A look back at the good, the bad and the ugly – everything that transpired on and off the cricket field in the year.
T20 glory for West Indies: The Caribbean triumph in Sri Lanka was the biggest success story of the year. It was one of the rare occasions in the last two decades when West Indies went into a tournament as favourites, and they came up trumps. Chris Gayle and Sunil Narine led the charge for the Windies with the bat and ball respectively. In the final though it was a sensational counter-attacking innings by Marlon Sameuls that won them the game. Windies’ last major victory in a big ICC tournament was in 2004 when they surprised everyone to win the Champions Trophy.
South Africa pass the No. 1 Test: Although the Proteas were officially ranked number one in the world following the series victory against England, they needed to beat Australia in Australia to reaffirm their worth. As expected, it was a tough, hard-fought series. Australia dominated the first two Tests, but the South Africans had enough in their tank to hold on for a draw. Then, in the deciding Test at Perth, South Africa pulled away from the Aussies and romped home to victory. Hashim Amla and A B de Villiers slammed big tons to turn the final Test as Australia went on to lose Ricky Ponting’s farewell series despite skipper Michael Clarke slamming double tons in the first two Tests.
England blank Australia: The Englishhave oftenunderperformed in the shorter version of the game, but in June-July Alastair Cook led his side to an unprecedented 4-0 ODI series win at home. Ian Bell was the top scorer in the series with 189 runs while Steven Finn troubled the Aussies by scalping eight wickets. Ravi Bopara and Eion Morgan also made handsome contributions as Australia kept faltering game after game.
Bangladesh almost did it: The Asia Cup was expected to be a battle between India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. However, hosts Bangladesh had other ideas. They used the international experience gained over the years as well as the knowledge of the familiar conditions to their utmost advantage. Bangladesh first got the better of India and then went on to upset the Sri Lankans. As a result, they made it to the big final against Pakistan. In another brilliant performance, they almost pulled off the impossible courtesy a miraculous innings from Shakib Al Hasan. In the end though, they just fell short by a couple of runs.
Jimmy hits out at BCCI: Mohinder Amarnath made a sensational revelation stating that his selection committee wanted M S Dhoni out as Test skipper, but the high-handed BCCI interfered to ensure that Dhoni stayed on.
The fixing taint returns: Five IPL players, none of who have played for India, were handed bans for their involved in fixing and other corrupt activities. While on the IPL, RCB player Luke Pomersbach was accused of molesting a woman. It was also the year when former Pak leggie Danish Kaneria was banned for life for spot-fixing by the ECB. Allegations of the Indo-Pak World Cup semi-final in 2011 being fixed started doing the rounds, but nothing substantial came out of it.
The KP saga: Kevin Pietersen was dropped from the team after it was learnt that he had made unsavoury comments against Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower, and conveyed his feelings to the touring South Africans. He apologised for his deeds, and returned with a bang, playing a big role in the historic Test series win in India.
--By A Cricket Analyst