When one looks at Test cricket, December 22 is a very unique day. On this day in 1996, the Test between Zimbabwe and England in Harare ended in a draw but it resulted in a unique feat regarding the result. 17 years later, South Africa and India played a Test match in Johannesburg and it almost a produced a result which created history. Thus, on this same day and after a gap of close to two decades, there were two unique draws in Tests. Both created history. Both created a world record. Both had instances which would go down in cricketing folklore. Here is a summary of the events that took place and the records which were created.
England ‘flippin murder’ Zimbabwe in Harare
The year 1996 saw England tour Zimbabwe for the first time for a Test series. England was the only country to vote against Zimbabwe getting Test status and passions were running high. Andy Flower stroked a brilliant 112 as Zimbabwe reached 376. England responded with centuries from Nasser Hussain (113) and John Crawley (112) as they established a 30-run lead. Andrew Waller (50) and Guy Whittal (56) helped Zimbabwe set England a target of 205 in just 37 overs on the final day. Nick Knight and Alec Stewart put England on course as they needed 11 runs to win off the final over to be bowled by Heath Streak. Knight hit the third ball of the over for a six and the equation boiled down to three of the last ball. Knight slogged to the on side but could only manage two runs.
The result: For the first time in cricket history, the match ended in a draw with the scores level. David Lloyd, the England coach at that time, was livid and after the match, he muttered the now famous phrase, “We flippin murdered them.” The 1996 tour remains the only Test tour for England in Zimbabwe.
India stage the greatest escape
It is hard to say who came out the victors in this Johannesburg Humdinger in 2013 between South Africa and India. In what was India’s first Test since the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli gave India a great start with a magnificent 119 as they reached 280. South Africa were boosted by fifties from Graeme Smith (68) and Vernon Philander (59) but India still managed a 36-run lead. Cheteshwar Pujaja (153) and Kohli (96) displayed their class as India set South Africa a target of 458. Faf du Plessis (134) and AB de Villiers (103) almost did the unthinkable as they got the Proteas 56 runs closer to the target. However, their dismissals and some key wickets got India back in the contest. With 16 runs needed off three overs but with three wickets remaining, Dale Steyn and Philander surprisingly chose to defend and not go for the win.
South Africa ended on 450/7, the highest fourth-innings total in history to secure the draw. Not only was this the greatest draw, but it was the greatest ‘What If’ in cricketing history.