With the year drawing to a close, we’ve decided to take a look back at it and pick out our moments and performers of the past 365 days. It’s largely based on Test cricket, but that’s the best format, isn’t it? Glad that argument’s cleared up…
Best Team – England
They assumed the number one position in Tests and T20s. Whilst India’s World Cup triumph was impressive, they blotted their book in England.
Best Batsman – Ian Bell
2011 was the year in which Ian Bell became indispensible to England. He was in the last chance saloon in 2009, now he’s drinking at the top table. An average of 118.75 in Tests tells the story. And I’m a huge fan of the wee Warwickshire man…
Best Bowler – Saeed Ajmal
The only bowler to take 50 Test wickets, and at an average of 23.86, it was a sterling year for Ajmal.
Performance of the Year – Rahul Dravid
There were no fewer than seven double hundreds in 2011, Alastair Cook’s 294 being the highest. Yet he was in the company of the gift that kept on giving – India’s bowling in England.
As such, Dravid gets the nod from us for his stoic resistance against England. Whilst the walls fell down around him, this wall stood tall and, largely, immovable. His impressiveness was only highlighted by the ineptitude of his colleagues. Rahul, we salute you!
Rise of the Year – Nathan Lyon
At the end of 2010 the off spinner was on the ground staff at Adelaide as England rocked into town. At the end of 2011 he was the premier spinner in Australia having impressed in a net session bowling to Mike Hussey. 2011 was a truly remarkable year for Lyon, proving that anything is possible – especially if you’re Australian. Never give up, kids…
Worst Performer of the Year – Phillip Hughes
The Australian opener averaged 26.93 in 2011. I literally cannot describe his footwork though. He leaps into some shots like a startled cat that’s just been doused by a bucket of icy water, rotating in the air as he does so. It’s bizarre and clearly doesn’t work. He even managed to get himself dropped. By Australia. And they’re desperate. Want him out? Bowl across him. He doesn’t like it up him, either. And he’s not very patient. Or confident. Or very good… Coming to a county ground near you in 2012.
Game of the Year – South Africa Vs Australia
The first match of the English summer at Cardiff was remarkable, but only for its conclusion. 400 played 495 on what seemed an uninspiring featherbed, until Sri Lanka came out to bat second time around on the fifth day.
They were blitzed in 24.4 overs for 82. A once preposterously unfathomable innings victory was secured by England.
The best game, however, was at Newlands and the first Test between South Africa and Australia. It had it all, from start to finish. Australia took a first innings lead of 188 runs having skittled the Proteas for 96 and, astonishingly, lost.
The Aussie second innings recovered from 21/9 to reach 47 all out. The Saffers then resumed normal service and knocked of the 236 required for victory. It was an unbelievable game that will live long in the memory. It still doesn’t seem real now…
Series of the Year – South Africa Vs Australia
The aforementioned game was the first of two Tests. Australia hit back in Johannesburg to level the series with an impressive yet tense chase of 310.
The look on Nathan Lyon’s face as Australia slid to 292/8 said it all: he was shitting himself. Luckily for the trembling Lyon he wasn’t required as Mitchell Johnson and Pat Cummins steered Australia home.
The enthralling two Test series left everyone wanting more and was a brilliant advert for Test cricket.
So, it has been rather a good year. We’ll ignore the prison sentences though, and hope for more cracking cricket in 2012 as India and Australia lock horns, South Africa visit England and England visit India. It should be a good one.
By Miles Reucroft