The best of 2011
Posted in ECB
It is customary at the beginning of a new year to reflect on the previous 12 months.
With this in mind, here, in no particular order, are my personal highlights of 2011.
England’s historic Ashes triumph
This may not be the most original choice, but it would be foolish to look back on last year without acknowledging the sterling efforts of Andrew Strauss’ side Down Under.
England began the year having already retained the Ashes following their innings-and-157-run victory in Melbourne, and in Sydney they put the seal on a superb campaign with another hugely convincing win.
The consistent brilliance of Ian Bell
Any number of England players could be singled out for their efforts in 2011. For me, the elegant Bell, who contributed 950 Test runs at a tremendous average of 118.75, was the pick of the bunch. A maiden century against Australia - in Sydney - represented the first of five hundreds for the Warwickshire batsman in eight matches. I was fortunate to witness his most significant contribution, a sparkling 235 against India at the Kia Oval.
Australia’s Cape Town collapse
The year’s most dramatic day of Test cricket surely arrived on November 10. After dismissing South Africa for 96 to claim a first-innings lead of 188 in Cape Town, Australia duly subsided to a scarcely believable 47 all out in 18 overs. Their final total actually represented something of a recovery - they had initially looked set to record the lowest Test total in history when they slumped to 21 for nine.
Dhoni’s World Cup-winning six
On April 2, India’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni experienced a moment many of us will have dreamed of. Captaining his country on home soil in the World Cup final, he had the opportunity to score the winning runs. Four were needed as the destructive wicketkeeper-batsman took guard for the second ball of the penultimate over. But why finish with a four when you can loft Nuwan Kulasekara high over long-on for the most emphatic of sixes, as Dhoni did to spark the most frenzied of celebrations.
The food at Twenty20 finals day
Cricket writers are a privileged bunch, particularly when it comes to the food and drink lavished upon them at grounds across the country. Many a fine feast was enjoyed by this particular scribe, yet nothing could compare to the vast array of treats laid on at Edgbaston in August. From breakfast baps to late night ice-cream, there was everything you could wish for and more. And the cricket wasn’t bad either!
Of course, there was plenty more to savour in an action-packed 12 months. Here’s hoping 2012 provides just as many memorable moments.
Happy New Year!