2012 – The Year That Was

Cricket Fireworks

In this post I look back at the major happenings in World Cricket over the past twelve months.

Test Cricket:

Number one ranked side England started the year with a humiliating 3-0 defeat against Pakistan in the UAE, as Saeed Ajmal (24 wickets) and Abdur Rehman (19) tormented their batting throughout the series.

Newly appointed captain Michael Clarke led Australia to a 4-0 home whitewash of India. Both he and Ricky Ponting helped themselves to double hundreds in the final Test in Adelaide, following on from Clarke’s triple hundred in Sydney.

Mystery Spinner? Saeed Ajmal ran England ragged as Pakistan whitewashed England 3-0 in the UAE.
Mystery Spinner? Saeed Ajmal ran the English batsmen ragged as Pakistan whitewashed England 3-0 in the UAE.

Less than a year after returning to the format, Zimbabwe suffered their worst ever Test loss with an innings and 301-run defeat in New Zealand.

South Africa returned home from a tour of New Zealand with a 1-0 victory in a 3-Test series, the highlight of the series was paceman Vernon Philander becoming the second fastest man to 50 Test wickets, he achieved the feat in just seven matches.

England’s failure to play decent spin bowling well was again shown up as Rangana Herath took 12 wickets, leading Sri Lanka to victory in the first Test. A superb 151 from Kevin Pietersen helped the visitors level the two-Test series with an 8-wicket win in the second match.

The West Indies showed gradual improvement on their form in the longest format, but started the year with a 2-0 home loss to Australia despite three close Test matches.

A weakened West Indies team suffered at the hands of England in their 3-match series, falling to five and eight-wicket defeats at Lords and Trent Bridge before a rain affected third Test was drawn, despite an extraordinary innings of 95 from Tino Best.

South African captain Graeme Smith holds the ICC Test Mace aloft after his side's victory over England.
South African captain Graeme Smith holds the ICC Test Mace aloft after his side’s victory over England.

Centuries from Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara led Sri Lanka to a 209-run win and a 1-0 series victory at home to Pakistan, the other two Tests ended in dull draws.

Chris Gayle marked his Test comeback for the West Indies with a century as his side beat New Zealand by 9-wickets in Antigua. Marlon Samuels then scored 123 and 52 in the second Test at Kingston to wrap up the series whitewash.

In what was billed as the unofficial Test Championship, England relinquished their number one ranking to South Africa with a 2-0 series loss. Hashim Amla was the pick of the batsmen at The Oval, smashing an unbeaten 311 as the Proteas recorded an innings and 12-run victory. Weather affected the second Test at Headingley leaving both teams to settle for a draw, before the South African’s gained the Test mace, they have long craved after, with a 51-run win at Lords in the third and final Test.  The series will also be remembered for the Kevin Pietersen debacle, which caused him to miss the third Test.

Cheteshwar Pujara’s first Test century led India to an innings and 115-run victory in their first home Test against New Zealand and they sealed the series win with a 5-wicket return in the second Test where Virat Kohli top scored in each innings with 103 and 51no.

Despite Sri Lanka’s Rangana Herath taking 20 in two Tests, New Zealand took a share of the spoils as the series ended 1-1. Sri Lanka eased to a 10-wicket win in the first Test only for the Black Caps to charge back in the second thanks to centuries from Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson and eight wickets from seamer Tim Southee.

South Africa somehow held onto their number 1 ranking with a 1-0 win in Australia despite been outplayed in the first two Tests of the series. Australia had the better of the first two Tests in Brisbane and Adelaide thanks to a pair of double hundreds from the ever more dependable Michael Clarke, but despite pushing for victories in both matches, the South Africa’s held on. But Like all true champions, Graeme Smith and his men roared back with a huge 309-run thrashing of the Aussies in Perth to take the series and hold on to the Test mace.

After playing well for a couple of sessions against the West Indies, Bangladesh finally folded on the fifth day to lose by 77-runs, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, still defying age at 38, was the mainstay of the West Indies batting effort with an unbeaten 203. The second Test was more of a one-sided occasion as the Windies dominated with a 10-wicket win, Marlon Samuels top scored with 260 and Tino Best finished off the Tigers with 6-40 leaving only a small chase to complete a series whitewash.

Captain Cook...Alastair Cook led from the front with three hundreds in his side's series win in India.
Captain Cook…Alastair Cook led from the front with three hundreds in his side’s series win in India.

England finished the year with an impressive 2-1 series win in India, their first in almost 28 years. After a demoralising 9-wicket loss in Ahmedabad, a performance that suggested England hadn’t learn from their woes against spin bowling on the subcontinent, England, led by their impressive new captain Alistair Cook, the reintegrated Pietersen and the spin duo of Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann, stormed to a 10-wicket series levelling win. Cook was again at it in the third Test scoring a superb 190 in the first innings as England went on to win by 7-wickets. The final Test seemed a formality for the visitors as second innings tons by Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell sealed a draw and England returned home for Christmas having created history.

ODI Cricket:

The main highlight of the 2012 ODI calendar included England overtaking Australia to top the ODI rankings after thrashing them 4-0 in mid-summer home series. In fact England went on to record an English record of ten consecutive ODI victories after whitewashes against Pakistan (4-0), the West Indies (2-0) and the Australians.

Elsewhere South Africa impressed with a 3-0 win in New Zealand and a 2-2 draw in England. While India thrashed hosts Sri Lanka 4-1 after the Sri Lankans had themselves beaten Pakistan 3-1 and New Zealand 3-0 at home. It was a poor year of ODI cricket for the Pakistani’s as they also lost to Australia 2-1 in the UAE.

The West Indies started the year off well with a 2-2 draw at home to Australia and a 4-1 win against New Zealand also at home, but their away form wasn’t so impressive. As well as them losing 2-0 in England they also suffered a humiliating 3-2 series loss in Bangladesh.

 

T20 World Cup:

Hitting out...Marlon Samuels blasts his way to a match winning 78 in the World T20 final.
Hitting out…Marlon Samuels blasts his way to a match winning 78 in the World T20 final.

After two decades of heartbreak the West Indies finally seemed back on the right track as they claimed their first World Cup victory in 33 years. Going into the tournament as many people’s favourites, the Windies overcame many obstacles to seal a 36-run final victory over hosts Sri Lanka in Colombo. Marlon Samuels was the star of the show, blasting 78 of 56 balls to leave his side with 137 runs off their 20 overs after they had found themselves on just 32-2 at the half way point in their innings. 137 never looked another to defend against an experienced Sri Lankan batting line up but a combination of good bowling and panic in the hosts batting cost them dear and they were eventually bowled out for just 101, sparking wild celebrations and Gang’nam Style dancing from the West Indian players.

 

County Cricket:

Warwickshire won the LV = County Championship for the first time since 2004, as they finished 32-points ahead of second placed Middlesex. For the Bears, key contributions came from fast-bowler Chris Wright (67 wickets) and opening batsman Varun Chopra (1052 runs).

Elsewhere Hampshire won the Friends Life T20 beating Yorkshire in the final by 10-runs. Setting the White Roses 151 to win, Hampshire, led by rookie bowler Chris Wood, kept their calm to pick up their second title in three years.

The Clydesdale Bank Pro40 final consisted of Championship winners Warwickshire and T20 winners Hampshire and was not a disappointment. After being set 244 for victory by Hampshire, Warwickshire were seemingly in control of the run chase and required just one run from the final ball, only for Kabir Ali to bowl a dot ball to Neil Carter and deny Warwickshire victory via too many wickets lost.

Indian Premier League:

Kolkata Knight Riders won the fifth episode of the IPL after defeating the Chennai Super Kings in an exciting final in Chennai. Set 191 to win the Knight Riders scraped a victory with 5-wickets and just two balls remaining thanks to a 136-run partnership for the second wicket between Jaques Kallis (69) and Manvinder Bisla (89). Kolkata’s Sunil Narine was the tournament’s best player with 24 wickets at 13.50 as well as an economy rate of just 5.47.

Farewell to:

2012 saw the loss of many influential figures in the game, both through death and retirement.

English cricket lost both young and old talents in the game. In June a tragic tube accident claimed the life of Surrey’s Tom Maynard. Maynard was just 23-years-old and many claimed he was a future England star in the making, his life was one cut far too short.

A fond farewell...Tony Greig 1946-2012
A fond farewell…Tony Greig 1946-2012

As much as Maynard was the future of the English game, Tony Greig played a significant part in its past. As a former England captain and founder of World Series Cricket in the late-70’s, Greig would go on to become one of cricket’s most iconic broadcasters, his voice was heard across the world for the best part of 30 years and his death to a heart attack in late December brought great sadness to everyone.

2012 also saw the end of the careers of a host of the generation’s great batsmen. In March the Indian great Rahul ‘The Wall’ Dravid finally called it quits from international cricket after a career that spanned 164 Test matches and 344 ODI’s.

Like Dravid, VVS Laxman was part of the golden generation of Indian batsmen during the 90’s and 2000’s and it came as a surprise as he ended his career in August before the Test series with New Zealand, he played 134 Test and 86 ODI’s for his county with great success.

Despite claiming the Tour of England would be his last series, no one would have wanted Mark Boucher’s career to end the way it did. Keeping wicket in a tour match before the series began, he was caught in the eye by a bail and lost all sighting in his eye because of it, this forced him into an earlier than expected retirement after 15 years of service to the Proteas, in which he played 147 Test matches and 295 ODI’s. He left the international game with 999 dismissals to his name.

Not since the days of Sir Donald Bradman have Australia produced a batsman with the quality of Ricky Ponting and the modern day great finally announced his retirement in late November after battling a series of poor scores again South Africa. He leaves the game behind having played 168 Test matches (in which he won 108) and 375 ODI’s.

 

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