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The Best & Worst Of 2018

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.

Alex Ferguson

2018-12-22T11:05:18+00:00December 22nd, 2018|Nostalgia|19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. James Morgan December 22, 2018 at 11:21 am - Reply

    Thanks Alex. I really wanted to write something about the World Cup ticket prices but didn’t get round to it in the end. Really glad you brought this up.

    Re: the Hundred, I would be a lot more positive if there was room for it in the calendar. Instead we’re having to marginalise first class cricket to find space. I might think it’s a completely mad idea driven by ego & vanity more than anything else, but I accept that as a diehard cricket fan it’s not meant for me. Obviously all attempts to broaden the game’s appeal are welcome, but I feel the ECB is (as usual) going about things completely the wrong way.

  2. John Walmsley December 22, 2018 at 11:36 am - Reply

    It was a toss up whether I went overseas to watch the NZ-ENG series or SA-OZ, fortunately I plumped for Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, boy was I glad! To see the Aussies squirm (both on and off the pitch) was a sight to behold, but also to see a magnificent ton by AB and witness the emerging talent of a true star in KG Rabada was truly magnificent.

  3. Marc Evans December 22, 2018 at 12:13 pm - Reply

    Just a word about ticket prices for international sporting events.
    Rugby and footie comparative prices are for less than 2 hours play.
    Golf is for less than 4 hours if you follow players round. Pay for a seat you are marooned at that hole.
    Snooker is priced by the session, which again lasts about 4 hours. Darts similarly.
    Horse racing rules you out of being a spectator for all but the finish at most meetings.
    I guess you could go on but the above is the most high profile sporting competition.
    I think £45 for a seat, even if it’s not the ideal view, is a pretty good deal compared to most and the £150 for effectively ‘corporate’ viewing is still pretty reasonable for a whole day’s play.
    The best value I’ve come accross is the ‘roving’ ticket at Wimbledon, away from the show courts.

  4. James December 22, 2018 at 12:22 pm - Reply

    I think the point on ticket prices is that you can go to a test in say South Africa and pay £45 to watch all 5 days. There are cheaper tickets for “less popular” world cup games.

    • James December 22, 2018 at 12:27 pm - Reply

      Actually I may be wrong here. It seems all the world cup games at Old Trafford are sold out.

    • Mark Eldridge December 22, 2018 at 6:09 pm - Reply

      Not quite comparing the same but also not exactly apples with pears either. Prices for SA’s ODI (v Pakistan) in January 2019 range from sterling equivalent £11 to £33. Factor in that the approaching 60% increased cost of living in the UK to RSA and they look like about £17 to £50 range – some way from £9 per day. The difference may be that we like watching Test cricket live and they don’t!

      I would be relaxed about ticket prices here if I thought that the ECB would spend the revenue at all appropriately but then again, why should their autocratic stewardship be any better than the rabble we elected to represent us on a rather bigger field of play?

    • Marc Evans December 24, 2018 at 1:25 pm - Reply

      You can’t realistically compare what goes on in other countries. In South Africa for example, they’re trying to be seen attracting a more multi cultural audience, especially with black players making more of an impact on the field. As your average black wage is a fraction of your white, ticket prices need to be more competitive.
      Over here, just as in most places, professional sport is a business and as long as you can sell the tickets you would expect the issuers to charge the highest price they can get so as to maximise revenue.
      As you point out international cricket matches over here are mosty sell outs or close to, even test matches, where they do drop prices on day 4 and 5 if there looks like being a result in less than a day’s play. The sporting authorities are not charities after all.

  5. Doug M December 22, 2018 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    I agree with these, but will add the following:

    MOST ROTTEN “GOVERNING” BODY IN WORLD SPORT

    THE ECB. I challenge anyone to find an equivalent: An “organisation” which is actively trying to destroy the game it is supposed to represent. Apart from The 100 garbage it has now scheduled the 2019 County Championship so NINE games start on Monday. Why? To piss off county members who work five days a week to support their (ECB) “belief” that traditional 4 day cricket is dying because of poor attendances. If I wasn’t retired I would question whether Membership was still worth it. Two examples of this are Essex has ONE weekend day of County Cricket all season home and away, Surrey is in riches with 4, although we have two games at Guildford (lousy outground) because of the endless rounds of the World Cup (which India will win).

    They won’t get a Xmas card from me. But Happy Xmas and New Year to James and all contributors on this excellent blog!

  6. muffin December 22, 2018 at 2:19 pm - Reply
  7. Simon H December 22, 2018 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    Best Batsman: Kane Williamson averages nearly 67 in Tests in 2018 to Kohli’s 56. He can’t score as many runs as Kohli because certain countries won’t play NZ much. Oh, and Henry Nicholls averages 61 as well.

    Best Bowling: Mohammad Abbas has taken 38 wickets at an average of 13. He’s world rated No.1. To rate Perera as better in 2018 is ridiculous. He’s played 3 fewer matches than Perera.

    Really, what is it with a certain sort of English cricket observer that is obsessed with these aggregate measures and can’t seem ever to notice how many games a team has played? Is it because English players do well by this measure?

    The Hundred: where to start? How dare we not give the ECB applause for torching the game! I think you’ll find most critics of the ECB long for the days when the game attracted a broad audience.The ECB’s disastrous policy of granting Sky a monopoly killed that. Where’s the evidence that this new audience exists outside of the ECB’s imagining? They’ve never published their market research (unless we count selected leaks to The Analyst as “published”). If they believe so much in The Hundred, they should scrap the Blast. It’s obvious they want to let the latter die out so we have the farce that their own competition’s success becomes an embarrassment! Revamping the Blast or creating a totally new competition could have worked – but not trying to do both. Then there’s the naked greed involved – the ECB didn’t copyright T20 but they are copyrighting The Hundred and so will make money every time it’s played. You think that’s not a factor? Or do you buy that in the name of simplifying the game it was a good idea to create a fourth format? There’s also the question of franchises – if you don’t see this as the thin end of a long wedge to destroy the counties then I don’t know what to tell you. The future for sporting teams is to be privately-owned and footloose businesses without all this nonsense of accountability and historical/territorial links getting in the way. Finally, it’s the whole approach of thinking what will make people like cricket is less of it. People who don’t currently follow the game need cheap and convenient exposure to it and an education in the game – for which existing followers should be a prime resource, not treated with contempt.

  8. Jomesy December 23, 2018 at 12:41 am - Reply

    2018 Best thing: Cook (finally) retiring. It’s obvious how much of a breath of fresh air there is now he’s finally gone.

    2018 Worst thing: articles which say his 100 was the best thing about the year in cricket. It’s lazy and, worse, wrong.

    Sorry for being negative but Maxie would have pulled you up for this BS

    • maggie December 23, 2018 at 9:16 am - Reply

      It does say it’s Alex’s best and worst things about the year. If for him Cook’s 100 was the best thing of the year, then surely he’s allowed to say so without being told he’s wrong. What’s your best thing about 2018? Mine is probably Worcestershire winning the T20 – and Foakes’s 100 in Galle was a joy to see as well.

    • James Morgan December 23, 2018 at 1:04 pm - Reply

      Erm. Where does it say that The Hundred was one of the best things about cricket this year? It’s classed as the biggest kerfuffle.

      Re: Maxie. He’d say ‘TFT is a broad church’ and everyone is welcome to express a view. And I would’ve agreed with him.

  9. Comte December 23, 2018 at 4:39 pm - Reply

    Best thing for me was Worcester winning the Vitality Blast.
    Worst – it’s Christmas time, peace and joy and all that, so I won’t say anything about the ECB.
    Time for a glass of something.

  10. Jackie Litherland December 24, 2018 at 1:16 pm - Reply

    The Hundred has to be the worst. It’s been perversely dreamt up by marketing men without an ounce of cricket savvy. It will drain all the resources out of our national game for the gamble that “mums and kids” will like it – “dads” presumably will give it a miss. It’s so dire that a lot of money will be thrown at it. And our national summer game is on the scrap heap. The Blast was gaining momentum and popularity but can’t be squeezed for cheap money prospects. The incentive is greed and a sense of missed opportunities in the trough. The timing is really bad. It’s not just a bad idea in bad faith it’s a bad idea given the economic forecasts. There is nothing good about it because the other side of the Hundred coin is the curtailment of proper cricket in the County system. The ruthless treatment of Durham – surplus to requirements – should be a warning of the skullduggery of money Barons in charge of cricket.

    • Marc Evans December 24, 2018 at 5:58 pm - Reply

      The one thing that goes against this is that the overwhelming majority of players who’ve been either involved in demonstration games or consulted about it seem to be in favour of giving it a go. Most of the interviews I’ve seen with the players last season and there were manŷ, seem pretty upbeat. It’s something different for them to challenge themselves against and it’s an opportunity for more honours in the game. The fewer competitions you have in any sport the more likely it is to be dominated by the wealthy elite.
      It will be interesting to see how it goes down with the public when the novelty value has gone.

      • Jackie Litherland December 25, 2018 at 7:48 am - Reply

        The players asked to take part are employees and hopefuls. What do you expect them to say??

        • Marc Evans December 25, 2018 at 1:37 pm - Reply

          It wasn’t just the players taking part it was the many other interviews given by cricketers who were asked quite reasonably to comment on something that may be in their contracts next season.
          Why is it because you and most of your fellow bloggers think it’s a crap idea do you assume the players are just being manipulated or misguided in their willingness to give it a go. They might actually enjoy it, so might you! Cricket has always moved with the times more than any other sport in this country as it takes longer and so reflects changing tastes more. Contrary to popular belief most traditions in the game are fleeting as it constantly evolves with the times.

  11. Bob Bayliss December 24, 2018 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    Absolutely right about Sam Curran and grotesque ticket prices for Ashes tests in London.

    Totally wrong about The Hundred. There is no magical new audience, and all it will achieve it to make the tried and tested forms of the game weaker – including, in time, test cricket. A crazy use of the game’s scarce resources.

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