2013 was a mixed year for cricket. There was sad, there was happy, there was disgust, there was glory, there was history & there was hope. The game took some more steps towards evolution with new set of rules in the limited over format of the game with the use of two new balls from both ends & the fielding restrictions in the depth overs.
The ugly head of match fixing & betting rose again, tainting the cash rich India Premier League. The controversy saw the literal end of one of India’s most talented pace bowlers in S Sreesanth. 2013 also saw the rise of Afghanistan in the world of cricket, creating hope in a nation ravaged by war & death. The year saw the historic Ashes urn change hands in a dramatic turn of events.
A quite & committed New Zealand was shaken by the reality of some of it’s players being involved in match fixing. The tiny nation, most known for it’s hard trying brand of cricket did gain some reputation back by winning the home test series against the West Indies.
And last but not the least, 2013 saw the sunset of one of the greatest cricketing careers, the game has ever seen since the retirement of a certain Sir Donald George Bradman in 1948. As India embarked on it’s first series in the post-Sachin Tendulkar era, many of us who grow up in the 1990s, almost habitual to watch Sachin play everytime India took the field, quietly shed a tear alongwith the great man as he walked a cricket field for the last time ever in Mumbai.
While Tendulkar’s departure was a much celebrated one, another mammoth of the game bowed out from the game’s longest format. Jacques Kallis was what many described as many greats rolled into one & perhaps the most prolific all-rounders of the game since the West Indian legend Sir Garfield Sobers took field. Kallis scripted a perfect departure from the game with a century in his last innings & with South Africa winning the match & series. While that script was a fairy tale for Kallis, for the India cricket team it was yet another humiliating nightmare.
After winning six tests in a row & battling for a draw in Jo’burg, India lost yet another test & series overseas, after playing some really ordinary cricket on the last day in Durban. The last time India won a series outside the subcontinent worth noticing was in England in 2007.
On the other hand, another team that was ‘blown away’ in a much worst manner was England. From dominating the Ashes, Alistair Cook’s side was surrounded by controversy at all times, both on & off the field, ultimately losing out to a resurgent Australian team, which had lost 7 tests abroad, before finally settling the score in what is considered as cricket’s oldest & greatest cricketing rivalry.
Ireland has begun knocking on the door’s of the game’s longest format after dishing out some of the most promising performances in the past few season, including those against Pakistan & the 2011 World Cup in the subcontinent. The Irish defeated a rampaging Afghan team in the finals of the ICC World Intercontinental cup for the fourth time & fans around the globe are wanting the Irish to make their test debut.
These are just the important features of a year that has been full of highs & lows for the gentleman’s game. While most of the legends of the game are slowly fading away, with a few handy names remaining, a new brand of young cricket is sprouting around the world. One thats hungry for success & wants to do well at the highest level. The game that we love could well flower up further. One thing though is for sure. Cricket, contrary to what many believe, is fast gaining popularity & building bridges world over & the game will surely go on!