December 18 down the years

Ponsford's purple patch

The man who scored two quadruple-centuries in first-class cricket

Bill Ponsford (left): make mine a quadruple © Getty Images

Bill Ponsford broke his own world record of 429, set in 1922, by hitting 437 for Victoria against Queensland in Melbourne. Until Brian Lara added 400 not out to his 501, Ponsford was the only batter to have scored two quadruple-centuries in first-class cricket.

Another big score, in Poona, where BB Nimbalkar was left stranded on 443 - ten short of Don Bradman's world record - when Kathiawar refused to resume after tea on the third day as they were fed up with chasing leather. Despite pleas to allow Nimbalkar to resume, they were having none of it, forfeiting the match and heading home.

It took Australia less than four weeks to regain the Ashes. At the WACA, which was hosting its final Ashes Test, they beat England by an innings to take the series 3-0. Steven Smith made his second double-hundred, and Mitchell Marsh, who got an unexpected call-up after remodelling himself as a Test batter - scored a breakthrough 181. Australia piled up 662, and England began the final day trailing by 127 runs with six wickets in hand. They had brief hopes of a draw when the start was delayed because water had got into the pitch after rain the previous evening. However, once play finally got going, at 1pm, England lasted only another 34 overs. Josh Hazlewood took 5 for 48 and eight wickets for the match.

Australia won the first Test hosted at Perth's new venue - the Perth Stadium, which replaced the WACA - beating India by 146 runs. Virat Kohli became the second fastest after Don Bradman to get to 25 Test hundreds, but there was only so much he could do with a batting order that managed only 40 runs when he was not at the crease in the first innings. Nathan Lyon, the only front-line spinner in either side, bowled excellently for eight wickets.

The birth of the first Muslim to play for Australia. Pakistan-born Usman Khawaja, a qualified pilot, made his debut in the Sydney Test against England in 2011. Batting at No. 3 in place of the injured Ricky Ponting, he made an impressive 37 and 21, but his international career didn't really take off. He was dropped after the 2013 Ashes, having scored only two half-centuries in 17 innings. He earned a recall two years later, at home against New Zealand, and justified the selection with hundreds in Brisbane and Perth. The next home season was also very productive for Khawaja. He scored 97, 64, 145 and 74 in consecutive Tests. For long considered suspect against quality spin bowling, and even dropped from the side for it, Khawaja proved his mettle with a match-saving hundred in Abu Dhabi in 2018 - his 141 was the highest score and the longest (in terms of balls faced) by any batter in the fourth-innings in the UAE. His next hundred came at home, against Sri Lanka in Canberra in January 2019, and he was dropped from the Test side after the Ashes later that year. He returned to the side with a bang in 2022, scoring over 1000 runs in the calendar year, including two hundreds in the New Year's Ashes Test at the SCG and two more when Australia toured Pakistan for the first time since 1998.

A two-day finish at the Gabba - only the second such Test ever played in Australia, and the second shortest in terms of balls played anywhere since World War II. Australia bowled out South Africa for 152 but South Africa's seamers fought back to keep the first-innings lead down to 66. By lunch on day two, South Africa were 3 for 2 and shortly after tea, they were bowled out for 99, with Pat Cummins taking five, and Mitchell Starc getting to 300 Test wickets. There was some drama when, needing 35 in the fourth innings, Australia lost four wickets, but they got to the target, South Africa helping them on the way with 19 extras.

ML Jaisimha's innings for India against Pakistan on the third day of the second Test in Kanpur was not one designed to bring in the crowds. Resuming at 0 not out, Jaisimha managed just 54 runs in the day - in the morning session he played just five scoring shots. He was eventually run out for 99 looking for a quick single to bring up his hundred. In all, he batted for 505 minutes.

In the final of the fourth Women's World Cup, England chose to bat first against their Australian hosts, in Melbourne. Jan Brittin scored an unbeaten 46, but no one could stay with her: England made only 127 for 7 and lost by eight wickets after Lindsay Reeler made 59 not out and Denise Annetts 48 not out.

Transvaal's Test wicketkeeper Russell Endean enjoyed a good lunch after his unbeaten 197 in the first session of the day against Orange Free State in Johannesburg. It's still the highest score made before lunch in a first-class match.

Another Test wicketkeeper equalled a world record. Brian Taber held nine catches and made three stumpings for New South Wales v South Australia in Adelaide. His 12 dismissals matched the totals of Ted Pooley (1868) and Don Tallon (1938-39) and remained the world record until Wayne James managed 13 for Matabeleland against Mashonaland in Bulawayo in 1995-96.

Birth of Eric Tindill, who occupies a unique spot as the only man to play Test cricket and rugby, as well as becoming a Test umpire and international rugby referee. His only rugby international was New Zealand's 13-0 defeat at Twickenham in "Obolensky's Match" of 1936. The following summer, back in England, he made his Test cricket debut, and kept wicket in five matches of a career interrupted by the Second World War. Tindill died five months short of what would have been his 100th birthday.

New Zealand Test batter Noel McGregor was born. His only Test century was made in Lahore in 1955-56, and he hit a vital 68 in New Zealand's first Test win away from home, in Cape Town in 1961-62.

Imad Wasim, born today in Swansea, started out as a Wasim Akram wannabe before switching to left-arm slow. Also a reliable middle-order batter in the limited-overs formats, he got his break when Saeed Ajmal was suspended in 2015, and made his debut in the T20I series against Zimbabwe with which international cricket returned to Pakistan following a six-year drought in the wake of the terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team in Lahore. Wasim played for Pakistan in the World T20 in 2016 and 2021, the 2017 Champions Trophy and the 2019 World Cup. In 2020, he led the Karachi Kings to their maiden Pakistan Super League title.

Long-serving wicketkeeper Arnold Long was born. He played for Surrey from 1960 to 1975 and then moved south to spend his twilight years at Sussex. Appointed as their captain in 1978, he masterminded their defeat of favourites Somerset in the 1978 Gillette Cup final. He retired in 1980 with 1046 first-class dismissals to his name.

Other birthdays
1899 Mervyn Grell (West Indies)
1961 Lalchand Rajput (India)
1969 Keith Piper (England)
1975 Asif Mahmood (Pakistan)