Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Twenty17 LineUp

2018 has dawned upon us and the cricketing action continues in full swing with New Zealand completing a demolition of the West Indies and Vidarbha winning the Ranji Trophy for the first time ever. Before the action hots up further, time to take a look back at the Cricketing XI of 2017 (compiled by yours truly).

1. Afghanistan & Ireland get Test Status
After resisting for years, ICC decided to expand the Test arena. And thus we have two new Full members on-board – Afghanistan and Ireland (although both are yet to play a Test). Well-deserved reward for the yeoman service done to the Associate cause. Ireland by consistently upsetting the big teams at the major events and Afghanistan by providing a sporting fairy-tale even the best of Hollywood writers will not be able to script! Now they just need to play a Test each!

2. Women’s World Cup
2017 was the year in which women’s cricket became just cricket! The massive success of the Women’s World Cup provided the ultimate fillip. It also helped that India performed well and finished runners-up in a closely contested Lord’s final. But surprisingly after all the goodwill generated, BCCI hasn’t really cashed in and the Indian team hasn’t played a single game after the World Cup Final!

3. Pakistan 
If there is a team which can be trusted to do the inexplicable, it has to be Pakistan. It was another roller-coaster year (no surprises there!). They won the Champions Trophy in England and managed to lose a Test series to Sri Lanka in their adopted home! But the highlight would be the return of International cricket to Pakistan with a T20 series against an International XI (which inexplicably was given international status) and a one off game against Sri Lanka. Which brings us to…

4. The Sri Lankan Captaincy Revolving Door
Angelo Matthews, Dinesh Chandimal, Upul Tharanga, Thisara Perera, Rangana Herath, Chamara Kapugedera, Lasith Malinga – Seven different men captained the Sri Lankan team across different formats this year. Also showed in the overall results where they were hammered by all and sundry, including a series loss to Zimbabwe, who themselves were coming off from losses to Scotland and Netherlands!

5. Performance of the Year 
Will pick two this year. Marcus Stoinis’s incredible assault against New Zealand, which nearly won Australia the game. And Harmanpreet Kaur’s blistering 171* against Australia in the World Cup semi-finals, probably the defining innings for the women’s game in India.

6. Play is stopped due to…
Cricket fans are used to rain and bad light or even bees and dogs stopping play. But 2017 saw even more bizarre stoppages. A county game was stopped due to an arrow landing near the pitch, a Ranji game due to a car driving onto the pitch and finally a Test Match interrupted due to high pollution levels!

7. Pay Dispute
Australians joined the world perennially occupied by the West Indies with a bitter long drawn-out dispute which went on for most of the year. However, unlike the West Indies, the Aussies were able to resolve theirs and get back to business of playing the game!

8. The Return of the Unwanted
The India-Sri Lanka matches were back with not one but two full back-to-back tours. Not helping matters was the poor form of the Sri Lankans. Result: A TourSweep with India beating Sri Lanka 9-0 across formats in Sri Lanka, who improved a bit on the return tour winning one ODI and drawing two Tests!

9. Comeback Sledge of the Year
Pakistan discovered a exciting new talent in Fakhar Zaman, who got a match winning century in the Champions Trophy Final. The newbie also showed an innovative way to tackle sledging, leaving Liam Plunkett speechless by calmly saying “No English”. Ironic considering he is one of the more proficient English speakers in the Pakistan team!

10. Play of the Year
Mitchell Starc’s ball to James Vince. Almost a leg-break at 140KMPH. Just beautiful to watch!

11. Colourful Start of the Year
Sunil Ambris had a pretty interesting start to his Test career – becoming the first batsman ever to be hit wicket off the very first ball he faced, then in the second innings smacking a six to score his first runs, hit wicket again in the first innings of the next Test and rounding it off by being retired hurt in the second innings. Quite an action-packed start for the new West Indies keeper. 

And the 12th Man
Geoff Boycott being pranked by Johnathan Agnew on air. Boycott’s reaction on being told by Agnew that one of his centuries does not count as first-class anymore is just priceless.

That was cricketing year 2017. Lets see what 2018 has in store for us!

Wishing all readers a very happy New year 2018!

Nishant Kumar for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Nishant on Twitter @NishantSKumar

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