Twenty Ten is almost gone. Time for an annual list making exercise. So here are 10 cricketing stories from 2010 (A couple of other such selections are here: Arbit & Music).
1. Jai Shri Laxman
VVS Laxman is the man. The rest of the Indian top order can safely not turn up in the 2nd innings as they know Laxman is there. Match winning innings against Sri Lanka, Australia, South Africa, a match saving one against New Zealand. It seems he needs a crisis on a regular basis to perform. The Australians are specially wary of him. After all VVS scored and Australia lost though they weren't even playing against each other.
2. The Non-stop Tragicomedy of Pakistani cricket.
Dont even know where to get started on this. Spot Fixing, Captaincy changes, Players banned/retired, Bans reversed, Afridi biting the ball, Zulqarnain Haider going missing, Ijaz Butt's comments. The Pakistani cricket was in a total mess and it kept getting messier. When at the end of the year Shoaib Akhtar's presence became a calming influence then something is seriously wrong.
3. Sachin Tendulkar - The non-stop record breaking machine
Sachin Tendulkar has already gone past many landmarks in his 21 year international career. But this year was a new high even for him. Won the ICC Player of the Year award for the first time, Became the first man to score an ODI double century in Gwalior,and then went on to become the first player to score 50 Test centuries. A World Cup victory is the only thing left to attain now.
4. The Aghan Fairytale
Afghanistan provided the fairytale story of the year. Rose through the ICC World Cricket Leagues to gain ODI status. Participated in the T20 World Cup and later in the year won the silver medal in the Asian Games. A truly heroic perfomance from the war ravaged country.
5. The Sprinkler Dance
England went to Australia with the hope of becoming the first Englaish team to retain the Ashes in Australia in 24 years. Excellent all round performances led to the target being achieved in the 4th Test in Melbourne itself. And to celebrate the English team performed the Sprinkler Dance (video).
6. Mount Murali
Before the series against India, Muttiah Muralitharan announced that the first Test would be his last (Maybe he was also tired of playing against India). He was on 792 wickets. Duly picked up the 8 Indian wickets and retired from the game becoming the 1st man to take 800 Test Wickets.
7. The No-Ball - Suraj Randiv
Virender Sehwag on 99 with one run to win. Suraj Randiv bowls a BIG no ball which Sehwag dispatches for a six. However due to idiotic rules, Sehwag doesn't get the six as the match ends at the no ball itself. Leads to a fair bit of outcry in the Indian media. It gave me hope that India-Sri Lanka cricketing relations would be spoiled and we wouldn't play against them ever. (Alas, it was not to be).
8. The ever going India-Sri Lanka series
Test Series, 5 match ODI series, Tri-Series, T20 Matches. India and Sri Lanka seemed to be a continuous ongoing series. Somehow both the teams had space in their calendars at the same time. Everyone grew tired of it. A catchy tagline for promoting cricket was suggested - "Cricket - It is beyond India-Sri Lanka matches also"
9. England T20 World Champions
England somehow managed to reach the 2nd stage of the World Cup in West Indies. And then produced a clinical display to win their first ever ICC trophy. In fact it was said that only after winning against Australia in the finals did we realise how good the English were.
10. The Unnoticed One - Rahul Dravid
In the 1st Test against South Africa at Centurion, Rahul Dravid reached 2 big landmarks. However, a national media obsessed with cricket missed both. In the first innings, SRT failed to reach his 50th century by 65 runs (Dravid crossed Lara to become the 3rd highest run-getter ever) and in the 2nd innings SRT reached the 50th (Dravid reached 12000 mark). In the very next test, Dravid became the first non-wicketkeeper to take 200 catches, a feat which was duly recorded. And then almost got lost in frenzy of the win. Some people seem destined to play in the shadows.