the "Mark Richardson School of Batting". McIntosh earned a call-up to the New Zealand Test squad at the age of 29, to face the touring West Indians, as the selectors looked to revamp the top order. After a nervous debut Test in Dunedin, he hit a patient century in the following game, in Napier. He got his second hundred in Hyderabad a year later.

Other birthdays
1912 Jack Walsh (Australia)
1915 Fred Freer (Australia)
1935 Fred Rumsey (England)
1961 Donovan Blake (United States)