2012 In Focus: A Review of England's Year
Heading into 2012, England were riding the crest of a wave having risen to the summit of the of the International Cricket Council Test rankings.
At the end of the year, they have dropped to second in the five-day standings but are now the top-ranked one-day international team.
Here, ecb.co.uk looks back on England’s 2012 and ahead to what we can expect in 2013.
England succumb to the spin of Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman in the United Arab Emirates, losing their first Test series since the start of Andrew Strauss’ reign as skipper in 2009. Despite the outstanding efforts of Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar, in particular, Strauss’ men end January 2-0 down in a three-match Test series.
Pakistan seal a 3-0 whitewash via a 71-run success in Dubai, yet England remain top of the world rankings. Putting their Test woes to one side, the tourists - under the tutelage of Alastair Cook - respond outstandingly in the one-day international series. The skipper scores centuries in the first two encounters and opening partner Kevin Pietersen follows suit in the last two as England secure an outstanding 4-0 success. Despite losing the opening Twenty20 international, Pietersen et al continue their excellent limited-overs form with a 2-1 series success.
Struggles against spin continue in the Test arena as England go 1-0 down in a two-match series with Sri Lanka despite Jonathan Trott’s century that threatened to take Strauss’ men to a run-chase of 340. Left-arm tweaker Rangana Herath does the damage, claiming 12 wickets in the match.
Pietersen plays one of the great Test innings, striking a 165-ball 151 on a slow surface to help earn England an exceptional victory at the P Sara Oval that seals a creditable series draw.
Skipper Strauss makes a timely return to form, striking centuries in back-to-back Tests as England return to home soil in fine style by claiming an unassailable 2-0 series lead against West Indies. Stuart Broad also impresses, taking 14 wickets over the two matches.
The final Test ends in a rain-affected draw that will be remembered for number 11 Tino Best’s astonishing 95. New opener Ian Bell shines in the one-day international arena, striking 126 in the first game of a three-match series that England win 2-0. June ends with two more impressive victories; Alex Hales fires 99 - his country’s highest Twenty20 international score - in a one-off match against the Windies before Cook’s men take a 1-0 lead in a five-match 50-over series versus Australia, with Eoin Morgan shining at Lord’s.
England steamroll the old enemy in the rest of the ODI series, moving top of the ICC rankings via a 4-0 success, with Australia’s only reprieve coming in a rained-off encounter at Edgbaston. A return to Test cricket is not as fruitful as South Africa win the opening game of three in a series that represents a battle for top spot in the five-day standings. Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla prove the scourges of England, the former compiling a century in his 100th appearance and the latter a triple-hundred as the Proteas emerge triumphant at the Kia Oval.
Amid Olympic magic in London, Pietersen delivers another tour de force at Headingley Carnegie as England manage a draw in a rain-affected clash. He is not selected for the next game, however, when South Africa wrap up the rubber 2-0 with victory at Lord’s. Following the defeat, Strauss announces his retirement from cricket, ending an illustrious career, and Cook take the reins in Test cricket. After the first one-day international between the sides falls foul to inclement weather, Amla continues his incredible form with an innings of 150 at the Ageas Bowl that puts the tourists 1-0 ahead. Jonathan Trott and Eoin Morgan then lead the way as England level the rubber at the Kia Oval.
England stay top of the ODI rankings, winning the fourth encounter against the Proteas and losing the fifth to share the series 2-2. The T20 rubber is then drawn 1-1, with Jos Buttler showing a glimpse of his vast potential in the final match at Edgbaston. Defending their World Twenty20 title, England set up a make-or-break Super Eights clash with hosts Sri Lanka on the back of some good performances from Luke Wright.
England begin the month by falling to a 19-run loss against Sri Lanka in the aforementioned clash and end it beginning their tour of India.
Questions over England’s ability against spin rise to the surface once more as they fall to a heavy nine-wicket loss in the first Test against India despite Cook’s outstanding second-innings century. The skipper then continues his remarkable form, making it four tons in as many Tests as skipper - the first two came when filling in for Strauss versus Bangladesh - as the tourists level the series via an historic victory in Mumbai. While Cook was impressive at the Wankhede Stadium, his efforts paled in comparison to those of the returning Pietersen, who compiled a third all-time great innings of 2012. His 233-delivery 186 - on a surface turning square - set up a triumph that was sealed by Monty Panesar; an inspired selection having not featured in the opening match, he claimed six second-innings wickets to follow up five in the first. After that success, Ashley Giles takes the reins as England’s limited-overs coach, with Andy Flower remaining as team director and continuing his role with the Test side.
England make a mockery of those who predicted a 4-0 loss after the first Test by following up their 10-wicket win in Mumbai with a seven-wicket one at Kolkata. Cook evokes memories of his sensational performance in Australia two years earlier by striking another ton, 190 in the first innings, in between his bowlers twice dismissing India cheaply. Trott and Ian Bell then strike second-innings centuries as England complete an astonishing 2-1 triumph - their first in India for nearly 28 years - with a draw in Nagpur. After losing the opening Twenty20 international of two, the year ends on a high as stand-in skipper Morgan hits the final ball for six at the Wankhede Stadium to complete England’s highest shortest-form chase, in the process sealing a series draw despite a host of key players being missing.
While England did not enjoy the kind of dominance that some expected in the longest form, their efforts in one-day international cricket were quite outstanding and almost unprecedented. The Test win in India, though, represents the obvious high point and will give Cook et al plenty of reason to smile as they tuck into their Christmas turkey.
A Look Ahead
That success sets things up perfectly for 2013, when England face two Ashes series and a home Champions Trophy tilt for good measure. They will head back to India first for a one-day international series before touring New Zealand, who will then head to these shores. It promises to be a cracker of a year!