The summer of cricket’s movers and shakers
The 2011/2012 summer has been one to forget for the Indians, seen an injection of spark and youth from the Australians and a complete surprise from the underdog Sri Lankans. We take a look at some of the key moments and cricketers that have shaped the 2012 Commonwealth Bank Series.
1. Mahela Jayawardene’s captaincy
There is so much to love about Colombo-born Mahela Jayawardene. A superb right-handed opener, the Sri Lankan captain displayed brilliant leadership throughout the triangular series. Jayawardene led from the front foot, was aggressive in his run chases, classy with his range of shots and hungry for wins. Jayawardene was invigorating, inspiring his team mates with his passionate and driven innings.
His highlights include 85 against Australia in Hobart and his critical 80 against Australia in the second final. The captain was efficient in his bowling attacks and made intelligent field placings that pressured the batting side. Leading his country to tight finish in the finals, Jayawardene’s worth as an opening batsman cannot be measured and his team management is second to none.
2. Dilshan’s batting
Arguably the best performer in the Series, Sri Lankan opening batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan proved to be quite the package this summer. An explosive right-handed batsman and spinner, Dilshan was lethal all over the field. Unstoppable with the bat and ever so dangerous in the field, he set a perfect example for the younger members of his side with his energetic and first-rate worth ethic.
Throughout the summer he partnered with his captain and put together massive opening stands, putting the pressure right back on the bowling side. Dilshan displayed an amazing capacity to hit through the ball. He played big shots in pivotal moments and ran hard, always believing in his partner’s abilities. Dilshan’s impressive statistics include his unbeaten 160 in Hobart against India and his 106 against Australia in the second final in Adelaide.
3. Ponting’s retirement
Perhaps the most talked about man in Australia this summer, former skipper Ricky Ponting, retired from one day international cricket. His revival of form and confidence in the Test series against India went missing in the one-day format. So much so, Ponting retired from the one-day game in order to focus on his Test career.
Debuting in 1995 against South Africa in Wellington and finishing up in his homeland this February at the ‘Gabba, Ponting enjoyed a successful and celebrated career in the one-day format. His leadership was something quite special, grooming young pup Michael Clarke to take the reins. It comes as no surprise that Punter stepped down for the team. Ponting’s love of cricket and the Australian team will forever come first and for that we love him.
4. Kohli’s unbeaten 133*
You either love him or hate him. But if you were an Indian supporter in Hobart this summer, your newest hero is the controversial Virat Kohli. Aggressive and not shy of a few words, Kohli is a fantastic competitor and this was never more evident in his outstanding batting display against Sri Lanka. The 23 year old right-handed batsman came into the Indian batting attack with an impossible task, to chase down Sri Lanka’s overwhelming 321.
Kohli stifled all his critics with the best batting display in the Commonwealth Bank Series. Kohli showed why he is one of the best young talents in the game hitting a remarkable unbeaten 133* to lead the Indians to a most improbable victory. While Kohli was criticised by the Australian public for his perhaps arrogant approach to the game, he certainly had the figures to back up his swagger, including a 77 against Sri Lanka. With an overall strike rate 83.26 of this young man has a bright future.
5. The Indian demise
It was the top order collapse that encapsulated India’s cricketing summer. No one is quite sure as to why India produced one of the most disappointing displays of cricket seen recently. Questions were being thrown around internally and all over the papers. Are they too old, too slow? What happened to international superstars Sachin Tendulkar, captain M.S Dhoni, Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag?
One could only conclude that the Indians were completely uninterested. They had just suffered a whitewash in the Test series and didn’t want a bar of the one-day format either. Lethargic in the field, poor performances from leaders in the team and confusing selections all played a part as to why India flew home early, missing the series final. It was a sorry tour indeed for the Indian cricket team. The only redeeming factor from the tour was that we again saw India’s very loyal and outspoken support base across Australia.
6. The Hussey brothers
An rivalry was born between the Hussey brothers in the backyard cricket days. With only two years between them, David moved to Victoria to cement a spot with the Bushrangers, while Michael remained at home in Western Australia. The two ultra-competitive cricketers came together this summer, playing completely different styles with great success.
Mike is a natural left-handed specialist batsman while David is right-handed and excels with the ball as much as a bat. Predominantly playing in the middle order, the brothers enjoyed a healthy flow of runs, smacked large sixes and picked up critical wickets. Highlights include David’s unbeaten 61* and 72 against India with bowling figures of 4/43 against Sri Lanka. Mike Hussey’s best score was 45 with a strike rate of 140.62. He also produced some handy catches in the field.
7. Malinga’s bowling
Not too many people can strut out onto a cricket pitch sporting a haircut as outrageous as Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga and get away with it. With a bowling technique that begins with Malinga kissing the ball, then hurling it down the pitch onto the toes of some of the best batsman in the world, some would say his technique is unorthodox. Others would say it is very damaging.
The Sri Lankan fast bowler has been under severe scrutiny for his bowling method. However, in the Commonwealth Bank Series, he proved just how capable he is and how he has become an authentic game changer. The distinctive right-arm action collected a brilliant 4/49 in Melbourne against Australia and 3/40 in the all-important second final in Adelaide. Malinga also takes his aggressiveness as a bowler into his batting. He is not shy of smacking the ball around and helped the tail order batsman pick up handy runs this summer.
7. Warner’s coming of age
Since Warner’s T20 debut, where he astounded the Australian public with his powerful range of varying shots (scoring 89 at an impressive strike rate of 142.00), Australian cricket supporters have been waiting with baited breath. Warner proved throughout this series that he was a first class batsman with the strength of an ox and a heart the size of the MCG.
Warner was Australia’s best batsman in the Series and arguably throughout the summer. His enthusiastic approach was tangible and his never say die attitude was inspirational. Warner produced time and time again for his team, displaying brilliant fielding saving valuable runs and taking heroic catches. Warner scored a massive 163 against Sri Lanka in Brisbane, another century in the second final and 48 in the third. With a strike rate 82.15, Warner’s work rate and passion was something to be seen this summer.
8. Clint McKay’s bowling heroics
One simply can’t look past the magnificent bowling efforts of Australian bowler Clint McKay in the Adelaide final. Rotating in a bowling attack that consistently changed throughout the summer, McKay pushed his way into the team, proving his worth with right-arm medium pace.
Mckay, who is also an impressive fielder, posted great figures throughout the Series. His highlights include 4/20 against India and 3/53 India again in Adelaide. You can forgive cricketing fanatics for not having McKay on their radar, however after the third final, he showed his worth. McKay was beyond brilliant, making a handy 28 and taking 5/28.
9. Shane Watson’s return
In the transition from the days of Gilchrist and Warne to Clarke and the new boys of Australian cricket, the tall blonde boy from Queensland, Shane Watson, became the pin up boy. A natural athlete with a flair for leadership, Watson is a dominating cricketer and attracts a lot of attention for not only his aggression with the bat, but how handy he is with the ball.
The Australian media tracked Watson’s return to international cricket with greater interest and with good reason, his impact and influence in the team was instantaneous. Watson made 65 in his second one-day match back from injury and even more importantly, led his side to victory in the final taking 2/13.
10. Dan Christian’s hat-trick
Any passionate cricket fan can tell you how just one wicket can change the game. Now, imagine three of them in a row during a critical moment against Sri Lanka at the MCG. On the greatest sporting ground in Australia, Dan Christian, right-hand medium pace all-rounder, could hardly believe his luck in collecting one of only four hat-tricks made by an Australian in this form of the game.
Fresh onto the circuit, the Indigenous all-rounder from New South Wales (later moving to South Australia) only debuted at the start of the Series. Since his promotion to the side, Christian has been a steady contributor with both bat and ball. His career best was 5/31 against Sri Lanka at the MCG