On This Day

  • December 15 down the years

Dennis Lillee and 'that' bat

The sporting events of December 15 down the years
Dennis Lillee: A ruffler of feathers © Getty Images
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1899
Harold Abrahams was born. He finished sixth and last in the 200 metres final at the 1924 Olympics, but he probably wasn't busting a gut: he'd had his Chariots of Fire moment in the 100 metres final, when his gritted teeth are obvious in the photo of the finish, a determination that took him clear of American favourites Jackson Scholz and world record holder Charley Paddock. Abrahams helped Britain win silver in the sprint relay and was an international-class long jumper: his 7.38 metres remained the English record for 30 years.

1996
The inaugural European Short-Course Championships ended in Riesa. Hosts Germany topped the medals table, while two British swimmers won two gold medals each: Mark Foster in the 50 metres freestyle and 50 butterfly, Sue Rolph in the 100 and 200 individual medley.

2006
Colourful boxer Howard Eastman won the vacant British middleweight title by knocking out Richard Williams in the 12th. Eastman was 36 by then and had lost his previous three fights, including his last attempt at a world title, against the legendary Bernard Hopkins.

2007
In the semi-final of the UK Championship, Ronnie O'Sullivan made a 147 break against Mark Selby. It was his eighth maximum in competitive snooker, equalling Stephen Hendry's record. He made his ninth 147 during the 2008 World Championship.

1956
Great Britain regained the rugby league Ashes by winning the decider at Swinton. After a surprise defeat in the second Test, they scored five tries in winning 19-0.

1925
Battling Siki was found dead in Hell's Kitchen. Born Amadou Fall in Senegal, he was offered as an exotic sacrificial offering to the legendary Georges Carpentier in 1922, for the delectation of a Parisian crowd - and proceeded to beat the crêpe out of the great man and become world light-heavyweight champion. Siki lost the title on St Patrick's Day in Dublin (March 17, 1923), after which his career went on the skids. He lost 17 of his last 30 fights and got into any number of brawls with cab drivers and barflies before being found in a New York Street with gunshot wounds in his back.

1996
Brilliant little fly-half Arwel Thomas scored a try, and dependable Neil Jenkins kicked five penalties - so Wales scored 20 points against South Africa in Cardiff. But the Springboks scored 37, five of them from tries, including three by Joost van der Westhuizen, whose eventual total of 38 is easily the record by any scrum-half. This was his only hat-trick of tries in an international match.

1935
Aleksandr Alekhine will always be one of the giants of world chess, the father of the modern game. His ability to take matches into complicated uncharted territory won him the world title against the seemingly unbeatable José Raúl Capablanca in 1927, and he remained champion until his death in 1946. With the exception of this little interregnum. Faced with the unremarkable Dutchman Max Euwe, Alekhine didn't give the match his undivided attention, his attention by then being devoted to the contents of bottles. Euwe won nine games to eight and drew the other 13, the last one today - but admitted he was only borrowing the title. Sure enough, Alekhine sobered up long enough to regain it two years later by ten games to four. Cheers.

1962
Simon Hodgkinson was born. An underrated full-back and nerveless kicker, he was a crucial member of the England rugby team that won the Grand Slam in 1991 and should have won one a year earlier. On his debut, in Romania in 1989, he converted eight tries out of nine, and in 1991 he kicked seven penalty goals as England won in Wales for the first time since 1963. He scored 203 points, including a four-point try, in only 14 internationals.

1996
René Salinié died aged 98. A rugby union international in 1923, he was the longest-lived rugby player ever capped by France.

1979
With John McEnroe and Vitas Gerulaitis playing singles and Stan Smith and Bob Lutz in the doubles, USA had no trouble beating Italy in the Davis Cup final in San Francisco. They won 5-0 without dropping a set.

1938
Hard-punching crowd-pleasing Eric 'Boy' Boon knocked out Dave Crowley to become British lightweight champion. Partly because of the War, the Fen Tiger never fought for a world championship, and he didn't defend his British title until 1944, when he was stopped by Ronnie James.

1920
Ivor Preece was born. A rugby union centre, he played in 12 matches for England, dropping a goal in a win over France. He finished on the winning side only three times, but helped the Lions draw a match 9-9 with New Zealand on the 1950 tour. His son Peter played in the same position and won the same number of caps for England.

1986
Jane Park was born. Only 17 when she won the US Amateur Championship in 2004, she'd reached the final the previous year.

1930
Don Bradman's first Test wicket. That places him in the all-rounder category.

1979
Dennis Lillee and the aluminium bat. During a Test against England at the WACA , Lillee went to the crease with an aluminium bat manufactured by a company owned by a personal friend. Lillie's captain Greg Chappell was not happy, neither was England skipper Mike Brearley, but there were no rules against using such a bat and Lillee dug his heels in. The umpires became involved and after some time Lillee was told to change his bat. With steam coming from his ears, he hurled the offending bat towards the pavilion. Sales of the bat went through the roof the next few weeks, but cricket's lawmakers nipped this in the bud by saying bats had to be made of wood.

1978
West Indies speedster Malcolm Marshall makes his Test debut.

1952
Last Test for 44-year-old Amir Elahi, for Pakistan (he'd earlier played for India), and 41-year-old 'Lala' Amarnath. Amarnath's Test career lasted exactly 19 years to the day.

Two 41-year-olds played in their only Test matches today: Paul Kinneir for England in 1911 and India's Rustomji Jamshedji in 1933 - against England.

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