Australia-based cricket historian Kersi Meher-Homji's compilation of the best and worst in 2011...
What a year! 2011 had it all. There were statistical milestones and unique feats, jail sentence to three Test players, mystery surrounding the passing of a high profile columnist, thrillers including a near tied Test, dramatic debuts by bowlers, spectacular hitting by Shane Watson and Virender Sehwag in ODIs, England belting Australia and India to reach the no 1 ranking in Test cricket, Australia shot out for 47 after being 9 for 21 in the Cape Town Test and incredibly the last four Netherlands batsmen getting run out for ducks off four successive balls against Ireland at Kolkata in the World Cup.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni hits the winning runs during World
Cup final against Sri Lanka at Wankhede Stadium on April 2. Pic/Getty
Let's start with the good; milestones and unique feats in international arena.
* India won the World Cup in April in Mumbai, the first time a country has won at home.
* India's Little Master Sachin Tendulkar became the only batsman to score 15,000 Test runs (during the Delhi Test against New Zealand in November).
* He is one century short of his 100th international hundred which he may reach in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.
* Full credit to India's captain MS Dhoni to recall England's batsman Ian Bell when he was given run-out by the umpires in the Trent Bridge Test in July.
* Thrilling Tests in Johannesburg, Mumbai and Hobart, the Mumbai 'magic' ending in a near tie.
* It has been a year of debutant bowlers, starting with Australia's spinner Nathan Lyon who took a wicket off his first ball in a Test, only the 14th to do so in the 134 years of Test cricket. This was against Sri Lanka at Galle in September where he grabbed 5-34.
* November and December were indeed months for golden debutants when New Zealander Doug Bracewell, India's Ravichandran Ashwin, South Africa's Vernon Philander and Australia's Pat Cummins and James Pattinson captured five wickets in an innings on Test debut.
* A grand slam for Ashwin in his debut series against the Windies: 3-81 and 6-47 in Delhi; 2-49 and 2-137 in Kolkata and 5-156, 4-34 and 103 runs in Mumbai. No wonder he was adjudged Man of the Test series. He became the third Indian after Vinoo Mankad in 1952 and Polly Umrigar in1961-62 to hit a century and grab 5 wickets in an innings in the same Test.
* Replacing an injured Cummins, James Pattinson, took 5-27 in his debut for Australia against New Zealand in the December Brisbane Test followed by another fifer in Hobart to finish with 14 wickets in the two Test series. Like another debutant Ashwin (vs WI) Pattinson was made the Man of the series against NZ.
* Two unique records for Mike Hussey. He is the only batsman to average 50 in Tests, one-day internationals (ODIs) and first-class (FC) cricket (qualification 4000 runs in each format) and to be adjudged Man of the Match in all three Tests in a series as also Man of the Series. This was against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka in September when his batting average was a Bradman-like 92.60 and bowling average only 3.50.
* In the five-match one day international (ODI) series against England in India this October, India's captain wicket-keeper MS Dhoni was not dismissed even once. His scores: 87 not out, did not bat, 35 not out, 15 not out and 75 not out, in all 212 runs in five consecutive matches.
* On 6 August, South Africa's medium pacer Norman Gordon became the only Test cricketer to celebrate his 100th birthday.
Now to the SAD...
lI have still not come to grips with the shocking and tragic death of Peter Roebuck; my friend and hero, in November, aged 55. The mystery surrounding his passing will be discussed for decades. He was a brilliant writer and radio commentator who did a lot to help the poor and to fight social injustice.
lAmong other prominent personalities to pass away this year were Test cricketers Mansur Ali Khan (the Nawab of Pataudi Junior), Trevor Bailey, Terry Jenner, Peter Loader, Graham Dilley, Basil D'Oliveira and Sam Loxton.
lThe jail sentence to the Pakistan Test trio of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir this November for spot-fixing scandal of last year.
* Australia's Shane Watson hit a spectacular unbeaten 185 off 96 balls against Bangladesh in an ODI in Mirpur this April at an astounding strike rate of 192.70. It was spiced up with 15 fours and 15 sixes. His 15 sixes in an innings is a record in all internationals.
* This batting spree was bettered by India's 'six-o-maniac' Virender Sehwag last week. He slammed 219 runs off 149 balls at a strike-rate of 147 belting 25 fours and 7 sixes and becoming the highest scorer in an ODI. He became only the second player to score a double century in an ODI, the first being another Indian, Sachin Tendulkar, 200 vs SA at Gwalior last February.
* Not that only batsmen were spectacular in 2011. On Day Two of the Cape Town Test on 10 Nov, 23 wickets tumbled for 262 runs. This included SA being dismissed for 96 and hitting back by routing Australia for 47 (after they were 9-21). Australia's Peter Siddle batted and bowled in all four innings.