• November 21 down the years

A batting great is born

The sporting events of November 21 down the years
Justin Langer: A true legend with the bat © Getty Images

The defining fight in one of the stellar careers. When Mexico's Julio César Chávez vacated the WBC super-featherweight champion to take on WBA lightweight king Edwin Rosario, there were fears for his safety. How would he cope at a higher weight against a big puncher? He nearly coped at the press conference, when Rosario mentioned something about sending him home in a coffin. It was the champion who needed help to leave the ring. Chávez cut his mouth and both eyes before the towel came in during the 11th round. Rosario didn't get the title back until his tormentor relinquished it in 1989. Chávez went on to win four more world titles, and had his last championship fight in 2000.

At Murrayfield, Scotland put on one of their great defensive performances, but the Wallabies threw away several chances of winning. Hooker Stephen Moore should have dived in for a first-half try instead of letting himself be held up; with Scotland leading 6-3 in the second half, Drew Mitchell crossed Scotland's line but the long pass had been forward. Then substitute Chris Paterson put over a drop goal to make it 9-3. Australia camped on the Scotland line right at the end, and Ryan Cross scored a try in injury time. But Matt Giteau had left his kicking boots in Dublin, where they'd supplied ten points against Ireland. He missed an easy penalty at the end of the first half, followed that with a missed drop at goal, and now pushed the conversion well wide. Scotland won 9-8, their first win over Australia since 1982, having lost the 16 matches in between.

Eamonn Coghlan was born in County Dublin. One of the top milers of his day, especially indoors, with a sprint finish to match anyone, he was unlucky to be around at the same time as Steve Ovett (who beat him into second place at the 1978 Europeans) and Seb Coe - so he didn't win a major title until he moved up to 5,000 metres and became the inaugural world champion. He'd looked set to challenge for the Olympic title in 1980 until one of Miruts Yifter's team-mates let the Ethiopian through on the inside.

A fun quirk. Two swimmers with the same surname, from the same country, set short-course world records over the same distance on the same day. Jan Karlsson clocked 23.80 seconds for the men's 50 metres butterfly, Louise Karlsson 31.19 for the 50 freestyle.

Few teams score five tries and 35 points in an international rugby match and still lose. Romania managed this heroic feat against Ireland, who scored seven tries and 50 points in Dublin.

On the same day, South Africa also scored 35 points, easily enough to beat Scotland at Murrayfield.

Meanwhile, over in Paris, John Eales equalled the world record for a forward by kicking five penalties in the 32-21 win over France.

This has been a good day for Australia in Europe over the years. In 1992 David Campese scored one of Australia's three tries in their 23-6 win in Cardiff. And in 1981 they beat Ireland 16-12 in Dublin.

A productive day for William Cook. He won the world billiards title for the second time, and his son was born. In 1907, William junior made a world record break of 42,746.

Richard Metcalfe was born. A lock forward who helped deprive England of the Grand Slam on his Scotland debut in 2000 (having been capped by England A in 1995), he gets in here as the tallest man ever to play international rugby: a neck-craning 7 feet 1.

The first match ever played in the Australian Open tennis tournament.

The union code's so strong in France that the rugby league boys have to make do with what they can get. Their collection of amateurs played one of their great games today, against the all-conquering Australians in Toulouse. Tries by Frédéric Zitter and Damien Couturier fashioned a 34-30 scoreline with seven minutes left, before the Kangaroos pulled away to win 52-30.

Sid Luckman was born. One of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, he led the Chicago Bears to four NFL titles in the 1940s. He mastered the relatively new T formation to such a degree that in the Championship decider of December 8, 1940, the Bears destroyed a Washington Redskins team led by the equally brilliant quarterback Sammy Baugh (born March 17, 1914). The barely believable 73-0 smashed the previous record.

Gert Fredriksson was born in Sweden. The most successful male canoeist of all time, he won six Olympic golds from 1948 to 1960, seven world titles, and don't get us started on the silver and bronze.

One of the great coincidences. Just as Napoleon and Wellington were born on exactly the same day, so were the rival captains in the 1905 Ashes series. The Honourable Stanley Jackson and Joe Darling. It was definitely the Honourable's series. Despite starting it with a duck, Jackson topped the batting and bowling averages, England won 2-0, and he even won the toss in all five Tests. Neither of them ever played Test cricket again.

Andy Caddick was born. Bowls better in the second innings than the first, they said - as his last Test seemed to prove. At Sydney in January 2003, he followed first-innings figures of 3-121 with a match-winning 7-94 in the second. Caddick had taken only ten wickets at 47.50 earlier in the series, not enough to stop Australia taking a 4-0 lead, which meant they kept the Ashes - but he had his moments in Test cricket. Among his 234 Test wickets were four in an over at Headingley in 2000 to bowl West Indies out for 61 and win the match in two days, and 7-46 at Durban in December 1999. In South Africa's first innings, too.

Justin Langer was born in Australia. Small and gutsy, he formed one of the great opening partnerships with the burly Matthew Hayden: their 6,080 runs together is second only to the West Indies' Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes. Langer's figures are up there with the best: 105 Tests, 7,696 runs at an average of 45.27, 23 centuries. His Test career ended on the same day as Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne: January 5, 2007.