Here’s Alex with his best and worst moments of 2018. He was better qualified than me to write this piece as my answers invariably involve the words ‘bah’ and ‘humbug’. Do you agree with his choices?
MOMENT OF THE YEAR: Alastair Cook’s Last 100: This writer was at The Oval , joining tens of thousands on their feet, clapping and cheering as ‘Chef’ made his final hundred in his final Test inning. It was a moment when cricket was part of the national conversation again, it was good to say: “I was there”. Oh, and the same day Virat Kohli was out for a golden duck. We were there for that one, too!
BATSMAN OF THE YEAR: Virat Kohli (India): Like him or not, Kohli’s record this year was absolutely stunning. India’s captain amassed 1240 runs in 2018 (and counting!), including 5 hundreds and four fifties in 22 innings, averaging 56.36. Oh, and he also spanked six ODI hundreds in 14 innings.
BOWLER OF THE YEAR: Dilruwan Perera (Sri Lanka): The off-spinner managed 48 wickets in 10 matches, including 3 five-wicket hauls and one ten-wicket haul.
BREAKTHROUGH PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Sam Curran (England): Is Sam Currant the new Ian Botham? Well in the summer of 2018 he looked like it! Every time that the team was on its knees Curran lifted them up. Hammering 404 runs in seven matches with fearless strokeplay, Curran dominated some of the world’s best bowlers, much to the pleasure of the thousands watching on. We still don’t think Ashwin was the same after the treatment he was given at Edgbaston. Oh, and he also had 14 wickets, too. To cap off his year, he was rewarded with a million dollar contract by IPL side Kings XI Punjab. And he won’t even play for the whole tournament.
MATCH OF THE YEAR: New Zealand beating Pakistan by 4 runs in the UAE in the first test of their three-test tour: A triumph for Test Cricket, the Kiwis walked into the silent fortress of the UAE and came away with the victory. In the final innings of the first test, they set Pakistan a relatively modest 176-run target….and through spinner Ajaz Patel (5-59), they came away with a four-run victory. The weirdest thing was Pakistan started the day 37-0.
BIGGEST LET-DOWN SERIES OF THE YEAR: The Ashes (2017-18) and New Zealand (2018): There aren’t many good things to remember about England’s trip Down Under this year. Not only was there the ignominy of the 4-0 Ashes loss to Australia, when England players routinely took ‘collapse’ and ‘stupid shots’ to new levels, but there was the first innings against New Zealand, when England, batting first, were all out for a stunning 58. Yes, that’s right: FIFTY-EIGHT. And even when they rebounded for second Test, they couldn’t close the deal, defining a terrible tour.
IDIOT OF THE YEAR: Steve Smith (Australia): The captain and player of Australia’s Ashes-winning team, 2018 was looking rosy for Steve Smith. You know, until SandpaperGate.
SULK OF THE YEAR: David Warner (Australia): Warner especially doesn’t harbour good feeling at the best of times, but at least we found his latest escapade where he got the hump with a part-time player – who happened to be Philip Hughes’ brother – sledging him over the sandpaper affair. Hughes apparently said to Warner: “You’re a disgrace. You shouldn’t be playing cricket”. Which is, in fact, true.
BIGGEST KERFUFFLE: The Hundred: Like Brexit and Trump, it seems that everyone’s got an opinion on the ECB’s biggest project. People are warning of a billion-pound white elephant, the demise of cricket, and the end of the world. Sadly, no-one actually seems to be willing to give it a chance. They don’t seem to realise that if The Hundred gets non-cricket fans to actually watch our beloved sport, THIS IS A GOOD THING.
WORST PEOPLE IN THE CRICKETING WORLD: Whoever priced the Ashes tickets and World Cup tickets: By hiking tickets to a price beyond the reach of anyone but the twattish hedge fund characters who snap up tickets to Lord’s because it’s part of the ‘English social season, the organisers of both the Ashes and World Cup have denied many, many fans the chance of seeing some of the best battles of the 2019 summer. Of course, those at Lord’s will tell you that £150 is ‘only for the best seats’, but then again, paying £45 for sitting in the Edrich Lower with a crappy view and no view of the scoreboard or DRS is hardly the way to go, is it? From us cricket fans to the organisers: Screw. You.
WORST PEOPLE IN THE CRICKETING WORLD (2): Cricket West Indies: By continuing to underpay players and seemingly refuse to expand the game of test cricket or create interest with the sport itself, the CWC has basically made Windies cricket a Test cricket joke. Which is sad, because Shai Hope is awesome. Although West Indies T20 players are excellent and well-represented around the world, the decline of Test cricket is solely on their shoulders. And that is a national tragedy. Saying that, they’ll probably beat England 3-0 this winter!
SLEDGE OF THE YEAR: “I know he’s your captain but you can’t seriously like him as a bloke” – Tim Paine to Murali Vijay about one Virat Kohli during the Second Test of the Australia vs India series at Perth.