This is a review of a glorious but hectic 2012 cricketing year. Forgive me if some things are left un turned or untouched.
This year proved to be a year in which the tables turned on England. England lost 7 matches, The South Africans assumed the number one ranking, and the Australians were constantly chasing both South Africa and England’s heals with a miserly 1 test loss the entire year. India struggled with 5 losses out of 9 and England with just 5 test wins out of 15. New Zealand (2 wins), Sri Lanka (3 wins) and the West Indies (4 wins) also struggled each playing 10 tests.
The only side not to have a lost a test all year, was South Africa and the only sides not to have won a test were Bangladesh (and Zimbabwe).
Graeme Smith with the Test mace
Throughout 2012 were 89 test centuries, 41 One day centuries and 4 T20 centuries. In tests, six outstanding batsmen can be picked out. For England; Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen, who struck 7 centuries between them. For South Africa, Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis with 8 tons combined and lastly Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey who almost single handedly prevented Australia from losing more than a single game with 9 tons between them (in 11 tests.)
A number of batsmen also deserve mentions, notably Marlon Samuels, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ross Taylor, Che Pujara, Azhar Ali and Graeme Smith who each struck three centuries.
This year of course was infamous for Kevin Pietersen’s saga with the ECB, including various ridiculous comments towards colleagues via text and word of mouth and of course his retirements. Pietersen nevertheless had an outstanding 2012 with three of the most memorable hundreds against Sri Lanka, South Africa and India, all of which turned entire games’ on their heads. Out of these three hundreds, his 183 in India was a special hundred, every other batsmen had struggled, but Pietersen came out and played in a fashion that he seemingly had no right to play on in.
On the bowling 2012 has bee a mixed bag. There has been spin success’ for Saeed Ajmal with 39 wickets in 6 tests, and Rangana Herath who took 60 wickets in 10 tests to top the wickets tally. Graeme Swann also was a significant wicket taker with 59 wickets in 14 games, although being considerably less effective than in his earlier career, he did contribute to a series victory against India, the first such win for 28 years.
Once more England, S. Africa and Australia dominated i the seam department with England’s James Anderson taking 48 wickets, South Africa’s Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander combined to take 82 wickets and it was a breakthrough year for Australia’s attack, successfully fusing experience and youth.
Notable mentions must also go to Kemar Roach who has developed into a genuinely world class and rapid bowler and Monty Panesar who took 33 wickets in 6 tests, including a 10 wicket match haul in India.
The One day form of the game saw England becoming a world class outfit thrashing Australia, equaling South Africa and becoming number one. They lost just 2 matches all year, with the highlight being the 5-0 victory over Australia which handed them the top status.
The second and newest form of limited overs cricket, Twenty 20, was dominated by a world cup in Sri Lanka. New champions were crowned, the West Indies. Darren Sammy led his side absolutely brilliantly and they showed they held a number of genuinely world class consistent performers and entertainers. Marlon Samuels who blasted a 56-ball 78 in the final and Chris Gayle who led from the top of the order with disdain and aggression. Shane Watson of Australia also must receive accolades for outstanding all round displays in all disciplines.
There were a number of players’ and associates of the game who left us in 2012. Beginning with the greats, we bid farewell and thank both Rahul Dravid and Ricky Ponting. Both had over 13000 test runs and averaged over 50 consistently. They anchored their team at number 3 and spent long periods as captain. Ponting and Dravid were once in a generation batsmen and payers. They have left an indelible legacy of batsmen-ship captaincy, slip fielding, style and professionalism. They are irreplaceable and will be missed by all.
VVS Laxman and Michael Hussey also retired in 2012. Michael Hussey scored 19 test hundreds and over 6000 runs in 78 games (with one more game to go) and 38 year old VVS Laxman accumulated 8781 runs with 17 hundreds. Both were world class lower order test batsmen, experienced with expertise in guiding the lower order yet capable of going up the order too. True professionals and dedicated batsmen for their countries, they rose to big occasions and were utterly team-centric.
Michael Hussey retires
One of England’s most successful opening batsmen and captain’s, Andrew Strauss left cricket also. With 21 test centuries to his name and two Ashes victories as captain he will be fondly remembered.
Mark Boucher was tragically hit in the eye by a bail, leading to immediate retirement. It was a horrible way to have gone and Boucher finished with an agonizing 998 international dismissals as a wicket keeper, including 555 in 147 Tests. It is the record for dismissals and a major reason for South African success.
Elite Umpire Simon Taufel, stood in his last game during the T20 world cup final, which ended an 10 career spanning 74 Test matches, 174 One Day Internationals and 34 T20Is.
Two of the greatest one day players of modern times retired; Brett Lee and Sachin Tendulkar. Tendulkar mixed an aggressive batting style, perfect timing and a very heavy bat to revolutionise One day cricket. Tendulkar retired with a colossal 18426 runs and 49 centuries which took him over the 100 international centuries mark. Although Brett Lee was not the bowling Sachin, he contributed to a number of key World cup victories, and was renowned for his ferocious pace duels with Shoaib Akhtar. Lee finished with 380 wickets at a highly respectable average of 23.36. His pace and enthusiasm made him an exciting watch. Both will be sorely missed in colored clothing.
Two cricketers also experienced an untimely death in 2012, Surrey batsman Tom Maynard (23 years Old) life and career ended horribly early after being struck by a train. The death of 66 year old Tony Greig was the second major shock to the cricketing world this year. The South African that captained England, and was loved by Australians for his commentary, was diagnosed with lung cancer early in 2012, and died of a heart attack on December the 29th. The cricket world united in sorrow and memorial for these two figures.
Test batsmen of the year: Michael Clarke has been simply prolific, scoring 1595 runs in 11 tests including a triple century, three double centuries and a regular century, not to mention three fifties. In 18 innings he has averaged 106.33 and he has broken the record for the most runs in a calendar year by an Australian. An historic year.
Test Bowler of the year: 60 wickets in 10 tests with 7 five wicket halls gives Rangana Herath this title. A high class bowler in a relatively pedestrian side, he has kept the Sri Lankans from embarrassing themselves although often hugely under supported.
One day batsmen of the year: is undoubtedly Virat Kohli who hit 5 one day hundreds, with an average of 73.28 in addition to having the most fours in T20is with 54. Kohli was the second highest run getter in 2012 in T20 with 471 runs, one run behind Martin Guptil who is in the lead (13 innings each).
The One day Bowler of the year: is by Saeed Ajmal with 25 T20 wickets at an average of 15 and economy of just 6 an over, which is highly admirable in the T20 format. Lasith Malinga has not come off in T20 disappointingly only taking 10 wickets, and although in 50 over cricket he is the leading wicket taker with 47 wickets, they have been over 32 games, indicating he hasn’t actually been that prolific. Ajmal takes the 50 over title as well, with 31
Test team of the year: Jointly held by Australia and South Africa – Australia lost just a single test this year and South Africa
ODI team of the year: England losing just 2 games this year and obtaining the number one ranking. Led expertly by Alastair Cook in One day cricket, England have had purpose and discipline.
T20 team of the year: The West Indies – Chris Gayle took the T20 world by storm to bash down competition in the T20 world cup, and deliver a unifying West Indian world cup victory.
*All stats correct as of 29th December 2012