From England’s attacking brand of Test cricket scaling new heights to India mulling a reboot of its T20 mindset and Australia reaffirming its hegemony in women’s cricket, 2022 brought joy, ecstasy, hurt and intrigue in equal measure.
It felt like a lifetime of ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’ for the Indian cricket fan. The performance of the men’s team was dominated by a thrilling face-off with arch-rival Pakistan and an inventiveness of a kind from Suryakumar Yadav that earned him comparisons to AB de Villiers. It seems he can go toe-to-toe with the South African great not only on talent but also on outrageous shot-making abilities.
The team results, by contrast, were underwhelming. An early exit at the Asia Cup in the UAE was followed by a stunning 10-wicket defeat to England in the semifinals of the T20 World Cup in Australia. The year had begun, too, with a sobering Test series loss in South Africa.
Meanwhile, the women finished fifth in the ODI World Cup and lost a home T20I series to Australia. The highlights were – a spirited run to the final of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, a 3-0 ODI series win in England, and a seventh Asia Cup title. Two of women’s cricket’s most illustrious stars – Jhulan Goswami and Mithali Raj – retired in 2022.
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Indian domestic cricketers had reasons to celebrate as Ranji Trophy returned after a COVID-19 induced hiatus. The 2022 season was held over two phases. The first featured 38 teams and 57 matches between February 10 and March 15. The knockouts were held in the second phase, after IPL 2022; it comprised seven matches between May 30 and June 26. Madhya Pradesh beat Mumbai to win the Ranji Trophy last season. However, the 2022-23 season will run for 10 weeks and has been split into two categories – plate and elite.
That said, the headline act remained Virat Kohli’s mesmerising 53-ball 82 in a T20 World Cup win against Pakistan in front of 90,293 fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The performance could not have been more perfectly executed nor more dramatically delivered.
The last year was also when England dared to change the way Test matches are played. It started with a calamitous 0-4 Ashes series defeat which culminated in Chris Silverwood leaving as head coach and Ashley Giles stepping down as director of cricket. But when curtains were drawn on the year, England, on its first Test tour of Pakistan in 17 years, became the first visiting team to win three matches in a series. It capped off a incredible transformation under new Test captain Ben Stokes and new head coach Brendon McCullum who have introduced to England an aggressive brand of red-ball cricket – in Rawalpindi, England became the first Test team ever to score 500 runs on the first day of a Test series.
And to top it all, the Three Lions also became the first team to hold both white-ball world titles at the same time following its second T20 World Cup win Down Under.
However, the women’s team was in the middle of a controversy when India’s Deepti Sharma stopped in her delivery stride to run out Charlie Dean at the non-striker’s end and thereby ensure a 3-0 series victory over England. Dean left the field in tears and the dismissal, though divisive, was well within the laws of the game.
The year was a mixed bag for Australian men’s team. It claimed a 115-run victory in the third and final Test in Lahore to win its first series in Pakistan in almost 25 years, but failed spectacularly to defend the T20 World Cup title at home. Pat Cummins and his men also earned plaudits for completing the tour of Sri Lanka even as the country’s crippling economic crisis threatened to throw a spanner in the works. The women added sheen to the title cabinet with its record seventh ODI World Cup win and a Commonwealth Games gold medal.
The Pakistan men’s team made it to the final of the T20 World Cup and the Asia Cup, but couldn’t win either title. Pakistan’s 0-3 Test series defeat to England at home remains its lowest point.
The New Zealand men’s team had an average year. Its 89-run win over Australia in the opening game of the Super 12s in the T20 World Cup was its lone highlight. It was its first victory against Australia in Australia since 2011. The women had a disappointing campaign at home in the ODI World Cup, but put on a brave show to beat England and win the bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games.
Faltering on the big stage again
On the other hand, South Africa crashed out of the men’s T20 World Cup after losing its final group match to the Netherlands, resulting in the end of Mark Boucher’s term as the head coach. However, it was not all doom and gloom for the Proteas, who had beaten India 2-1 for a famous Test series win at home.
Elsewhere, Bangladesh’s men’s team pulled off an eight-wicket Test win against New Zealand in New Zealand for the first time in its history, while West Indies, the two-time world champion, did not even qualify for the Super 12s of the T20 World Cup. West Indies limited-overs captain Kieron Pollard retired from international cricket in April, accentuating a gaping hole in the once-feared Caribbean T20 setup.
It was a good year for Afghanistan, which trumped Sri Lanka – the eventual champion – and Bangladesh to top Group B in the first round of the Asia Cup in the UAE. Zimbabwe won hearts at the T20 World Cup, where Sikandar Raza’s three wickets in five balls helped it clinch a famous win over Pakistan. Zimbabwe also beat Bangladesh in an ODI series for the first time since 2013, and won an ODI in Australia for the first time.
New competitions for women
The year 2023 is expected to be a significant one for women’s cricket. The first-ever U-19 Women’s World Cup and the Women’s T20 World Cup will be held; these competitions will be followed by the inaugural editions of the Women’s IPL and the PSL.
The final of the ongoing ICC men’s World Test Championship will be held at The Oval in June 2023, with the Border-Gavaskar Trophy between India and Australia likely to decide the two finalists.
It remains to be seen whether the 2023 Asia Cup will be held in Pakistan. Jay Shah, secretary of the BCCI and president of the Asia Cricket Council (ACC), said that the Asia Cup needs to be moved to a neutral venue. The Pakistan Cricket Board responded with “surprise and disappointment,” claiming Shah had acted “unilaterally.”The two sides do not meet outside international tournaments because of strained political relations. Pakistan is due to host its first Asia Cup since 2008 before India hosts the men’s 50-over World Cup in October and November.
Needless to say, fans can expect a steady diet of men’s and women’s cricket with a plethora of silverware at stake.