December 11 down the years

Dancing in the dark

England secure a famous win in Karachi

Joy in the gloom for England © Getty Images

Graham Thorpe's Chinese cut off Saqlain Mushtaq gave England a famous victory in the Karachi gloom. The match and series had appeared to be gently drifting to sleep, but Pakistan imploded on the final day, and Thorpe (64 not out) was as cool as ever as he nudged, nurdled and coaxed England to their first series victory in Pakistan for 39 years. It was also Pakistan's first defeat in 35 Tests at the National Stadium.

A tailender's nightmare is born. There have been few more chilling propositions for batters in cricket history than facing Sylvester Theophilus Clarke in his pomp. Friendly off the field, frightening on it - he once got in trouble for throwing a brick into the crowd in Pakistan - he only played 11 Tests for West Indies, such were the fast-bowling riches at their disposal then. But the merciless Clarke (Wisden Cricket Monthly's obituary said "he would have bounced his grandmother") tortured batters at county level with Surrey, leaving many a No. 11 in a cold sweat. He collapsed and died suddenly in his house in Barbados in 1999.

Birth of swing bowler Tim Southee, who became the sixth New Zealander to take a five-for on Test debut, against England in Napier in 2008. He bettered that performance with 7 for 64 against India in Bangalore in 2012, also the best figures by a New Zealand bowler in India. He was a vital part of New Zealand's ODI set-up too and ended the 2011 World Cup as their highest wicket-taker. In the 2015 edition, Southee took career-best figures of 7 for 33 in a big win over England in Wellington. His best figures in Tests also came against England - 10 for 108 at Lord's in 2013. In 2016, he took 8 for 140 against Pakistan in Hamilton, his best match figures at home.

A new captain for Australia in Adelaide but the same old story. The first of Allan Border's record 93 consecutive Tests in charge ended six minutes before tea on the final day, when West Indies clinched another thumping victory, this one by 191 runs. It extended their record run of wins to 11 and took their unbeaten run to 26. Still, Border would go on to leave a rich legacy: he dragged Australia up off the floor, and when he retired ten years later Mark Taylor took over a team ready to finally usurp West Indies as the world's best.

On the second day of the first Test between Pakistan and India in Lahore, Zaheer Abbas scored his 100th first-class hundred, becoming the 20th man to achieve the feat and only the second - after Geoff Boycott - to reach the landmark in a Test.

Graeme Pollock and Denis Lindsay took their bows in the drawn first Test between Australia and South Africa in Brisbane, but the match was most notable for the end of the career of Australian left-arm fast bowler Ian Meckiff. He was no-balled four times by umpire Colin Egar for throwing in his only over, and announced his retirement from first-class cricket after the match, at the age of 28. The match was also Richie Benaud's last as Australian captain - he finished with a proud record of four defeats in 28, and no series losses while he was in charge.

Birth of one of India's finest spinners. Subhash "Fergie" Gupte isn't always mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Bedi, Chandrasekhar and Prasanna, but his record was every bit as good. He was a delicate, flighty legspinner, who burst onto the scene in the West Indies in 1952-53 with three five-fors in five Tests. Gupte was a rare breed among Indian spinners - he had a better average overseas (28.57) than he did at home (30.34).

The value of Murray Goodwin, who was born today, is best illustrated by the quick demise of Zimbabwe after he and Neil Johnson gave up playing for them. Born in Harare but raised in Australia, Goodwin learnt his trade on the bouncy WACA wickets and took to Test cricket immediately when he made his debut in 1997-98. He thumped Pakistan all around Bulawayo in an unbeaten 166 in his fifth Test, while his cool 73 not out took them to their first overseas victory, in Peshawar in 1998-99. After leaving Zimbabwe he played for Western Australia and Sussex. He joined the ICL in 2008 but quit the next year to commit to Sussex, who he helped qualify for the inaugural Champions League.

He's best remembered for his savage pyjama-clad willow wielding in the 1992 World Cup, but the burly New Zealander Mark Greatbatch, who was born today, was more than just the original pinch-hitter. He could knuckle down when needed, though ironically for a man who saved a Test in Perth with an 11-hour 146, it was a habitual weakness against fast bowling (only one of his 125 international appearances came against West Indies) that ultimately cost him his place.

Birth of the unpredictable Salim Durani, one of India's finest allrounders: a left-handed middle-order batter and slow left-armer. With the bat he could dash or block, and with the ball he was capable of confounding even the best batters on his day. Durani's movie-star good looks only accentuated his considerable popularity. He played a key role in India's famous victory over West Indies in Trinidad in 1970-71, dismissing Clive Lloyd and Garry Sobers (for nought) in the second innings.

1988 and 2004
Two hundreds for Sachin Tendulkar, 16 years apart. The first came in his maiden first-class game; at 15, he scored an unbeaten 100 against Gujarat at the Wankhede Stadium to become the youngest Indian first-class centurion. Against Bangladesh in 2004, he was unbeaten again, on 159, in Dhaka. The century saw him equal his idol Sunil Gavaskar's record of 34 Test hundreds (a mark Ricky Ponting and Jacques Kallis later went on to also break), and he went on to a career-best 248 not out.

Three days after a match-winning ODI innings of 68 (with seven fours) in Melbourne, Geoff Boycott surprised spectators in Sydney by slamming his only one-day hundred to take England to victory over Australia. Boycott's 105 came from 124 deliveries against an attack that included Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson and Max Walker. The surreal air was compounded when Derek Randall ended the match by dismissing Trevor Laughlin with his second, and last, ball in ODIs.

The beginning of a successful English expedition. Few people gave Adam Hollioake's motley collection of bits-and-pieces players a prayer when they went to take on Pakistan, India and West Indies in a one-day tournament in Sharjah, but they returned home triumphant after winning all four games. The first was a taut seven-run win over India, set up by 116 from Alec Stewart and a nerveless 4 for 45 from the debutant Matthew Fleming, who was only playing because Darren Gough pulled out injured. The pair combined in the game's decisive moment: Tendulkar st Stewart b Fleming 91.

A grinder is born. Australian Rick McCosker didn't make his debut until he was 28 but he made up for lost time with a series of starchy innings in the mid-'70s. He made four Test hundreds, though he is best remembered for the 25 he made batting at No. 10 with a wired jaw - he'd been pinned by Bob Willis in the first innings - in the Centenary Test of 1976-77. He added 54 with Rod Marsh for the ninth wicket, Australia eventually won by 45 runs, and McCosker became a hero.

A red-letter day for the recalled Dave Callaghan. He creamed an almighty 169 not out off 143 balls as South Africa hammered New Zealand by 81 runs in the Mandela Trophy match in Centurion. But it was very much a one-off: in 28 other one-dayers Callaghan failed to pass 45. Maybe he should have opened more - he only got three more chances at the top of the order, and ended with an average there of almost 64.

Mark Waugh's one-day debut provided the first instance of twins taking the field in an international match, but he didn't bat or bowl as Australia pounded Pakistan by nine wickets in Adelaide. Merv Hughes, also making his one-day debut, was the pick of the bowlers, with 3 for 30.

A mixed day for Indian captain Sourav Ganguly. He won the fourth one-dayer against Zimbabwe in Kanpur virtually on his own with 5 for 38 and an unbeaten 68-ball 71, but after the match he was found to be in breach of the ICC's Code of Conduct by match referee Barry Jarman, in this case for dissent and attempting to intimidate the umpires, and was given an immediate one-match ban.

Other birthdays
1861 Stanley Christopherson (England)
1897 George Francis (West Indies)
1967 Richard Stemp (England)
1978 Bjorn Kotze (Namibia)
1980 Andrew Puttick (South Africa)
1983 Junaid Zia (Pakistan)