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International Cricket review 2010: Windies have far to go to catch up

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11.JAN.11

If one were to judge by performances in 2010, the West Indies have a long way to go, collectively and on an individual level, in order to catch up with the rest of the cricketing world. The once-dominant Windies, the colossus of international cricket for almost two decades, have fallen to be the seventh-ranked of the 9 test-playing countries and No.8 in one-day internationals. The past year brought little improvement.{{more}} Of the 9 countries playing test cricket in 2010, only Bangladesh, which lost all seven matches played, had a worse record. The West Indies also failed to register a single victory in 6 tests, but lost two and drew four.

Team of the year was undoubtedly England. The English continued their recent revival by winning 9 of 14 matches and had the highest winning percentage of all teams. Crowning point of their successful 2010 campaign was the retention of the Ashes by comprehensively defeating cricket kingpins, Australia. Current top-ranked Test team India also had a satisfying year, including drawing the Test series in South Africa (ranked No.2) and had the second-best winning record. Australia’s slide from the top continued, culminating in the humiliating loss of the Ashes to England. It had the third-best winning record though, but suffered 5 losses in 12 Tests.

In ODIs, South Africa was the year’s most successful team, winning 75% of its matches but Australia held on to the No.1 ranking at year end, ahead of India, Sri Lanka, South Africa and England in that order. The eighth- ranked West Indies could win only 6 of 17 matches played and its winning record for the year was worse than those of such minnows as Afghanistan, Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands!

INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCES

West Indian individual performances, when compared with those of their international counterparts, reflected the same mediocrity in 2010. Only former skipper Chris Gayle and the ever-reliable Shiv Chanderpaul averaged more than 50 per innings and both Gayle’s average (58) and total runs scored (525) owed much to the massive 333 he made in a single innings in Sri Lanka. Young Darren Bravo’s average of 68 was achieved in only 3 matches. Granted, the Windies had a light schedule, but so did Sri Lanka as well and that did not stop Samaraweera (114), Sangakkara (99) , Paravitana (54), and Jayawadene (50) all scoring over 400 runs, each at averages above 50.

This was a year in which batsmen the world over enjoyed themselves. Six batsmen, led by the evergreen Sachin Tendulkar, scored over 1000 runs in the calendar year. Besides Tendulkar’s 1562 runs (7 centuries), his compatriot Sehwag ,two Englishmen Cook and Trot, and two South Africans, another veteran Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla, all passed the four-figure total. Indeed, the prolific Amla was the only international batsman to score more than 1000 runs in both one-day and test cricket for the year, though fellow South African de Villiers came close on both counts. The biggest disappointments for the year was the decline in Australia’s leading batsmen, skipper Ricky Ponting and deputy Michael Clarke, both of whom had mediocre averages in the thirties.

The bowling at Test level was dominated by the English attack, with two of the top three leading wicket-takers and another just outside the top five. Off-spinner Graham Swann was not only the best spinner, but 2010’s most successful bowler, ahead of the lethal South African pacer Dale Steyn, England’s Jimmy Anderson, Steyn’s new ball partner Morkel and left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan of India. The one bright spot for the West Indies was its top bowler , Kemar Roach, who bowled with pace and hostility, though off-spinner Shane Shilligford had a most encouraging tour of Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, he has been banned from first-class cricket as a result of what is considered an illegal action, against which he is appealing.(contributed)

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