It was not necessarily a complete year as far as breakneck action at the international level was concerned. India had a spectacular year. They pretty much led the way as far as stamping their class was concerned. But here we will talk about the moments from international cricket, not involving India. It was the year of the T20 World Cup and in that sense, it was a year where there was enough spotlight. But there was more. There were some serious upsets, some players calling quits and others emerging. Here are our top moments from international cricket in 2016:
West Indies win T20 World Cup: They are a team that has been often written off in Test cricket and sometimes been shrugged off in ODI cricket. But West Indies and T20 cricket sit beautifully in one sentence. It was in that sense not surprising that they won the T20 World Cup in India in 2016. It was their second T20 World Cup crown. Also, their fourth world cup overall. What stood out was the pure emotion as the players celebrated after every wicket and win like only they can. The fact that there was a conflict with the administrators only made it more special for the West Indian squad. Darren Sammy gave an emotional speech at the end of the final which only made every cricket lover love this team even more.
Carlos Brathwaite’s name will be remembered forever: What a show it was by this man in the final. Needing 19 runs to win off the last over against England in the T20 World Cup final, he smashed four sixes off the first four balls of the over. At the ICC awards announcement, he got recognised for pulling off the T20 performance of the year. Commentator Ian Bishop’s commentary told us to remember the name, the name of the man who hit four sixes and remember we will. (Year ender 2016: Here are sweet and sour moments of Indian cricket)
Australia blanked in Sri Lanka: It may be harsh on Sri Lanka to suggest that this not so much the news because Lanka won but because Australia lost. Okay let us put it this way, it was big news because Australia were blanked and how. They lost the three-match Test series in Sri Lanka 3-0. Prior to that tour, they had only ever lost one Test match to Sri Lanka. It was in some ways a series for history and a series for ages.
South Africa win in Australia: Well it was not the first time that South Africa won a series in Australia. They won the three-match series 2-1 in 2016. But it was still noteworthy considering how few times Australia have lost a Test series at home. One must also say that Australia beat South Africa regularly in Test cricket in South Africa and conditions in South Africa are similar and most similar to that in Australia. Yet it was news that the Aussies lost a Test series at home.
Young batsmen emerge: We had to wait till November to see the emergence of two fine young men. Haseeb Hameed of England broke out in India and Peter Handscomb of Australia stole the show in his own land. It is early days but there is some exciting air around when you see young men show their talent for the rest of the world to take notice. We saw that from these two in Test match cricket, a dying format it may be for some.
Brendon McCullum walks away: There were other retirements but the one that was most notable was of the Kiwi dasher. There were few like him. He may have not been a statistical wonder but it was the joy of his breathtaking cricket with the bat and on the field (with no gloves) that brought us immense joy. Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Shane Watson and Sammy also took their final bow.
Dubai gets floodlights during Test cricket: Australia showed the way (like they always do) by hosting the first day/night Test match in the previous year. 2016 also saw Dubai host a Test match under floodlights. It was only the second Test match in the world under lights in history.
The little gem called Mehedi Hasan: Bangladesh are quietly taking some significant steps in international cricket. And they unearthed another fine teenager or another magical bowler. Only 19, the man made a cracking debut as an off spinner and will be under many lenses come the New Year. That is pretty much the highest compliment one can pay him.